By Zach Schepis
Photo courtesy of Sick of Sarah.
The van hiccups along down the road, jostling both the band and gear inside. The girls from Sick of Sarah are three hours deep into a seven-hour drive to the city of Pittsburgh. Some of them are sleeping, one is on her laptop, and the others are just hanging out to kill time.
They’ve been on tour for close to two weeks now. Being on the road again is both a familiar and somewhat distant moment of reverie for the Minnesota quartet. Before this was their Ladykiller tour back in September, and before that, they hadn’t traveled since 2012’s Warped Tour.
Sick of Sarah had taken a much-needed hiatus to work on new music (and iron out some “band kinks”), but they’re back in full force. Expect a new EP to drop later this year of more self-realized and good-time rock and roll.
In the meantime, BTR sat down with guitar player Jesse Farmer and drummer Jessica Forsythe to talk about what to expect from one of the most torrented (and kickass) bands out there.
BreakThru Radio (BTR): So tell me a little bit about how the band first came together. I think I read somewhere that the original group was actually a duo called Sparkle Motion but someone thought the name was too gay…
Jesse Farmer: Ok I’ll field this one. Well, when I first met Abisha [Uhl] and Katie [Murphy], they were in this quartet that was extraordinarily gay–it was four lesbians with acoustic guitars and they were called Sparkle Motion. Abisha kind of wanted me to jump in and play bass even though I’m a guitar player and I said I’d come check it out.
I was like “Ok, I’ll do this, but two things have to happen: you’ve got to axe two of the guitar players, we need a drummer, and the name probably will have to go.” I guess that’s technically three things, but yeah, that’s how we got together.
BTR: As far as songwriting goes, I feel like some all-girl bands kind of capitalize on that aesthetic, but with Sick of Sarah, you manage to stay pretty gender-neutral–at least as far as the lyrics go.
Jessica Forsythe: We don’t have a lot of guy fans, but we do have some. It’s kind of intentional to keep gender out of it because if you throw gender in there, it kind of isolates the other side, you know?
BTR: Absolutely. So you guys have been working on this EP Anthem recently. Tell me about what’s been going into the making of that. It’s set to be released later this year if I’m not mistaken.
Farmer: Yeah, we’re officially releasing it June 20; we’re actually selling the album on the road. Hopefully people won’t pirate it, but I mean, who knows. We’ve been working on the material for three or four years now. We recently left our label, and we decided to put out an EP as opposed to a full-length. We’re probably going to go back into the studio before the end of the year and record another EP.
Forsythe: Honestly, because we couldn’t really afford to do a full-length, we had enough money to do the six songs that we did. So, we’re hoping that this tour can help us finance another EP by the end of the year. That’s the goal!
BTR: I bet having that extra time to play those songs on the road and really grow into them will allow them to be even more realized when you finally do hit the studio to record them.
Farmer: Yeah, we’re playing all of the new material that’s on Anthem live. We’re just going to have to go back and start writing again as soon as the tour’s over, or maybe we’ll just start on tour, who knows? The world is our oyster. [Laughter from the band.]
BTR: So how would you say that this new material compares to stuff that you’ve written in the past, or at least how it feels to you?
Farmer: I would say it’s a lot more us. With the label, you have some creative control, but ultimately, they have the last word on what makes the record and what doesn’t. These songs we hand-picked from a bunch of material that we had because we felt like these six songs were the best out of the bunch.
Forsythe: This record we also have a new producer, so we have more creative control.
[Noise from inside the van.]
Forsythe: Alexa [Wolfe] says, “More rock and roll.” She’s our new bass player. But yeah, we’re really proud of this record. It definitely took a lot more time; I mean, we haven’t released anything in close to four years. This record sounds more mature. We had Charles Godfrey from the Sonic Ranch produce and master. It’s something very different because we always had our previous manager handle it before.
We also have a few collaborators on some of the songs, which is something we’ve never done before. It was really fun to get into a room and work with such talented writers.
BTR: So you’ve definitely enjoyed your experience so far working with Adament Records?
Farmer: We were kind of a baby band when we first signed on with them, so we’ve learned a lot about the music industry since then.
BTR: You mentioned earlier that you hope no one torrents your new album. I remember reading somewhere that Sick of Sarah is actually one of the most torrented bands of all time…
[Laughs all around.]
Farmer: Our last producer had this hair-brained idea to release our record, <em<22:05, on BitTorrent. Well, it ended up being downloaded 1.25 million times.
BTR: Holy shit.
Farmer: Yeah. We did an interview at the time with Billboard because we were the first band to release our record using BitTorrent.
Forsythe: As far as that whole thing goes, I feel like it was pretty positive. I mean, obviously we didn’t make any money off of it, but it really helped to get our name out there.
That being said, I think we’re going to take a slightly different route with this next record.
To hear more from Sick of Sarah, check out their official site or tune into BTR’s very own In the Den.