Zuckerbaby returns to the Calgary scene

What do an artsy German film and a Calgary pop band have in common? Nothing, aside from a name.

Local act Zuckerbaby are back after a three-year absence. While the movie can be found at your local movie store (it’s about an obese German woman’s fixation on a young stud), the band can be found on the radio, at music stores and live.

The three-year hiatus wasn’t exactly their idea anyway. Had it been up to them, Zuckerbaby would have returned to the studio after the completion of their debut self-titled album. However, due to a record merger between Universal and Polygram, the band got shelved.

"It was a huge deal, this merger, and a lot of bands got dropped," explains guitarist Reed Shimozawa. "So quite often we didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. But, in the end we made it through."

It wasn’t just the merger, however, that led to the long wait for album number two. Shimozawa cites member changes, internal problems and fights adding to the length of the hiatus.

Those three years have changed the relationships between the band members and also Zuckerbaby’s sound. Their debut album was sugary pop, while the new release Platinum Again has more rock than the first one. Zuckerfans shouldn’t worry; it’s the same energetic pop but with an edge.

"Our creative focus has changed a bit," explains Shimozawa. "Also they weren’t as happy at times. We’re bound to make a less happy sounding record."

The change in sound wasn’t consciously made. The lineup change, the intraband relationship problems and the three year hiatus have all affected the sound.

The lineup changes were also not intentional. Bassist Ed Tiegs and drummer Ian Grant are new additions, but singer Andrew Eichron is still around. It’s a long story, says Shimozawa, one that could fill a book.

"It was time for a change, both for the people who left and us," says Shimozawa. "We never intended for Zuckerbaby to be a revolving door for wayward musicians."

No one could have predicted the amount of attention Zuckerbaby would get with their last album, or the press they’re getting now, says Shimozawa. It’s likely because of their label that they get better advertising and publicity than other local acts.

"As to how much attention we get, I’m not a good judge ’cause I’m sorta on the inside looking out," says Shimozawa.

The Calgary music scene has also changed over the past few years. Less live acts, more DJs as well as the closure of such live venues as the Republik all show the decline.

"I think there’s still lots of good bands there and lots of good musicians. But the scene itself has suffered, especially with the loss of the Republik," Shimozawa laments, mouring the loss of his favourite venue.

While Zuckerbaby is his focus now, the members of the band did get alternate employment between releases. Shimozawa worked retail selling guitars and taught guitar lessons.

"It was interesting for me because, of course, I had a few students who knew what I did, and then I had lots of students who didn’t have a clue," remembers Shimozawa.

And as for the movie that inspired his band’s name? The band has watched Zuckerbaby, which translates to Sugarbaby.

"I’ve never actually made it all the way through it," says Shimozawa.

If you want to get a sugar high live, Zuckerbaby is playing MacEwan Hall Fri., Sept. 9.

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