Sick Puppies, Saving Abel and HURT are three bands that have started to make it big on the rock circuit, and each band carries a unique sound and story.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Sick Puppies made a huge hit with its “free hugs” video that used its song “All the Same” and aired nationwide.
“It was an accident and was not planned,” singer and lead guitarist Shimon Moore said.
“It was made with the specific intention to make the main character feel better after his grandma passed away, but it made everyone else feel happier as a result afterwards. The video turned out to be a catalyst for the band and everything that we pursued afterwards.”
On top of winning a slew of awards, Sick Puppies was also deemed “the most dynamic new band in the country” by Australian Rolling Stone.
Saving Abel hails from a small town in Mississippi and combines its southern roots with alternative rock, making a one-of -a-kind sound. Formed by Jared Weeks and Jason Null, the band started out by playing small gigs but eventually caught the attention of Virgin A&R consultant Scott Frazier and took off from there. It recently released its debut album on March 11. Its uncensored video for “Addicted” aired exclusively on playboy.com, and the band is currently touring the country with Sick Puppies.
HURT comes from Los Angeles and combines a style of gothic and alternative rock, almost hovering over a metal sound. It has released two albums, the second of which was released on Sept. 27, 2007 and featured the hit “Ten Ton Brick.” It is currently touring the Midwest and recently played a show at the Virgin Mega Store in New York City.
We took the opportunity to speak to vocalist J. Loren from HURT, vocalist Jared Weeks from Saving Abel and Moore from Sick Puppies about their favorite cities, musical influences and advice for struggling bands.
How have you grown as composers and band members throughout the years?
J. Loren: It’s been great that we’ve made a top five radio track, and I definitely value myself in the quality of my work, but it’s really difficult to define what the best moment or indicator of my success is.
Jared Weeks: It definitely ain’t a lack of trying. There are certain things you do on the road that make you closer as a band.
In the beginning, we just got on stage and played, and, as we progressed, it formed a groove and it became a better show as we kept playing. We’re not still in Mississippi playing honky tonk. We’ve established ourselves as a band on a national tour that is touring other places than the hills in Mississippi, and such successes have helped us continue to work hard and play hard.
Shimon Moore: We have grown because of everything that changes. As a person, you change, your music changes and your energies change. Over time, we have learned to focus on the overall goals of the band and what we want to achieve and identified the areas we wanted to improve upon. The biggest change is the focus of our group. At first, we were more sporadic with the ideas we had and now we focus on each song and how it is associated with our whole arc of records and other songs.
What are your inspirations for the songs you write? Who are your biggest influences music-wise?
J.L.: I didn’t really have a choice about being a musician. I just wanted to play all my life. One of my main influences since childhood has been Vivaldi, but my inspirations come from different topics, and I try to make the sounds that I heard and envisioned. Also, I usually listen to only whatever I’m writing. I don’t typically listen to other types of music on a daily basis.
J.W.: My very first concert in Memphis Square with Jimmy Whine motivated me. It was the music that I grew up on. I was also very involved with the lead song service in church and also learned acoustic guitar, all of which led me to start a band and play my own music.
My inspirations are Brad Arnold from 3 Doors Down, Jimmy Whine Shepard, Chris Cornell, Mississippi Leonard Skiller, Matchbox 20, Sound Garden and Metallica.
S.M.: When I saw Silverchair play on the MTV Music Awards, I fell in love with the band and thought we could do the same thing. Lyrically, anything that’s real is usually an inspiration and plays a role in the process of what we’re trying to write. Songs that are true to the moment and honest always affect me, and of course Incubus’s funky grooves are always a key factor in my creativity.
What are your favorite places to tour?
J.L.: Definitely the Midwest. The stands are always reserved, and you don’t have to look around the room and see if people want to have fun before they want to.
J.W.: So far, number-one favorite is Cincinnati, Ohio. But I also love Los Angeles, Calif., Salt Lake City, Utah, Jacksonville, N.C., and Augusta, Ga. And for the tour, we’re on our way to Boston soon.
S.M.: Our favorite city on the map is Portland, Maine. Atlanta, Ga. is always fun and the place where the shows are best is Alaska.
What advice do you have for struggling bands out there?
J.L.: I was once a drummer struggling myself, and to persevere, you got to get out there and play shows. We work our asses off eight days straight and then do performances at noon and night. This whole industry is changing, and you have to love what you’re doing and make your record label your salvation.
J.W.: My advice is to do what you can with what you have. You don’t want to lose your whole life with “I wonder ifs.”
S.M.: Make sure you love what you’re doing and you’re doing it for the right reasons. If you love music, you will always love it and being in a rock band.
Moore further commented on Sick Puppies’s transition from Australia to America as well as being deemed “most dynamic new band in the country” by critics.
“It was pretty simple. We were very determined to make the shift [from Australia to America],” he said.
“We left behind our families and moved over to make our own music. “We worked all the time, just sitting in a room and having continuous rehearsals. Unfortunately, we didn’t really meet that many people since we were so focused on our music, but we did experience the different customs and cultures.
“[‘Most dynamic new band in the country’] was one of those things that you want to take with a grain of salt,” he said. “They called you the most dynamic band and now they’ll say something about you. I went to a party once at the Australian Grammy Awards, and I took my shirt off and the security told me to put my shirt back on. The incident was all over the radio. People began to gossip about how the Sick Puppies stripped naked and caused havoc at the party. People say a lot of different things, and when they say good things, you should be very appreciative. When the comments are bad, the best thing to do is to not pay attention to it. It’s very flattering when we are praised. We put our all into our shows and we’re very appreciative.”
Kraus is a member of the class of 2009.
Venkateswaran is a member of the class of 2011.