Sometimes all we really want is the sweet, sweet sounds of melodic and mindlessly infectious pop tunes. No political statements. No strange, experimental noise; just a good old-fashioned pop track. Is that too much to ask for in a world where pop ranks low in the scheme of cool, but remain high on the music charts? Let’s for a brief moment dismiss the guilty in guilty pleasure and embrace the cheese ball tunes that, unless you’ve been living under a rock, likely shaped the soundtrack of your life. We want to dance. We want to sing. And we want to have a good time. Canada’s own Sweet Thing gives you just that. They give the people what they want.
With the release of their self-titled debut this summer, Sweet Thing has been busily touring the country and promoting the album. PopCounterCulture caught up with the humorously articulate guitarist Nick Rose and metaphorically enlightening bassist Morgan Waters just before they hit the stage in Vancouver.
PopCounterCulture: I don’t think anything describes Sweet Thing better than, and I quote, “Sweet Thing are the musical equivalent of drinking a milkshake at a 50’s diner where the waiter keeps jumping on the table”. What metaphor would you use to describe Sweet Thing today – wiser and more experienced?
Morgan Waters: Sweet Thing is like a hamburger. Fun and it fills you up, but then after, you might regret it.
Nick Rose: We’re enjoyable to indulge in, but then you instantly regret it [laughs]. I don’t think we’re that wise.
MW: We’re definitely not like a steak. We’re a burger. Everyone loves burgers. You have them in the summer. You have them at parties. We’re a burger.
NR: A good burger, hopefully.
PCC: The album dropped this summer. Can you describe the writing and recording process?
MW: This is our first album so the songs have been written over the past four or five years. We recorded it in LA, which was amazing with a guy named Rob Schnapf who has done a lot of other great albums. We’re proud of it. We tried to make the album as catchy and as good as we could.
PCC: Pop tunes often get a bad reputation, but you guys embrace it.
NR: Yeah, we’re not snobs. We like our pop music. We don’t want to be boring because that’s the biggest crime as a band, to bore. We’re always trying desperately not to be boring. So it’s not settling for something unless it’s catchy.
MW: It’s extroverted music. I love a lot of artists where it’s internal, it’s about the lyrics, it’s about that one guy’s voice as an artist, but we’re more about an extroverted, inclusive band and that’s what pop is about.
PCC: “Change of Seasons” is popping up everywhere now. Is it surreal hearing it played?
MW: It’s cool, definitely cool.
NR: It’s a new experience obviously. It’s a new album. It’s our first album and the second single. It’s ubiquitous.
MW: That’s the word.
PCC: “Dance Mother” has a naughty word in it. Have we finally reached a new age where pop tunes are just as badass as rap?
NR: I think so, well, I think rap is pop now.
MW: There’s less genre definition now.
NR: And ultimately it’s just a word. We’re not that precious about words. It’s a fun word to sing and bite into. I don’t think it carries too much meaning. We’re not trying to be shocking or say something important about the world. It’s just a word. Who gives a shit, you know?
MW: You just said another bad word.
PCC: What’s the story behind the album cover? It looks like you’re ready for war.
NR: I guess we’re standing in a straight line looking solemn or at least stoic. That was Morgan who did the album art.
MW: I designed it, but another artist from New York did the drawings. We’re ready to go battle the fight of good pop music. We’re just dudes, is the message, in this crazy world that we created.
PCC: Does recording the album and shooting the music video for “Change of Seasons” out in LA make you feel more like a rock star?
NR: I think we’re all level-headed, boring people, so it was more fun and sunny and a beautiful change of scenery. We got to record at Sunset Sound, which is this historic and amazing 70’s cool studio right in Hollywood where Led Zeppelin recorded. That was cool and surreal in itself.
MW: We sat next to Demetri Martin and Topher Grace.
NR: Oh yeah, actually we were all standing outside to get into this restaurant including Topher Grace and Demetri Martin and we were ahead in the line. You could see they walked up to the hostess and were talking so we thought we were going to get bumped, but we were sat first.
MW: They didn’t get preferential treatment reminding us that we’re all the same.
PCC: How has it been touring across Canada?
NR: On this current tour, we’ve only played one show so it’s still early, but this is our third time across the country. It’s been fun.
MW: It’s nice seeing shows grow and more people at each show. That’s the joy of it.
PCC: Do you guys feel like you’ve made it?
MW: We’re humble dudes. Even when we’re bathed with money we’ll still be like, ‘we are so regular cool guys.’
NR: [Laughs]. I can’t wait for that.
MW: We are so modest, it’s not even funny.
PCC: Where did the band name come from?
NR: It’s named after a Van Morrison song from Astral Weeks.
MW: It kind of sums up the vibe of the music, and because “Burger Thing” didn’t sound too good. “Savoury Meat Sandwich” wasn’t good either, so Sweet Thing.
PCC: You guys are quite the pranksters, yes?
NR: We choose our moments.
MW: I think the joke with the prank video (see Sweet Thing’s Youtube page) is that we’re not pranksters and that our idea of a prank is putting socks in the freezer. We’re meta-pranksters.
PCC: What’s the key to not killing each other on the road?
MW: Have a bath. If you’re angry just have a bath. You can’t be angry in a bath. It’s never been done.
NR: Archimedes was in a bath when he discovered water displacement. You can only be comfortable or scientific in a bath – proven fact.
PCC: What have been your three fondest memories on this Sweet Thing journey so far?
NR: Recording the album in LA with Rob.
MW: Seeing people start knowing words.
NR: We played on a boat in Kingston.
MW: We played on a boat finally. We always dreamed of being a water-based band. Finally our dream came true. Aqua pop!
PCC:What’s happening for you guys in 2011?
NR: We don’t know yet. It’d be nice to tour places other than Canada.
MW: Playing, writing.
Sweet Thing is Owen Carrier, Nick Rose, Alex Winter, Tyler Kyte, and Morgan Waters. Pick up their self-titled debut album available now!