Sugarcult : Tim Pagnotta
Not bouncing off the walls again

Jump to page:  

Sugarcult - Click to enlargeHaving toured with the likes of Rancid, Less Than Jake and Jimmy Eat World, and having shifted over half a million copies of debut CD Start Static, Sugarcult's UK tour with Good Charlotte is the latest chapter in a rapidly escalating career. The band combine sugary pop melodies with a punky undercurrent. Frontman Tim Pagnotta prefers the term power pop, but they probably get called pop-punk more than they'd like.
    I've got an alterior motive for wanting to speak to Tim. I really like Sugarcult's music, but I understand that on the surface it sounds a little too close to the likes of Busted for comfort - a band who I have absolutely no time for. Are Sugarcult just as superficial, or is there something more substantial under the candy coating?

counterculture: You're out on tour supporting Start Static . . . still. You've had this album out two years in the States and it came out here earlier in the year. Are you not getting sick of these songs yet?

Tim Pagnotta: Um, absolutely . . . getting sick of these songs!

cc: Is it like Groundhog Day every time you turn up on stage?

TP: Yeah, we're the only band that can shoot laser beams out of our eyes at each other at a moment's notice because we're so tense playing these songs. We're so in the moment. Y'know, it's kinda one of those things when sometimes you hear a song one million times in a row it can be the last song you want to hear, but then sometimes when the show goes great you wanna turn a three minute song into a twenty minute jam, because it's like, 'Fuck, I don't want the end!' . . . and thats when you just start going into Steppenwolf covers.

cc: Sounds good. You doing one tonight [tongue in cheek]?

TP: Steppenwolf? [from the background: "Magic Carpet Ride!"] Maybe Molly Hatchet!

cc: Any news on the next record? You've been promising it for some time . . .

TP: I don't know. Y'know, it depends whenever the record label decide to put their minds together and put it out.

cc: So it's been in the can for a while then?

TP: No, we just finished it two days ago, got finished mastering two days ago.

cc: And are you playing some new songs tonight?

TP: Yeah; Memory, Crying . . . maybe She's The Blade, maybe What You Say.

cc: So what's the new record like? The old one was like . . . the earnest baladeering of Dashboard Confessional crossed with The Knack - your bouncy songs . . .

Sugarcult - Click to enlargeTP: That's awesome! Well I'd prefer more on The Knack side of the railroad tracks, cause I've a weakness for pop, 80s and skinny ties. I think the new records is . . . well for one; we have a new drummer. His name is Kenny Livingston - this guy right there [gestures to Kenny] - aka The Bruiser. And he's an amazing musician. Our last drummer . . . well let's just talk about Kenny! Kenny's an amazing musician - hits the drums really fucking hard like he's in a fight. And to me, I think songs are lead by the vocal melody and the drums. And I think he's the best drummer around.
    So to me, it was a huge difference in the writing process, cause now, y'know, I wrote these songs on an acoustic, thinking they were going to be electric. And then you can take 'em two different avenues: You can play them with an average drummer, or you can play them with a kick-ass musician. I think that what's changed in the songwriting is that there's a lot more attitude - in the sound, in the song itself - in the lyrics it's a much more vulnerable album.
    And it's also a records that's come from a band that's toured for two years and I feel that I know who our audience is . . . and I think that some bands who maybe don't tour as much aren't really focussed . . . sometimes they have an identity issue, where they feel like they can put out any fuckin' record and people will like them. We are a band that likes to tour. We make records to tour, and I think we make records that reflect what our fans want and like. That's not to say that we're controlled by our fans, because that's just not the case, but I think we made a record that the fans are gonna like.

cc: What other bands do you think your fans like?

TP: I think our fans like bands like Green Day, the Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World . . . I think we're kind of a band like that.

cc: You're signed to Epitaph, at least in Europe - a label with a rich punk history. Have you felt any 'punk pressure' from the Epitaph crowd?

TP: Other than a couple of death threats on their message board . . .

cc: A lot of the label's fans seem to be . . . 'gotta be punk', 'gotta be punk', and don't seem at all open to anything poppy. And you guys are very, very poppy.

Sugarcult - Click to enlargeTP: You know, that's true, but I think all people change. I don't know anyone that listens to just punk music, just like I don't know anyone that eats [just] vanilla ice cream. If all you listen to is just one thing . . . then I'm not really interested in catering to that crowd. I like diverse people, and I'd like to think of our fans as being diverse. These days you can be on a pop label and turn out a pop record and people'll say it's not poppy enough. I think we've sold enough records and played enough shows that we're pretty confident to stay the way we are.
    I would say that on our last record we had songs like Pretty Girl and Hate Every Beautiful Day; and they're a little bit more melancholy, there's songs that are in minor keys. And there's like four songs on the last record - which is almost 50 percent of the last record - that was a little bit more moody. I think that the new record is a very big growth for the band, because it shows that side of our band, but not in a way that's a bummer. Not in a way that's like 'oh God, they put a depressing record out'. No, y'know, we didn't. The record's hard-hitting and direct, but I think that the new record displays a big growth for our band.

Go to top of pageGo to 2 : Good Charlotte and growing upJump to page:  
Latest articles

Alone in the dark: Buffy The Vampire Slayer bows out in style with the Season Seven DVD Collection.

Johnny Knoxville plays him in the movie Grand Theft Parsons, but counterculture speaks to the man himself: Phil Kaufman interviewed.