The Melody Maker is dead, Limp Bizkit are on daytime radio, schoolgirls have thrown away their Topshop mini-dresses and are stomping around in hooded tops and enormous combat pants. The alternative has become the mainstream and the mainstream the alternative. Whilst this may cause untold shrieks of anguish from the alternative hardcore it does you a lot of good if you happen to be making loud angry metal tinged punk. Before you were the kids everyone else stared at and called grungers. Now you are the epitome of cool and you can headline scuzzy London venues and support some of the biggest names in the alternative rock underground. You are 17, you have a debut single with Abuse's "nu metal" offshoot Velocity, you are three quarters female, you are Sugarcoma.
I meet Heidi (bass) and James (drums) in the dismal confines of the Minibar next to Highbury Garage. Claire (Guitar) isn't here as she's looking after Jessica (vocals) because as Heidi puts it, "…she's experiencing a lot of pain, she's having a bit of trouble". The riggers of touring, a personal issue, or a stomach bug, I never find out but do get a chance to speak to her after the gig.
So how did Sugarcoma go from being a band playing their local pubs to a group capable of supporting My Ruin with a single out on Velocity? Heidi, "we recorded this really bad demo and had this list of people to send it to. Abuse was at the top 'cos it was in aphabetical order, Sid came to see us and it went from there". The music press have been really interested in the band since the single release, what is it that makes you stand out as a band? Heidi, "it shouldn't be because of it, but having three girls in the band probably helped, and being young as well. Girls like to see other girls playing in bands as well", James, "we get loads of riot grrrl type at our gigs even though we're not really that kind of music".
With the whole scene that's grown up around bands like Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, and more saliently Kittie, where do you think you fit in? Heidi, "it bothers us that we get included in the scene 'cos we're not really nu-netal. You have to be certain things to be nu-metal, I mean, we're not very downtuned…", James cuts in, "and we don't have a DJ and we don't know Fred Durst!", Heidi concludes, "we're more, well people say we're punk, nothing like Kittie". Although Sugarcoma clearly do not want to be lumped in with the nu-metal scene a quick look at their audience confirms the look, with mini Slipknots and Dursts doing battle in the mosh pit. Many parents and social commentators like to write this all off as non-substantive "teenage angst", the question is, are Sugarcoma 4real? Heidi smiles, "If anything when you're young you have more, (dramatic voice) pain!", James, "It's about what hurts you personally, people are all different. If your parents died when you were two then your idea of pain may be different to that of someone who's split up with their boyfriend". Heidi continues, "the lyrics are a personal thing to Jessica, she writes them. But then again there's one song based on a book she's read so it's not always like that. I didn't know the lyrics to Milk Fed were about someone with an eating disorder for ages…", James adds, "I didn't realise until someone pointed them out, we don't get involved in the lyrics really".
The lead track on Sugarcoma's debut single, Blisters, has been sat in the Clickmusic MP3 chart for months and their website is one of the best around, what role can the 'net play in the band? Heidi, "in the long run it might be that everyone gives their songs away as MP3s with site advertising paying for it, I like the fact people can download our songs cos then they sing along at gigs. I guess as far as the business side goes we distance ourselves from that, we leave it to other people", James, "MP3s definitely help with albums cos I know loads of people who download a few tracks then decide if to buy them".
Back in the real world the band have been touring continuously. As support to My Ruin there must be some good stories. James, "Tarri B got pushed over in Nottingham and Jessica jumped in and picked her up, now Tarri is like 'Jessica saved my life' all the time!", Heidi, "Roy who was in Soulfly is doing the sound for My Ruin and it's like 'whoah we're not worthy'! We still get starstruck".
With that James and Heidi are called to soundcheck so after the gig, featuring stage divers and a fearsome metal duet between Jessica and Tarri B, I caught hold of Jessica after she'd signed cd covers pushed at her by a small riot of fans crowding around the backstage door. Lyrically Sugarcoma are not the happiest of people, discuss. "I write my lyrics to show how I'm feeling, you can write at any age, even if it's shit! If someone wants to say something then they should say it, it doesn't offend anyone, I wrote the lyrics for me, it's not fake band stuff or anything. Two nights ago this girls collapsed at our gig because she was anorexic, you could see her ribs poking through as they carried her out. That's the sort of thing that makes me write something like Milk Fed. We're not like Limp Bizkit, yes we're entertaining but when I sing my words I mean and feel them. Our songs are not fake angry shit!".
Sugarcoma, entertaining, real, and a whole lot more than mere "teen angst".