SUGARCULT

All Roads Lead To Sugarcult

(An interview with Tim Pagnotta and Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 40 - May 2004)

BY SHARI BLACK VELVET

Every now and then a band comes along that you really fall in love with. It doesn't happen often and it can happen in varying degrees. When Black Velvet originally heard SUGARCULT's 'Start Static' album we were blown away. This band was as magical, fun and exciting as they get. The album was one of those you have to turn to max and can't stop bouncing around to. Well, we say bouncing around to - every track on the album is different - some tracks are super infectious and dayglo-y while others are more introspective and moody. The album as a whole though was one that throughout the last year we played and played and played. Which is more than can be said for many others. Usually we get CDs, review them and put them away to collect dust. 'Start Static' was an album that was constantly at the top of the pile and whenever there was a bit of downtime we'd put it in the stereo and it would immediately brighten our spirits and renew our hopes in rock 'n' roll.

 

 

 

Above: Sugarcult gracing the front cover of Black Velvet 40 (now sold out from Black Velvet Headquarter - although www.quimbys.com and www.waterfrontrecords.com still have copies for sale.

 

 
 

And Sugarcult's live show? Well, that was much the same. They're one of those bands we can't wait to see live. Every time they play England we wish they would stay forever. When they come we're excited, when they leave we hope it's not too long before they return again. Whether supporting another band or headlining themselves, Sugarcult put on such super shows that you find a permanent grin fixed on your face and feel so honoured to be in the same room as them watching them play their hearts out.
So when the follow-up to 'Start Static' hit the streets, we were nervous to catch a listen. Would it live up to prior Sugarcult greatness? Have they moved on, changed their sound, would they even let us down? Please don't let us down, we prayed.
Thankfully they didn't. 'Palm Trees And Power Lines', Sugarcult's new album is as delightful as 'Start Static'. It's not the same but it still has that Sugarcult flavour that is so addictive and wins you over in an instant. Sure, they've moved on, but not to a place so completely different that we all feel alienated and left behind. Sugarcult have taken us with them - and there ain't no looking back now.

Frontman Tim Pagnotta and guitarist Marko 72 are eager to talk about the new release. I start off by asking Tim if the electricity theme in both the 'Start Static' and 'Palm Trees And Power Lines' titles was on purpose.
"No. It's funny. Now that you mention it… No-one's ever brought that up. I've always thought 'Palm Trees And Power Lines' sounds a bit organic," he begins. "It's true they do have an electricity thing going on. It wasn't intentional. 'Start Static' is slang for starting a fight. Like if someone is picking on you or you had to fight someone. If you start static you're starting a fight. Since it was our debut record… Marko came up with the name 'Start Static'… and it had a cool ring to it and we all felt it was appropriate and it was true. At the time it was just us against the world. We were a band that no-one had heard about. We're ambitious in our goals to tour and make sure everyone has an opportunity or a shot to hear our band. And 'Palm Trees And Power Lines', the title, is kind of like the relationship between nature and industrialism in California, sort of the beauty and the ugliness between the two. I think it's just about the relationship between two opposite things, things that are very polar opposites. And a palm tree and a power line is something that you see in California quite often. It's everything - it's ironic, it's iconic, 'cause you see them everywhere, it's kind of romantic because it's two things closely related to one another and then it also represents California. California is home to the band. We're either going away from California and the palm trees and power lines are getting smaller, or we're coming back to California. I think it's an emotional title, the meaning of it is, to us anyway. I think the songs really reflect a title like that too. The songs are very transitional songs. The songs are about experiences I've had or noticed in the last two and a half years, since I've taken on this new life as a touring musician."
The album sleeve has a Californian theme. There's a movie starlet at the front, with of course palm trees and power lines behind.
Marko says of the sleeve, "it's not an entire tribute to California but we are from California. From being on tour so much in between 'Start Static' and our new album, where you're from takes on a whole new meaning. Once you start touring all the time it becomes this sort of surreal place in your mind that you close your eyes and you go back to. When you picture home, when you're out, no matter where you are - whether you're in England, Japan, Nashville, Minneapolis, wherever you are - you sort of have a concept of home, and the more you're gone - we were gone three years straight - it becomes even more blurry, but it is home nonetheless. And California represents that for us. It's where we're from, where we start out, it's where we end up. All roads lead back to California. So with that we thought we'd represent that in the artwork. 'Palm Trees And Power Lines' is a way of capturing the romance and the reality of California, the beauty and the ugliness, and the love/hate relationship with California that most people have. A lot of people move to California to become movie stars and they end up being strippers. Or they move here to become rock stars and they end up making coffee at a studio for somebody else who's a rock star. It shows the glamorous side and the not so glamorous side of California. When you look up in the sky, that's what you see, the palm trees and the power lines, everywhere."

Tim writes all the lyrics himself, which if you knew Marko, you might find a little odd, since Marko is a very literate person himself. He even writes a column for Black Velvet! But since Tim is the singer, it no doubt makes sense that he sings about his own experiences and relays his own thoughts to the world.
"In theory, I'm a pretty open person and I like people's input but I feel like lyrics to me and song writing in general for me is a real solitary experience," Tim explains. "I really have to do it by myself to really feel good about it. Really my way of connecting to a song is by having it be for me and it's easier to sing that way. And I haven't done any major collaborating. For me I'm not one of those people it comes natural with. Two people can sit down with a guitar and go back and forth and they're collaborating and it's pretty even Steven. I've never experienced that ever. And I'm down for playing with other people but it's just never really happened. It just doesn't feel natural, it feels kinda weird."
"Tim's got to sing it so it's better that he writes it because there's a certain amount of conviction that it's hard to conjure up if it's not something that you live through or you've thought of yourself," reiterates Marko.
Doesn't Marko ever want to write his own songs though? Or does he?
"Absolutely. I don't feel like my strongest talent in the word is as a songwriter but I do write songs. But Tim is so God damn prolific. He writes a lot of songs and it's just kinda tradition, the way Sugarcult's been, is songs Tim writes... I used to say he writes them and we wrong them! He brings the colouring book and we bring the crayon. He brings that general outline of the song and then we all add to it. Rarely are songs brought in as complete bodies of work. He brings it in on a beat-up acoustic guitar and mumbles his way through it and then we all jump in there and colour it up and bring in our two cents, and then it becomes a Sugarcult song."

The album shows a lot of emotions. Tim jokes that he's a disaster, a "fuckin' wreck", but he hopes that by listening to his lyrics, fans can relate.
"On our first record I felt a little insecure to be totally vulnerable and I think I didn't totally know how to express myself. I think the older you get and the more people you meet on the way, the more able you are to express with words how you feel. Some things you'll never be able to express the way you feel but I feel like the older I get the more articulate I can get expressing emotions and fresh feelings. And I'm also not very self-conscious. I'm 27, some of the things that would have made me uncomfortable to talk about when I was 22, I'm just not anymore. I'm confident with the type of person I am. People have either made up their mind about the type of person they think I am, and I certainly have made up my mind about the type of person I think I am. I just want to be honest and vulnerable and sincere and I try to show that in the lyrics I write and I hope that other people connect with that.
"I remember when I was younger listening to music, and even now a little bit, but especially when I was younger, when I was a little bit more insecure and just young y'know… songwriters would sing about things that would make me feel a little bit uncomfortable, maybe emotionally, and then I grew to feel really comforted by that because I could relate to the way they felt, whether it's the pain of a break-up or the loss of a friend, or internal problems. I didn't know what an anxiety attack was when I was 15 years old. But when I was 18 and getting into Nirvana a lot more I felt like I could identify on a completely different level with maybe the alienation that Kurt Cobain felt. Although he was deeply into heroin and I was just dealing with petty school problems in some way, I could kind of relate the two. And I feel like in my songs, if people can relate to and apply to their lives some of the stuff that I sing about then that's great. Even if what I'm singing about isn't necessarily about what they're going through, I feel rewarded and I feel good if people can get those sort of things out of my lyrics."

One of the most serious songs on the album is 'Champagne', a song written about Tim's relationship with ex-Sugarcult drummer Ben Davis. Ben's now been replaced by Kenny Livingston who was in the band Lefty. Marko says that Kenny coped amazingly in the studio with himself, Tim and Airin (Older, bassist).
"He was great. Kenny was an inspiration to all of us. We definitely have a punk rock thing about us where none of us have ever been ace musicians. We just do the best we can. And we struggle and figure out the cool sounds of our instruments, but with Kenny, he's an amazing drummer. He's a professional quality drummer and playing with him raised the ball for all of us and it inspired us all to become better players and to work harder. It's inspiring to have a chance to play with someone who's so good. He definitely brought a lot to our band, musically."
Tim talks about Ben's departure, and how the song 'Champagne' was created. It was "kind of right around before Ben left the band," Tim says. "I kinda tried capturing this feeling that I felt right around the time too when he went to rehab. Ben was an alcoholic and being friends and loving someone who is addicted to drugs, and this can be related to anybody but in my particular case it was our drummer. You really fall in love with the two people and they ARE two separate people, and it's really sad because usually the person is going through intense personal turmoil and the two people they become really don't like one another. And it's really sad to see someone go through that and their personal lives can be destructive, and this was something that had been going on for so long and I had never really written a song about it. I'd always felt this intense feeling. A lot of times friends with alcoholics or drug addicts can often get angry, you can really get resentful after a while and not be patient because you don't understand the problem. There was a lot about Ben's problem at the time that I just didn't understand and I'd just get frustrated and angry and not sympathetic unfortunately. It was really sad and I went through a phase where I felt really resentful so I wrote 'Champagne' about that.
"The good thing though now is that Ben's sober and he's gotten his life together. Well, it's not fair to say that he's got his life together because who am I to say that his life wasn't together? But he's doing good and he's in a band called The Positions NYC, which is really cool and I think ultimately Ben is much happier as a result. And his new music's really cool. In many ways it was a blessing in disguise. And I started playing with Kenny too. It was the timing of the nature, the timing of what was happening with Ben and the fact that I started playing with this guy Kenny and it started feeling a lot more natural. We just kinda musically, and on a friendship level, grew apart. It's sad but it happens, we're adults and we talk to each other still. I don't harbour any resentment whatsoever for Ben and I don't think he harbours any really for us. It just feels pretty mutual. In fact I just saw him a month ago. I'll still hang out with him."

Another very personal song on the album is 'Counting Stars'. This was Tim's first time talking about the song.
"I got some results back from a doctor and the doctor told me that I was sick, and I wasn't. So I wrote this apologetic song that served as an apology for anything I may have done wrong to hurt the world, people, friends… and then nine days later I heard back from the doctor after they'd done a bunch more tests saying I was completely fine and that I wasn't going to be ill. But it was a frightening experience. That song was just written off the top of my head, just this open stream of consciousness. Just singing and writing a song at once."
The album ends, after 'Counting Stars', with 'Sign Off', a literal song that Tim wrote while sat on the edge of his bed, with sun streaming through his window.
"At the time I was feeling extremely lonely. I was in the middle of making this record, which was at times a very solitary experience and I just felt a little confused and was just feeling extremely sad this one day and was kind of questioning this new life that I have. The 'Sign Off' part is just saying goodbye."
If you sense sadness in these songs, it's no surprise. Most of us go through the same sort of emotions. We have happy days where everything's going well and we feel fine, then there are days when things go wrong, or you feel lonely or sad.
"I think that I'm an emotional being and I think that I'm an expressive person, but since I write songs… Most people deal with their feelings several different ways. Some people that are angry go home and yell at their families… or drink and yell at their families… or are confrontational with their friends, or are angry and hold it in. I feel like I write songs. Some people are shocked by the songs I write. They're 'God, they're so sad. Are you always this sad?' and I don't really feel that I'm always this sad, and what I gather from all the friends I have, everyone I know can relate to the things I feel. They're the same sort of things that everyone talks about with one another, but the only difference is that I'm not afraid to write a song about it and I guess you could say that I expose myself. I expose the internet conversations that people normally have and let them be publicly known. A lot of people confide in their friends, something that's really personal, a dear emotion that you have, that you'd be afraid of other people knowing about. Lots of people feel those things and the only difference is that I write songs about it. And hopefully what people will get out of it is that they don't feel so abnormal and they don't feel a need to panic and think they're going crazy. Or that they are a wreck and need to be on medication or counselling. Maybe they do, I don't know, but if I can make someone feel better about their feelings and not feel alienated and alone then I feel like I'm doing my job and it makes me feel better."
Tim goes back to talking about how he hopes the listener can relate to his songs and how in fact, some have let him know that they have done already.
"I have fans and people that send me emails telling me that they were thinking about killing themselves or running away or doing something really drastic but they heard this one song or they listened to a couple of songs over and over and it made them feel better and it empowered them not to get down, knowing that someone that they like and respect has felt the same thing. The other day I guess someone downloaded our record off the internet and then wrote me a personal check for $13 saying that they never buy anything, they always steal it online, but that the songs really affected their lives and that it was really worth something and it would have been worth the money buying it - and that's a really good feeling. That makes me feel like my point's getting across."

I ask Marko if there are any of Tim's lyrics that he can really relate to. He says yes.
"I think that's the cool thing about songs. A lyric is written by one person but put out there for hundreds of thousands of people to buy, and they're not just listening to your story, they're applying it to their lives. And that's the way music is to me.
"On this album I can take the song 'Back To California' and whereas he wrote that song about coming home to break up with somebody, I can take that song to give a bitter-sweet feeling at the end of a tour where you're about to go home, and you're looking forward to going home but at the same time you're also a little bit sad because the tour's over and your friends back home and your family are never going to fully be able to relate to how your life is on the road in a band. The only people that can relate to it are the people out there with you, the people in your band, the people in your crew, the people in the band you're touring with and that becomes sort of your new society that you live in. You become this citizen of outer space, a citizen of rock 'n' roll which is this constantly fluctuating and constantly moving small town that's just spread out all over the world at any given time. We could be in Florida and run into the guys from a band from England, or we could be in England and run into the guys from The All-American Rejects, or we could be in Japan and run into the guys from AFI. It doesn't really matter where the geographic location is, it's just this small town called touring rock 'n' roll band and you all have that in common wherever you are. For instance, on this last tour we were just on in America with MxPx and Simple Plan, here we are with a band from Seattle and a band from Canada driving all over the country. One day we were in Texas hanging out with the guys from Damage Plan. And it's like 'hey, cool, what's up?' We all have something in common, we play music for a living, it just comes out sounding different. And then all of a sudden we're in Los Angeles and we're hanging out with Hilary Duff, who's this Disney girl, and then we're in another place and Kelly Osbourne shows up and then we're in another place and the guys in NOFX are there. It's this constantly moving small community of music and 'Back To California' is an example of 'can't wait to get home' but at the same time, home isn't really home anymore."

As far as record companies, another 'home' for the band, Sugarcult have moved from Ultimatum Music in USA and Epitaph in Europe to now being on Fearless Records in USA and Rykodisc in UK and Europe.
"Ultimatum sold our record to a label called Artemis in America and they kinda partnered up with them, mainly because, we recorded this record and we all just felt like we needed the team of someone else to help us out," explains Tim. "We needed a bigger staff of people and Ultimatum had slimmed down and we had worked with Artemis on the last record. Nothing's really changed. I still talk to all the same people and they're still all involved in the record. But Ryko over in the UK is entirely new. Epitaph passed on this new record and I don't really know why. And I don't know much about Ryko either. I think Epitaph came in on 'Start Static' after it had been out in America a year and a half and it was hard to break a brand new band with a record that had been out for a year and a half, especially 'cause we had sold 20,000 imports already in the UK, or in Europe, or both… I can't remember. So I think that Epitaph was faced with a lot harder of circumstances than a brand new band, and especially they had to follow up the fact that we had sold 300,000 records in America and 100,000 records in Japan. I don't know the finances or the business end of that kind of stuff but they were up against some hard odds. And then what happened was when we signed the new deal in America, immediately they had someone that works with them, that always puts out their records in the UK. So we knew all along that our record was going to be coming out in the UK, it was just a matter of what label it was going to be on, and how badly the label wanted to put it out. Stuff like that is out of your control. You're really just thankful and lucky for those that are inspired to work hard on your record and I think Epitaph worked really, really hard and they were always totally awesome. They're really cool people and I'm friends with all the people over at Epitaph and there's no hard feelings whatsoever. When we found out they weren't going to put out our record we completely understood and at the same time we knew that our album was going to come out on Rykodisc instead, so it was really no big deal."
Hopefully the band will still tour the UK as much as they did with Epitaph, who brought them over a number of times in 2003.
"We loved it over there so much. We have changed labels but with new things always comes new inspiration. There's no way I can forsee how it will all be but I know we've always been jonesing to go over there, so now that we've broken the ice and been over there a few times I hope it will be a regular part of the band's activities." Marko says.
Tim agrees but seems to want to calm down a little. "We toured a lot on 'Start Static'. We toured our balls off on that record. And in many ways some of the touring we did we could have held back on it and focused a little more on the next record, focused a little more on other areas of our band. But sometimes you tour, tour, tour, tour, tour and I think how much you don't tour is as important as how much you do tour."
Maybe Tim's saying that because he was sick while on the Japanese promo tour and more recently some US shows got cancelled due to a severe round of tinnitus. "I had food poisoning or something and I had to go to the hospital and get on an IV and get my blood taken and kinda get healthy," says Tim about Japan. "We've been touring so much that my body can't really take it that much, so my health has been kind of decreasing."
"Tim's a fragile little boy," Marko comments.
The vocalist jokes that they've made some Tim clones so that if he's unwell one of the clones can go out on tour instead.
"We've manufactured three Tims so depending on what season it is we'll send Tim A out or Tim B out or Tim C out."

Well, hopefully Tim will be fine and the band won't need to use any of his clones. Mind you, imagine if each member of Sugarcult had three clones - we could have three Sugarcults. How awesome would that be? Either way, hopefully the band will tour lots - because we love seeing them lots. Make sure you pick up 'Palm Trees And Power Lines', their excellent new album, out now on Fearless/Rykodisc, and visit the official Sugarcult website at www.sugarcult.com

 

Sugarcult are on the cover of issue 50 of Black Velvet with an interview with the band inside.

To order this issue, go to www.blackvelvetmagazine.com/backissues.htm

 

 

 

 

 
Childhood Fantasies

(An interview with Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 36 - May 2003)

BY SHARI BLACK VELVET

"Hi Shari," a voice speaks on the other end of the phone. Looks like Marko 72 is the lucky winner of the competition to be Black Velvet interviewee for the day (well, half an hour actually). Marko 72, incase you don't know, is the guitarist of the sensational Sugarcult, a band who've been reaping success in the States during the past two years following the release of 'Start Static', their awesome debut album on Ultimatum Music. A couple of months ago 'Start Static' was finally released in the UK thanks to Epitaph Records in Europe, so now even YOU can get your greasy mitts on it.

 

Above: Marko Wishes His Weiner Was This Big

 


Marko 72 (who's been know to have 'Keri Kelli hair' - or maybe Keri Kelli has Marko hair…) is over in the UK to promote the record. He starts off by saying how excited they are about the release.

"We're sooooo fucking excited. Our record came out in the States almost a year and a half ago at this point, and we've been trying to find a way to get overseas and get our album out overseas ever since. So not only are we excited that people are going to hear our music over here and that we have an excuse to come here and tour now, but it also represents a small victory for our band, because it's something we really fought for and really worked hard to make happen ourselves."

He explains how it all happened.

"We're on an independent label in the States and they're not set up worldwide, so we didn't have anyone doing this all for us. We actually got on Epitaph in a really unlikely way. I went to a NOFX concert because I'm friends with NOFX back home, and we went to an after party at Brett's house… Mr. Brett. I was either talking to Jordan from Strung Out or Howie who used to be in D Generation - who's now in Danzig. I was talking to one of those guys and telling them about the band. I said "Sugarcult" and suddenly Brett comes in and he's like "Sugarcult? Who said Sugarcult?" I thought he was going to kick me out of his house or something like that, like "Get the fuck out of my house, I hate you guys!" but instead he was like "I really like your band. My son - he's 11 years old… You're my son's favourite band". I was like 'holy fuck'. The next thing you know he's asking me to give him an autograph for his son. I'm like 'I can't sign an autograph for Brett Gurewitz, I want HIS autograph', you know what I mean? So it was really cool. He's such a sweet guy, Brett is. He really loves music. He's very open-minded - you can tell by the stuff he puts out. Everything from NOFX to Merle Haggard and Tom Waits. And blues musicians and punk bands, y'know. So it was a real compliment when he said he liked our songs and the next thing you know we started talking. I'm like "our album's not out overseas" and here we are now, our record's out on Epitaph."

Is it weird to be promoting it all over again, so long after its original release?

"Not really because in all honesty we never really stopped. Within a week from the day we finished our record we hit the road. First it was a couple of months of just trying to tell people that we even existed, and then our record came out and it was about telling people that we had an album out. Then once we started making some fans, touring became more about going out there and satisfying a demand. These people that bought your record, now they want to see you play live. So you go out and play more shows, and it's another chapter in the 'Start Static' story. But it's not weird, it's exciting, really. It's good for us because we got to the point in the States where we went out there on the Warped Tour 2001 when no-one had ever heard of our band and one fan at a time got into our band. We were learning as we went, trusting our instincts and doing the best we could, and from that we built a pretty good fan base to the point that now we can play our own headlining shows in the US and have 2,000 people show up and they know the words to the songs and know our names. It means a lot to us because it didn't happen over night. We've been a band for four years and it took a year and a half of touring around the country non-stop to really build it up, one fan at a time. When we play shows it feels really good, we feel proud of ourselves that we built it. It was something that we actually built. It wasn't handed to us on a silver platter.

"I think that we want to test that same strategy over here. It's another place now. First we tried it in our hometown and it worked. Then we tried it in this town where we could drive to and still make it to our day jobs. Then we put our record out and tried it around the entire country. Now it's a national thing. We want to see if we can do it all over the world. And make it honest. Just one fan at a time. Just have people see our band, hopefully we won't let them down, and then they're gonna wanna go and tell ten more people about us. And then they're going to come and see us, and then they're going to go and tell ten people each and before you know it, from one fan you've got 100 fans - which is great. We exist to make music and make records and play shows. Fans of our band are just as important as drumsticks and bass players. You can't have a band without them. If we could fit everyone in a band photo they'd be in the band photo with us! To me they're just as important as I am in the band, they're just as important as us. So it's really cool. We're excited to do it all over again over here. Then we'll go home and probably make a new record."

Marko, Tim (Pagnotta - vocals/guitar), Airin (bass/vocals) and Ben (Davis - drums/vocals) come across as exceptionally down to earth guys, as you can probably tell just by reading the above. They are very grateful for the support of their fans, and you can tell they're in love with the whole rock n' roll world. But not everyone's like that. Some bands complain, some guys become egotistical when they hit stardom, some, like Kurt Cobain, even commit suicide. What does Marko think about band members who complain or are egotistical about their success?
"I try to be a good sport about things like that. People that become egotistical… maybe they just didn't grow up in a town like we did. I grew up in a town where when you were 14 you would ride your skateboard down to a backyard party where they'd be serving beer and smoking pot and NOFX would be playing, or Lagwagon would be playing on a driveway or a street in a part of town, or The Mad Caddies, bands that have gone on now to be known around the world. They just got their start in the driveways and punk rock backyard parties in Santa Barbara. So you learn. You see the human element in it and you realise all the hard work that goes into it, and all the heart and soul that goes into it and when a band becomes successful you're happy for them. Those bands usually conduct themselves very well.

"You start a band because it's worthwhile to get together with your friends and make up songs and play parties for people or play to crowds of friends. It's a fun social outlet and some way to challenge your energy when you're young and you want to do something more than just your homework! So maybe the bands that are out there that have big egos, maybe they grew up in a town where they didn't have a big local scene and their only exposure to music was through MTV and a radio and big music magazines. I think a lot of people go out there and think 'oh now I'm in a band I have to act like an asshole 'cause that's what people in bands are supposed to be like'. Luckily we had some really good role models when we were growing up; people like Fat Mike, Joey from Lagwagon who can make a lot of money and own houses but still can have a beer with you and totally be on your level and not conduct themselves like a bunch of pricks. I think we're all very appreciative. We were a band for several years just busting our asses in bars and parties, trying to get ten of our friends to come down to see the show so it wouldn't look empty. So every night that we get to do this on a professional level… If we weren't getting paid to do this, we'd be paying to do it. I would give up my life savings and break up with my girlfriend and sell my car to be able to play two sold out nights at the Astoria in London. And here I am doing it. It's like 'fuck!' What you wouldn't give to do what we get to do. So of course you've got to be appreciative of it. It's fucking fun.

"And there are so many bands in the world; the majority of the best bands in the world don't get to do it, don't get to go out and play, don't get their song on the radio, don't get to do interviews. The bands that are big represent a small amount of the actual bands that are out there. It keeps you in check. You realise how lucky you are. You've got to be a total asshole to think that the reason you're getting attention is because you're the God's gift to rock n' roll. You can work your ass off and the odds are stacked against you whether anyone's going to give a fuck, so if they do you've got to be appreciative of it.

"You can't walk out there and act pompous. This is rock 'n' roll. We get to play music and drink beer every night and party all the time and hang out with our friends and travel all over the world. This is the best job in the world. Anyone who tells you otherwise should pack up their shit, cut their hair and go and get a straight job, leave room for the next band. Leave room for The Used or Finch or the next band of 19 year olds who want to rock out because they live in a shitty, boring town and want to break out of the mediocrity and go and see the world, live their lives and follow their dreams."

Marko is actually a veteran of the music scene. He was in many bands prior to Sugarcult, busting his ass, as he said, to try and become successful in his chosen career. He's been a member of Illiterate, Lost Kittenz, Cooler, Fun Razor, The Ataris, Swingin' Utters and more. Not only that but he ran My Records with Joey Cape of Lagwagon for a while.

"I've been playing in bands since I was 14 years old. I got an early start. I've been in different bands, done a little bit of touring. I played in The Ataris for their first year, and I also worked at Joey of Lagwagon's My Records. In all the bands I've ever been in I've always been the one who ended up getting stuck with making phone calls and doing phone interviews, booking the shows, mailing out our demos and all that other stuff. It's kinda like how a band gets the lead singer. It's usually who's not afraid to sing ends up being the lead singer. I tend to be the most organised guy in the band. I would end up doing most of the legwork. I was the guy who was willing to go to the copy shop at four in the morning and make flyers and put them all over town for the show, or make phone calls and harass people to give us a show. As a result I learned a lot about the way the business side of it works and Joey asked me to run his label. He was putting out some records and he was leaving for tours with Lagwagon. I just kinda jumped into the deep end and figured it out."

Working for a label has taught him a lot that has helped Sugarcult along the way.

"We put out a record for Nerfherder from my hometown. I learnt a lot. You take it from everywhere. I learnt from doing My Records how it all works. I learned from working in an independent record store. I learnt from playing in bands. I learnt from watching other bands that came to my town and having beers with them at the bar on Christmas Eve and talking to them and having them say 'Ah man, we made a big fucking mistake, we did this, we did that' or 'we didn't do this, we didn't do that' and you put it altogether and you learn from it. You'd be an idiot not to learn from it.

"But at the same time, Airin and Tim, our singer and our bass player, this is their first band ever. Whereas me and Ben, our drummer, have been in bands for years. I worked in the business side of the music industry and Ben worked as an engineering producer. So we had years of experience but Tim and Airin, it was their first band ever, so they bring a really healthy dose of innocence to the band, which is just as important as experience in my opinion. Innocence is just as valuable as experience because sometimes you can know too much. Where somebody really learns is in the unknown. It's not enough just to learn French by reading a book; you need to go to France.

"I think we all keep each other in check. When Tim and Airin want to jump I might go 'hey, wait a minute, you might want to think about this' but there's times when I just want to sit there and think about it forever, and those guys go 'fuck it, dude, let's jump!' I think it really helps our band be a little more level headed about all this stuff that's happening." He compares being in a band with like being a family. "It's a love/hate relationship. We're kinda like brothers where we want to rip each other's throats out sometimes and have crazy arguments but… it's kinda like, you can call your brother an asshole but if your friend calls him an asshole you'll punch him in the face. It's that kinda thing. I think anyone in that kind of working relationship has that. We're all each other's friends, you know what I mean? Each guy in the band has a different sort of relationship with each other guy in the band. We all support each other but there are definitely times when… a band is a crazy experiment. You've got four male egos in a relationship together. It's hard enough for a guy and a girl to be in a relationship together, let alone four guys. Throw in some alcohol and some 14 hour drives and guys that never want to pull over and ask for directions."

Guys are always like that, aren't they?

"Yeah. I always wondered what it was like when The Donnas were first touring - pulling over every 15 minutes and asking for directions, whereas we're sitting there fighting over the road atlas trying to figure it out for ourselves. Then we finally go 'hey dude, let's pull over'. Sometimes I kinda wish we had a female bass player. Sometimes I wonder if we do! Just joking!

"It's cool, we're all each other's friend, we all connect. Every guy in the band is very different from the other, so that keeps it fresh and interesting. We're definitely not a band of four Markos or four Tims or four Bens or Airins. It's very much Airin, Tim, Marko and Ben. The four of us. The chemistry we have between us for better or for worse it makes us what is Sugarcult. We're not one of those bands like The Vines where it's just that singer guy and then, oh yeah, those others guys. I think each guy in the band has definitely got a strong presence in the band."

As mentioned, the 'Start Static' album first came out on Ultimatum Music in the States in August 2001. Marko talks about why they chose Ultimatum.

"Coming from Santa Barbara, there were lots of bands that we grew up with that went to majors and there were also lots of bands that went to Fat Wreck Chords or Epitaph and independent labels, and I think we just had a little bit of a bad taste in our mouth from seeing how many… well, Santa Barbara's an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles so you're pretty close to the music industry - and when you're that close… From far back it looks like a pretty picture. When you see it up close it's not so pretty anymore. You see the psychology of how most of those labels work. They'll sign ten bands expecting nine of them to fail. I think that's just fucked up for the artist. The label gets to keep being a record label but the band's signed their life away and usually implodes under the pressure. It can destroy a band. Very few bands recover from going to a major label failing and then coming back and going 'oh yeah, remember us? The big band that signed to… whatever. Well now here we are, back at the bar. Could you give us a chance?' People are kinda like 'well, you tried to reach for the brass ring' but then there are also great things about major labels. They have a lot of resources that can help a band out.

"One thing I can tell you is that we were a band for several years and we decided we were ready to make a record. We sent our music out to people and major labels kept saying they wanted to hear more and more and more. Maybe we were a bit cocky but we said 'We don't exist as a band to get signed to a major label. We exist as a band to make records.' It's not 'are we ready for you?' it's 'are you ready for us?' If they said 'we want to hear more', we'd say 'well we want to hear more from you. We're not going to write more songs because you're not ready to make our record. We're going to who's ready to make our record'. It's flattering. Of course you want to go home to your friends and say 'hey, the guy flew out all the way from New York City and took us out to lunch and paid money to rent out a place for us to do a private show for him'. That's exciting stuff but it's not half as exciting as when all ten of the employees of Ultimatum show up at your actual show at your hometown and they all know the lyrics to all your songs because they've been listening to your demo in the office for the last three weeks. You look at it and it sobers you up a little bit.

"You go 'wait a minute here. Am I going to sign with a label that's famous for being associated with Mickey Mouse or am I going to sign with a label that I've never heard of in my life but consists of people that I can hang out with and know on a first name basis and are really passionate about my band and our music and ready to make a record right now with us and put their asses on the line for us?' So to make a long story short, that's why we signed to Ultimatum. They were ready for us, and they needed us as much as we needed them. We didn't feel like we were going to get lost in the mix."

Ultimatum are a fairly new label and things worked well from the word go.

"We've always been very involved with our band. We did it ourselves for a long time, where we made up our own CDs, made our own shirts and sold them at shows, booked our own shows and everything. So we were used to doing everything ourselves, so when we went to a label it wasn't 'here, tell us what to do', it was more us telling them 'here's how we like to run our band, here's the way we want to put our band out there' and the cool thing about them was the cement was still wet enough that we could carve our philosophy into their label and they respected us. They didn't think 'oh, these guys are a bunch of dumb musician dudes. Let's keep them in the dark making songs and busting their asses on the road'. They involve us - which is another reason why we really like Ultimatum. We like being on independent labels as they involve the artist. They don't plug you into a formula. They ask you how you like to be, how you like to run your band, what magazines you want to be advertised in, what radio stations you want your band to be sent to."

Do you have time to think about all of that?

"Sure, we have so much time. This isn't just our hobby anymore. This is our life. You have eight hour drives. And most of our decisions have been made while going 80 miles an hour on the highway!" he laughs. "Me and Tim will start brainstorming an idea for the next video, or we'll be looking through photos from the photo shoot and deciding which ones are cool and then we'll mail them home, or whatever. Call up our label and say 'use the one where I'm sort of making this face'. We definitely have time. It cuts into your drinking schedule a bit, but luckily we're all lightweights, we get drunk really fast. We come really fast too. The sex and drugs part doesn't take up much of our time, the rock n' roll part we spend most of our time doing out of the sex, drugs and rock n' roll triad".

Er… moving swiftly on…

How do you stop from getting burnt out?

"I don't know. That's the cool thing about our band; we're total fuckin' workaholics. I guess we spent enough years doing this before it took off that now that it's going we're just like 'fuck it, let's do this. Let's keep this ball in play as long as we can. It's really like playing pinball or something like that. Once it's going you try and keep it out there as long as you can. But it's not really tiring. We're old enough to have worked jobs before this and gone to college so we know what the alternative is. There's no easy way out of life unless you say 'fuck it'. If you're not working hard at something you love, you're going to be working hard at something someone else loves but you don't necessarily love! I'd much rather work hard and play a rock show at the end of the day than have to get to bed and be at some office where some asshole's breathing down my neck at eight in the morning, telling me to build something or xerox something. 'Did you fax that thing yet', know what I mean?

"What did Tim do before he did this? He was working at a clothing store in the mall folding sweaters, telling fat people they looked really good in their clothes so they'd buy the clothes. 'Oh sure, it makes you look really skinny, you look great'. Who wants to do that for eight hours a day when you can stand on stage and say the F-word all night and not have to pay for it."
Working in a clothes store's not too bad though, not compared to some other jobs. He could have been a toilet cleaner or something…

"I had a fun job though, I worked in a record store. That was awesome. But believe me, this never gets tiring. When you're doing something you love, you don't get tired of it. Granted, sometimes we get tired of being on the road and want to go back in the studio and start making new songs but luckily we have other outlets for that. I have a side project band, Bad Astronaut. So whenever I'm home from tour with Sugarcult, I can go in the studio with Joey and we make Bad Astronaut recordings. Tim and Ben have their own home studios that they mess around in and work on ideas. Ben will do engineering and producing for other people. Our bass player Airin, he has side projects he does, recording projects with his friends. We all have other things that keep us interested so that it keeps it fresh so that when we come back to Sugarcult it's really exciting, 'cause we also have lives as individuals too. That's important. I think an important part of being in a band is also retaining something outside of the band too, whether you have your own label, or your own side project band or your solo band or whatever."
They don't get too much time for those side projects though. And there are times when they have to leave them in mid-air because work involving Sugarcult comes up.

"I'll go in the studio with Bad Astronaut and be working on some really cool shit and then I'll have to leave on tour again so for the first few days of the tour I'm looking out the window, going 'fuck, I wanna be in the studio right now with Joey, taking breaks and eating Mexican food down the street and going to the local dive bar at the end of the night' but that usually only lasts for a couple of days. Tim the other day was on a total roll as we had a couple of weeks off around the holidays. He was on a total roll recording some new song ideas and he was packing for this tour an hour before we left because he wanted to record as much as he could. The whole time on the plane all he's talking about is his recording and I'm like 'dude, wait till we get to Europe, you're going to be stoked'. It took him one walk through Hyde Park and now he's like 'Oh man, I can't wait to go and see everything in Europe', 'cause he's never been to Europe before, which is pretty fun. I've been to Europe before, our bass player Airin has been to Europe before, he used to be a professional soccer player when he was really young, but Ben and Tim have never been here so it's like a childhood fantasy come to life, to come to Europe for the first time ever with your rock band. It's a childhood fantasy within a childhood fantasy. What kid didn't jump around on his bed with a tennis racket wanting to be a rock star when he grew up?

 

Finish The Following Sentences

Black Velvet asked Marko 72 to finish the following sentences...

BV: Other than the band and music, the three things I love most are...
M: Eating good food, travelling and my mom.

BV: The first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning was...
M: Wow, it's only 3am. I was really jetlagged so I woke up in the middle of the night.

BV: I was really scared when...
M: We played a show in Detroit and the floor almost collapsed. That was pretty scary. I thought 'holy shit, I don't want these people to collapse through the floor and die while I'm playing a rock song.

BV: I really hate it when...
M: You meet people in bands and they're dicks.

BV: If I had 24 hours to live I would...
M: Definitely not waste any time sleeping and I would max up my credit card and buy all my favourite family and friends express flights to Las Vegas and buy people drinks all night long and have one big crazy party in Vegas. Not because I love Las Vegas but because it's the place that never closes. Everyone could come there. We could agree on a time. Call people in England, call people in California, call people in New York, call people all over the place and say "ok, we're meeting at 3 o' clock, Las Vegas time, in Las Vegas. Here's your flight number, see ya there. I'll tell you about it when you get there. You'd better hurry".

BV: If I could change one part of my body or my personality I would change...
M: I wish I was more charming and that I had a bigger weiner.

BV: I'm The One...
M: That's driving me crazy. Or… how bout this… that talks too much.

 

Visit www.sugarcult.com for more info.

 

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

(A Column by Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 39 - February 2004)

 

Marko 72 Photo By Becky Neiman

 

 

What is it that drives us as humans to collect stuff? I guess it's our hunter-gatherer roots. Steve (drummer for one of my favourite Santa Barbara, CA bands of all time, Nerf Herder), is an avid collector of Pez candy dispensers; late 50's/early 60's era lamps, cocktail glasses, and peek-a-boo neckties from the 40's with sexy pin-up girls printed on the inside. Dave (also from Nerf Herder, on guitar) collects bottles of Mr. Clean cleaning product from all over the world; it's always the same bald dude with a shiny earring and his arms folded, but each country has its own name for it, so it's kind of a cool functional souvenir to look for.

Unfortunately things like eBay have taken a lot of the fun out of collecting things; fewer and farther between are the days when you could find something valuable for a steal, the proverbial 'cheap old guitar for sale' that turns out to be a rare 1930's Gibson, etc. The whole fun of collecting things is the thrill of the chase, it's not fair when all you have to do is punch it in and write a check. I've collected all kinds of pop-cultural debris through the years: Spice Girls dolls, Kiss dolls, punk records from the 70's, concert flyers, photos of me with celebrities (see the 'beautiful stalker' gallery on www.sugarcult.com).

So where am I going with all this? As a rock n roll traveler, I've become obsessed with collecting something that's easier to carry around; memories. 70's-era New York punk survivor Richard Hell is a way better writer than he ever was singer or bass player, and wrote a really cool novel a few years ago called 'Go Now' about a fucked up couple that goes on a road trip across America. Somewhere in that book he makes the statement that in many ways; 'memories are better than life, sometimes I can't wait for an experience to be over so that I can enjoy the memory of it… sometimes I make decisions based on how good of a memory it will yield'. If you think about it, it's kind of true; like photography, you can edit or crop out the bad parts; blow up and frame the good times for all to see; destroy the negatives so they can't develop and bring you down. Of course this can backfire, as many of us have leapt back into a bad relationship or situation due to the historical amnesia that makes us forget the dysfunctional stuff and only miss the good sex or whatever! I keep this memory idea in the forefront of my mind when I'm on tour with my band. Touring can be a tedious exercise in repetition if you let it; wake up-drive-sound check-sit around-play show-get drunk- pass out; or it can be an amazing opportunity to collect memories. Go see some things, meet some interesting people, take some chances, try new things, take some pictures, go for it… and then get drunk and pass out. That also holds true for whatever you do in your life, don't just let the days and months and years pass by; create memories. I get inspired by others that add that extra element of spice to their lives and go beyond the call of duty. I pulled an all nighter in room 116 of the notorious Columbia Hotel in London recently partying with people I had just met. The girl Angela busted out 3D photos of her and her friends in front of the swimming pool Rolling Stone Brian Jones died in. They had made a trip to his former house and broke in just to take pictures and pay their rock n roll respects to his legend. Brilliant!

Then there are hellish experiences, which can suck while they're happening, but can be fondly looked back on in a triumph over tragedy way. Sugarcult was on tour in America and our bus got slammed by a drag-racing Mercedes while parked in front of a venue at 3am rendering it undriveable. Thankfully, no one died, but our bus was fucked. Our tour manager was having a nervous breakdown, Story of the Year's tour manager was out at a bar (we were sharing our bus with them) so our singer Tim and I had to save the day. We stuck both band's members and crew on a early morning train; grabbed our guitar tech Matt and ended up in a pick-up truck with our bus driver and his redneck 80 year-old father in law driving us out to his son's auto body shop out in the most remote rural corner of Pennsylvania. We sat around drinking stale coffee waiting for the sunrise and for a rental truck company to open; we learned a lot about shot-guns and the history of our driver's incredibly deranged family. Finally we located a huge 20' truck an hour away; got it, loaded it up, said farewell to our new backwoods friends; and drove 7 hours across the state to Philadelphia just in time to drag everything on stage and make it to the show on zero sleep.

I loaned my copy of 'Go Now' to my friend Kris (singer of another great Santa Barbara band, the Ataris) a while back and he was so inspired by the 'memories…' idea that he made it the underlying theme of his band's recent album "So Long Astoria". Kris phoned me the other day as he was driving from California to Florida alone in a rental car with a huge stack of CDs, a guitar, a notepad and a tape recorder; his mission: to get some inspiration to write some new songs, have solitude away from his band mates, and above all to make some memories. He told me how his band was going to tour Europe and do some shows in Russia (at his request) and that after the Russian dates he was going to jump on the three-day Trans-Siberian Express train and check out Tibet; which is a lot cooler than just limping home to your neighborhood pub at the end of a tour and bragging about how many autographs you signed. Go now.

Don't change that song,
Marko 72

Contact me through www.sugarcult.com

Currently dirty dancing to:
- Death Cab for Cutie (a great indie-rock band named after a really strong type of weed)
- www.punkvoter.com (Fat Mike from NOFX's political activism site; get involved!)
- the Penfifteen Club "Ms. Hilton" (their song is even better than Paris' sex tape!)
- Denver Harbor (Will ex-Fenix TX's new band, w/ 15 year old drum-whiz Ilan Rubin)
- Ikara Colt (new bass-girl Tracy is hot!)

 

Can You Hear Me Now?

(A Column by Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 41 - August 2004)

   

Kick out the jams you old motherfuckers; that's what I thought last night in Los Angeles watching the surviving members of legendary Detroit punk forefathers the MC5 strut their stuff to a packed house of music history nerds like myself and cats like John Doe (singer of X), Evan Dando (the Lemonheads), and Mark Arm (Mudhoney) in tow. Earlier I had gone to Dodger Stadium to watch a baseball game; my 3rd game ever! Somehow in my jetlagged state from having just returned from our UK tour and my own Parisian escapade, I propped myself up on a $7 beer and a $9 Hennessy and made it through my night of American culture.

I hope you're sitting down. In the UK I had two interviews waiting for me in Buh-min-gum so I invited both writers on my bus and proposed that I do the interviews at the same time. It went great and then I got to talking further to one of the girls interviewing me who seemed depressed. Apparently a good friend of hers lost his fight with heroin addiction, overdosed and sadly died. I have personally never been a junkie but I have lost several close friends to that evil drug, so I felt compelled to give her my words of wisdom and sympathy. I don't mean to sound preachy but heroin is a life sentence; once addicted you are doomed to spend the rest of your life doing it or trying to not do it; it's best to not go there in the first place. My worst heroin casualty story goes back to my band from 1991-95 Popsicko. Our singer was an incredibly talented and intelligent guy named Keith Brown (for you punk trivia buffs; he was actually the first ever singer of Pennywise in the late 80s), he had a tendency to live on the edge and tempt fate, and eventually fell into using smack. Our band had recorded an album ironically titled 'Off to a Bad Start' and had worked hard and risen to the point where record companies were knocking at the door. Unfortunately, the bigger we got, the harder it was to hide the dark secret of our singer being strung out. He started like everyone does, smoking it and thinking he had it under control, the next thing we knew there were track marks on his arms and his eyes looked as if he had been possessed by a demon; he was. I have to emphasise that as frustrating as it is you almost can't blame the addict for their condition. Authority figures make the mistake of using scare tactics to dissuade kids from doing hard drugs; then, of course, when someone tries it and it seems pretty mellow, they think they were being lied to. That's the way it happens time and time again. By the time you realise that you need it just to get through the day and not be sick it's already too late to turn back; just like that, you're a junkie! Addiction is not a choice, it's a disease; so if you know someone who is strung out, don't blame them, instead, show them you care and help them get help, even if you have to drag them kicking and screaming. As hard as it is, it's still better than picking up the phone and hearing that they're gone forever. We tried to use tough love with Keith, we told him we were cancelling all band activities and that we were calling his parents. A month went by and we heard he was trying to get it together. I missed him as a band mate but more so as a good friend. I wanted him to know that I thought highly of him, cared about him, felt compassion for the struggle he was going through and that the new Jawbreaker and Supergrass albums were really good! I wrote him a postcard telling him these things and sent it to his mom's house in hopes that he'd get it eventually. On the night of November 7, 1995 (two weeks before the release of our album) as I was stringing up my bass in my bedroom, I got the call. Keith had been killed in a car accident; he was high and nodded off at the wheel on his way to Los Angeles to meet a potential manager for our band. He had been off drugs for five days but got nervous about the meeting so he shot up before leaving town. Me and my group of friends all got together and spent about a week straight trying to come to terms with this tragedy. I spoke with his mother and she told me that she had read him my postcard over the phone that morning and that he was happy to hear from me and missed me. That was my saving grace that got me through the confusion and sorrow of that time period. I grew up a lot out of that experience and learned that grieving is important when you lose a loved one, but that even more important is getting on with your life. When someone dies young, it doesn't make sense, you feel guilty to smile or laugh, or eat or sleep. You have to set aside a limited period of time to grieve and then move on, live a little extra yourself in their memory. When I picked up the pieces and eventually got things going again with Sugarcult and found some success I felt like I was doing it not only for myself, but also for Keith, a true talent who deserved to be recognized, that helped me get through the hard early years of our band. I was honored to invite Keith's mom, brother and sister to a show recently; they told me Keith would have been proud.

On a lighter note, flying home from our UK tour I had my childhood hero Nikki Sixx (from Mötley Crüe) and his new band Brides of Destruction on my flight. We were reading the same book (The Damage Done) and I got to know him pretty well; it's weird to be miles in the sky with a multi-millionaire rock star that I used to have posters of on my wall, and just be talking about life. If you read Mötley Crüe's autobiography, 'Dirt', you'll read the story of how he successfully overcame a horrendous 15 year battle with heroin, he is now totally sober, the father of 5 kids and still rockin' that crazy hairdo!
Remember kids: it's better to fail at being yourself than to succeed at being someone else.

Gimme danger,
Marko 72

Currently getting my rocks off to:
- Ikara Colt - 'Modern Apprentice' (cool packaging, great sounds, hot girls)
- Auf Der Maur (Melissa is no longer the bridesmaid, now she's the bride)
- Division of Laura Lee - 'Das Not Compute' (Swedes who toured with us)
- PJ Harvey - 'Uh Huh Her' (saw her live in Paris, tres magnifique!)
- Mayonnaise Baboon (Airin's buddy Nico's new song vehicle)
- The Damage Done (riveting memoir written by an Australian guy who spent 12 years in a hellish Bangkok prison; read it and be thankful you are free.)


Can You Hear Me Now?

(A Column by Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 44 - May 2005)

   

 

Cheers my sexy velveteens! Greetings from a well-lit room full of laundry machines and lonely Los Angelinos here in Hollywood, CA where yours truly is scrubbing the last few months of world tour stench out of his clothes (yes, even us famous rock n roll stars have to fold their knickers!). After a year and a half of non-stop globetrotting it's finally time to close the chapter called "Palm Trees and Power Lines" in the good book of Sugarcult; and begin writing the next one (we're home now to work on our next album).
And what a chapter it will be! I usually like to keep my private life separate from the electric guitar slingin' super villain you see on stage/videos/magazines, but I have a story for you that's just too exciting to not divulge. The band was in Japan a few weeks ago supporting Green Day on their big American Idiot tour over there; just played 2 nights in a row in front of 14,000 people in Tokyo (little Avril Lavigne showed up Mike Dirnt wouldn't let her onstage to watch so I felt bad and gave her a beer from our dressing room and watched the show with her from out front 'cause I'm a pathetic loser who likes to hold court with pop-stars!). But I digress. So Tim and I hit the usual bar rock bands all go to when in Tokyo; the Lexington Queen located in the always lively Roppongi district. We had drank up the
sunrise there the night before; Airin buying bottles of vodka and gin; comrades from Useless ID (an Israeli punk band) and Never Heard Of It (the hardest workin' "unknown" band in America) in the house; and a thousand blurry memories. There we were again, Tim the international playboy was chatting up 2 chicks (one British, the other Japanese), I was trying to beat my hangover by sipping on a vodka tonic, the kids were on the dance floor shakin' their tail feathers; then the bar manager finds me in the crowd and says in a thick Japanese accent, "Marko from Sugarcult? You need call home right now!" It was like the whole place went into slow motion except for me, I followed him to the bar's office and without asking dialed all the way home on their phone.
Me and my wife were pregnant with our first kid; I was cutting it close to be on tour, but we still had 3 weeks to go 'til the baby was due and only one more show until we'd be home. Apparently the baby had other plans and decided to show up early! My wife's water broke unexpectedly and she officially went into labor. I shifted gears, ditched my drink, pulled Tim away from his dual make-out session and told him the news, "dude, I have to go home we're having our baby, play the last show without me!" Tim gave me his blessing and went back to his 'lady friends". I got the hell out of there. Taxi. Hotel. Telephone. Suitcase. Airport. Gift shop. Green Tea flavored Kit Kat at the newstand. I caught the first flight home the following day slept most of the 12 hours in the sky. The kid had been born a half an hour after I called to check in from the Japan airport so unfortunately I missed the birth (I probably would have fainted anyway!) Landed. My mom picked me up in Los Angeles and drove me straight to the hospital.
Then before I knew it I was holding 19 inches, 7 pounds and 3 ounces of dark-haired baby boy. I looked at my beautiful newborn son, only several hours old, and thought about what a wild adventure he had already sent me on; and that was all before I changed his first diaper! He owes me a stiff drink a few years from now.

Back to California,
Daddy Marko 72

Rants n raves:
- The Lapdancers "the ghost of alcohol and songs" (one of my pre-Sugarcult bands is finally putting out a CD of all the songs we recorded. Check it out!)
- Ted Leo & the Pharmacists "Shake the Sheets" (clever DC punk-folk-pop)
- Ebaumsworld.com (funny and fucked up home video footage)
- Punk Rock Confidential (Fat Mike from NOFX's new zine)
- Le Touch "Sexxx" (the coolest dance-rock duo since Ebn-Ozn)
- Isis (progressive heavy metal instrumental music to die for)

Quote du jour:
"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them" - Aristotle

 

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Please note that all articles, photos and other items on this Black Velvet website are owned and copyrighted by Shari Black Velvet/Black Velvet Magazine unless otherwise stated and must not be used elsewhere under any circumstance. Articles in Black Velvet Magazine should not be put online without the express permission of the editor.

 

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