Your thoughts probably go straight to AC/DC, maybe Silverchair, and if you’re really musically inclined, Powderfinger. There is finally a band that has the potential to join that list of Australian rock royalty — Sick Puppies.
The list of singles that the Sick Puppies have released is astonishing considering that not everyone recognizes the band name but can recognize the songs. “Maybe,” “Riptide,” “You’re Going Down.” All of those songs tend to ring a bell but do not always stick. The band’s newest single, however, “There’s No Going Back” is going to do a lot more than just sound familiar. Sick Puppies newest album, Connect, is a passionate, powerful collection of songs that are comprised of more than just good rhythms, catchy guitar riffs and fun lyrics. The songs are addicting, the lyrics are brave and challenging, and the heart of the band beats strong and loud through the entire record.
Currently, the Sick Puppies is on tour in support of its newest effort and lead singer, Shimon Moore, told me that he is offering a money back guarantee that the live show will leave you satisfied. How can you not take him up on that offer? The band is rolling into Philadelphia at the Theatre of the Living Arts on October 9 and The Stone Pony on October 11. Moore was gracious enough to take some time before coming into town to talk to me about the new album, Australia, touring, and the band’s epic “Free Hugs” YouTube video.
Pop-Break: How’s the tour to support the new record going?
Shimon Moore: Everything is really good man. People know the songs, they’re singing the words, everything is great.
PB: Wonderful! So first question, is it different touring here than touring in Australia?
SM: Yeah, because the cities are much closer together and the fans are different in regards to their energy levels. Usually people are a little more sort of willing to do what you tell them and get involved and stuff. In Australia there is a little less participation.
PB: Well obviously the band has been quite a long journey for you. How does the new record and everything you guys are doing now compare with Tripolar and Dressed up as Life and all of your older stuff?
SM: I think the best way to describe it is it’s a mixture of all three records, Dressed up as Life, Tripolar and Polar Opposites. It’s sort of if you were to throw it in a blender, mix it all up and then it’s like the cream at the top. We scooped the cream off the top and it’s just taking all the best musical things that we’ve learned, everything that we’ve heard from the fans that they like the most and they wanted to hear and used all the experience we’ve had off making the records and shows and stuff to use everything and just turn it into the best sound that we could.
PB: Now if you could go back to the beginning, back to when you guys first started out, what advice would you give yourself?
SM: Probably to relax.
PB: That seems to be the most common answer actually. So did you ever think that your Free Hugs YouTube video, which by the way currently has more than 74.5 million hits, would actually help you to get you to where you are today?
SM: Yeah, I had a feeling. When you make something that you can tell affects people, you just get a feeling sometimes. When you make something that you know is good and it connects with people and affects people. I’ve only done it about three or four times in my life and that was one of them where it was kind of a sure thing and I just had this feeling that it was going to lead to something.
PB: That was one of your great successes and you’ve had some other really major hits like “You’re Going Down,” “Maybe,” and now, obviously, “There’s No Going Back.” Which of those successes has been the sweetest for you?
SM: It’s probably the Free Hugs video because it was done completely by, well I did it, personally, by myself. It was something that the band had more ownership over because at the time we didn’t have a record deal. Whereas everything since then has become more … I don’t know there’s more money in it basically. It becomes more like hey we’re doing this to show people and become successful and make a hit single and you do it for that reason whereas the free hugs thing was made as a video get well card for a friend of mine. It wasn’t designed to sell records. it just wound up doing it because it happened to be really good.
PB: That’s awesome. So for people who have only seen that video and heard your mainstream hits, what do you wish that they would listen to?
SM: Probably the live record (Live at House of Blues Cleveland). Listen to the live record then come to a show. The band is primarily a live band so that’s the main thing.
PB: I actually have seen you guys live and that’s a valid statement. You guys have great records but live you guys just take it to a completely different level.
SM: Thank you.
PB: So what song that you have released do you wish you could take back?
SM: None of them.
PB: Not one?
SM: No. Not one.
PB: Well I actually want to talk to you about a specific song on the new album, I actually really love the song “Gunfight.”
SM: Oh yeah?
PB: I think it’s a crazy song and I think it’s a little different from the rest of some of the songs that we hear a lot. So tell me a little bit about this song? What kind of prompted it for you guys? It’s a blast.
SM: Well the first thing we came up with for that song was the riff and then once we had the chorus lyric and we wanted the theme of the “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight,” we were like well what does it sort of mean? And it had a lot of different connotations and meanings the lyrics really came from just the sort of conversations you have about anything related to politics or things larger than yourself that you don’t really have any power over and you give your opinion and you really have a lot of conviction about it and you say well this is the way the world should be and then you go back home and you start work again the next day and nothing fucking happens because you don’t really have, you’re not really the person to make the changes. It’s the idea of that sort of what’s the word i’m looking for, the irony of people saying yeah yeah we need to do this, we need to do this and then nothing fucking happens.
PB: Good time for that considering the government is now shut down here.
SM: Yeah that’s actually very serendipitous for us. Hopefully someone will pick it up and put it towards something like that.
PB: I can definitely see that happening. So back to your current tour, what’s the craziest thing that has happened thus far?
SM: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened so far? Fuck man we’re not. I mean like, I went crowd surfing with my guitar on them and then they dropped me and then threw me back up. That was pretty cool.
SM: Nah, it’s all good.
PB: Now, obviously you do a lot of interviews, what is the strangest question you’ve been asked in an interview?
SM: Umm … probably like what color is Connect.
SM: Yeah, like what color is it? And I was like what the hell do you mean? They’re like just like what color springs to mind?
PB: I promise I won’t ask you a question like that!
SM: Thank you! I appreciate that.
PB: Are there any questions you wish people would ask you and they don’t?
SM: No, I mean we’re pretty lucky man just by the nature of the band that we are. We’re pretty forthcoming and our lyrics are pretty straightforward. We’re not really a theme band or a political band so everything that we kind of want to talk about comes up in the songs and as a result of that comes up in the interviews. I mean sometimes I wish people maybe would ask a little bit more about a song or where it sort of comes from but other times man you get bored of talking about the fucking song because if you listen to the song it should make sense. So it’s really not like, usually it all just sort of comes together.
PB: So are there any questions you wish people would just stop asking you?
SM: Yeah the band name. That’s a bit of a boring one now.
PB: Plus I’m sure it’s out there where it comes from at this point.
SM: You can research it and I love that people say so I read up that you know you got the band name by blah blah blah. Is that true? Can you tell me about that? And I’m like yeah it’s true. Everything that you just said is the story that I would tell you. Like you just fucking read it.
PB: I could definitely see that that could get a little bit stale. But I’m sure that you also get asked a lot about Australia and here and where you’re living and how it differs, was it hard for you to just up and leave Australia and come here?
Courtesy Sick Puppies'
SM: It wasn’t hard to leave but it was hard to stay gone. If that makes any sense. It’s not hard to leave because you’re going somewhere and doing your thing but after a few years and I don’t mind talking about Australia because the thing with the band name, it’s not really that important, but a lot of people don’t know anything about Australia versus the States and so for the people that can sort of say something, you know if it’s worth knowing, and there’s a lot of stuff worth knowing about Australia in terms of music, gun laws, environmental stuff. You know it’s all relevant and there is a lot of stuff that is better in Australia that can be easily attained in the States but they’re still working on it and there are definitely some comparisons but culturally there are a lot of similarities because we watch a lot of American and English TV so it sort of comes up.
PB: I lived in Australia for five months and I must say the attitudes are actually much better there. Just everybody was so much nicer and calm.
SM: It’s much more calm there.
PB: Okay so I only have
a few rapid fire questions for you now, it’s a simple either
PB: Powderfinger or AC/DC?
PB: East coast or west coast?
PB: Morning or night?
PB: Cake or pie?
PB: Running or lifting?
PB: Royal botanic gardens or the rocks?
SM: The Rocks? In Australia? The Rocks.
PB: Bondi or Manly beach?
PB: Nice that was my favorite beach while I was there. So you guys are coming to the area, do you have anything that you want to say to the people who already listen to you guys or who are going to start listening to you guys. Do you have anything you want to say to them?
SM: Yeah. Come to a show and you get a money back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied by the end of the show I’ll give you your money back.
PB: I hear you guys hang out a lot at the end of your shows a lot?
SM: We sign at the promotion booth after every show.
PB: Very cool. I love that you guys are so accessible.
SM: Well hey thank you for helping promote the record!