Sugar Free Allstars: On Tour Forever
In a world full of guitar/guitar/bass/drums, it’s comforting to see bands that completely wreck the standard setup. The Sugar Free Allstars are composed of Chris Wiser (Hammond B3 organ, saxophone, vocals) and Rob “Dr. Rock” Martin (Drums/back-up vocals). That’s it. There’s no guitar or bass- just two men armed with what instruments they’ve got, melodies to spare, and a zany sense of humor. Atypical pop with a sly grin is what the Sugar Free Allstars have to offer, and we caught up with the very busy Chris Wiser to hear about what’s been going on in the SugarFree camp.
Independent Clauses: You’ve been playing a lot of shows outside of Oklahoma lately. How has the response in other cities been to your music?
Chris Wiser: It’s been going very well. People outside of Oklahoma aren’t used to seeing some dummy hauling a full size Hammond organ around and they seem to be impressed. A lot of folks respond well to the fact that we have no guitar, just because it’s something different that they haven’t seen that often, if ever.
IC: What’s your favorite town outside of Oklahoma to play?
CW: Probably Manhattan, KS, but Fargo (yes THE Fargo), North Dakota is rising up the charts pretty fast.
IC: Who have you been playing with lately, and how has that been
CW: We’ve been doing shows with Madahoochi from St Louis, 56 Hope Road from Chicago, Brother Bagman from Kansas City, and Mama’s Cookin’ from Gunnison, Co. It’s been going very well. We’re good friends with all of these bands, which has helped our crowds in other towns.
IC: If you could tour with anyone playing right now, who would it be?
CW: Ben Folds, Little Feat, Galactic, Dr John.
IC: Any show stick out as particularly interesting and notable lately?
CW: We got to do the official after show party after the Dr John show at Feat Fest in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We were personally invited by Little Feat and our friend Fred Tackett, who plays guitar for them, played several tunes with us.
IC: How long and how far do you plan to tour?
CW: Not really sure. We realize we can’t do this forever, but we’ll keep going until it’s not practical anymore. We just want to try to build a fan base in as many places as we can before we’re done.
IC: You’ve also been recording a new album- how has that gone?
CW: It’s been great. The tracks have been done for a while, but we’ve delayed the release to get Fred Tackett, who I mentioned before plays for Little Feat, to put some guitar on one of the tracks.
IC: How is the songwriting different than on your last album Dos Machos? CW: It’s really not. Some of these songs have been around since before Dos Machos. We just try to put together songs that go well together.
IC: What are some bands/things/experiences that influenced you on this new album?
CW: One song “Cadillac Lady” was influenced by something Dr Rock (drums) said, “Jesus Christ Super Center ” was influenced by Adam and the Ants. Most everything was influenced by things I heard or saw.
IC: Explain your favorite song on the new album and the story (or
lack thereof) behind it.
CW: I think right now the 2 that are my favorite are “Jesus Christ Super Center” and “Parachute Pants” because we got creative with the studio arrangements.
IC: Who recorded/engineered/mixed the album? Any funny recording stories?
CW: Trent Bell at Bell Labs. We’ve been recording with him for 30 years now.
IC: What are you listening to right now?
CW: I’m pretty ADD when it comes to listening to music. I buy a lot of cheap vinyl so whatever the last thing I bought ends up being what I listen to for about a day or so. Let’s see, the last records I bought were Starlight Mints’ Built on Squares (blue vinyl, very cool), Badfinger No Dice, Mungo Jerry and Gordon Lightfoot. I recently bought the newest Ben Kweller CD and really like it a lot.
IC: What CD release are you looking forward to (besides your own, of
CW: I’m looking forward to Ben Folds’ next studio album of new material. I liked his last one alright (Songs for Silverman) but I prefer his more sarcastic material. I’m hoping he returns to that style of writing.
Interview conducted by Stephen Carradini via e-mail in November.