While it seemingly came out of nowhere, the song was, in fact, made in a dorm room — more specifically a closet — belonging to Padalecki at Texas A&M University. It’s hard to believe that, from there, “Sunday Best” would begin its slow build to ubiquity, now closing in on half-a-billion plays on Spotify alone. Even Elton John has taken notice.
Surfaces, like many new acts, came together online. Both raised in Texas towns, Frank heard some of Padalecki’s early work on Soundcloud. “I saw that he was from Texas too, so I reached out,” Frank tells Variety. “Once we linked up, it was a really good fit. At that time, we weren’t hoping to make it big or be stars or anything, we just loved making music and had practically no one to do it with.”
Despite limited resources, the new friends began writing and producing for the next year, deciding to release a debut single, “Be Alright,” in 2017. “At the time we didn’t have management or anything, but we booked our own five-show tour and just loaded everything into Colin’s car and drove around,” Frank laughs. “Anything a band could do besides busking we have pretty much done.”
In fact, Surfaces was still unsigned and unmanaged by the time they released their breakout “Sunday Best” in January 2019 as the lead single ahead of their second album for 10K Projects, “Where the Light Is.” Homemade Projects quickly snapped up the duo for management, but otherwise, “It was really a slow burn,” says Padalecki. “[‘Sunday Best’] was placed in a few Spotify playlists but nothing huge. Then it was put into a bunch of YouTube videos, and we started working with our managers, Tony Talamo and Zach Friedman [from Homemade Projects.] It snowballed from there.” (The band’s publishing is with UMPG.)
Soon after, the track was used in a viral TikTok video from influencer Charli D’Amelio and “Sunday Best” began to gain notable traction among Gen Z listeners. “It’s crazy to watch ‘Sunday Best’ grow because it started with us just messing around with an eight-bar loop,” says Padalecki. “The beat itself, like the main hook, took maybe 20 minutes and started from a simple chord progression we liked.”
Adds Frank: “The good songs are made pretty quickly because of our style of production and songwriting, but we didn’t quite realize the full power of the song until we performed it for the first time in Austin. We really experienced the fullness of that song and how special it was. I just remember jumping around the stage and seeing the crowd go crazy. It was solidifying.”
And in these times, “Sunday Best” is uplifting, too. Paired with the pastel-clad warmth of Surfaces preppie-esque style, and the lightness of the video, it’s a welcome antidote in the summer of bummer.
Feeling good, like I should
Went and took a walk around the neighborhood
Feeling blessed, never stressed
Got that sunshine on my Sunday best
“But we’ve never tried to pander to positivity,” notes Frank. “We just sit down in a room and make whatever song that comes out. I feel like it’s a case of ‘you are what you eat.’ Even though we are going through stuff in our own lives too, we actively try to see that light at the end of the tunnel and eventually that practice of hope comes through in the music.”
“People have really connected with our songs for their optimism,” says Padalecki. “It feels good that a song like ‘Sunday Best’ can get you out of your funk while you’re making it, and it can also lift people out of their funk too.”
In the end, the unlikely story of Surfaces’ rise to pop prominence is a classic underdog tale, a rarity in an industry known for nepotism and difficult-to-pry gates. Forrest Frank doesn’t disagree. “I think inadvertently, we have had actually a better come-up than most artists,” he says. “Both of our hometown cultures had nothing to do with music, and it caused us to learn to do everything ourselves. Growing up away from all distractions allowed us to not focus on fame, other musicians, or industry. We just enjoy the experience of making music and that’s the only reason why we are here.”