Suckers Go Wild

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Published May 27, 2010

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUCKERS

The venue with which the rollicking Brooklyn art-pop band Suckers is most closely associated is Glasslands Gallery, a beloved Williamsburg installation and performance space that pre-dates well the neighborhood’s waterfront condos. Glasslands founder and co-owner Brooke Baxter manages Suckers, and the band played its first gig at the space’s predecessor, Glasshouse. What’s their other favorite venue? Sticky Fingerz Rock n Roll Chicken Shack, a Little Rock, Arkansas institution. “Seriously, we love it,” explained Suckers lead vocalist Quinn Walker. “I feel like we’ve played there more than anywhere else.” They’re particularly fond of the sound guy, Maestro: “He’s always, ‘fuck this!’ and ‘fuck that!'” said Walker. “And last time we were there he made the waitress cry when she asked him not to drop the F-bomb. He screamed ‘Fuck you bitch! I’m Maestro, this is my house! You don’t tell me what to say!'”  

And so it goes in the world of Suckers. I met up with three quarters of the band–Walker and fellow multi-instrumentalists Austin Fisher and Pan (many instruments, one name)–around the corner from Bowery Ballroom, where the guys were playing a support slot with LA outfit Local Natives. “It’s like Biggie and Tupac,” said Walker. “Our East Coast-West Coast tour.” Drummer and keyboardist Brian Aiken was spending the afternoon in Connecticut–they’re native Nutmeg State-ers–where he was getting new plates for the band’s touring van, which had spent the last couple of weeks on the road illegally, with the previous owner’s tags on it. “Hey, they should have kept their plates!” declared Fisher. This is a different Suckers van, mind you, from the one that was raided by police at the US-Canada border, when authorities found an Altoids container, left behind by Aiken’s brother, that contained “buds and stems”; nor is it the van that was broken into in Washington, DC by “transvestite hookers” who left the band’s instruments but stole their laptops, which contained bunch of unreleased material.

On June 8, Suckers release their debut album, Wild Smile, a record whose track-to-track unpredictability mirrors the band’s lifestyle. While they don’t stray too far from the jam-based formula of chanted vocals, electronics, acoustic guitars, tribal percussion and bleating horns that worked so well on their somewhat more ramshackle 2009 EP, the Chris Zane-produced full-length also explores new terrain. There’s the bounce of “Martha”, the trippy sentiment of “Save Your Love For Me”, “King of Snakes”, which does rather slither along, and one holdover from the band’s 2009 self-titled EP, “It Gets Your Body Movin,” a signature that inspires hands-in-the-air moments among their ever-growing crowds. Suckers is all for re-imagination, and wary of repetition and imitation: “We’re not a band that ever says we want to be ‘like’ someone”, said Fisher. Walker added, “Even ourselves. If we end up writing something that sounds too similar to one of our other songs, we’re like ‘Oh no, we’ve gotta try something completely new.'” So when they are compared to other bands, as the album’s first single “Black Sheep”, with its swirls and frantic, yelping vocals has been likened to Modest Mouse, Walker doesn’t hear it: “I mean, I never listened to Modest Mouse, so when people say that, I’m like, ‘Huh. OK.'”

SUCKERS TOURS THE US THROUGH JUNE 8. SEE VIDEO OF JOHN NORRIS’S INTERVIEW NOISEVOX.