"We’re not apologising for the music now" - An interview W/ Manchester Alt-Rockers, Sugarstone
After the success of their appropriately named, high-energy single ‘That’s Intense, Manchester’s synth-punk quartet, Sugarstone, are wasting no time and are back with their new track ‘Happiness Is Hard to Find’. These two tracks will feature on their debut EP ‘SUCKER’ which is set for release next month. We caught up with songwriters Joe and George to find out what has gone into making their new EP.
The new single feels full of pent up frustration, how would you describe the sonic feeling in 'Happiness Is Hard to Find'?
(Joe) "I would describe the sonic feeling in Happiness as just that, it’s full of pent up frustration, anxiety yet a bit of hope. The choppy verses and driving middle 8 are very angry, where as the choruses to me are somewhat happy. It feels like a grumpy kid".
What inspired the lyrical content on the new single?
(Joe) "Lyrically the song is a cynical, introspective commentary on how I was feeling in the mist of the two strangest years in my life, so far. And like I said about the choruses feeling somewhat happy, the lyrics are definitely not. It’s a juxtaposition".
‘Happiness Is Hard to Find’ is brimming with conflicting thoughts. The versus are full of frustration and angst while the upbeat energy of the chorus offers a glint of optimism. This juxtaposition of contrasting atmospheres creates a constant, electrifying tension throughout the track. With guitar solos, anthemic vocal chants and a constant frenzy of high-intensity electro-rock fusion, this track has everything required to get even the tamest of gig goers opening up the pit.
These two new singles seem more angst ridden and ferocious than some of your earlier work, do you think your style as a band has developed in recent months?
(Joe) "Yes our style has definitely developed, we’re all very different people to who we were pre lockdown I suppose. This could be a result of new influences, interests and routine. Another factor to take into account is that we’ve always been a live band and we don’t think we’ve ever showcased the energy of our shows through our recordings until now".
How do you feel you have changed both personally and as a band that may have prompted this sonic shift in style?
(George) "I think we’ve grown up a lot in the last year. It’s been a tough few for everyone hasn’t it. I suppose I’ve never really thought of that translating to the sonic shift, but you’re right. We’re not apologising for the music now, or trying to fit into one style and I think that comes with time and confidence within the band. We’ve become a lot more of a ‘live act’ also. We always have that in our minds when writing and recording".
What can we expect from the Sucker EP and what are the main themes running throughout it?
(George) "SUCKER touches on most of the slightly worrying things going on in any 20-something year olds head. I think the title reflects how we feel. Not quite ready, waiting for something proper, suckers. Mental health is a big theme of the EP. Accidentally really. I think these are our most honest lyrics yet so that’s cool. If you’ve been following us live over the last year you’ll know these songs, and if not, that’s all good, come see them live"!
When is the perfect moment to listen to the EP?
(Joe) "Well that’s subjective, but for me I really listen and take in music when I’m walking to the shops or to work. But listening on trains are good too and also through some nice speakers, turned right up in the dark. Either way it should be loud"!
Together with their previous release ‘That’s Intense’, Sugarstone haveclearly laid out their newmanifesto and an enticing set up for their upcoming EP. The ‘SUCKER’ EP sees the band at their most authentic as they wear their musical influences such as Nine Inch Nails on their chest while offering their own distinctive concoction of industrial grit, new wave melodies, expressionist lyricism and unrelenting intensity.
The EP features both Joe and George as songwriters and singers - how do you feel this extra vocal option enhances your sound?
(George) "Joe and I have been performing together since we were 11, so I think we’ve just started to trust that more. We bounce off each other well and I hope you can hear that in the tunes. Also we’ve known each other long enough to say if we don’t like something, which isn’t actually that often believe it or not…".
How do you work with multiple songwriters? Do you take on separate songs individually or do you work on them more collaboratively?
(George) "A mix of both really. There’s usually a lead writer who has the idea. For example the opening of the EP ‘Author Is Now Dead’ started with my vocals, a bit of bass and some drums, then I sent the project Joe and he added the middle 8 and beefed it up a bit. Then with ‘Heart Palpitations’ Joe sent me a version of the song to have a play with and I added some vocals. It really just depends on the tune.
Who are your favourite emerging artists right now?
(Joe) "We’re loving PVA’s new singles off of their forthcoming debut. Our pals SNAYX from Brighton are currently smashing the gaff. Of course our house/best mates SLAP RASH".