Interview: Sun Wizard
Published on September 6th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
Last week, we spoke with Vancouver singer/songwriter Malcolm Jack about his Capitol 6 side project, a lateral exploration borne presumably out of extreme enthusiasm given that his ‘day job’ band Sun Wizard only released their debut album earlier this year.
Said debut, entitled Positively 4th Avenue, has been getting its fair share of plays at Rocksucker Towers of late, brimming as it is with sweet, summery melody, nice lyrical turns and infectious…well, enthusiasm. (You can stream it in full here.)
So, as one good interview deserves another, here is Round 2 of Rocksucker’s virtual hobnob with Malcolm, which we dozily ended with two questions that he answered the first time around – maximum respect then to Mr Jacks for answering them again, and differently…
You recently played Rock of the Woods festival. How was it? Did you get to watch many of the other acts? If so, who impressed you?
Yeah, it was rad, super good vibes. We got to check a few bands for sure – Plants and Animals were obviously rad and I was super impressed with Mohawk Lodge actually – they had a crazy set, right when the sun was going down.
Congratulations on a splendid debut album. Has it come out sounding like you hoped it would? How long was it in the making? Who produced/mixed it?
Thanks! Yeah, I don’t think we had a specific sound in mind going into the recording, we were really stoked to just go in and capture our vibe. It was a sunny couple of weeks last August so we’re feeling it for sure. We kinda did like a song a day, so it just depended on the day and who was minding the BBQ that day and how much whisky we’d drank the night before. We were working with Colin Stewart mainly, and he’s a good friend, so it was great, it totally just sounds like us.
We love and thoroughly endorse your unashamed embracing of the art of the pop song – indeed, “World’s Got a Handle” and a number of other songs on the album sound like they could have been a big, fat summer hit for you guys. Do you crave commercial success, or would you settle for cult hero status?
Um, well we really just love that music. Especially at the time, we totally wanted to make a record that had some ‘hits’ on it, not ’cause we wanted to have commercial success necessarily, but because we wanted it to sound timeless. I think we’re happy with whatever as long as it’s being in a rad band, ya know?!
To our British ears, you sound like a cross between Oasis and Teenage Fanclub. We know the former are an influence, but how about the latter?
Ha! That’s basically exactly what we want to sound like! Yeah, we love both those bands. Maybe a bit of The Replacements in there and you pretty much got it.
What is the significance of the name Sun Wizard? And indeed Positively 4th Avenue?
The album name, Positively 4th Avenue is a kind of a take-off on the Dylan song “Positively 4th Street”. We made our record at Mushroom Studio on 4th Avenue in Kits and I think somewhere along the line we decided that we were into Kitsilano, which isn’t really a neighbourhood where a lot of bands hang out and stuff, and we realized that in some ways that was kinda similar to the subject matter of the Dylan song, so it just kinda works. It’s meant to be kinda cheeky. It’s safe to say most people don’t get the joke!
Do you and James write as a team or separately? How do you present songs to each other? How much of a say in the final song structure do the others have?
It seems to work the best when one of us bring a super rough idea – lyrics and chords to the rest of the band and we all figure it out from there. I think we lucked out on having two songwriters that sort of have a similar vision but come from different places. Neither of us are too precious about the end result as long as we can get our lyrics out there and we all want the same sound really. We figure out the structures together pretty easily.
Where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics?
Um, well both James and I are pretty weird dudes, so you know, I guess we just look around, there’s plenty to write about! I dunno, I think we both wanna find the balance and being meaningful but also sort of carefree. Sometimes we achieve that, and sometimes we’re too much of one or the other, which is cool too.
Any plans to come to the UK at any point?
Totally, hook us up! I don’t know, James is from Manchester so we talk about it a lot – hopefully it’ll happen, maybe next year. Part of the reason we wanna make pop music is so we can travel around and spread the good word! So yeah, hopes to go everywhere but plans to tour Canada more!
Any up-and-coming artists you’d like to recommend or give a shout out to?
There are plenty in town. Loving the new Shilohs record, hoping it gets put out soon, it’s crazy. Our good friend Rolla Olak has been recording like crazy, I think he’s trying to put out a triple album or something! We’re lucky, we’ve got some insanely talented friends.
If we asked you right this moment to name your top three albums of all time, just off the top of your head, which would you pick?
Ha, I’m gonna curveball the shit outta this one and say Is This It by The Strokes, Oh, Inverted World by The Shins and OK Computer by Radiohead. Wait, I change my mind…