Sugar Army Exclusive: "We weren't in a very good place with Ian..."

11 April 2012 | 4:08 pm | Staff Writer

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On the eve of announcing details of their new album, Perth rockers Sugar Army have spoken to us exclusively about the trials they faced after bassist Ian Berney was pilfered by fellow West Australians Birds Of Tokyo.

The band's second full length record will be called Summertime Heavy and released through Permanent Records, the new Shock Records imprint designed to foster and develop local artists, some time in the next couple of months.

In conversation with Danielle O'Donohue from Melbourne's Inpress magazine for a story to be printed in coming weeks, the band's frontman Patrick McLaughlin admits that the departure of bassist Ian Berney, who left the band to join Birds Of Tokyo in April of last year, severely hindered the way the band operated. Instead of opting for a straight replacement, the band enlisted two session players to fill out their live sound.

“Everyone has input into the sound and adds their ideas. Taking Ian out of that meant the sound was going to change quite a bit,” McLaughlin says. “I think bringing in one person was going to be like, 'There's the replacement guy.' We figured if it's going to be different let's make it quite different, a new phase if you like.”

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The new phase hasn't necessarily meant the band are completely gelling as a five-piece, though.

“When we're rehearsing and getting ready for the live thing – we've had two new guys in our band now for about six months – it's really starting to feel like a proper band again. But it definitely still feels like a three [piece].”

Though one thing is for certain, there was never any danger of the band ceasing to exist after Berney's departure.

“No – that never crossed anyone's mind,” McLaughlin says. “It was bizarre. When it initially happened it was such a shock. It was totally out of left field. We were like, 'Alright, well, what are we going to do now?' We had a meeting the day after and said, 'Do you want to keep doing this?' and everyone was like, Yeah. There was never a doubt really.”

McLaughlin admits that tensions were running pretty high immediately after Berney left the band, but says that things have settled now.

“Yeah – we're fine now,” he says. “At first it was kind of weird. We weren't in a very good place with Ian but I've caught up with him a few times. We're over it now. It was kind of hard at the time but what's the point.

“I don't know if we'll be really close but he's living over [on the east coast] now anyway so it's pretty hard on opposite sides of the country but if we see each other we'll still catch up and have beers and talk shit. I don't hate him or anything. It's just…yeah.”

The album saw the band hit Sydney's Big Jesus Burger Studios with American Eric J (who engineered Weezer's Red Album) and local lad Scot Horscroft and, according to the press release, it “sounds like a band that has matured with age, with a continued focus on developing their own world around them.”

The first single from the record, Hooks For Hands, is available as a free download from the band's website.