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Interview: Sick Talk
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
(Ryan, bass): What got me into music was growing up watching my dad play and sing as a little kid. I would listen to the dookie record on repeat and knew I had to be a part of whatever that was! If not for music, I’d probably get into parasailing.
(Gary, drums): As a kid I tried everything from sports to art, movies and video games, but music always made me the happiest and I always felt motivated to get better at it. If I didn’t do music, I’d be a visual artist, either with drawings or video editing.
(Alex, guitar/vox): I think hearing the “Rocket To Russia” album by The Ramones is what sent me down the music spiral. For a while, I wanted to BE a Ramone. I had a raggedy old leather jacket and a bowl cut. Thank god the haircut didn’t stay…. If I wasn’t doing music, I don’t really know what I would do. I have a degree in Marketing, I think maybe I’d get into advertising or something.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
(G): I’m usually making music or working, but I like to watch anime and play video games. More often than not, those things inspire my music a whole lot! Either a visual element, or a certain emotion or character is all it takes to inspire me.
(A): Usually when I’m not playing music, I’m beating myself up for not making music! I have an incessant need to always be working on something new…We could write 10 songs, and I’d be mad if I can’t write 10 more right after. I’ve been thinking lately that I need to take a step back and take breaks, because it really starts to make it even harder to be creative when I’m actively TRYING to be creative all the time.
(R): When I am not playing music, I usually journal quite a lot. I’m also a big fan of drinking coffee and watching the newest TV shows.
How long has your band been around?
(A): I started working on this band about a year ago. Before we were “Sick Talk,” I was really dead set on doing some kind of rock and roll kind of thing…So I started a band called “Sin City Saints” (which is a dumb name for a band not from Vegas. I used to just tell people we had a P.O. box in Reno!). Somewhere down the line, I realized it wasn’t exciting to me and I wanted to play punk rock and now here we are! Originally with the same lineup as Sin City Saints (Ryan Brown, and Devon Vicker with me), I changed the name and wrote a bunch of new songs. After a while, life and all of its responsibilities got in the way, and they had to exit the group. I met our CURRENT Ryan (what a coincidence, right?) at a house party and he overheard me say I needed a new bass player. He brought Gary in, and the rest is history. They’ve been in the band for about 3 months now and they’re absolutely killing it!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
(R): We are based out of the Tampa Bay area and all of us live in St. Petersburg, which is very helpful. The music scene around here is very cool and inclusive, and it’s growing rapidly. The older punk bands in our scene (Mosquito Teeth, The Horribles, Liquid Pennies, and Lot Lizards to name a few) have had a lot of influence on our style of music and have been really welcoming to us, giving us a personal connection. By watching them, we’ve been kind of learning the ropes and finding our own way, based off their examples. It’s pretty easy to see what works and what doesn’t around here. Catchy hooks, matched with snarling aggression seems to be the pocket. There’s a lot of budding talent coming out of our scene now, and a whole new roster of younger, new bands too!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
(A): Honestly, I just wanted a name that would roll off the tongue. I wanted to start over from the “Sin City Saints” thing and wanted to have a name that would be thought of as “COOL” or “RAD” or…” SICK!”
That’s really all it is. There’s not too much to it. Oh and also, we will always do sick shit.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
(G): Definitely the time we played Pasta-House... It’s just some guy’s back yard that they’ve been holding shows out of, and they’ve been unreal. Hundreds of people moshing and having a great time while passing around substances their mothers wouldn’t approve of, like any good punk show should be, I fell off the stage halfway through a song, but got myself back up and kept going. Legendary.
(R): I would say our most memorable show was when we drove up to Tallahassee to play a show that was being thrown by the FSU skateboarding club. Mid way through our set, we got shut down by cops and everyone from that show moved to the after party down the street, where we played the rest of our set acoustically in somebody’s house. We all wore matching shirts from the “Punks For Autism” organization to raise awareness and show our support. All proceeds from their shop goes directly toward different local (SoCal) and national autistic organizations. Alex and I both have autistic family members, so it was a no-brainer that we wanted to show our support. Check them out!
(A): They took all the really good answers, so I guess I’ll just say that our most memorable show will be the next one!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
(R): I think it’s safe to say our favorite kind of venue is any type of house show/backyard set up. We really love the DIY scene, and it’s just so much easier to get in everyone’s faces and feed off their energy. If you have a backyard, we will come to your house and play in it! Even if you don’t have a backyard! Invite us to your house!!!!
One place we’d really like to play one day is Jannus Live, in St. Pete! It’s this huge outdoor venue, and it’s where all the cool, big touring bands play! The sound is always really great there, and it’s where we’ve all seen our favorite bands play, so it’s a huge goal of ours to get on that stage one day. Keep your eyes out! We’re gonna make it happen sooner or later.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
(G): Oh man, for sure I would want to play with JOHNNASCUS or King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard. That would be a dream come true. Those artists play a huge role on my musical style and playing, so it would be an honor to get to play with them!
(A): If I could play a show with any lineup, it would have to be us (duh), PUP from Canada, Joyce Manor, and maybe Rutterkin or Wolf Face from St Pete because they’re the best bands in the world ever.
Really though, all of these bands are artists that I look up to, and make me want to push myself to always try and get better at what I do. If I could play with anyone, it would have to be these people that make me want to play the most!
(R): The local bands I would love to be on a show with would have to be Liquid Pennies, Highway Advisory, Taverns, P.M Tiger, and the Drain Outs. On a larger scale, the bands that I love and look up to that I want to play with would be Against Me!, Joyce Manor, FIDLAR, Rancid, Get Dead, and The Briggs. I might be missing a few, but that's who comes to the top of my mind for now.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
(R): My advice to people that are starting to get into bands is to be understanding with your band mates, because if you don't have fun hanging out with them, you’re probably not going to have too much fun playing with them. Get comfortable with your band, be open about anything that comes to your mind, and most importantly, BE PATIENT!
(G): As a band and band member, try to remember that it’s a collaborative effort, and you should do your absolute best to set certain standards and boundaries on the creative process.
(A): I agree with what Ryan and Gary said, whole heartedly. It’s important to have fun with your band, and it’s important to set a standard and boundaries too. If there’s anything I could add to that, I would probably stress the importance of taking your time. Making music and art is a very personal thing, and you shouldn’t rush that process. Take the time to really think things out. Figure out what feeling you want to write about and keep working at it until it’s exactly how you want it to sound. You’ve got your entire life to make your debut album perfect! Your art is an extension of yourself. How do you want to be represented? It’s entirely up to you. So, take your time with your songs and with yourself! It’s not a race, it’s a marathon!
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
(A): If I could give myself some advice, it would probably be to start educating myself on the business end of music a little earlier. It’s often overlooked by young people who are just starting out, and for the casual player it doesn’t really matter. There’s plenty of books and articles out there with so much valuable information on how to operate bands in an efficient and effective way. If I had picked up on a lot of those things earlier, maybe I’d be on top of the world right now! But, hey! It’s never too late to learn. Maybe I’ll still get there!
(R): What I would tell my younger self is that I didn't need to focus so much on learning music theory, and that I should’ve also put some focus on other things, like song structure and song writing and things like that. For a while, I was just throwing licks and unnecessary stuff in my bass lines just because I could do it. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do is play what works best for the track and learn where you can put your fills in based on that.
(G): I’d probably just tell myself to do something else. Maybe sky fishing?
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
(A): I think the song that means the most to me right now is “Anchored.” It’s not out (yet), but I wrote it about feeling trapped in my hometown. I grew up in a fairly uninteresting place, and I always felt like I had to get out of there and find a place that I’d fit in better. I felt like a lot of the people I grew up with stayed there, and I just didn’t want that to happen to me. So, it’s all about breaking out of there and not being “anchored down” by where you’re from!
(R): The song that means the most to me would probably be “If You Don't Know.” I put a lot of time into making that bass line and it is just such a well written track. I feel like the song is open to interpretation, so I think of my best buddy when I play it.
(G): My favorite song of ours is “Call of The Rat” because I don’t fuck with rats and they should all be called out.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
(G): As much as I love our newest release, “Spillway”.. we always get asked to do Beastie Boys covers… We play their song “Sabotage” every now and again, and it seems to be the fan favorite.
(A): My favorite song to play is probably “Call Of The Rat.” It’s just so energetic and fun, and it really makes me feel like I’m getting whatever stress and frustration I’m dealing with off my chest. It’s not out yet, but it will be before the end of the year. You’ll see what I mean!
(R): My favorite songs to play would be “Call of the Rat,” “If You Don't Know,” “Anchored,” and when we cover “DVP” by PUP. Our fans really seem to like our song “Burnt,” which Alex wrote about pushing through tough times and making the best of it. I think he was living in his car when he wrote it haha.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
(A): I would say that I usually start the process, bringing a general outline of a song or an idea to the table. Generally, I like to start the songwriting process at home when I’m alone, and then bring it to the other guys and see what we can all make of it. I think what inspires me the most to write my music is the release I get from it. It’s therapeutic for me. When I write a song, I put all my problems and frustrations in front of me. Once it’s on paper, it’s out of my head.
(R): We normally will get ideas from other bands we really like it put a Sick Talk spin on it. That’s how we get started, at least. From there, it’s all about intricate chord changes and the occasional breakdown to keep things interesting!
(G): The creative process includes Alex and I getting stoned, while we make fun of Ryan ‘till he cries and usually we come up with a song based on those raw pure emotions.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
(R): Our message is to spread love towards people that modern society seemed to turn against. We’re here to spread a positive message, and let our fans and supporters know that they’re not alone in this constant battle for equal rights and equal respect. LQBTQ rights, don't be racist, and fuck Nazis.
(A & G): Yeah!
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
(G): All the time. I want to make experimental brain breaking music, but the other guys usually don’t want to do that, so I just nod along with them, pretending to listen, and then just make my own drum part. It usually works out just fine(R): Oh all the time haha. We get passed them by not letting things fester and talking about them before too long. That way, we can get all our emotions out and quick, then say sorry to each other. It’s important to be honest and get things off your chest. Boom, magic.
(A): I disagree…. Just kidding. They pretty much said it all. We’re very communicative with one another, and that saves us from a lot of headaches. We don’t hold grudges towards one another, and when someone has an issue or a disagreement, we try to be understanding and listen to one another. When you’re in a band that spends as much time together as we do, you’re going to butt heads. It’s inevitable. Knowing how to address these things and move past them is so important, and I’m glad we’re all able to talk things out with each other.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
(R): Our plan right now is to gig as much as possible and write new music in the process. We’re planning on putting together a fundraiser/benefit show at the end of July to raise autism awareness. A few of our friends from other bands mentioned that they really want to do something cool to benefit autism awareness, and so we’re trying to set up a show together and raise some money. We’re going to donate all the money from that night to different autistic organizations that we want to support! Follow us on our social media pages to stay up to date on what we’ve got going on! We primarily post updates on Instagram! Check us out @sicktalkband on ig!
(A): In addition to that, we’re also going to be releasing some new music throughout the summer and fall! A few more singles and a self-titled EP filled with all the songs we mentioned (for the first time) in this interview here! We’re also in the process of getting some 7” vinyl pressings of our newest single, “Spillway” so watch out for that!
(G): The plan is total global domination, and every member would agree with this. We want merch in every house, songs on every station, and a show in every town so they can see how sexy and epic we are.