Thursday, May 6th, 2021 - Scott Nocon
In 2011, a band out of the port city of Hamilton, Ontario, singer Skye Sweetnam and guitarist Matt Drake form the punk-style heavy metal band Sumo Cyco. Since 2012, the band has toured consistently with the likes of The Birthday Massacre, Nonpoint and Jinjer, forming a loyal fan base. In 2020, the band signed with legendary Napalm Records and are scheduled to release their label debut “Initiation in May. In Scott Nocon’s debut interview for Total Order, the band talks about the new release and how they were able to weave the frustration of the pandemic into the writing of the new album.
Would the track “Bystander” even exist if it wasn’t for the pandemic?
SUMO CYCO: No, it wouldn’t exist. I mean, it was written completely out of frustration of exactly what you’re talking about. Just feeling like you want your life to move forward. You have these goals, you have these dreams, everything was supposed to be a certain way. We had to change the music video concept because of being in lockdown. Absolutely. Everything. The entire release strategy of what we were going to do with the record and how long we had to work on the record changed. The world’s a victim to it. Every single person. For us it was obviously frustrating. It just made sense for our first single to be the song “Bystander”, because it just felt like we were sitting on the sidelines half the time just racking our brains. Everything changed when we came back from touring in January and February. We’re like all excited, we had just signed a record deal. We’re all ready to like go guns blazing and get back on the road. We wanted to get this record out as soon as possible. And then, we had no idea what’s going on. We were in limbo for a while.
Did more content and reliance on self-marketing become more important because of the inability to tour?
SUMO CYCO: Absolutely. Because of the fact that we’re not on the road. Up until last year, we were doing every two months we would be on the road. We’ve done almost five years of touring with on and off for months here and there. We did some serious touring to try and keep the band running. Then, is all comes to a complete halt. We would be on a regular schedule. We would tour for two months to three months, have a month off, where I can get things caught up and then I’m back out. You get used to that life. You also get used to how the income cycle works. All points of the business end. This is how this works. That’s how that works. When this happened we we’re like, man, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We actually have a media team member friend, Francesco Alucard, who’s like our fifth member. She’s been on tour with us and she does the media for us because we’re really busy. So Fran is doing a lot of work for us, we come home and we can’t even see friends anymore friends, you know, she’s locked down over here. Skye has always been a media girl. Anyway, she loves it. But it’s really one of those things that keeps us sane, being able to contact people, put stuff out instead of just looking at each other every day.
Having Kane Churko produce and co-write with us on this track was a great experience. We typically do everything at our home studio, so hanging in Vegas at the amazing Hideout Recording studio put us in a fresh new mindset to create.
The music video contains one of the most elaborate sets we’ve worked on. I guess collecting so much junk over the years has paid off! Come choose your poison and start the INITIATION!"
SUMO CYCO's Initiation invites a mass of new followers into their warped, dystopian-like world of “Cyco City”! As with its predecessors Lost In Cyco City (2014), Opus Mar (2017) and countless singles, Initiation is based in the imaginative conceptual location of “Cyco City”. But unlike most concept albums, the lyrical content is inspired by the band’s real-time environment – featuring timely, personal themes of love, sacrifice, anxiety, empowerment and more that all listeners can relate to.
Sweetnam adds about the album:
The album’s title, Initiation, stems from wanting to invite the audience to be “initiated” into our world. There are usually two congruent themes to each of our albums – one is real-world inspiration, and the other is “Cyco City”, a comic book-esque alternate universe where all our music videos take place. With Initiation, we introduce four gangs or clubs. Our music videos for Initiation all include a theme of these clubs – whether it’s gang vs. gang, a forbidden love between opposing sides, or the idea of having to choose where you belong.
Outside of the story, the lyrics relate to the polarization of the world we live in now. We all have a longing to belong, but what makes one feel accepted or ostracized from a group? To be INITIATED, would you be willing to try to understand another point of view? I have always written lyrics about internal struggle, the war within oneself. Throughout the album, we bounce back and forth between struggle and overcoming. It reflects the times, and there are moments that seem a bit dark.”
Read MORE in the new issue of TOTAL ORDER!
Coming May 11th