Suckers plays the kind of psychedelic pop music MGMT probably wishes their newest album could sound like. There are no radio-friendly dance jams, but the music is far from alienating. The band’s sound lies in the middle ground between a bunch of Members-Only-jacket-wearing kids talking about how boss Emilio Estevez was in The Breakfast Club and an acid trip.
After playing a whirlwind SXSW that included six shows in four days, the Brooklyn-band returned to Austin with Local Natives a month later. The band is touring to drum up support for their debut album, Wild Smile, due out June 8 on Frenchkiss Records.
The band’s set began with what amounts to a gold star in the Austin scene: a poem reading by Thax Douglas. Douglas’ poem may or may not have said something about corporate whores and staying true to your beliefs (or maybe I’ve been listening to too much Minor Threat) but either way, the band was flattered. We caught up with Austin Fisher, Brian Aiken and the mysteriously named Pan after the set and talked about band names, birthdays and Madonna.
So did you ask Thax to do a poem for you?
Pan: We met him at Austin City Limits in October and he was like “Oh, you mind if I do something for you” and we showed up tonight and he had a poem ready for us. I actually got to keep a copy of it. He did it for Yeasayer a couple of weeks ago too.
You’re about to have an album come out through Frenchkiss Records, but let’s go back to the very beginning. How did the band start?
Fisher: Quinn (vocals/guitars) and I are cousins, and we moved to New York and very slowly started working on the band, then Pan started working with us. It was just very casual for a long time and then we moved to New York and started to get very involved. I think it was about two years ago, right before we recorded the EP, we weren’t very organized or serious and then we decided to really try to be a band.
Aiken: We got some managers, and that really got us rolling. We needed someone there to give us a kick in the ass.
How do you feel like the show went?
Fisher: It was good. It was quick. It was Pan’s birthday.
Pan: Yeah, I completely forgot about it.
You forgot about your own birthday?
Pan: Well, I wasn’t thinking about it because we had a show.
What was the writing and recording process like for the new album?
Fisher: We wrote it fairly democratically. We all just kind of worked together on the songs. We did it pretty quickly actually. I don’t think we had the typical “first band, work on your songs for two years” thing. We wrote about half the songs in two months.
Pan: Yeah, we wrote about half the songs in two months and the other half we already had written.
Fisher: But yeah, we recorded in New York with Chris Zane (Passion Pit, Tokyo Police Club) over the winter.
What bands influenced the album?
Fisher: Madonna. Lots of Madonna.
Pan: I think we’re so influenced by every type of music that it all just funnels through our brain. We weren’t like “Oh, we want this part to sound like this band.” You can kind of tell when you listen to the music.
How was your SXSW?
Aiken: It was a tornado. Just loading equipment on and off stages and parking the van, but it was cool.
Pan: We played at Galaxy Room like three or four times.
Austin: Yeah, all our parties ended up being in the same place.
Do you go to a lot of shows in Brooklyn?
Fisher: I don’t know. I don’t go to that many.
Pan: I go see my friends’ bands a lot. I’ve seen Das Racist like 20 times in the past three months.
Aiken: Yeah, I think I’ve seen Das Racist the most. They’re amazing.
Fisher: I wanna see Cameron Hall, Etta Place and I want to see Rewards. They’re new, but it’s Aaron from Chairlift.
How did you come up with the name Suckers?
Fisher: Quinn came up with it. We were just at practice kind of yelling words.
Pan: Yeah, we were yelling words and we would be like “No, no, no. We need to find a good band name.” Then Quinn yelled out suckers! and we all kind of liked that.