Hamilton hard rock outfit Sumo Cyco is adept at many things, but subtlety isn’t one of them. In fact, the band has proudly built a reputation on being bigger, louder and more visually striking than most Canadian bands, all of which once again get pushed to the limit on the new album, Opus Mar, set for release on March 31 on their own Radio Ghost Music imprint, distributed by Fontana North.
Building on their 2014 debut album Lost In Cyco City, the band teased the new release late last year with the single “Anti-Anthem,” a suitably pounding track inspired by current global chaos. The song’s video also introduced Opus Mar’s primary image of the band playing on an out-of-control train (also named “Opus Mar”), which carries over into the clip for the album’s new single, “Move Mountains.”
Both videos, along with most of Sumo Cyco’s visuals, are part of lead vocalist Sever’s unique vision, something she’s been developing since her days as Skye Sweetnam, Canadian teen pop queen. While musically her leap from pop to metal was a shock to the system for many who had been following her progress, the inventive ways she’s incorporated grindhouse and comic book imagery into the band’s overall presentation remains true to the playful spirit she’s displayed all along.
Sever took some time out from Sumo Cyco’s current European tour to go deeper into Opus Mar and her views on the music industry.
I noticed a theme of empowerment on this album. Were you in a good headspace writing these songs?
Not quite. Most of the record deals with pretty serious topics with the exception of a couple songs, but I'm an optimist so I can see the silver lining. The lyrics deal with topics like global warming, suicide, consumerism, terrorism, bullying, injustice, the list goes on.
“Move Mountains” is another great video you've made. Do you have more ideas for videos in the works for this album?
Oh yes! The videos will all take place on a different train car aboard the “Opus Mar.” We have one for a song called “Free Yourself” that is already filmed with our buddy Lars from Germany who pledged through Pledge Music to be in one of our videos. We're looking forward to finishing the edit and getting it out there soon.
What's your best touring story?
There are so many great moments on the road, it’s hard to pick one. We got to hang out with Fozzy frontman and WWE superstar Chris Jericho in a hot tub at a private rooftop bar in London. It’s also been great touring the U.K. with [Welsh metal band] Skindred and becoming friends with their lead singer Benji Webbe, who guests on “Move Mountains” and appears in the video. England is always a lot of fun; we try to visit all the castles, and once we went to a falconry, which was really cool. Getting to sing on stage with them was definitely a thrill. Then there was the time in Italy when a family pretty much adopted us. The grandparents made us home cooked meals and we sang songs about Canada in Italian.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
I think music makes us feel nostalgic, so some people in the industry think the way we consume music should be in that same nostalgic way they did when they were young. I think the quicker we can adapt to change, the better the industry will be. The industry no longer needs so many middlemen between the fan and the artist.
What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned as you've built your career, and what advice would you give?
I would say fan relationships are THE most important part of building a successful career. Don't wait. It's sometimes so important to put yourself out there rather than waiting for the perfect song or a record deal. In this day and age, it's so easy to test the market online, and it’s okay to let the fans be a part of the creative process.