Tim Pagnotta of Sugarcult
Popping head first out of the womb of sunny Santa Barbara, Sugarcult has been rocking out for about five years now. Their first record “Start Static” started them on a whirlwind road trip that lasted over two years. While their energy is evident on the cd, nothing matches their live performance. The more they play live, the more fans they collect, and I’m guessing they have quite a collection. They recently released their follow up cd “Palm Trees & Power Lines” and the single “Memory” can be heard on radio everywhere and the video isn’t hard to find either. The CD is a continuation of their sound but with some deeper vibes, darker lyrics, and a new drummer. The cd seems to be a somewhat biographical account of the band’s past few years on the road and living the lifestyle that it takes to be as dedicated to your craft as they seem to be – holding on to things you love or love to hate, missing the things that move you and make you move, and letting go to the loves in our lives that hurt us most. They are currently gearing up for a few months on the main stage of the WARPED tour and lead singer/guitarist/songwriter extraordinaire Tim Pagnotta was cool enough to answer some questions for me…
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | July 2004
I read somewhere that your name is derived from a group of lesbians that you use to live next to that called themselves that. Is this really true? Any good stories you can share with us?
Yeah it’s true. It was a fairly interesting living arrangement to say the least. There are many stories to be told, but I’m not sure if they’re appropriate, but let’s just say guys like watching lesbians. Ha ha. We have a song called ‘Debbie’ which was basically about the ‘ring leader’ of the girls. She was hot and I just wished that she’d notice me. So um yeah it was an eye opening place to live.
You guys really blazed your own trail by touring, touring, and touring some more. A lot of your fans never even knew who you were until they saw you live and then became instant fans. Is this by design or more of just what you guys are all about?
It’s basically what we’re all about. We tour because we love touring. We like meeting new people and we just spread the word really. What better way to spread the word than to blow people’s pants off by showing them what your band is like live, because that’s basically what makes a band, in my opinion.
If you totally suck live then you’re not gonna make people who’ve never heard of you until seeing you live your fans. They’re just gonna think “Oh these guys suck. Remind me to never buy their CD”.
When did you realize that music was it for you? I’m asking because I know that you moved around a lot as a child. I did too and music sort of became my best friend in an ever-changing world. It was what I depended on. Did you sort of turn to music as a creative outlet?
Music has always been the one thing that’s always been there for me. While moving around and stuff there’s very little you can depend on or lean on, but music was always there and all I needed to do was just turn on the radio or whatever. Then I started writing music and stuff and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
You’ve played the WARPED tour in the past..how does it feel to be playing main stage? Are you like WARPED royalty now?
Ha ha. I doubt we’re Warped royalty, but who knows! Playing the main stage is a big deal though. It’s gonna give us a chance to show our music to some people that may not have heard of us. So, it should be good.
I just want to say, I really love the new album. I love the first one too but it’s almost like you can feel the progression through the music. I always say that it’s easy to write lyrics to a song (or a poem, or whatever the medium may be) but the real test of being good at it is having people feel what you wrote. I don’t think many people could hear your lyrics without feeling them and relating to them. How important is that to you?
It’s real important. I think if you’re writing music and putting it out there and no one feels it or relates to it, then you’re doing something wrong. I try to write the best possible lyrics that I can that people can take different ways to suit their own situation so they can relate. I mean, all of my lyrics are of personal experience but they can be molded to fit other peoples experiences too which is pretty important for me.
I’m hearing and seeing the MEMORY video all over the place these days-which of course rules. How weird is that for you though? For a long time Sugarcult was somewhat of an “underground” band. It must be a cool feeling to be embraced by the masses but also sort of that cheating on your girlfriend feel. Or am I putting way too much thought into it? (I have a tendency to do that!)
It is pretty weird to suddenly start seeing yourself on TV a lot, but I guess it’s something we’ve gotta get used to. I guess we’re now branded as ‘sell outs’ because we’re on tv, but whatever.
Can I ask how old you are?
I am 27 years young.
Any idea what the next single may be?
Yes. The next single will be……I’m gonna leave you hanging. We know what it’s gonna be and we’re currently talking about treatments for the video for it.
What bands are you listening to these days?
Well in my car right now I’ve got Division Of Laura Lee. We toured with them last month in the UK and they’re a really great band and great guys.
I have to ask how you feel about the cyberspace revolution. Most musicians have a strong opinion on it, either love it or hate it. When I was growing up, we didn’t have this kind of innovation and the only way I ever knew about new bands was by reading Metal Edge, Circus (or the likes) or seeing their video at 2am on Headbangers Ball. Now kids can just log on and basically taste test bands at the click of a mouse. On your website you guys have a journal that the members update regularly. That’s such an intimate thing for a fan to have at their disposal. “Hey let’s log on and see what Tim did today.” How do you feel about it all?
I think it’s important to have that connection with your fans or they just feel alienated or feel like the band doesn’t care about their fans. Well, we do care. We love them all to death and leaving journal entries and audio messages are just our way to show that we’ve not forgetting them.
I said I’d keep my questions to a minimum so here’s my last one. What are your favorite songs to play live off of the new album?
Ah, I knew this question would come up! It’s such a hard question to answer because I love playing them all because they’re still pretty new songs for us to play live, but if I had to pick a few I’d say She’s The Blade and Champagne.
Okay I lied, one last thing….any messages to the masses?
My message for the masses is to go to the Warped Tour every year, listen to good bands and put theywillrockyou.com on your favorites list!
YES! You heard the man – bookmark the site! Many thanks to Tim for taking time out of his busy schedule to hook us up. I know I can’t wait to see them live this summer. If you’re not familiar with Sugarcult take some time to check out their site. You can hear some of their stuff (from both albums), see video clips, and read the latest on the band. They really do give 100 percent to their fans, it’s not just media hype.
Vote for Sugarcult’s video MEMORY on MTV. Let’s bring the rock back to the forefront.