By paul

Thanks to Nita at Goldstar for setting up the interview, which took place on January 13 while Sugarcult were doing a couple of days press in the UK before they set off for a European tour…

MARKO: “Hey Paul, how’s it going?”
PAUL: “I’m good thanks man, so I hear that you went out and hit the town last night?”
MARKO: “Not really, me and Tim went walking around the hotel and kinda got lost in Hyde Park. We were walking around then came back and got pissed. We always leave everything to the last minute and I’d been up for 28 hours. I didn’t sleep on the plane, I just had this old fat guy sitting next to me in his 60s. I was sat on the aisle seat and he kept on getting up. We just went out and about walking. Jesse from Degeneration was in town, we saw him in the lobby. It’s funny how the world gets smaller.”

Paul “Have you been to the UK before? Did you come across with The Ataris?”
MARKO: “I never came over with The Ataris but the band I left them for, the Swingin Utters did, and I came over in 1997 and we played at the Garage in London. It was so fucking fun, I thought that people would hate us and in the end people fucking loved it. To come out on stage in front of people…it was fucking cool.”

PAUL: “How is Ben (drummer)? The last thing we heard was that he was still in rehab…”
MARKO: “In Kerrang! there’s only the three of us. He’s doing well and he’s been out of rehab for a month. We said to him ‘are you ready to go?’ We are going to do some drinking. The tour starts in Amsterdam so we are hitting the ground running. He welcomes the challenge. He’s the one who crossed the line from a party to a problem, but he has welcomed the challenge.”

PAUL: “How have you been coping with the cold, I mean it’s fucking freezing at the minute.”
MARKO: “It is cold but the thing is we have friends over here who warn us. They make it sound like the end of the world. We were expecting to have instant frostbite but I stripped down to a t-shirt. It’s not as bad as we thought it was going to be.”

PAUL: “The record came out originally in like 2001…”
MARKO: “…yeah, summer 2001, right after we spent the whole summer on the road and part of the Warped Tour, so it came out and we have never stopped touring – we stay on the road as long as possible. From the start we were really disappointed it was going to be released in just the US at first. We wanted to put it out in Europe and finally our dream has come true. It is coming out over here on one of the labels we have a lot of respect for in Epitaph Records. They put out so many great bands…and to be sitting at a table with Brett Gurrewitz was just the most surreal thing in the world. It was absolutely fucking cool.”

PAUL: “But with the record having already been out so long, aren’t you like bored of having to play the same songs night after night?”
MARKO: “Not really. We like our songs and every night we set it back to zero. We played over 200 shows in 2002, that’s more nights playing than not playing. In order to do that we gotta find some way to keep it real and not make it a routine. That’s what makes rock and roll so exciting – you can’t download the feeling on a disc. Rock and roll shows are like going outside in a crazy thunderstorm where you don’t know what to expect, something chaotic can happen. We throw in some Elvis Costello, Ramones covers…to educate the fans and to keep us entertained but it renews itself every night because we are playing to new people. I don’t know, it’s like a new crowd every night is like sex with a different person. It’s the same ten positions but it never gets boring! You never get sick of playing these songs and you never get bored of a blow job!”

PAUL: “Hahaha, I’ve bever heard of it put like that before!”
MARKO: “There are so many bands out there now. We don’t want people to say ‘they’re alright’, I’d rather they fucking love us or fucking hate us.”

PAUL: “What are you expecting from the UK tour? Do you have any perceptions of what the UK crowds are going to be like?”
MARKO: “The people in the UK are really passionate about the music. Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, The Clash, The Undertones, the Sex Pistols, there are so many great bands. Even the modern bands, Oasis, Blur, I love Primal Scream – so many bands from over here that when they make it over to the small record shop in Santa Barbara it’s like music from another planet. We are honoured to come over and show them our interpretation. I think there’s a cultural tennis match going on between America and the UK. We gave you the blues and you gave us the Rolling Stones. Then we gave you..erm, Guns n Roses.”

PAUL: “Like pushing the envelope…”
MARKO: “Yeah, it raises the bar, there’s healthy competition. It’s inspiration, we see something cool out and it inspires us to do something cool. I hope we can pick up a copy of a British magazine in 10 years time and see some 25 year old in some band on the cover of the NME and they say ‘we saw Sugarcult and made me want to start playing guitar’. We’re excited to come over here, there’s something in the water over here.”

PAUL: “I know you’ve touched on this already but there’s like an 18-month difference between the release of the album in the UK compared to the US. Why so long and how did the Epitaph deal come about?”
MARKO: “We are on an independent label in the States, we can only do so much effectively. Brett Gurrewitz son, who is 11, is actually a fan of the band and his niece and nephew are too. Brett found out about the band from his son and his kid was like ‘hey dad’ so he learned about our songs. It’s funny, because I was at a party as I’m friends with NOFX and it was a party at Brett’s house. He heard me talking about Sugarcult and he comes in and was like ‘I fucking love that record’ and wanted to get an autograph for his son! Fat Mike was there as he had been on the Warped Tour with us. Fat Mike was like ‘your record is great apart from the slow songs’! He’s so straight up, he will tell you if something sucks.”

PAUL: “Everywhere you go in the US there’s this buzz about Sugarcult. In the magazines, on the internet, at shows…there’s just this huge buzz that goes about, like you’ve got this cult following. What does it feel like to have this kind of buzz going around?”
MARKO: “I don’t know. It’s the best thing any band can dream of, to have a cult following and people wearing our shirts to shows and handing out flyers and telling friends about us on the internet. It is a million times more meaningful than having our face in a magazine. I dunno really, you can attribute it to the fact that we tour relentlessly. We hang out with our fans and we acknowledge that. We played bars for three years and worked day jobs and rehearsed. Tim would dig ditches and I would work at a record store and say ‘fuck, I want to make a record’. We worked our asses off.”

PAUL:The first single over here in the UK is ‘Stuck In America’. Why did you choose that song over the more infectious and instant ‘Bouncing Off The Walls’?”
MARKO: “I dunno. I feel like that song is one of our favourites on the record and it was prematurely cut short in the US because of what happened on September 11, which is understandable. When something that huge happens you cannot complain if your three minute power-pop song gets pulled off the radio. But we believe in that song and it will be interesting to see what kind of life it can take on, if it gets a second chance in another country. It’s an anthem we relate to as a band. I grew up in Santa Barbara and tons of kids grow up there. Our singer grew up in the suburbs where people go to the mall. The song could be called ‘Stuck In England’… when you’re young you want to get away from wherever you are.”

PAUL: “The video for the single has a Japanese theme to it, was there any specific reason for this?”
MARKO: “There’s no story. Videos are what they are. We exist to make music and play shows, videos are an afterthought and our thought was ‘let’s take this video and have some fun‘. We thought it would be funny if we made it seem like it was a Japanese talk show. It’s just the most ridiculous and funny and tongue-in-cheek thing, poking fun at how ga-ga people can get about bands. It’s light of heart with no real concept, a glimpse into the band. We are lip-synching in the video, to see the real us you have to come and see us play. The cool thing is that the first 10,000 copies of the album over here come with the DVD we released with all three of the videos and backstage footage and photos and stuff.”

PAUL: “Wow, that’s cool. How important is the sense of fun that the band give off when they play each night?”
MARKO: “I think it’s very important. We are playing rock and roll here and at the end of the day it’s entertainment. I think the idea of entertainment has got negative connotations over the latest generation. It has become like a sin to go out and have some fun. The times are coming back around. It’s like you take your life seriously or have fun. We take everything very seriously but have a fucking good time. This is rock and roll and when bands take themselves too seriously it ceases to be a cool club. We have always been outcasts.”

PAUL: “So do you think it’s down to the whole emo and nu-metal movement that there’s no fun anymore, and do you feel like you need to distance yourselves from the pop-punk scene? You keep saying you’re a rock and roll band…”
MARKO: “I don’t feel we need to distance ourselves. We are outcasts, we didn’t say we started a pop-punk band but you don’t have to be a metaller or a punker. In our record collection we have stuff like Massive Attack to Metallica to Johnny Thunders to The Beatles to The Used. It’s good music, it doesn’t matter what label. I enjoy the fact we have our own little thing. We have more in common with Green Day and Blink 182 than Slipknot and, erm, Korn so I understand why people call us a punk band, but this thing to me can alienate a band. Jimmy Eat World to the million people who bought their latest album got it because it’s excellent music. They are not all with glasses and backpacks.”

PAUL: “Yeah, good point. To me though there’s a certain element of depth with the lyrics, like you can take them on two levels. ‘Bouncing Off The Walls’ for example can be either a hyperactive kid or a song about drugs. Is this something that you think about when you’re writing the songs?”
MARKO: “Well Tim writes all the lyrics so you’d have to ask him. Actually he’s here tuning his guitar if you want to speak to him.”
PAUL: “No man, it’s cool, I won’t bother him.”
MARKO: “Well I know as a person most people go through these feelings and the record is full of experiences of post-adolence. We don’t know what’s going on, we try to figure it out. It’s hard when you choose to play in a band, until you become successful you have parents breathing down your neck. A song like ‘Bouncing Off The Walls’ is just a stream of conciousness, it’s a young persons call. It talks about drugs and selling out. I grew up in the late 80s scene with NOFX and Lagwagon, playing in driveways and parks with a keg. Before that it was Motley Crue and Cheap Trick, but I could never do that, I could never attain that with my crappy bar chords. Then you see some bands in your hometown and you think ‘fuck, that’s the guy who played basketball down the street’ cos it’s all about bands in your home town.”

PAUL: “So…”
MARKO: “Sorry dude, I think we’re going to have to wrap this up, I’ve been talking for too long.”
PAUL: “Ok, just a couple of quick questions…are we gonna see any new stuff from the band this year?”
MARKO: “We have got some good stuff in the works for the new record, but I’m going to keep it a secret, haha. There’s a song called ‘Memory’ which is a favourite.”

PAUL: “Finally we hear that you’re coming back with Simple Plan in the summer…”
MARKO: “Are we?”
PAUL: “Apparently.”
MARKO: “Well we’ll drink those fuckers under the table and see if they can hold their alcohol!”
PAUL: “So are you friends then?”
MARKO: “No, we’ve never met them! There’s a story though, I was at a show and flirting with this blonde chick and she said she was the Simple Plan guitarist’s girlfriend. So I said call him and I talked to him and we probably talked about playing some shows, maybe that’s where it came from. I’ve never heard their band.”
PAUL: “You’re not missing much.”
MARKO: “Oooh, I couldn’t possibly say. There’s always hope, there’s so many bands that I didn’t like at first but they have a great heart.”

PAUL: “Thanks a lot for your time Marko.”
MARKO: “Thanks a lot Paul, bye.”


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]