Return to Sick Puppies

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2016 11:30 am

Keith MacPherson, kmacpherson@hcnonline.com

Bryan Scott has never been one to get nervous.

Playing live music since he was 15-years-old, the Houston-native and new lead singer and guitarist for Sick Puppies was never one for stage fright.

That was until he stepped on stage for the first time with his new group in Anchoridge, Alaska on April 7.

“I’ve never really been nervous playing in the past,” Scott said. “Jumping into something like this, having a little bit of pressure and everyone looking at you, being the new guy in the band – I was a little nervous.”

The nerves quickly subsided as the band seamlessly moved into a new era for Sick Puppies with shows on three consecutive nights in Alaska before starting their HardDrive Live Tour in San Antonio later that month.

Scott, who makes his home in Cypress, was officially announced as the new front man for the band not even two months before his first live appearance with the group.

Scott replaced former co-founding member Shimon “Shim” Moore, who was exiled from the band in late 2014 for reportedly trying to dissolve the group through litigation.

When Scott found out about the opening, he jumped at the chance, sending bassist Emma Anzai videos and other information pertaining to his experience directly through Facebook.

“I hit up Emma on Facebook with some preexisting stuff that I had, just to get them to her quickly,” Scott said. “She got back to me not even a day later and wanted a couple of videos of some of their music and how I sounded playing them. It all happened so fast.

“They had a lot of auditions and they loved what they saw. I went to Los Angeles to meet the band and we gelled personally from the start. That’s probably the biggest thing for a band. We really hit it off as a group. We knew we could work well together and that made things easy. From there, we just started jamming.”

Sick Puppies has moved on from the past and embraced the future with Scott and their new album “Fury.” The album is a departure from the band’s last record, “Connect,” bringing a harder, more energetic sound to fans.

“After we put out ‘Connect,’ fans were asking, ‘Can we hear something heavier?’ Anzai said. “We kept hearing from our fans that they were craving the heavier stuff again.

“Then you add that we all have something to prove – Bryan being new to the band, me and Mark with the new lineup. There was a lot of built up nervous energy that we kind of poured into this album and the heaviness kind of naturally came out.”

The album is a breath of fresh air for fans of Sick Puppies. The heavier style is something fans have been wanting, Scott said.

“I think this album is heavier and more aggressive as a whole,” Scott said. “The first song, ‘Black and Blue,’ might be the heaviest song the band has ever written and we did that intentionally. The fans were feening for that heaviness.”

The band delivered what fans wanted, bringing back its patented heavy bass riffs to go with an album full of angst and emotion as the band lets out all of its built up aggression.

Anzai sings more on the album more than she has in the past. In the powerful and heartfelt song ‘Walls (You Change),’ she is the lone vocalist. She can also be heard in some interplay lyrics as well as helping with harmony.

“It’s not something that I actively wanted to do when we first started out,” Anzai said. “We had a lot of fan feedback from previous albums, saying they liked to hear me during harmonies and backing vocals. Through time, it’s graduated to something that I love doing.

“This time we are kind of at a turning point and we were like, ‘Why not give it a try?’ So I took the lead on ‘Walls’ and I think it worked out really cool.”

Anzai’s voice is prominently featured on just one of the Sick Puppies’ previous outputs, that being, “Under a Very Black Sky,” from the album ‘Connect.’ Still, in the song, she gives way to Moore in the chorus.

“I love her voice,” Scott said. “I remember hearing stuff in the past where she would come in or sing parts of songs and thinking how well she can sing. She kind of took over ‘Walls,’ and her sound and voice created an amazing song. It’s haunting and very powerful.

“Our fans love hearing her sing. We love hearing her sing as a band. It adds another element to our group.”

Sick Puppies was formed in 1997 by Anzai and Moore while teenagers in Australia. Drummer Mark Goodwin joined the band in 2003 and has been with the group since.

With Moore was no longer the group, the addition of Scott has helped rejuvenate the band, Anzai said.

“He has been a great addition,” Anzai said. “It’s kind of like an adrenaline shot for our band. Things can get stale after time but with him, it’s another influence, another brain to collaborate with on our music.

“Bands are like a marriage. You have to have similar interest, you have to be on the same page, you have to get along with each other and you have to work well together. He checks all those boxes for us and it’s amazing how well our fans have received him.”

The band has a number of shows lined up for the next couple of months but will return to Houston for the Open Air Festival at NRG Park on Sept. 24 -- an event the first of its kind, featuring more than 30 bands over a two day period.

“It’s going to be epic,” Scott said.

With “Fury,” climbing the charts and getting rave reviews, it’s easy to see that the band has transitioned smoothly into a new era with Scott leading the way.

Nerves now out of the picture, Scott said he is living the dream.

“It’s something you can’t put into words,” he said. “I have been trying to get to this point my entire life. There comes a point as a musician, where if you’re not making it, you have to move on or find some other avenue. If that happens, there’s no shame. It’s a competitive world. I stuck with it, though. I wanted it so bad. It’s in my blood and I felt I had something to show.

“I’ve checked so many things off my bucket list: Joining an established band, having a song on the radio, playing an arena for the first time, seeing your CD in stores. It’s been amazing. I’m checking off boxes every day. It’s cliché, but it really is a dream come true.”