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Sick Puppies will 'Connect' with fans at HOB on Sunday, Oct. 13

By Chuck Yarborough

on October 09, 2013

LEVELAND, Ohio -- Getting your butt whipped on a regular basis can have its up side. Just ask Shim Moore, the lead singer and principal songwriter with the Aussie band Sick Puppies, which features bassist and vocalist Emma Anzai and drummer Mark Goodwin.

“I got the [bleep] kicked out of me for years in school before I start a band,’’ said Moore, calling from a tour stop in Texas to promote the band’s Sunday headlining gig at the Cleveland House of Blues.

“Usually, when I’m writing my part of the lyric, it’s a conversation with a former version of myself, saying ‘If you could just listen to this [bleep] I just realized now …’

“You’re sort of talking to yourself,’’ he said. “That’s what songwriting is, self-therapy in a way.’’

That he described his craft that way is more than a bit ironic, as I asked him why Sick Puppies songs like “Die to Save You,’’ “There’s No Going Back’’ and the title cut, “Connect,’’ off the band’s latest album tend to vary from encouraging to introspective to Dr. Phil-style “get real.’’ It all helps connect – to steal the word – the band, its song and the audience.

“The songs were really very personal,’’ said Moore. “As we started touring, my world became my song. I thought it was totally me, but I guess it works that way, too. The fans listen to your experience and relate to it and use as a soundtrack to THEIR lives.


“If I’m using it that way, I can put these nuggets in there to give them a push in the right direction,’’ he said.

Wikipedia classifies the band as variations of alternative metal, nu-metal, post-grunge and hard rock. Though those all are interesting descriptives, none is wholly accurate. And especially none speak to some of the true poetry that shows up in the lyrics.

A line from that title cut is particularly poignant: “Distance can be measured by the pain you feel inside your heart.’’ Where on Earth did THAT come from?

“Sometimes, it’s a lot of coffee and cigarettes,’’ Moore joked. “But sometimes, it’s the music. That song was really about my wife.’’

And it’s a literal line, too. Moore has been living in the United States for eight years, while his wife remains in their native Australia.

Being in the States is tough, he admitted, but it’s necessary if the band is to succeed.

“People here treat music much more like it’s theirs,’’ he said. “They really follow it. They buy the merch, they wear the T-shirts, they get tattoos. They live and die by their favorite bands.

Not so DownUnder.

“Australia has a different mentality,’’ he said. Aussies may or may not buy a ticket if their favorite band comes around, depending whether they think they have something better to do.

“It’s not arrogance,’’ Moore said. “It’s really nonchalance.’’

So it’s a business to be here as much as anything else. But don’t get the idea that Sick Puppies isn’t, well, sick. There’s no corporate mindset that could inspire a song called “Gunfight,’’ warning potential adversaries that bringing a knife to one is not, shall we say, conducive to victory, and illustrate the point with a verse about a costly legal fight for actor Kevin Bacon.

Unless, of course, he or she wants to get his or her butt whipped. Again.