Interviews

Published on September 8th, 2021 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Sugarcult’s Marko DeSantis On The 20th Anniversary Of “Start Static,” Weezer, Superdrag & More

In August 2001, Southern California-based band Sugarcult burst onto the scene with its anthemic debut album Start Static, which spawned 3 hit singles: “Bouncing Off The Walls,” “Pretty Girl (The Way)” and “Stuck In America.” Now, 2 decades later, Craft Recordings commemorates this enduring favorite with a deluxe 20th anniversary vinyl and digital reissue. The vinyl edition of Start Static will feature the original album — as newly remastered by the GRAMMY-winning engineer Paul Blakemore — plus 3 special bonus tracks. The digital edition, also available October 8, 2021, will feature an additional, previously-unreleased live version of the band’s high-energy hit single “Stuck In America.”

The roots of Sugarcult — whose original lineup consisted of Tim Pagnotta (vocals/guitar), Airin Older (bass/vocals), Marko DeSantis (guitar) and Ben Davis (drums) — go back a few years before the release of Start Static, as the group formed in 1998. After independently releasing 2 demos and 2 EPs, the quartet caught the ears of Ultimatum Music, who signed Sugarcult and connected them with producer Matt Wallace (Maroon 5, Faith No More, The Replacements) to work on its debut full-length. Start Static went on to sell more than 300,000 copies, while the band embarked on nearly 3 years of non-stop touring. In addition to playing the main stage of Warped Tour and appearing at major festivals all over the world, including Glastonbury (UK), Summer Sonic (Japan) and Soundwaves (Australia), the group joined Green Day’s American Idiot tour in the U.S. and Japan, as well a Blink 182’s European arena tour. Sugarcult would go on to headline hundreds of shows across North America, Europe and Japan, while multiple songs off Start Static would be licensed for film and television.

Following Start Static, Sugarcult went on to release 2 more acclaimed albums (2004’s Palm Trees & Power Lines and 2006’s Lights Out) and 2 DVDs before embarking on an extended hiatus in 2008. Since then, each band member has excelled in a variety of fields within the music industry. Tim Pagnotta is an award-winning, multi-platinum-selling songwriter and producer who has collaborated with the likes of Weezer, Blink 182, Neon Trees, Walk The Moon and Elle King. Airin Older went on to become a founding member of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and joined British alt-rock group thenewno2, as featuring Dhani Harrison. Marko DeSantis is now a professor of music business, artist development and songwriting at Los Angeles College Of Music, Musicians Institute and Point Blank Music School, beyond finding success as a DJ, guest speaker and panelist. Ben Davis, meanwhile, enjoys a successful career writing and producing music for film, television and commercial projects.

On September 8, 2021, I had the pleasure of speaking with the aforementioned Marko DeSantis — who played with The Ataris, Nerf Herder and Swingin’ Utters prior to joining Sugarcult — via Zoom, as embedded below. Our conversation included discussion of the past, present and future of Sugarcult, yet also ventured into his musical journey as a fan and a performer. In turn, we talked about the early days of Weezer, how Superdrag factored into the formation of Superdrag, and what he learned from touring with some of punk’s biggest bands. More on Sugarcult can be found here, here and here.


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series, which airs on dozens on television and digital networks. He has also co-authored 2 published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), and co-hosts the world's only known podcast about David Lee Roth, "The DLR Cast."


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