WORDS: SEAN HUBBARD
FROM: BRISTOL | FOR FANS OF: DEFTONES, PINK FLOYD, BLACK PEAKS
Sugar Horse were about to open up one of the most exciting tours of British music this April when COVID-19 struck, postponing the Black Peaks, The St Pierre Snake Invasion and Sugar Horse tour until later on in the year. While some of their quotes may now be slightly out of date due to the fact our interview took place before postponement was even a consideration, the band are still excited to play (eventually), and are gearing up to release their new EP Drugs on April 17th. The self-proclaimed ‘heavy shoegaze’ band have garnered comparisons to Deftones and been described as ‘Pink Floyd doing doom metal,’ which they see as an accurate description considering that their music is “spacey and heavy.”
Drugs has some of the most interesting song titles that you’ll ever hear, with their newest single ‘Richard Branson In The Sky With Diamonds’ certainly being one of the most unique names that has been used in a long while. The bands entire naming strategy is simply things that they think sound funny, “the Mogwai school of naming songs.” Most of these come from a band thread, and they like this strategy because “it makes everything a bit more difficult to understand, which is interesting to us but probably annoying to other people.”
“It makes everything a bit more difficult to understand, which is interesting to us but probably annoying to other people.”
Even the very name of the band has its own origins, with guitarist and vocalist Ashley Tubb wholly admitting to being obsessed with UK crime drama shows. The name comes from “mid-2000s show Spooks where in the final season the main operation was called Operation Sugar Horse. I just nicked it from that. It’s one of those things where you’re watching telly and you hear it and you’re like that’ll be a really good band name.”
Despite nicking the name of the band from a BBC show however their music is most definitely not primetime BBC fare, with most of the songs clocking in above 6 minutes long. The entire release is incredibly eclectic, which was by choice as they felt “the previous EP was kind of all over the place but everything felt in the same vein, whereas here every song is totally different, even within individual songs.” A big inspiration in this crazy style for them has been The Chariot, “where something’s happening and you feel like I don’t know where they could go after this, but then something from completely out of left-field hits you and yet it still works.”
“In the final season the main operation was called Operation Sugar Horse. I just nicked it from that.”
This is a complicated EP, and every song requires concentration, however it is completely worth it. Ranging from pure heaviness with title track and opener ‘Drugs’ to the big melody on ‘Richard Branson In The Sky With Diamonds’ and even a hint of a ballad with ‘When September Rain.’ It’s only five songs long, but Drugs reaches new territory and does more in five songs than many bands do in 12.
The artwork is pure Gothic mayhem, with a plastic horse hanging over an altar paying homage to some of the absolute maddest goth albums from the 80s, all brought to life by Bristolian artist Roxanne Goffin, who has collaborated with the band on most of their artwork before. And despite dealing with some pretty hefty topics in addiction and politics, the artwork helps the band retain their unique sense of humour that is present throughout the record. Just talking to Ash gave a sense of a band who don’t take themselves too seriously, but still make some incredible music. Make sure to check Drugs out when it releases, and see the band when the tour (finally) rolls around.