The landscape of Australia’s heavy music scene is jampacked at the moment, so much so it’s getting hard to keep up with everyone – but one band we’re keen to bring to you today is going places and fast!
Sugar Spine is the one-man-band project conceived by Sydney heavy music enthusiast Josh Muncke who first caught our attention with the release of his debut single ‘Gutter Paint‘ – which showcased a raw, heavy sound that set Josh and his band up for big things. Now, he’s followed it up with his forthcoming EP’s title track that we’re proud to premiere for you today and you’re going to get a better picture of his intentions with this one.
‘Mirror Talk’ opens with an ‘Amazing Grace‘ styled melodic section with lyrics that’ll have you going back again for a second spin once the heaviness kicks in at their climax. With well-rounded screams akin to that of Caleb Shomo on Beartooth‘s debut Sick EP and riff-city sounds from start to end – this really isn’t a song for the faint-hearted. The blast beats are full, the frantic instrumentals never once come across too much and for a new band, I see so much potential as Sugar Spine grows.
I grabbed Josh for a deep dive into his new single and project, the inspirations that helped him get to where he is now and when/how we’d be able to see this act hit the stage in the not too distant future…
Josh, welcome back to Wall of Sound. You certainly grabbed our attention with your first single ‘Gutter Paint’ – how was the reception from your end?
Hey thank you so much for having me back! I’m very glad it caught your attention. The reception was overall pretty positive, I believe. I’ll be honest I’ve never had this many people listening to anything I’ve ever made before, so it’s all incredibly new and exciting for me!
And for those not in the know – Sugar Spine is completely 100% you – a one-man-band so to say! Is this because you’re a devil to work with or are you just filling to the brim with ideas that no one else can keep up?
Haha, yes indeed. At this stage it’s just a project of mine. I love working with others to create music, but what I love about Sugar Spine is the freedom it allows when it comes to my ideas just snowballing into songs. I am more than confident that people can keep up with my ideas, I’m not a stellar musician, but being able to take your ideas and realise them in any way you see fit is a fulfilling thing.
There’s also a lack of pressure when it comes to writing. I’m not keeping up with band members or vice versa, and there’s no time limit and scope to stay in when formulating ideas. It’s a blank canvas and there’s no clock apart from the one I set. It can be lonely sometimes, but most of the time it’s insanely peaceful, and something I love doing independently.
The band combines everything from metalcore and prog, to thrash and heavy metal elements with each song released so far – is this your way to have a finger in every genre so you can’t be pigeonholed so early on?
I suppose it does! I don’t think too much about genres whilst writing. I mainly think about what sounds fun and entertaining. I love so many styles of music and that definitely comes through in the riffs or the time signatures or even the lyrics and vocal rhythms I use. I’m a huge fan of jazz and some electro-pop stuff, such as Ella Fitzgerald or The 1975, but then I also really love the heavier end of things like Brain Drill, Methwitch and Beneath the Massacre. I think all of the things I love subconsciously give me little ideas which I pounce on and build up.
If the result of that is writing material that’s broad and hard to label, then I’m all for it!
You’re back with the HEAVY AF single ‘Mirror Talk’ – which kicks off with beautiful melodic cleans before you unleash a torrent of rage upon us all – give us the rundown of this track, its themes, conception and inspiration!
Yeah it goes pretty hard, I must say. The opening… serenade… was an idea that I thought of just before I fell asleep, thinking of how silly it is. I tried it out just for fun that night anyway, and after chuckling at its stupidity, it became a little more serious and deliberate. It actually perfectly conceptualises the theme of the track.
Mirror Talk is a self-criticism but also a bit of a jab at us all in general, asking that when we take the time to look at ourselves in the mirror (literally or proverbially), are we actually doing that with honesty, or just choosing to look at ourselves in the way we want to be seen?
That fake self is presented as the angelic voice with cute lyrics. The harsh, self-critical version is the one that hits the listener hard in the intro and essentially usurps the rest of the song. It was a pretty heavy song to write, as it dove into something I wasn’t happy looking at, but sometimes you need to stare directly at the weakness to either remove it or fix it. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to that stage yet, hence the final line “live in purgatory”.
It’s also the title track of your upcoming EP – Is that because it best represents what the listener will experience when they hit play upon release on April 22nd?
It is! Lyrically, the rest of the tracks seemingly focus on what’s going on around the world, issues that I find are pressing and need to be addressed. These are themes like misogyny and violence against women, Islamophobia, corruption and societal division because of media, and so on. The big question, and the reason the EP is called Mirror Talk is: if I can’t even look at myself in a true way and get my own internal reflections settled, how can I go about saving or messing with the world in any seriously substantial way?
The balance between focusing and working on yourself, and doing your best to learn about issues going on in the world and trying to do your part, is a constantly shifting dichotomy for me, once again hence the lyrics “live in purgatory”.
You also scored a collaboration with Nick Rossi from Born Of Osiris – how’d that come about?
Aside from writing music for Sugar Spine, I actually write reviews and do interviews for Sonic Perspectives, a US music site. I was given the chance to review Born Of Osiris’ latest (fantastic) album “Angel Or Alien”, and I just got talking with Nick after it was published! I wanted a guitar solo in ‘Pen or Sword’, but, let’s face it, I only do riffs man. I just shot my shot and asked him if he were able to throw something on the track, and he was more than happy to. He sent one take, and it was exactly what I needed. Aside from being an incredible musician, he’s genuinely kind and was sincerely interested in the track, so overall it was an amazing experience working with him.
Your sound is raw, original and authentic – who inspired you to make this track (and EP) and who would you say are big inspirations in the scene you look up to?
Thank you so much! I honestly just fell into a groove of writing heavy music after ‘Go Outside’ and this is what came of it. It was a personal exercise, so there was no real influence apart from my genuine keenness to materialise the music I had in my head. Musically, I’m influenced by Stick To Your Guns, Stray From The Path, early Your Demise and most definitely Slipknot.
I really look up to Cameron McBride, a solo artist who pumps out some incredible music in the form of Methwitch and Bleachwave, among other projects. He doesn’t follow the rules of music production, and that makes his releases seriously unique to everything else. His latest Methwitch album, “Indwell”, is also undoubtedly the heaviest thing I have ever listened to. Ever.
Lyrically, I look up to Brendan Murphy from Counterparts. His writing style always blows me away, and I find his words just as engaging as the songs. His Twitter is also damn hilarious.
When it comes to playing shows – how will you bring this project to the stage?
I would love to do this at some stage, for sure. I think Sugar Spine could be chaotic live, and I get an adrenaline surge just thinking about it. I think I’ll be on the hunt quite soon for people who would love to work with me to make this happen. If you’re reading this and you want to play some chugalugs and wee wahs, drop into my DM’s.
Any final thoughts?
Yeah! To anyone who has listened to Sugar Spine, thank you for taking the time to do so. One of the reasons I decided to take this more seriously was because of the people who made the choice to hear what I have to say, and I’m super grateful for that. I hope that on April 22, you are more than stoked with how the EP sounds.
Interview by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown
Sugar Spine‘s Mirror Talk EP is out April 22
Pre-Save ‘Mirror Talk‘ here
Sugar Spine – Mirror Talk EP tracklisting
1. Gutter Paint
3. Mirror Talk
4. The Black Stag
7. Pen or Sword (Feat. Nick Rossi from Born Of Osiris)
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