Noah Sugarman has been making music for roughly ten years and shows no signs of stopping now. Whether he’s making music on his own or in the company of others, Noah is always doing something that involves music. His latest release with Sugarman “After the Blackout,” is his second album, with the first, “Art of Starting a Fire” being released in 2009. Calling this release a “personal landmark,” he is ready to share songs from the new album with his fans and music lovers everywhere. In this interview, Noah talks about the new album, the upcoming tour, and how he’s grown as both a songwriter and a musician.
When listening to the album, different styles of music are found throughout the songs. Was this your intent or was it something that just happened during the writing process?
NS: I have such an eclectic taste when it comes to music, so it’s hard to say whether it’s intentional or not. I don’t like to be pigeonholed, so the album is almost like a mixtape; it has a little bit of everything. It may also have to do with my background; I originally went to school to study Jazz and Classical guitar.
This is your second album under the name Sugarman. What has changed between your first album and this one?
NS: The first album was recorded in LA with a producer and several studio musicians. At that time, I was just learning a lot about the studio and how everything works. With this album I produced it myself and I played almost all the instruments, so it’s more of a personal landmark.
How was it producing the album on your own? Would you be interested in taking on that role for other musicians?
NS: I love it and think it would be a nice end game when I’m too old to tour. It would be awesome to help out other younger, unknown bands, but that would be when I’m too old to tour and travel.
Earlier, you said you went to school for Jazz and Classical guitar. How did you learn to play all these other instruments?
NS: After school, my friends and I would switch our instruments in my parent’s basement and just jam together. I just learned to play the other instruments that way.
What inspired you during the songwriting process for this album?
NS: As I was going on, I noticed that the songs have this accidental theme of the world’s going to end. I don’t believe it will end and I didn’t mean to write songs about the Apocalypse. It just kind of came out, so there’s this inspiration for something I don’t even believe in. Otherwise, I wanted to make sure I created the best album I could. The first time around, if I had any questions I could just ask the producer. This time I didn’t have anyone to help me if I got stuck.
Who were some of your influences for the album?
NS: I’ve always said this and I still stand by it: I grew up in Cincinnati, born in Chicago, but James Brown is a huge influence for me. You may not gather that from this album. I was listening to James Brown when everyone else my age was listening Nirvana and stuff like that. The Beatles are also a giant influence. They have some insanely well written songs. I must say I did listen to a lot of Jackson 5 when I was recording bass riffs.
Aside from the songs on this album that deal with the world ending, do you think your music overall has a message?
NS: If I had to sum everything up, all my songs are secretly about me and my experiences. It’s very subtle. But I think these experiences tie together with similarities all humans have. Every human is very similar even if they don’t realize it. It’s unfortunate that we can’t get along better.
Tell me a bit about the tour. How is that going?
NS: Well, I’ve been traveling for the last ten years and I’ve played in all but four states. Right now, I’m doing a four day run and then I go home for a break. There’s an upcoming show in Chicago at Martyr’s on May 23.
What keeps you traveling on the road? How do you keep going?
NS: I’m 31 now and I started traveling when I was 21. I keep the old adage that nothing is shocking. This fast paced lifestyle has made me calm and I’m rarely shocked or surprised. Also, this is my life; I can’t live without music.
When touring what is your favorite city to play in?
NS: I do love Chicago, it’s an awesome city, but right now it’s split up in the East Coast. My favorite city is Wrightsville in North Carolina. It’s a little beach town that’s a hidden gem. My best friend actually lives there, so that’s plus. Also, I never thought I would love Dallas as much as I do, but it’s absolutely amazing. And I love the entire West Coast because I love the Pacific Ocean. But all those cities are a close second to Chicago.
When did you start performing?
NS: When I was 13 I was in a band. Our drummer’s dad, Tom, was a drummer himself and he actually acted as our booking agent. By the age of 14 or 15 we had already played 100 shows. He would set them up and then we would have to leave as soon as it was over because we weren’t supposed to be there; we were too young. From there on I knew that this was something I wanted to do and I never looked back. Also, I’m way too far ahead now to turn back. Also, I had very supportive parents and that always helps out when you want to do something like this.
You’ve done a lot of work with other musicians and on your own. What can your fans expect to find on this album that they might not find on your other work?
NS: Well crafted songs. It’s ultimately pop-rock no matter what. Songs with melody, catchy choruses, and James Brown.
What’s in store for you in the future?
NS: I’m actually writing the new album now; I’m trying to stay ahead of the game. There is some talk of going to Europe in October, but I’m not getting my hopes up. It’s always been a lifelong goal of mine to play over there. Also, we used to have this guitar player who moved on and now plays with Walk the Moon and they’re going to do an electronic remix of one of the songs from the album.
If you do go overseas, is there one country you really want to visit?
NS: Yes, I know it’s going to sound cliché, but I don’t care. Amsterdam, bring it on.
Sugarman is currently on tour. They’ll be in Chicago May 23 at Martyrs’, so make sure you get your tickets to check out Noah in action. Sugarman’s second album “After the Blackout” is available now. Make sure to visit his official website to grab your copy and to see what else Noah has been up to. Also, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Sugarman 2013 Tour Dates
05/08/13 Indianapolis, IN at The Funkyard
05/09/13 Pittsburgh, PA at The Lava Lounge
05/10/13 New York, NY at The Delancy
05/11/13 Pittston, PA at The Rattler
05/14/13 Washington, DC at Bier Baron
05/17/13 Charlotte, NC at Tremont Music Hall
05/18/13 Winston-Salem, NC at The Garage
05/23/13 Chicago, IL at Martyrs’
05/24/13 Rockford, IL at Kryptonite
06/08/13 Milwaukee, WI at Circle-A