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Interview with Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies
April 15th, 2013

From Free Hugs (All the Same/Free Hugs video) to Water gun fights (You’re Going Down video) the Sick Puppies have taken the Rock world by storm. They are now in the studio working on a new album. Having the chance to interview Emma, who rocks out on bass putting many to shame, was an absolute joy. She talks about the beginnings, where they are now with the upcoming album, what it’s like to be a female bass player in a band and much more.

Uglyscene: first I’d like to say thank you very much for the interview!

Emma: No worries at all, thank you!

Ugly scene: You have a new album that will be released in 2013 are you able to tell us a little about that and how it compares to your other releases? I absolutely loved Tri-Polar. It’s one of those rare albums that you can listen to from beginning to end and not skip a song. I’m very much looking forward to the new album.

Emma: Thank you, that’s great to hear. The new release has been a long time in the making as we wanted to make sure we did our absolute best.

I would say it combines the elements of both our previous albums and as we grew as people, the music followed suit.

Ugly scene: In May you will be here at Westfair for Rockfest and it will be the first time I see you live and can’t wait! Then you move on to Rock on the Range. Do you have a preference as to playing at larger or smaller venues?

Emma: Oh great! Hope you enjoy it.

The outdoor larger festivals have a raw energy about them that is unmatched by anything else, we love those and the small intimate indoor shows also have a charm too, we love both.

Ugly scene: I would ask the question if you could tour with anyone who would like to tour with but with such a massive line up with then Rock on the Range does that hit any of those bands?

Emma: My personal wish list would be Rage Against the Machine and Silverchair. Those 2 bands have been such huge influences on myself and our band as well. As for Rock on the Range, Sevendust have become friends and we used to listen to their “seasons” record nonstop while we were still in Australia trying to come over here, so it’s definitely an honor playing shows with them.

Ugly scene: What is the difference now playing at Rock on the Range than when you first played there?

Emma: Well it’s the first time we get to play main stage!! That’s not to say that playing the side stage wasn’t absolutely killer, we have great memories playing that stage.

Ugly scene: I see there is a white balloons photography contest to help celebrate Emma’s birthday this month. (and a very happy birthday Emma the end of this month from all of us at ugly scene).

Emma: Aw thanks you guys!

All I can say is that the Sick Puppies World Crew are our family away from home, those guys make us.

Ugly scene: I absolutely think the Sick Puppies World Crew site is brilliant. The fans who love the band can be involved in many ways of helping spread the word. There are even contests, downloadable content, and hidden sections on the forum where they can ask the band questions. Tell us a little bit more about it.

Emma: Yes, the world crew has grown into such a great team/forum not only for us as a band, but also for people who like the band and come to the shows. It’s an extra step and whole other world for people to connect and feel a part of something, I have loved seeing it flourish. And also love feeling a part of it.

Ugly scene: I’ve heard many stories about the name of the band. How did you go about deciding on the name?

Emma: Lol so have I. Well the story goes, Shim and his dad (while back in Australia) had a conversation about the band and Shim mentioned that he and I were debating over names and while Shim took the train trip up to visit his dad, he thought of Sick Puppies. Then when he got to see his dad, his dad said “how about Sick Puppies” (he was reading a book called “sick puppy”) so because it was such a coincidence we thought…. It’s a sign, let’s go with it for now… and it has stuck ever since.

Ugly scene: Tell us about your first release and what you went through and if you have any advice for musicians just starting in the music industry?

Emma: Well we had released an album in Australia before we came to the states, it was through an indie at the time (has since folded) and when we moved to the states the endeavor to get signed was much more difficult. We’d showcase and get rejected pretty much every time….for different reasons.

Our money was running out and we were getting worried that we’d have to go home (we’d saved up by doing day jobs in Australia and taking out loans)

But we had a great manager that believed in us and we kept hustling, writing and playing shows where we could. We signed to an indie and recorded our first album here called “Dressed Up as Life” on the studio’s downtime. Shim made the Free Hugs video for his friend Juan Mann and after that gained some unexpected attention we were able to keep going and eventually proved to the labels that they could sign us.

Advice would be – It’s different for everyone, but just make sure you love what you do, truly, and just keep going no matter what.

Ugly scene: Besides starting out what has been one of your biggest challenges as a band so far?

Emma: Everything in life is a challenge, so the same things apply as a band. Making sure everyone is sane and happy working in such an unusual living situation (everyone living on a bus) and then making sure we make the right decisions as people and as a band. Staying positive in the face of adversity. The usual challenges but all in all, we remember where we came from and are grateful for how far we have come.

Ugly Scene: What is one of your most memorable performance?

Emma: To this day it’s still the big day out in Australia. It was a festival I dreamed of playing as a kid and when we actually did it, it was surreal.

Ugly scene: When the band creates a song how is the idea formed? Do you come with lyrics ready and an idea for the music or do you meet with the band have a jam session and see what happens?

Emma: It happens in each different way possible. Sometimes it’s a phrase or a theme, sometimes it’s music and melody, but it’s almost always conceived on organic instruments before we record it.

Ugly Scene: Who are your biggest supporters?

Emma: My mum and dad have been there from the beginning. They love seeing the growth.

Ugly Scene: What’s it like being a female bass player in a rock band?

Emma: It’s still a bit of a surprise when people say “girl” in a band I guess because I never really thought of it that way. I’m glad I didn’t actually, because that way I didn’t become too self conscious.

It’s been a fine experience. Sometimes people don’t expect you as a girl to be playing an instrument in a band they mistake you for a girlfriend of someone and that’s just an honest mistake, but I think it’s funny.

It’s great to see more girls in rock these days because often times girls think they can’t …. because it’s a guy’s thing. But girls have a lot to offer too.

Ugly Scene: Are there any local female leads or bands that stick out to you?

Emma: I’d say any females in bands stick out to me because I am one and it’s nice to see a comrade!

Ugly Scene: is there any advice you can give other aspiring female artists?

Emma: Yes, if you can, try not to feel intimidated by being an only female in something, don’t be discouraged by any preconceived limitations.

Ugly scene: One of the purposes for ugly scene is looking at the other side of glam. That comes from the idea that music is inspiring and music can, in my opinion, save someone’s life. Also that if a person hears someone that they look up to musically talk about certain issues they can get the help they need. Would you like to talk about anything regarding this?

Emma: I like that concept.

The reason I started this band with Shim was because we were outcasts in school and we were both separately bullied.

The band was the one and only thing that empowered us and made us feel a part of something. The problem with bullying is that at that age, we are very impressionable and if we are told that we are shit and worthless…. We wrongly believe it. So I do believe music saves lives, it’s not an exaggeration by any means. This band saved us. Music itself can be therapy.

Ugly scene: Is there anything else you would like to add to promote the band?

Emma: Sure

Come talk to us on @sickpuppies on twitter and come check out a show. Dates on sickpuppies.com and of course sickpuppiesworldcrew.net.

Ugly scene: thank you so very much for the interview!

Emma: Thank you!