There are bands that claim Santa Barbara as their home turf and end up making it big that you’d rather not hear a great deal from – ahem, Trapt – and then there are bands like Sugarcult who’ve found international and commercial success who you can’t help but be at least mildly giddy about. The blokes who make up the power pop punk quartet known as Sugarcult have put in their time around local haunts and even our very own UCSB before breaking loose with their 2001 release, Start Static. Catchy pop anthems like “Bouncing off the Walls” secured Sugarcult a sizable, adoring audience, and with the release of Palm Trees and Power Lines last month, Tim (lead singer/guitar), Airin (bass), Ben (drums) and Marko 72 (guitar) plan to continue ascending the ranks until even Santa Barbara’s Coach House, where the boys play this Friday night, busts at the seams with rabid fans. Before trekking down to their breezy hometown, Marko 72 grabs a bench in Union Square and attempts to shed some light on just how freakin’ weird it feels to be hawking records at Just Play Music on State Street one minute and seeing your band as the number-two hot seller in Tokyo – that’s one below Norah Jones, FYI – just a few years later.
What are you guys up to? Tell me about the new album.
We’re just finishing up this U.S. tour and our album is just about three weeks and one day old so it’s very young still and off to a good start. We’re just excited to finally have our second record out. On the first record, we started out as a band from Santa Barbara; [it was a] result of a couple years of just playing in the club scene – hold on, there’s a guy talking to himself sitting next to me and it’s distracting me. I’m focusing on what he’s saying.
I bet it’s pretty interesting…
Yeah, it’s probably more interesting than what I’m saying. I should just put you on the phone with him.
That would be awesome to start this interview off with you and then just cut to the homeless guy next to you for the rest.
(laughs) Yeah, just him explaining his story about how he got to where he is. Anyway, it’s exciting to do a second record because you’re obviously touring and having a record out kind of transforms you as an individual and collectively. I think first and second records are quite possibly the most important records in a band’s career – whether one of those two records will be the one that puts you on the map [and] gets you on the cover of Rolling Stone or if those records just become classic personal favorites of your hardcore fans ’cause years down the line, you put something out that eventually becomes really big or you break up or whatever – it’s a really exciting thing. We’re really excited to have this record see the light of day. It’s a very trying process to make a record.
With song titles like “She’s the Blade,” it seems like you guys have a bit more of a melancholy tone than the previous record. True?
I think it is a slightly darker record and I think that’s because… I mean, our lifestyle went from me working at Just Play Music and going to band practice a couple of nights a week and playing the Wildcat to being on the road nonstop. And what happens when you’re on the road for two and a half years, you become this citizen of this crazy community of constantly moving, touring bands. You’ll run into somebody in Dallas and then the next time you see them you’ll be in Tokyo and the next time you see them you’ll be in London so it’s really kind of weird to sort of remove yourself. [One minute] you’re like, “Oh, I want coffee so I’m going to go to the Roma,” and [then] you’re constantly traveling. You get home for pockets of time around the holidays and this weird transformation happens. It flips around and home becomes constantly moving and traveling, and coming back to SB becomes weird. You kind of feel alienated. You can’t expect anybody who doesn’t live this lifestyle to understand what it’s like. It’s hard to relate to people who are in the same place every single Wednesday when you are in quite possibly four different countries in any given period of 10 Wednesdays. So it’s a weird thing.
Aren’t you guys pretty ridiculously big in Japan?
(laughs) Yeah, it’s a clich