Sugarcult guitarist Marko DeSantis looks back on the 10-year anniversary of the group’s Lights Out album with a lengthy Instagram post. The post talks about the hardships of being in a band that comes with the music industry, as well as, the group’s future.
This week marks the 10 year anniversary of our 3rd record Lights Out, which was bookended by what history has revealed to be prophetically titled cuts (Lights Out & Hiatus), it was our proverbial one that got away. Probably our darkest & heaviest record, Lights Out was essentially a two-part dissertation on self-medicating through one-night stands & loveless sex (Do it Alone, Shaking, The Investigation, Made a Mistake, Hiatus) ; and frustration w/ the music industry (Dead Living, Out of Phase, Explode, Start a Riot, Los Angeles) After years of gradually working our way up from the back alleys & side streets to the main drags & fast lanes of rocknroll, the stars were aligning for this record to be our grand arrival. Our record company had been absorbed by V2 Records, a fantastic label originally founded by Virgin Recs/Air/etc impresario Richard Branson & run by a select cast of street-smart sweethearts w/ impressive record collections & enough savvy to snag future heavyweights like The White Stripes, Moby, Phoenix, etc early on. After bumping our heads on glass ceilings w/ our first 2 records, we were thrilled to have found an equally graceful yet much more powerful engine. Or so we thought. The first single (of a 4-single plan), “Do It Alone”, was released to radio & MTV (we shot 2 expensive videos for it on the label’s dime, since they wanted to get it just right!), the record came out packaged in a beautifully designed matte-finish gatefold case; we embarked on headlining tours & all was well. They signed a slew of great bands from our touring community like Alkaline Trio, Straylight Run, Blood Brothers, The Adored, etc. Our next single, “Los Angeles” readied for an early new year’s launch & then… V2’s calls & emails slowed down; the jovial voices of their staff was EQ’d to hushed tones & awkward silences. We received the official communiqué that the label was being shut down effective immediately: all employees terminated & all bands basically fucked! To paraphrase John Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…”
While we were surprised & disappointed; we knew things like this can be par for the course in the music biz, and since we had built a strong foundation on our own, we would be fine & figured our record would eventually land in its feet & find a new loving home. By now, they owed us (& many other bands) small-fortunes in unpaid royalties. We lawyered up & got in line. They gave us the run around, pushed the limits of every deadline & grace period while we sat around trying to make ourselves as unattractive to them as possible in hopes that they would relent & cut us & out records loose. We turned down tour offers, stopped doing press & basically went into a holding pattern until we finally cajoled them to let us out of our future obligations & settle for pennies on the dollar. By now the record cycle had lost all momentum & we were exhausted & heartbroken. We resumed playing shows & touring, but with no outside support there was only so much we could do. We all began settling into domestic lifestyles and strayed into our own individual projects: Airin focused on he & his friends’ side project record that eventually manifested as Edward Sharpe & the Magnet Zeros (the record yielded the now modern-classic song “Home”); Tim began co-writing/producing for other artists & scored a huge hit w/ his first try… Neon Trees “Animal”; Kenny started an Americana group Good Man Down w/ his pals from Lefty & Lit & started KennyDoIt a charity foundation where he raised health awareness by riding his beach cruiser bicycle (across America!). I dove into family life, DJ’ing, lecturing/artist-coaching & some touring with my side bands (The Playing Favorites & Bad Astronaut)
Sugarcult played shows here & there until our activity slowed down to a defacto hiatus (also the name of the last song on Lights Out; Hiatus!) It remains to be seen if/when we’ll rock again as Sugarcult. Time will tell.