Interviewed by Joe Merante
Date: August 16th, 2005
Rockeyez had the chance to catch up with SUGAR, the all female band from Cleveland, Ohio at the House Of Blues. SUGAR is currently on the Metal Sludge Midwest Tour with Fastback, The Billy Morris Band, and TUFF.
Hi SUGAR, please take the time to introduce yourselves to Rockeyez.
Rose: Hi, I’m Rose on vocals and guitar. Next is Holly on drums, our newest member. Danielle here on vocals and bass and last but not least is Lil’ D on vocals.
Could you please tell us how the band started and did SUGAR ever go by a different name?
Rose: Lil’ D and I got together about a year and a half ago. We got serious in June, started recording our demo, and then got hooked up with Jani Lane of WARRANT fame to produce the record. I was playing bass at the time and Jani suggested I switch over to guitar to record the record. We met up with Danielle in February while we were still in the studio trying to work everything out. We originally had my old drummer from CHERRY BOMB but she got ill and couldn’t do it. We actually found Holly a week ago to join us, she rocks! It’s actually great to have a live drummer now instead of a drum track on tour. As a full band, we’ve been together for a week! We did have the band name 11 AFTER but we ended up changing it because every single time people were coming up to us saying “2 After, what’s that?” and you end up in a ten minute conversation explaining “No it’s the number 11 and then the word after” but we ended up coming up with something that fits better for women. We really want to reinvent chick rock and bring some respect for women back to the music business so we decided to call the band SUGAR because it’s so easy to remember. Our album was finished the end of March but we haven’t released it yet but you can get it on our website and at the shows we’re playing now.
So as a unit this is the first time SUGAR has played out live right?
Rose: Correct, our first show was in Detroit, Michigan 8/12/05 on this tour four nights ago.
Growing up what kind of kids were you in school?
Rose: I was pretty much the same, being feminine but still a tough girl. I always wanted to be a rock star.
Lil’ D: I grew up around boys.
Danielle: I grew up in Catholic school; I got beat by the nuns and all that!
Did anyone play in any Garage Bands?
Rose: I haven’t ever been in a garage band. I’ve played with CHERRY BOMB, Cry Babys With Brass Holes, Gypsy Boots, and lots of stuff like that.
Danielle: I was in a garage band when I was 14, we didn’t have a name and we just got together and I was the only girl! This is the first band I’ve been in with all females.
Lil’ D: I’ve personally never done anything like this; this is the first kick out of the gate for me.
Holly: I’ve been in a couple of bands but now I’m in SUGAR.
Any other possible members on the horizon for SUGAR?
Rose: Actually, we’re going to add a new member, her name is Emily and she’ll play rhythm guitar. It’s going to depend on our schedule when the time is right for her to be up on stage with us, we might pull her up for a song or two pretty soon. Everything has been so chaotic lately with the tour so the time will come.
So far, since you’ve only played together as a unit for a couple of days any standout moments on tour for you?
Rose: Yeah, Al Rosa in Columbus, Ohio was great. The first night in Detroit was kinda rough because the monitors blew out and we’re real melodic. When you can’t hear the vocals, it tends to throw things off. In Columbus, we had a better system and a huge response from the crowd and signed a lot of autographs so it went a lot better.
What is your favorite track on the CD “11 After”?
Holly: “Animal” is my favorite.
Rose: I wrote the CD from real life situations so it depends on the mood I’m in that day. I like “Many Lessons” because of the guitar work on that song and I really like “All Of My Life.” Right now, today though I’d have to say “Tie Me Off.”
Danielle: I’m going to go with “Angry,” I’m not feeling angry or anything but I just love that song so much.
Lil’ D: Mine’s “Angry” too, it’s always been “Angry.” It’s the first song Rose and I actually learned together.
Why did you name the CD “11 After”?
Rose: Lil’ D has a curse with 11 after, she’s cursed us all! Basically every time we look at the clock it’s 11 after something or something to do with the number 11. Since we didn’t call, the band 11 After it meant a lot to her so we named the CD “11 After.”
How long did the CD take to record?
Rose: With doing the demo, getting the producer, getting everyone in line to play on the CD and getting the backers it took about a year from June to June. After we’ve grown, a little bit anyone that’s interested in how the band came about or where the songs came from and how they were originally wrote we‘ll probably end up releasing the demo version of the CD.
What was the most difficult song to record for each of you?
Lil’ D: “Into The Sun” was very difficult; there was one line that I could just not get. Actually, there was one note that I just could not get! We eventually took it out because it was so frustrating, it took about 3 or 4 hours for that one note and it just wasn’t working.
Rose: For both Danielle and me it’s “Many Lessons” because at the end of the song there’s a key change and when I originally wrote it, there wasn’t a change. When Jani suggested a key change, it changed the vocal arrangement so we ended up getting a bit crabby so we went out, smoked a cigarette, and then came back in to finish it.
On Myspace.com, you’ve got “Angry” as a sound clip for fans; do you feel this song has the most commercial potential?
Rose: We all have different opinions but I feel that “Tragedy” and “All Of My Life” are more commercial being crossover wise. “Angry” is basically the 11th track on the record and with the CD being called “11 After” it’s Lil’ D’s favorite song so when we were putting the promo packs together “Angry” wasn’t in them so we decided to put it up on the website for all the fans to hear it. We also feel that “Angry” is the most personal song we have and we want to be that way with our fans so that’s why we chose that song.
Do you feel that Myspace.com is a good venue for the band so that you can get personal with the band?
Rose: Absolutely! We’ve gotten so many hits it’s unbelievable to tell you the truth. We check it and then 20 minutes later when we check it again and it fills right back up. Today we had 74 friend requests and over 20 messages from people so it’s almost overwhelming! Since the tour has started, it’s really blown up. It’s all across the United States, Brazil, Holland and all around Europe.
The pictures SUGAR is using on Myspace.com gives the impression of a punk band and the CD cover gives that impression as well. Do you feel fans will get the wrong impression by seeing the pictures as opposed to hearing the band play?
Rose: I don’t think so because we old school punkers, to me we like a lot of Joan Jett, Social Distortion, the Runaways and stuff like that. I think that because of the fact that everything written is written punk style. When people get into us and want to hear the demos they’ll definitely understand the punk behind us. Our image is harder because that’s who we are, if you look at our picture and look at us and talk to us you’ll understand. We absolutely want to be more personal with the fans because being a fan of bands myself it’s always more fun and interesting when you can relate to the artist. So in that respect we are a lot more punk rock in our attitudes and in our music Jani helped soften it out to bring out the feminine side in us.
Do you feel that going with an Indie label instead of a major label will help further your career; obviously, everyone would want a major record deal.
Lil’ D: You gotta look at a couple major artists like Green Day, they were with an indie label and they really put independents on the map. I think that independents are the way to go because they’re gonna let you do what you need to do and not try to change you. We want to stay true to ourselves and true to our fans.
Rose: Not only that being today with such a modern age we basically got all the financial backing ourselves. All the songs I had most of them written, I did write one song with Jack Ponte who wrote Alice Cooper’s “Hey Stupid.” I don’t look at myself as a guitarist, I like being a songwriter. On that respect I’d prefer that we had more control because then what you’re getting is us but at the same time I like working with other people because they help you see different sides of things that you might not see or hear. As far as a record company, unless they can do something more for us than we can do for ourselves it’s kind of pointless so regardless if it’s a big label or a small label, we have to be true to ourselves.
How did you hook up with the Metal Sludge Tour that you’re currently on?
Rose: I’ve know our current manager Mitch for along time and we were working with Jani Lane who started to introduce us to some Hollywood people. I didn’t care for the things they were saying or the things they said about us. We want to be successful but I would never, ever take morality out of my life for money. If we can’t stay moral and have to make a decision that’s gonna make me feel bad about crushing my band mates no way am I gonna do that. I knew Mitch and I knew he was real and I knew he would take care of us and the most important thing to him is that we all take care of each other. He loved it and asked us if we wanted to go on this tour that he helped set up with Stevie from TUFF and we said of course we want to do this so Mitch set it up.
Do you feel that for you as women rockers do you have a harder uphill drive for success because of all the women bands like the Runaways or the Bangles it’s tougher to succeed?
Rose: In different respects, people ask me what it’s like to be a woman guitar player, I couldn’t really tell you that because I’ve never been a male guitar player. For me it’s fabulous being a guitar player and a songwriter. I think if you work hard and you stick with it and stay with the fans who support you it’s a matter of sticking it out and doing the gigs that aren’t gonna pay you much money. We’d be sitting in rehearsal anyway so I just think it’s a matter of like starting any business, new one’s don’t make a lot of money at the start until they’re running for a couple of years and the hardest part is sticking it out. I don’t think there’s a big difference I just think it’s the mentality of people. There’s a lot of hard work involved and the people who don’t last are the ones that don’t work hard and put their blood into it and stick it out.
How is the attitude of woman fans who bring guys or their boyfriends to the show?
Rose: They’re loving it, they think it’s refreshing because it’s like finally an all female band that can play and has melody and both the girls and guys have been awesome. For us as a whole we’re not gonna look at you and say that’s a girl or that’s a guy, if you’ve got a cool soul and a good attitude we want to share it with you so it doesn’t make a difference with us if you’re a girl or a guy because we just love people and we don’t discriminate.
With all of you being from the Cleveland area have you visited the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and what was your favorite part of it?
Lil’ D: The 80’s room is my favorite, the MTV room rules!
Holly: I haven’t had a chance to visit it yet.
Danielle: I loved the room where you can see the costumes are so cool. There’s also an area where they have Jim Morrison notes and scripts and all that stuff, it’s very nostalgic and I love that.
Rose: I was there for the groundbreaking and I love the Rock Hall. I’ve hung almost everything in the Rock Hall and I’m the only person that was able to climb from the bottom window to the top beam to walk out and hang stuff that was necessary for shows they put on there so I love the Rock Hall. The biggest thing that excites me about it is that people have made so many accomplishments and left legacies and there are so many different parts about it. One of my favorite exhibits I’ve done in was the John Lennon, I love looking at all the guitars seeing the different costumes and lyric sheets. Plus I can’t wait until I can hand our stuff in there!
What is the plan for SUGAR after this tour?
Rose: Well we need to get “Sticks” Manning, that’s our nickname for Holly, up to speed on the rest of our CD since we’re only doing 7 songs off the CD on this tour. So as soon as she’s ready we’re out again. Holly also seems like she wants to sing so we’ll have some vocal rehearsals as well but as far as playing wise Mitch is gonna look for another tour for us. We just wanna make money to pay our bills and keep writing records. We do have another date to play here in Cleveland, Ohio at the House Of Blues on August 27th that’s with Lez Zeppelin and another all female group so all you Ohio people can come out to that show; we look forward to seeing you there!
Does SUGAR have a rider and what’s on it?
Rose: Mitch usually takes care of that for us; we usually have drinks and pizzas! PLEASE no more pizza!!! Our dream rider would be a lunchmeat tray and a salad mix because we’re all into nutrition even though we smoke. Food can definitely energize you if you eat properly and balance out the carbs and the proteins so I think with the meat tray everyone can pick what they want and its a little variety.
Which would you prefer your fans to get in touch with you, Myspace.com/sugarband or www.SugarBand.net?
Rose: We’re actually going to discontinue the SugarBand.net so please contact us at Myspace.com/sugarband. We’re probably gonna revamp the Myspace site as well because we’re getting so many hits so please keep in touch with us there.
Rockeyez would like to thank both SUGAR and their manager Mitch for their kind hospitality. Everyone should go and support this fine band, as they are a force to be reckoned with in the music business.