"I read many reviews saying ‘yet another reissue from Desco, pull up your bellbottoms'," says Sugarman. "It didn't bother me — it was kinda funny." It may seem like the group goes to meticulous lengths to recreate this sound, but Sugarman counters this notion suggesting that it's just a matter of plugging in, playing and capturing the results in an analogue recording environment as it was done in the past.
"A lot of new records, they kinda leave you dry with digital recording," says Sugarman. "They sound good sometimes but there's no room for imperfection. Too much stuff is over-produced, they're taking out a lot of the imagination and not allowing the listener to fill in the gaps. We'll record the sounds with a certain attitude and try to make a record that sounds like the records we really love."
True to these words, the band's latest release Soul Donkey, on the soul-preserving New York-based label Desco, is a collection of original rough and unvarnished jams, with Lou Donaldson and James Brown covers thrown in for good measure. Sugarman's sax work and Coleman Mellet's nimble guitar weave in and out of the forefront, subscribing to the Sugarman Three collective ethos.
"When we do takes we're not concerned with how the solos sound, but how the groove sounds. It almost relates to hip-hop or dance music because the grooves are hypnotic when it's played right." While he feels the group hasn't reached this trance-inducing status yet, Sugarman's comments negate the idea he may be a stuffy traditionalist. Asked if the group was open to having their big dusty beats sampled, Sugarman responds affirmatively, citing the fact that he feels that this practice has brought people back to diggin' in the crates for the originals.
As for their own records, Sugarman doesn't feel the group will get stuck in a throwback mode. "Maybe we sound old and retro in a sense, but the Sugarman Three sound like the Sugarman Three. No record from that time sounds the way Soul Donkey does. The band is kind of degressing in a sense because the first record [Sugar's Boogaloo] is more like a boogaloo jazz record and almost has a Blue Note feel to it. Soul Donkey implies a little bit more funk and soul. I think the next one is gonna be a little bit rougher."
Focused on forging the group's own identity while acknowledging their inspirations, Sugarman is seeking to reconcile the music of the past with the present. "I don't want to be pinned as a retro band," he says. "It's just music that I'm involved in and am listening to. It's timeless. There was a golden age between '65 and '72 and there were many great soul and funk records that came out of that time. We're playing it now and people are dancing to it."
FeaturesMay 11, 2015
Mikal CroninStories We Tell
In a lot of ways, gifted garage rock songwriter Mikal Cronin's MCIII feels like the culmination of the last decade of his life. "About t...
FeaturesMay 11, 2015
Young FathersPop Politics
Young Fathers may appear to be courting controversy by naming their sophomore album White Men Are Black Men Too. But Alloysious Massaquoi in...
FeaturesApr 30, 2015
Colin Stetson and Sarah NeufeldThe Nature of Time
Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld haven't had a whole lot of free time together over the years. The circular-breathing sax man and sublime vio...
FeaturesApr 28, 2015
Katie Crutchfield is about the furthest you can get from an overnight success. Sure, the 26-year-old's latest Waxahatchee album has catapult...
FeaturesApr 28, 2015
Andreya TrianaBig Time
"I wanted a really strong metaphor of what it is to move forward and do your own thing and I thought a giant does that," says Andreya Triana...
FeaturesApr 22, 2015
METZCome On, Feel the Noise
If you were to examine METZ on an atomic level, they would be all electron — excitable and agitated, yet very much in control. The Tor...
FeaturesMar 31, 2015
TeenangerKeep Things Moving
With their third studio album, Singles Don't $ell, noisy Toronto punk act Teenanger reached their biggest audience yet, gaining fans far bey...
FeaturesMar 26, 2015
Tobias Jesso Jr.Piano Man
For an old-fashioned guy, Tobias Jesso Jr. sure knows how to get people on the internet talking. Since posting his demos online in the summe...