By: Heather Murphy –
Last year, Toronto rockers Sumo Cyco unleashed their debut full length album Lost in Cyco City. This year, Sever (formerly solo artist Skye Sweetnam), lead guitarist Matt ‘MD’ Drake, bassist Ken ‘THOR’ Corke, and drummer Andy ‘THE WOLF’ Joseph are ready to take on the world. They’re about to tour in support of the European release of their debut album this spring, and we recently caught up with singer Sever aka Skye Sweetnam to talk about their fusion of punk, hard rock, and metal, their self-made music videos, and the Battle of the Cycos.
How would you describe your sound?
We take influences from across the board. We love heavy metal riffs, blast beats and dance hall rhythms, groovy bass lines and over the top theatrical vocals. Our genre is somewhere between hard rock, punk and metal with pop hooks and melodies.
Is there a musical style that you haven’t used yet that you’re hoping to in the future?
Hmmm good question. We haven’t really thought of it that way, but now that you mention it, we will probably challenge ourselves in the next song writing session to explore something new! We are never closed off to new influences or sounds finding their way into our music.
A lot of really exciting things are in the works already this year with your album dropping in Europe this May. What’s coming up next for Sumo Cyco?
We are very excited to be touring overseas this April! It will be our second time in the UK and first time to Italy, Slovakia and Austria as a band. We are very much looking forward to it! We are also currently finishing our self-directed music video for ‘FIGHTER’ and looking forward to our ‘LIVE Sessions 2’ series of videos to be launched in the near future. There are lots keeping us busy that’s for sure!
You guys are playing a free, all ages show on April 2nd in Toronto at a skate park called Underground. What are some other unconventional venues you’ve played in?
Back in the day, I performed in a hair salon which actually got me my first big break in the music industry. Since then, we’ve performed in a movie theater, and this really crazy venue called Satan’s Hollow in Manchester, which basically feels like you’re performing in the round and some post-apocalyptic horror house.
If Sumo Cyco could play one venue in the world, where would it be and why?
Probably the Hollywood Bowl, or some amazing castle or palace in Europe. I would pick the Hollywood Bowl because I’ve heard so many of my favorite bands play that venue, it’s so iconic. I’m also a fan of the beauty of Europe so any of the old historical buildings would be amazing!
You guys produce and direct your own music videos, and you can definitely see the influence that horror films have had on your visual work. Which of your videos is your favourite so far?
That’s like choosing between our kids! I love the performance sequence in “Danger”, we had access to a huge burned down warehouse that looks like a giant arena of some kind. We used a slo-mo camera rigged on top of my car, to get some really cool movement. I also love riding heavy machinery as I did in “The Ugly”. “Go Go Go” was really fun storyline, “LIMP” was one of our fan favorites. So many, good memories on set, it’s very hard to pick!
Is there something you haven’t done yet that you’re really looking forward to for your next video shoot?
Yes! This next video for “Fighter” is all done in miniatures. We built a city out of boxes, so it’ll be visually very different from anything we’ve done before.
Your Battle of the Cycos challenges are a very unique way to interact with your fans. Tell me a bit about how Battle of the Cycos came about.
We love how involved our fans are with our “Cyco City” world. All of our videos take place in this wacky parallel universe. We wanted to create some contests for the fans to promote the album, and thought it would be cool to base them all around each song/video release. One contest we had fans design a character they’d like to see in a music video, one contest the fans created art for a lyric video, etc. We have a lot of fun getting involved and hearing feedback on all our ideas.
What you enjoy most about interacting with your fans on such a personal level?
Music is all about the human connection. With technology it’s so easy to interact and connect. Having that open communication with fans just makes the experience as a whole richer when we can see the effect our music has on others. I have had messages from fans that say our music has helped them through a tough time or motivated them get to the gym, or inspired them to follow their passion. It’s really rewarding.
Any hint as to some of the future challenges?
The current challenge is for fans to let us know why they’re a “FIGHTER”- we’re going to have a video compilation of their answers to share soon! As for challenges after that, we make it up as we go along… so stay tuned!