Spotlight On: Sweezy and the Discopunk

The Treehouse Spotlight series returns with our featured interview with Sweezy of Toronto based two-piece alt-rock outfit Sweezy and the Discopunk.

We were pleased to have the opportunity to listen to the band’s 4-track EP recently and pen some questions over. We chat a bit about Sweezy’s vocal influences, their dream producer Rick Rubin and we even dive a little into their favourite Pokemon because absolutely nothing is off limits here.

I don’t want to steer you in any real direction here before you listen but the EP took us down Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix lanes and it’s a sound we feel we just don’t hear enough of anymore; We dug it and think you might, too.

Listen to Sweezy and the Discopunk’s “Pocket Rocket” and read on for our interview below.

How did Sweezy and the Discopunk meet and start collaborating, what’s the story there?
We actually just reached out to each other on Instagram after our mutual friend, Patrick, told us about each other (before we actually met). Then we rehearsed some songs that I had pre-written and we knew from the get go it was a great fit. Our grooves are really similar, and we have a lot of mutual interests and beliefs, so we just got along from the jump.

At times, like on “Juicebox”, your voice reminds me a little of Jimi Hendrix or even Lenny Kravitz. Who would you say is your biggest influence vocally?
It’s funny you say that, because while writing Juicebox, I would have told you that I was channeling my inner Kurt Cobain (I love Nirvana). I was trying to be really rash, and emotional, so I can definitely hear why you would think Juicebox was Hendrix/Kravitz inspired, because they share that kind of vocal quality with Kurt, which I love the sound of so much. I’d say my biggest influence, vocally, would be Kurt Cobain, Anthony Kiedis, and Billy Joel Armstrong. I love how they sing, because it sounds so effortless, yet you can hear their emotion in every note they sing.

For a duo you have a massive sound that takes me into some early White Stripes. Do you ever feel limited by your current arrangement? If you were to expand, what’s the piece you feel is the most critical to add to the puzzle?
Limited? NEVER! We love being a duo, and we’re just BUSTLING with creativity… we feel like we can actually cover a lot of ground musically because we’re not held back by only being single-instrumentalists. The Discopunk plays Drums AND Guitar, and I myself play bass AND vocals. But, fun fact, we have been working with an extra guitarist (and he’s great), which if anything was missing, it would have been him. No names yet, but he knows who he is 😉

How about on the grandest scale, where do you see Sweezy and the Discopunk performing in 10 years? Who are you opening for, or maybe you’re headlining a big fest? Where are we, what’s it look like?
In my best Tony Montana Voice “Me, I want what’s coming to me… The world chico, and everything in it.” We want to take the music scene BY STORM. Headline festivals. World tours. Sleep in tour busses during work time, record by a beach on vacation. We want to take EVERYTHING we can and make more. We want to create, inspire, and shake the world up, so “Sweezy and the Discopunk” will be engrained in the hearts and minds of everyone, forever.

Who are some of your own favourite duos?
Well, The White Stripes, The Black Keys come to mind right off the bat. Other than them, Ash and Pikachu, Shaq and Kobe, PB&J, Sweezy and the Discopunk… You know, all the cool ones.

If you were to cover just one popular disco track, which one do you choose?
Well, would you consider La Bamba a Disco song? If you do, then DEFINITELY La Bamba. But if you want a more “Traditional” answer (which, who even knows what traditional disco is?🤣), then I would probably have to go Forget Me Nots – Patrice Rushen. The bassline is so pretty, and I think I could do some cool falsetto lines for the vocals, so that would be really fun.

What’s one genre or artist fans might be surprised is spinning in your tour van?
Well the genre is obvious, Rock. But if that’s too vague, Alternative & Indie Rock. Nirvana, RHCP, The White Stripes, MGMT, and a sprinkle of Jimi Hendrix and Thundercat. It would be a little bit of everything, depending on mood and setting, but I think that’s beautiful. What is life without variety, ya know?

If someone who’d never heard your music before wanted to find you in a record store, which artists would you say you’d sit nicely between?
Hmmmm, good question. I’d say if you like RHCP or MGMT but want a lil Jimi Hendrix craziness in the guitar parts, then that’s where we’d be. It’s hard though, because I pull inspiration from everywhere, but from what people have told us, that’s the most accurate description I could give you.

Can you tell us a bit about how the “Cerulean City” EP came to be? Who did you work with on the production or was it a DIY effort?
The EP idea just landed in my lap one day. I was speaking with my girlfriend, and she told me that she wants to have our songs in a format that’s easily replayable, in order, like an EP. I agreed. The name just came to me because I was playing Pokémon Heart Gold a lot around the time we started working on it, and it kinda just stuck with me.

The production was COMPLETELY DIY. We want it to sound rough around the edges, so a home production is what we concluded would be our best option. AND, we wanted to prove that ANYONE can make good music, all you need to do is try.

But, I don’t want to say that we wouldn’t WANT to work with anyone, because we would absolutely be open to it. We just thought that if we could appeal to people using only what we have at home, imagine what would happen when we work with a producer that can give our sound that nice Hollywood sheen… Madness.

What’s one message or feeling you hope this EP conveys to listeners?
I mean, the world has been crazy recently… Kinda feels like we’re in a video game right now. Now, take that how you will, but I want our listeners to PLAY THE GAME. No matter what life throws at you, whether it be mental health issues, heartbreak, addiction, feeling out of touch… KEEP PLAYING THE GAME CALLED LIFE! Don’t quit, because you can only beat the game if you keep playing. Take that how you will.

When you’re writing new material together, what tends to come first? Drum beat? Lyrics?
When writing new material, I’ll usually make up a bass line that I sing over and write some lyrics to. If it sounds good with just bass and vocals, then I’ll present it to the band. Then we go and construct the song.

In terms of constructing the song, it goes like this: Drum beat, Bass, Guitars, Lyrics, Vocals. Every time. It’s in that order because a song needs a basic groove (drums), feeling (bass), harmony (Guitars), then, get this, A MESSAGE (lyrics & vocals). It needs to speak to you in some way, and this is just our way of doing it.

Since we know the EP is a Pokemon reference, how did you come to decide that’s what you should call this EP?
Yes. Of course it’s a Pokémon reference, Pokémon WAS MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD!! I loved the Heart Gold/Soul Silver games, and the Kanto part of those games house some of my fondest gaming memories.

Now, here’s why I chose Cerulean City as the title. Cerulean city is early in the Kanto adventure, the second badge to be exact. But, if you played through Johto first, it’s the beginning of your “new” journey, and everything is a little bit harder. You know the game, and are quite accomplished at this point, but in Kanto, you’re still just beginning.

This would apply to my life, and The Discopunk’s life, as well. I already feel like I’ve been through and done a lot in my life. I’ve accomplished, and been through so much already. But, our music careers are JUST BEGINNING! Hence, we beat the first part of the game, now we’re on our way through our second region.

Please tell us who you’re choosing as your starter Pokemon?
I’d have to go with Chimchar. He’s fast, hits hard and evolves into A KING FIRE MONKEY?? THAT THROWS HANDS??? Like come on bro, Infernape definitely my pick for coolest looking Pokémon, and I would definitely pick Chimchar, his pre-evolution, to embark with on my journey.

Do you have a dream producer to work with on your full-length? What about them draws you to their production style?
Absolutely! Rick Rubin, if you can hear me, please, help us make our first studio album. I love what he’s done with the RHCP, because you can hear everything (instruments, vocals, background noise) so clearly without any “production fluff.” It’s so clear, and I want to know how he does it, and make our music sound like that so PLEASE RICK! Let’s get to work.

Finally, what’s coming up the pipeline that fans should keep an ear out for?
You can listen to our songs that are out now on any streaming service. So definitely check us out on there! We also plan on dropping a song at the End of February. Beyond that, keep an eye out for Cerulean City, which we are aiming to release in August of this year (we’re almost done it and we are so excited to share).

Thanks Sweezy!

Keep up with Sweezy and the Discopunk by following their social media channels while we give Rick Rubin a call.

Need some more ear candy? Check out some recommendations based on the interview:

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Under the Bridge” (Official Music Video)
Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots (Official Video)
Nirvana – “Lithium” (Official Music Video)

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