Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies interview
Sick Puppies are writing the soundtrack to kicking ass and taking names. They exploded onto the international music scene with the youtube video for the “Free Hugs Campaign” which is now at over 57 million plays. However these days they are writing fight anthems for Street Fighter and the WWE. The new album Tri-Polar is a serious set of awesome and the single “You’re Going Down” is in major rotation on the rock and metal stations. Recently I had the amazing opportunity to interview Sick Puppies bass player Emma Anzai who has the honor of being known as “The Female Flea” and definitely has the skills to back that name up.
HMM: The latest album Tri-Polar has a different sound from the previous album what were the influences that brought about the new sound?
Emma Anzai: We had been on tour for some time and doing festivals with bands like Breaking Benjamin, Seether, and Evanescence. We kind of realized the kinds of songs they were playing had a real raw energy. We actually had a hard time finding songs in our own catalogue that would fit in with that kind of raw audience style so we kept that in mind while we were writing Tri-Polar. We feel a little angrier than last time because we had been out on the road and it’s not easy by any means but it’s definitely what it takes to get your music out there. It is kind of difficult at times and it makes you frustrated and angry so I think a lot of that got put into the songs just naturally.
HMM: My favorite song on the album is “Odd One”. How did that song come about?
Emma Anzai: Oh nice, that’s my favorite too. We were doing the pre-production kind of thing and going through all of the ideas that we had and I had this part that was in an odd time signature. I brought it up one day and the verse just came out of it. We would always come back to the song and we would refer to it as the “Odd One” because of the odd time signature. Then it sort of happened where the subject matter of the song became about being an outcast and being an “odd one” so it was kind of apt. It’s one of my favorite songs because when I hear it I feel like I’m back at school again being an outcast. I’m sure a lot of kids feel that way at school and maybe even later in adult life. I’m sure a lot of people listen to it and are like “It’s about me.” That’s definitely what we wanted to achieve and that’s why it’s my favorite song on the album anyway.
HMM: You do some interesting bass work on the album where’s the inspiration for your style coming from?
Emma Anzai: A lot of the stuff is experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. When I come up with bass ideas like for “In It For Life” and “Odd One” and other stuff like that I was experimenting. I really love Flea from the Chili Peppers. He’s one of those masters who has the slapping and the rhythm down and has his own personality as well and I really respect that. It’s hard to get both at the same time and be well rounded. So I’m actually trying to go for that and push myself in that direction and that’s kind of what came out. So, yeah I’m pretty stoked about all that.
HMM: The song “You’re Going Down” will probably be used for fighter’s entrance theme music for a long time to come. What was the writing process for that one?
Emma Anzai: Well actually when we wrote that we were asked to come up with some ideas for a Street Fighter 4 ad campaign. They came to us and asked if we had anything or if we could write something in that vein and we said, “Yeah, absolutely.” We had written a lot of songs like that kind with “War” and also “You’re Going Down”. So “War” was picked for Street Fighter and then WWE came to us and said they liked “You’re Going Down” and they used it for their Monday Night Raw and something else. We were able to go to some of the events they put on. So yeah the songs were picked up for those sort of forums which is good because we feel that kind of aggression anyway and it was nice to be able to channel it into something like that. When we play at festivals it’s the exact energy we were looking for so it all worked out.
HMM: Are you working on the next album yet?
Emma Anzai: Well we’re actually on tour at the moment and doing a few headline shows. Then we are going out with Nickelback in April/May and we are very excited about that. It’s gonna be a good tour for us. We’re first on the bill. We’ve got Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin and Nickelback and I’m stoked because I’m a fan of all those bands anyways so I can see those bands live every night which is cool. But after that we are going to release another single after “Odd One” so we are pretty much going on this album for a while. We’re always sort of writing little ideas and stuff on the road for next time but for now hopefully we will be on the road for a little while longer.
HMM: So are there any new bands out there that you are listening to you would like to tell people about?
Emma Anzai: Actually we played with this band called Aranda. We did a few shows with them in the Oklahoma area and they were a really great band. They did a cover of a Led Zeppelin song and it was amazing.
HMM: Any thing else you would like to tell your fans?
Emma Anzai: We’re in an independent rockumentary type film called Rock Prophecies. It’s by a rock photographer who photographed bands like Led Zeppelin, Slash, and Steve Vai and we were lucky enough to meet him when we first came over here to the states. He was like “Hey I want to put you in my film.” So we were like, “Alright cool.” So now its 2 years later and he documented when we did the first album, the first show, all that kind of stuff. It was really cool. He wanted a new band to sort of like develop and anyway we’re in that film and if you go to rockprophecies.com you can check it out there.