SICK PUPPIES are one of my favorite bands. That’s not exactly news and I was like a kid in a candy store last time they came through Dallas. Fast forward to now, and the REVOLVER Hottest Chicks In Hard Rock Tour is in full swing featuring as headliners none other than SICK PUPPIES. I was lucky enough to get on the phone recently with bassist/vocalist Emma Anzai and she was kind enough to put up with my fanboying (it’s a word!) long enough to answer some questions about new album Connect and their plans for 2014 and beyond. Take a look:
I was at the show here in Dallas last September and you guys just blew me away, I have to tell you.
Emma: Oh yeah! Dallas is always a great time for us, that was a fun one!
The first thing I wanted to ask about was “Gunfight”. Tell me how that song came to be.
Emma: It’s one of those songs that people either love or they hate. I don’t know what it is about that song but when people hear the album or we play it live people say, “I really love that one song ‘Gunfight’ or you get people who say, “I don’t know about that song ‘Gunfight’”. I don’t know, I guess it was just one of those songs that we wanted to do because when we were writing for Connect we had close to a hundred songs or more. We wanted to write the heavy rock songs as well as the mid-tempo songs. We were writing the rock stuff and not wanting to do the same thing we did before. As a band you have to evolve so we kind of experimented and “Gunfight” came out. It was almost like a jokey kind of thing that you start playing and it ended up being one of the songs. We hadn’t really covered anything regarding political issues before so we decided to step out of our realm.
And NO ONE is spared on that song, I love it!
Emma: (Laughing) I know, it is kind of funny!
Connect…the finished product is just so great. “Connect” and “Gunfight” are my runaway favorites on the record. In fact “Connect” is one of THE best songs of 2013 in my opinion. Do you have any?
Emma: Oh wow, thank you. It’s hard to pick favorites but there’s always a couple on each album. I think “Healing Now” is one, I love the vibe.
On this album there is more singing from you, which I love, particularly on “Under a Very Black Sky”. Was there a conscious effort to have that happen this time out?
Emma: Yes and no. When we’re writing and recording we like to keep in touch with the outside world because it’s very easy to get lost in the bubble. You either think everything is great or it’s all crap so we like to reach out to our SICK PUPPIES WORLD CREW and ask them what kind of things they like and what they don’t. We put the feelers out, and they mentioned that they like songs that Shim (Moore) and I sing on together so we kind of kept that in mind doing this album and we did a lot of experimentation in the studio. Sometimes we’d do a song with me singing the verses or Shim singing the verses or sometimes mix and match and we just carved out what was best for the songs. There was more experimentation going around, so that’s probably why.
Especially when you first put the record on and you come in on “Dying to Save You” I was like, “Whoa!” (laughing)
Emma: (Also laughing) Oh good, I’m glad you liked that!
As far as your writing goes, what is normally the split in the band?
Emma: We all collaborate and we also collaborate with our producers ROCK MAFIA (Tim James, Antonina Armato) and it happens all different ways. Someone comes in with an idea or a theme for us, or just the music and melody. We also love to start from scratch on the acoustics. I’ll get my bass, Shim grabs his acoustic and we hash it out that way. Because the theory goes that if it’s a great song it will be a great song acoustically.
After this REVOLVER Tour, what's next for 2014 and beyond?
Emma: We’re just gonna be touring. We’re going to Europe for a little bit and keep touring for the rest of this year. We’ll be releasing another single and video, and more touring. Very busy year.
Now that I have you on the phone, I have to ask…what is it that comes over you onstage? Because you don’t stand still, you’re a photographer’s nightmare and it seems like you are everywhere at once just rockin’ out!!
Emma: (Laughing) I don’t know, I remember when we first started the band I knew that the worst thing you can do if you’re nervous is to stand still because you get all in your head and everything is magnified, you think everyone is watching every move you make. As far as the movement goes, that came out of nervousness and now it’s just kind of a release from things in life and it’s an outlet which became fun. People do different things to de-stress and I think that is my outlet.
Yeah, you and Chela (Rhea Harper) are THE toughest people to get shots of onstage!
Emma: (Laughing) yeah, I’ve heard that a lot!
What are you currently playing and playing through?
Emma: I play Warwick basses, Streamer stage 1 always. And I use Ampeg for amps and cabinets (SVT Classic through 8 x 10 Cabinets)
You’ve been all over the world with SICK PUPPIES. Do you have a favorite country or venue that you like to visit or play in?
Emma: The States, obviously. New York is really cool but when we get to the Midwest it’s really cool because the people really let loose. Texas has always been great for us, too. In terms of overseas Germany and Amsterdam really rock.
Who are you listening to these days?
Emma: That’s funny, I’m really into this guy BLUE STAHLI from Detroit. I’m loving this artist right now. Have you heard him?
Yes! That’s normally not my thing, but I do like him. My friend turned me onto him a while back.
Emma: Oh, he’s great!!
Tell me ONE thing we don't know about SICK PUPPIES and/or you personally.
Emma: That’s a good question. Hmmm…way back in the day we had an extra guitar player in Sydney, Australia. And Shim played drums at one time. Plus he and I swapped guitar and bass for the band, we were very embryonic at that stage and we were kind of messing around. Me personally, I’m a bit of a germaphobe.
What would you like to say to SICK PUPPIES fans?
Emma: Please come out to shows, we’d love to meet you. And the next best thing is social media. Keep in touch with us; keep asking questions we love it.
Emma Anzai is not only one of my favorite bassists, she’s also a really nice person with a fun sense of humor. I strongly urge all of you to catch SICK PUPPIES live, you won’t regret it. They deliver a high-energy show with nothing but great songs. The REVOLVER Tour hits Dallas, TX this Saturday March 8 at Gas Monkey. Hope to see you guys there!