Interview: Sumo Cyco

Although this genre-bending band have been together since 2011, it seems like they came out of nowhere. Mixing Skindred -esque dub-metal with No Doubt style ska-pop, Sumo Cyco are the ones to watch. We caught up with front-woman SEVER to talk about the new album, female-fronted bands and touring with Britney Spears.

How would you describe the sound of Sumo Cyco?
We are a mix of hard rock, metal punk and dancehall to classify the genre, but I prefer to describe it more like getting murdered by a cheerleader.
Are you pleased with how your album ‘Lost In Cyco City’ turned out?
Most definitely. We are an independent band so we hold creative control over everything. We don’t think it would see the light of day if we weren’t happy with the results. We’re quite proud of it and the reactions we’re getting.

Who would you say your biggest influences as a performer is?
I grew up performing in musicals and I think that gave me my love of the stage and helped me find my confidence. I look to Gwen from No Doubt, Benji from Skindred and Rob Zombie for influence as a front person.

There are just as many female-fronted bands around now as there is male fronted bands, why do you think this has just caught on?
I don’t quite agree. Females are still majorly underrepresented in rock in my opinion. Take a look at any major festival line up and it’s obvious to me we still have a long way to go. I’ve definitely felt discrimination being a female, but I also love the challenge to prove that we can be just as killer. A big part of what motivates me as a front-woman is to encourage young females to be strong and fearless.
Do you feel it’s unfair to be compared to bands like Paramore or PVRIS when you sound totally unique?
I do. I respect both of those bands but I do think it’s lazy to compare our band to other female fronted bands just because we’re of the same gender.
Is it true that you once opened for Britney Spears?
Yes it is.  I opened for 50 dates across America. I was 16 at the time and Matt and Thor were playing with me at the time. Those boys and I have been playing music together for over 10 years.

Do you feel it’s harder for women to make it in the rock industry than it is for men?
Yes. Going back to the previous question, I feel that unfortunately many think rock music is synonymous with being tough and aggressive which are traditionally masculine traits. I used to think I had to push myself to act more macho, to be taken seriously. Now I’ve learned that I can define what rock music means to me and bring that to the scene. I like embodying the powerful, bold side of myself but I also love to be sexy, dance and embrace the entire range of my voice. If there are people that won’t give our band a chance because of my gender, I think it’s extremely closed minded.
So your image is all your own and not determined by record company execs as some may believe?
Our image is very important to us, we’re crafted everything ourselves for years. We don’t have a label or any money for a stylist. We have been our own label for the last 5 years.
You currently have 13 videos released to date and they are all unique, which is your favourite?
We recently released our video for “Fighter.” We conjured up the Mortal Kombat-meets-Godzilla theme, filming it in our converted church turned music/film studio. It took 6 months from conception to completion in between our recording and touring schedule. The buildings were all handmade from recycled boxes and cardboard all lit up by strings of Christmas lights. It’s the hardest video we’ve made as well as the most elaborate set, gotta say it’s my favorite right now.

You currently go by the name ‘SEVER’ where did this come from?
“Sever” is my alter ego, comic book name. I was trying to start fresh with my band and shed a bit of my teen pop image. “Sever” meant separation as well as sounding pretty bad-ass. We created a bit of a comic book universe in all of our music videos taking place in the imagined city of “Cyco City”- it’s all a fun ongoing theme we love to play with.
In fact, where did ALL your stage names come from?
Matt “MD13” Drake uses are his initials plus his day of birth. Thor is Kenny’s real middle name. Andy “The Wolf” Joseph is because he drums like an animal. He also likes wolves haha.

 

You have shared the stage with all kinds of bands from Coal Chamber to Hollywood Undead, who would you most like to tour with in the future?
Skindred, No Doubt, Faith No More, Rob Zombie. Any of those acts would be awesome.
Will you be coming back to the UK soon?
Yes we will be back for a European tour with Fozzy & Nonpoint. We will be playing 9 dates in UK plus Planet Rockstock festival this November/December. We’re extremely excited to come back!
What does the future hold for Sumo Cyco?
We are leaving on Warped Tour in two weeks. Can’t wait, it’ll be our fist time playing beyond the Toronto date. Lost in Cyco City just became available in Europe so we’re going to make some cool videos to promote the record. We are just starting to write for our second album which we’re hoping to record this fall. We like to keep busy!

 

Neale McGeever
RAMzine Senior Contributor - I'm an entertainment writer ('journalist') from the North East. My favourite bands include Slipknot, Nirvana and Ninja Sex Party... I've freelanced for the likes of Kerrang!,Closer, Front, ZOO, and many others! I'm also big in to movies, video games, live comedy and ...beer!

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