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The Sound

The long road and a wide net

12/11/2013

Sick Puppies play Wooly’s on Wednesday, Dec 18.

Sick Puppies play Wooly’s on Wednesday, Dec 18.

Sick Puppies are out touring in support of its latest album, “Connect.” It’s a project that the band found itself taking a long and winding road to complete.

“We wrote for about two months, and then we stopped because it started to get kinda stale,” said guitarist Shim Moore. “We were recycling ideas unconsciously. We came back and wrote for another two or three months, and we had about 80 songs by the end of it.”

At first blush, that sounds like a lot of writing for one album. But while some bands may approach new albums with a definite focused concept, Moore’s convinced that you catch bigger game with a scatter gun than with a laser.

“If you want to have a good record, you need to write a lot of songs,” he explained. “I mean, you’re going to be playing it for three years, so you really need to make sure you pick good songs. I hear about bands that just write 12 songs and record them, and I’m like, ‘If you’re gonna play that shit for years, why not try to make it the best it can be? Take a little bit of extra time?’ ”

For Sick Puppies, the writing process is a group affair. Moore and bassist Emma Anzai share writing credits for every track on “Connect,” and drummer Mark Goodwin is afforded plenty of input as well.

“Yeah, we all collaborate,” Anzai said. “It all happens in a different manner each (album). Sometimes we’ll come up with a theme, and we’ll start from there lyrically and then put music to it. Other times we’ll already have a melody or a theme, and it all happens differently. Sometimes, it’s a riff, and you build from that. So, it can be any number of ways.

“The one thing we do keep the same is writing it acoustically rather than getting in a room and jamming on it, because it’s hard to know if it’s good when you’ve got the instruments plugged in and it’s already loud. Then anything can sound relatively OK. But it’s only when you strip it back to acoustic, and you can play it as a song, that you can know whether it’s a radio-ready song or not.”

In addition to writing “Connect” as a band, Sick Puppies hooked up with songwriter and producer Desmond Child. The legendary music man has lent his pen to some of the biggest rock hits of the past four decades, including top 40 hits for acts including KISS, Bon Jovi, Cher, Katie Perry and Joan Jett. It was grueling, demanding work, but the band was willing and eager to learn from a bonafide hit-maker.

“Working with (Child) was the craziest thing,” Moore admitted. “The first song took us three days to write this fucking song. It was because he was a perfectionist. If it wasn’t great, it was shit, and that was all. End of discussion. So you came up with 20 ideas that were shit. He’d literally say, ‘That’s crap man; that’s crap.’ Every idea you’d throw out there — ‘That’s crap.’ Then about once every five hours, he’d say, ‘That’s good. We will put that there. Next.’ No ‘thank you,’ just, ’What else ya got?…That’s crap man, that’s crap.’ It made me feel like I really didn’t know what the fuck I was doing, which is fair enough, because if you’re working with Desmond and you think you know what you’re doing, you’re a bit of an asshole.” CV

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