interview with Tim Pagnotta and Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 40
- May 2004)
SHARI BLACK VELVET
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.
gracing the front cover of Black Velvet 40 (sold out)
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,"
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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."
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
Sugarcult are on the cover of issue 50 of Black Velvet with an interview with the band inside.
interview with Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 36 - May 2003)
SHARI BLACK VELVET
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.
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.
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."
explains how it all happened.
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
it weird to be promoting it all over again, so long after its original
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
for a label has taught him a lot that has helped Sugarcult along the
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.
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.
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."
are always like that, aren't they?
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!
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."
mentioned, the 'Start Static' album first came out on Ultimatum Music
in the States in August 2001. Marko talks about why they chose Ultimatum.
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.
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.
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."
are a fairly new label and things worked well from the word go.
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."
you have time to think about all of that?
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".
moving swiftly on
do you stop from getting burnt out?
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?
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
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.
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?
The Following Sentences
Velvet asked Marko 72 to finish the following sentences...
Other than the band and music, the three things I love most are...
M: Eating good food, travelling and my mom.
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.
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.
I really hate it when...
M: You meet people in bands and they're dicks.
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
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.
I'm The One...
M: That's driving me crazy. Or how bout this that talks
Column by Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 39 - February 2004)
72 Photo By Becky Neiman
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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;
- 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
- Ikara Colt (new bass-girl Tracy is hot!)
You Hear Me Now?
Column by Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 41 - August 2004)
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.
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
getting my rocks off to:
- Ikara Colt - 'Modern Apprentice' (cool packaging, great sounds,
- Auf Der Maur (Melissa is no longer the bridesmaid, now she's
- Division of Laura Lee - 'Das Not Compute' (Swedes who toured
- 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.)
You Hear Me Now?
Column by Marko 72 - Taken from Black Velvet 44 - May 2005)
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
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
to California, Daddy Marko 72
- 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
- Isis (progressive heavy metal instrumental music to die for)
"For the things we have to learn before we can do them,
we learn by doing them" - Aristotle
Copyright: Black Velvet Magazine. All Rights Reserved.
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.