A NOTE from BOB MOULD
It's been a long and crazy year. A new band, some familiar faces,
loads of live shows around the world, the beginning of what will
hopefully be a long and prosperous relationship. But not all relationships
THE HISTORY SO FAR
When I initially approached the other guys about putting this
band together, there was a very large body of work that had been
written with no particular players or presentation in mind. We
had no idea how things would jell, if they were to jell at all.
The body of work was, and still is, very diverse in all possible
ways - melody, tempo, dynamics, lyrical content, consistency,
quality. The oldest of the songs, "The Act We Act", was written
in late 1990. It was the first song we started with on Day 1 of
It was quite an undertaking to work through all the material,
considering we had never played together before Day 1. Some songs
appealed to the three of us initially, while others were more
of a struggle. At the end of the first show in February 1992,
we performed a "suite" of 4 sonically linked pieces. The "suite"
was most commonly referred to as "1-2-3-4", as that was how the
pieces were always rehearsed and perceived by us. At that show,
the words came across to those in the crowd as very vague; all
the songs had rough lyrical ideas, working titles, etc., but were
not finished songs (in the traditional sense). It was, to me,
the most interesting part of the show, because we had to conjure
up an emotional feel without having tangible stories to guide
us, or for the crowd to follow. Something different from the core
"set" material, something that needed more time to unfold.
The recording sessions started the following week, in suburban
Boston. This was to be the true test for the band, whether or
not the raw energy could sustain the microscopic, detailed scrutiny
the studio allows (and forces) you to have on the finished presentation.
A decision was made to record all existing material in rough form,
and once the embellishments were finished, the best songs would
make themselves apparent.
Once the basic tracks were finished, the shape of the project
had started to become clear to me. There were three distinct faces
to what we were trying to accomplish - traditional pop, up tempo
guitar-heavy, and a more improvisational, darker side. The final
touches for the first two faces was relatively painless. Stacking
vocals, adding percussion, sonic reference points, the usual elements
that most casual listeners take for granted, were completed fairly
quickly. I was left with about 8 extra days of recording time
before mixdown was scheduled to start, and since we were on a
limited budget, I didn't relish the thought of wasting money and
canceling studio time. The darker pieces had a completely different
feel at the time, and seemed destined to remain unfinished forever
on 2 inch tape. I knew by this time what the subject matter was
going to be (if they were to be finished), but really didn't know
if I had the ambition or time to realize them.
GET IN, THE WATER'S FINE
The next week was one of the most draining and fulfilling experiences
I've ever had making a record. Finish 6 more songs, lyrics, vocals,
extra touches, in 7 days. For what? There was already more than
enough solid material for one album. There would be time to come
back to this material, if it was meant to be. But something kept
nagging at me, and I'm not sure what it was. The tracks were too
good to wait, and the ideas were starting to come at me. Maybe
it was the need to try to balance out the lighter material with
some darkness, to add some sort of contrast. The picture that
I wanted to paint of Sugar would not be complete until these songs
I have more than enough notebooks filled with dark thoughts in
my life. Contrary to what people think, they're usually not pointed
at anyone in particular. They're mostly for me, maybe I'm trying
to tell me about me. Maybe I get tired of what other people think
I'm about, or what I should be doing. Maybe I'm so thoroughly
disgusted with how life moves on that I wish it would go away.
Sometimes painting the darker pictures helps you see the good
side of life.
IN A CAPSULE
- Occasionally, we get so numbed by experiences we've had, all that's
left is a droning in our heads that just won't go away. Demons,
perhaps. Anxieties, most definitely. We rarely remember the circumstances
that led to the catatonia - the only thing we recall, initially,
is what brought us out of it.
- Too often we all get hung up on words, and take them entirely
the wrong way. We overhear someone talking in confidence, and
become judgmental. We may not know the entire series of events
that led up to the conversation in question, and take parts of
it out of context. For this, we all usually pay some sort of price,
and it's not already obvious.
- It's documented in literature and history, it's on display in
museums, it's a metaphor for splitting yourself in two about decisions
you've had to make. The notion of the traitor as despot is unfair;
all of us betray, in some small way, each and every day. One small
lie begets another, and once the cycle starts, the extrication
process is time-consuming, all-consuming. Betray yourself, and
others will feel betrayed.
- The close relative of martyrdom is sainthood. Many figures throughout
history have been sainted, knighted, placed on pedestals for all
to worship and emulate. But common people are no different: we
find those to worship and emulate, and, more often than not, they
are not the ones who want this attention. But I think, at one
point or another, we all feel like we're about to be crucified
for something we didn't expect.
- Reality sinks in, the pain we cause to ourselves and other people
become clear, and we set out to rectify our mistakes. The healing
process is a long one; sometimes very confusing, often with some
sort of support from outside forces. It is uplifting, but may
or may not be permanent.
- Usually we act upon our impulses, and really don't know how to
explain what we've experienced. Some experiences are best left
You could say that it's about despair, it's about freefloating
through everyday life, it's about wishing life would stop making
outrageous demands on us, it's about self- crucifixion, it's about
putting an end to all of it. It's about all of this, and so much
more that can't be explained, and won't be explained, because
sometimes the messenger doesn't understand the message. Let the
receivers of the message have some latitude.
Since the completion of those sessions, different notions have
been running around in my head. I thought this material was going
to be a bit difficult for most people to comprehend, especially
after hearing the "Copper Blue" album first. Then I felt the songs
had become too personal, too revealing of something I'm not even
sure I understand, to connect with anyone. Now I'm not sure what
to think of it, so it's time to let go of it.
I'm sure some people are going to perceive this as some sort of
step backwards from the previous album. Some people will say it's
self-indulgent. Almost anything short of community service usually
is. People who have seen the band live will know this is not the
case. This is the other side of Sugar that some people haven't
seen yet, a style that we really enjoy. The presentation of the
material is very demanding, very open to extrapolation, very fresh
to us. You can make whatever you want out of it, that's what music
is supposed to be about. Sometimes the experience of making music,
or listening to music, shouldn't be overanalyzed and dissected.
To me, that's what this piece of work is about. Sorry there's
no better explanation. This one will have to do for the time being.