Sugarcult : Tim Pagnotta
Not bouncing off the walls again

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cc: Have you got another Bouncing Off The Walls? Are there songs like that on it?

TP: No.

cc: Aw, that's a good tune. [smiles] Why not do another one of those?

Sugarcult - Click to enlargeTP: [laughs] I didn't say no in the way that I'm embarrassed. I hate it when a band writes a song that's catchy and then they have to be apologetic about it and not play it. Y'know, Radiohead doesn't play Creep. It's like, be proud of that song, it's a good song - don't fight it so hard. I know what it's like: Sometimes you're not going to put the photo up of you in fifth grade, when you're awkward with braces on, above the mantle. You want to put up your newest, coolest photo. But the bottom line is; in that picture that is who you were then. Don't be apologetic about it. Every move you make in life - whether it's calculated or not - you should be able to stand behind it . . . or then you go to band purgatory!

cc: People seem to apologise for the music they used to listen to too.

TP: I know! People apologise for liking, y'know, Poison. And once they find out that Poison's cool because All-American Rejects wear Def Leppard shirts, then they claim they like Poison again. I think it's retarded. You should just say whatever you like. That makes you more unique than just saying, "I've been listening to old Bad Religion, NOFX and Dead Kennedys", just like there's the type of people that say, "I've been listening to David Bowie, T-Rex and Lou Reed." It's like, yeah, you're 18 years old? I think we live in a day and age where people are so calculating about what they say they're into. It's funny, because artists like Elvis Costello were influenced by country music. Most of the music I listen to is pretty tame. People are sometimes surprised when they take a ride in my car. Anywhere from Freedy Johnson to Patsy Cline, to the Ramones to the Foo Fighters, to Ima Robot to Spoon. I don't think that my musical tastes are reflected in the music I write. Well, apart from Elvis Costello.

cc: The first track on Start Static - You're The One - sounds a lot Elvis in the structure of the lyrics.

TP: Yeah, it's funny you should say that cause that that was the first time I got away with ripping off Radio Radio . . . and not the last [laughs].

cc: There's a band called the Boss Martians from Seattle who sound just like Elvis Costello in places . . .

TP: Cool, I'd probably like 'em. I like bands that sound like other bands that I really like - then it's okay. But then somehow when a band sounds like another band that I'm not to interested in - then I get all territorial. I'll be like, "They're just another fuckin' . . . whatever." But I'm sure people say that about us too.

cc: You're out with Good Charlotte tonight. Have you toured with them before?

TP: Oh yeah, they're friends of ours. We met them at the Warped Tour, like two years ago, and remained friends with them ever since. It's cool because they're bigger than us right now and they can pass on the favour and let us open some of these shows. Maybe next year if we play stadiums we can take them on tour [smiles].

cc: You must have seen quite a lot change with them over the last year or two . . .

Sugarcult - Click to enlargeTP: Totally. They're like the first friends I've had where they've gone from small to extremely huge. When I first met those guys they were just kinda coming up - the incline was pointing straight up. They were playing shows that were a couple of hundred people, and now they've sold a couple of million records. So, it's really cool. It's the first time I've ever had some buddies that have had that happen to them. What you can say about that band - and this is to people who have preconceived notions about who they are and who they've become - they're very down-to-earth, they're very humble, every time I talk to them they listen to what I have to say . . . I think they're really good guys. I think they're super cool. Sometimes I've had friends that have had moderate success and shit just changes.

cc: Mentioning any names?

TP: No [smiles]. I think that's just how people handle their business.

cc: Earlier, you mentioned your new wave influences. You mentioned Elvis Costello, you mentioned the Ramones . . .

TP: Oh yeah! I love The Pretenders and the Ramones are fucking awesome. I'm a huge Squeeze fan. If you were to say, "What kind of music do you like?" I'd say power pop and new wave. I like The Cars and The Police . . .

cc: But you can hardly be old enough to remember this the first time around.

TP: I'm 26, but I have an older brother. But I remember when The Cars were on MTV, and my family is really musical. Everyone in my family plays a musical instrument. My parents - oddly enough - were buying Cyndi Lauper records, and Boy George and Culture Club records, so that's what I grew up listening to.

cc: For years the critics have slagged the 80s as being a cultural desert, but bands are now saying that they love Depeche Mode, they love Duran Duran . . .

TP: We've always backed bands that were around in the 80s. How can you make such a blanket statement . . .

cc: It's a decade; it was crap . . .

TP: Yeah, a decade - a decade of humanity. How much have people fuckin' changed? Suddenly have they become better? I think there's spikes in music that resonate more with other people. There's gonna be a generation of people doing interviews going; "Man, in the mid-90s there were bands blowing up like Korn and Limp Bizkit." And that was just as much a moment that resonated with people. For some people in was the 80s - for some people not. Some people thought the 80s were corny. It's a matter of perspective, and what generation you're from, and how you interpreted it. And there's also what side of the railroad tracks you were cut from. Were you a metal guy? Were you a new waver wearing creepers and riding a Vespa? There's personal aesthetics involved in it too. When I grew up some of the bands that were popular that I gravitated towards were the modern rock and new wave bands - what was to become alternative music. The B-52's, Love & Rockets, The Psychedelic Furs, Yazz, New Order, Information Society.

cc: You mentioned some more recent stuff that you've been playing in the car . . .

Sugarcult - Click to enlargeTP: I've been listening a lot to this band Ima Robot. They're really cool. And I really like Ryan Adams, mainly because he's coming out with acoustic music with punk rock roots. Some acoustic folk music can resonate with this innocent John Denver thing, but guys like Hank Williams, when they come from this darker place . . . there's something really cool about the music, and I think with Ryan Adams he's coming at his shit from a really dark place.

From The Knack to Ryan Adams. It's that depth of musical history that makes the music of Sugarcult so more palatable than the music of Busted . . . at least to these ears. Mission accomplished.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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