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Tuesday / September 06, 2016

Sick Puppies still strong
2016 marks the third time the band will bring tunes, high energy to Rock Fest in Cadott

by / Chris Vetter.

When the Sick Puppies had an acrimonious split with lead singer Shimon Moore in October 2014, the remaining members of the rock band had to quickly decide if they would continue on without him.

“We knew we were continuing, there were no other options for us,” said bassist/?backing vocalist Emma Anzai. “But we had to have the right guy.”

A relatively-unknown singer named Bryan Scott contacted the band through their Facebook page. Scott previously played for a rock act named Emphatic.

“He reached out to us the day after we announced the split,” Anzai said, her distinctive Australian accent coming through. “This was someone we felt we could work with really well. He has a gravelly voice.”

The band asked Scott to submit recordings of two of the Sick Puppies radio hits — the slower track “Odd One,” and the up-tempo rocker “You’re Going Down.”

“He hit it out of the park,” Anzai said. “It had to be the right person, and be in the range of what we’ve done before.”

After the remaining band members hired Scott, they quietly went to work on producing their fifth disc as a group, “Fury,” which was released in May — and the first album with Scott on vocals.

“We kept his identity quiet for a year. We didn’t want people to pre-judge,” she said.

Since the album was released, it has earned high praise from fans leaving comments on iTunes. Anzai admits she didn’t know what to expect, and was relieved with what she has seen.

“We’re grateful for the positive feedback,” she said.

The band has just started touring together with Scott. They have retained the rights to perform all songs from the first four albums, so the band will play all their hits, from “War” to “Pitiful.”

“I don’t think any (song) is off the table,” Anzai said.

So far, they have mixed in just three of the new tracks into the set-list at shows, including the album’s lead single, “Stick To Your Guns.” Anzai said she anticipates they will work in more of the newer material throughout the summer as fans become more accustomed to the new songs.

Moore was a charismatic frontman. In concert, fans have taken to Scott as well, she said.

“We’re finding he has a very genuine way about him,” she said. “People are gravitating toward him on a natural level.”

Moore and Anzai formed the Sick Puppies while in high school in Sydney, Australia. Drummer Mark Goodwin joined the band once they moved to the United States. They’ve opened for Nickelback and toured extensively in recent years, including stops at Rock Fest near Cadott in 2011 and 2014.

The band is known not only for their catchy hooks and rock beats, but also for their fun music videos. “You’re Going Down” features several young boys in a water gun fight, while “Odd One” shows a teenage girl who shoots electricity from her fingers.

While this year marks the third time Sick Puppies will play at Rock Fest, but their first time on the smaller Bud Light What’s Next stage, where they will play at 10 p.m. Thursday, July 14.

Anzai said she loves playing the summer rock festival circuit.

“It’s the volume of people; it’s the raw energy,” she said. “The festival crowds are like none other.”

Anzai is also a charismatic performer, with her long hair whipping through the air as she plays her bass. She is upbeat about the band’s new direction and sound.

“Just come out to a show, and check us out,” she said. “We pride ourselves on being a great live show.”