Los Angeles band, Sure Sure, is already turning heads and their sweet beats are meant to be bumping through your speakers. Rare Candy Spoke with guitarist and vocalist, Charlie Glick, while he was packing for tour to discuss unique band art, staying connected with fans, and specifics about the band’s self-titled album.
RC: Sure Sure started when you and your bandmate Chris met during your freshman year of college at Stanford. How important are college students in the music scene and what is their impact?
CG: It’s hard to tell what the audience makeup is at shows, but I think the nature of being in school makes kids aware of so much more music. It’s really important to have college students as fans because they are such smart listeners, and they disseminate music really quickly because they are surrounded by friends all the time.
RC: Your website is very friendly and conversational with readers, even giving out a phone number to call and saying that people who sign up for your email list are “true friends.” Do you have a name for your fanbase?
CG: It’s the True Friends! I mean the wider fanbase doesn’t quite have a name though. True Friends started as our street team and we send unreleased songs to them and have them help promote shows, etc.
RC: How do you use a street team to help spread your music?
CG: Whenever we have new music that we haven’t released yet we always email them, post it in the Facebook group we have, or even text them because we have a decent amount of their numbers. They always get new music first to listen to and share. Or we’ll ask people to put up print flyers to promote shows.
[After a quick tangent about what is needed to prepare for Sure Sure’s upcoming tour, Charlie briefly mentioned how the band needs to pick up spray paint to use to put a rollerskating duck on the touring gear. Though he seemed to say this nonchalantly, I was definitely curious about the origins of said duck.]
RC: So...can you explain the duck?
CG: The duck was made by Mike [Coleman, producer] in high school before I ever knew him. He would spray paint it around his town and it became this little emblem that he was known for. He brought it back last year and we started spray painting it on all of the tour gear. We’re selling it as a patch now that people can put on their stuff! It’s just a rollerskating duck, it’s great.
RC: One of your merch items is a giraffe patch, also designed by Mike. What inspired that?
CG: That’s actually sold out, but it’s another one of Mike’s designs. Mike loves giraffes; I don’t know anyone who loves giraffes more than Mike.
RC: As the band continues to grow, how do you plan on staying connected with fans on a personal level?
CG: After all our shows we always hang out at the merch table and talk with as many fans as we can, which we plan on continuing. I really plan on doing that forever. That is honestly the best way to do it. Instead of hiding in the green room, we like to hang out with everyone until the bouncers kick everyone out. We’ll do that and keep doing True Friends, and we’ll always have the phone number. Give us a call!
RC: It’s interesting having your studio in your house. How do you separate work with the rest of your life since you’re literally living at work?
CG: It’s not always easy, but I’m pretty good at keeping routines. Usually, by seven we are done working and then we exercise, a lot of the time together. We all have our own little routines. Before the day starts I always do my own thing. I demarcate the work day with my routine. When we aren’t touring, I have another job tutoring English and that isn’t in the house, which is refreshing. I can’t really keep that job though because I keep leaving for tour and my bosses are pretty annoyed.
RC: How is recording affected by touring?
CG: We can’t really record while on tour, but we keep writing. Then when we get back from tour we have all this stuff to get out of our system, which is easy because everything needed to record is right in our house. When we tour all our focus is on the live show.
RC: During an interview with Frontrunner you mentioned how you like to mix up sounds like using a recycling bin as a kick drum or putting a piano through guitar amps and pedals, so I have a challenge: How would you make a song if the only instruments I gave you were a pen, a balloon, and a Razor scooter?
CG: Well, you can do a lot! I think you can make a lot of percussive sounds with the pen, obviously. The cool thing you can do is record yourself blowing up the balloon and then use a sound-shifting plug-in to pitch it. You can make melodies out of air flowing into the balloon and then after you fill up the balloon you can also hit it with the pen and pitch those with digital plug-ins. You can even record yourself popping the balloon for the climax of the song. Actually, that would be the very end of the song. The whole thing would be this crescendo of the balloon being blown up and then pitched air noises and percussive sounds. The Razor scooter is the hard one. We would probably put Mike on the scooter and just record him having a great time in the background. That’s how it would go.
RC: How do you go about thinking of these reinterpretations of instruments and everyday items to use into for your music?
CG: It depends on the song. We don’t pre-plan them. It happens more when we are tired of using a normal drum sound, so Kevin and Mike will band their heads together and come up with a cool way for recording drums or recording non-drums as drums. It’s usually very spur of the moment because it’s all about whatever is the most exciting thing at the time of recording. That’s how we get most of the recordings. We have to be having fun and doing new stuff every time, otherwise what’s the point?
CG: In terms of performance and seeing what crowds react to, we’ve been doing that since we started touring with Hippo Campus. It’s usually the simplest things that the crowd goes crazy for, like raising up your hand or doing some simple but obvious physical motion. It’s really fun to see how you can get the crowd to react. On the technical side, we’ve seen a lot of the production that goes into making those big shows. We can’t really afford all of that big production yet, but we have taken a lot of it to heart. On this tour, we are doing all of our own sound with all our own gear and we have our own sound guy, Steve, who is building everything. The production of bands at that level is really contained and they have control over everything, which is something we really wanted to do. This tour is going to be really exciting because the sound is going to be a whole new world compared to the last tour. It’s adding a lot of extra work and daily things to take care of, but it will definitely be worth it.
RC: How did you come up with the album cover for your self-titled record?
CG: We were working with this visual artist named Zach Bell for the lyric videos for songs like “Friends,” “Koreatown,” and “Hands Up Head Down,” and it was his idea to write lyrics on transparent surfaces. His original idea was to write on an acrylic board, but we only ended up using it for the “Hands Up Head Down” video because we wrote on car windows for the other two songs. We had the acrylic board laying around and the album was coming out, and we were trying a bunch of options but nothing was quite right. Literally two days before we left for the winter tour, we got together and took that photo. It just felt right. We wanted an open, simple feeling to it.
RC: Off the new album, why is “lowlife” the only song not capitalized?
CG: I think Mike wanted to do that. It aesthetically looks really pleasing and it kind of fit in with the connotation of lowlife. The song doesn’t really use the classical definition of lowlife; it’s more about living a low, quiet life. I liked how it was more low to the ground without a capital letter. It was another gut decision.
RC: What’s your favorite lyric off the album?
CG: My favorite lyrics are probably off of “Information Machine” because it came from such a raw place. I was in Ann Arbor, Michigan because my sister was going to law school there. I was in this toy store, and there was this crappy toy ukulele and I didn’t have any instruments with me, so I figured I’d just spend $20 and buy it. I got it and went back to the bed and breakfast I was staying at and just sat. I was in a really raw mood, but I can’t really describe it. It was in the middle of the winter so it was really cold and dark. I just sat in my hotel room by myself and that song flowed out of me. There was no barrier between me and the song as it was coming to me, so the lyrics came really naturally. I don’t always know what the lyrics mean.
RC: How did the band develop the name Sure Sure?
CG: The thing about band names is before they’re your band name, they all suck. You’re sitting there trying to come up with a band name but everything sucks because nothing means anything. We chose Sure Sure because it felt really familiar. It’s something that people say so often that it doesn’t really mean anything, which is kind of nice in a band name because we wanted the name to be able to take on its own meaning. Philosophically, we chose it because it was so empty and people can fill it in with whatever our music is. That being said, it’s funny because other bands have really in-your-face band names, but it has also taken on the meaning of their music. At the end of the day, the name itself doesn’t really matter.
RC: To wrap up, what bands or artists are you listening to right now?
CG: There’s this local LA band called Superet, which is Latin for “it overflows”—an example of a really cool band name. They put on the sickest live show that I’ve seen, but I’m not sure what they’re up to right now. I’ve been really into Andy Shauf. His most recent album, The Party, is immaculate. I highly recommend listening to that; all the songs are great. It’s a concept album and each song is from the perspective of a person at this one party on one night. It sounds so cool; it’s just fantastic. I honestly don’t listen to music all the time because I’m surrounded by it. I like listening to the world around me. So the world around me, another great thing to listen to! Take off the headphones sometimes, and just listen to birds or the highway even.