Music / Features
They Made Me Do It -
Talking Influences with The Sugarland Express
Words by James Lynch
Friday 17th June, 2022
Following the release of their new single ‘Party’ last month, we got in touch with Sydney-based groovers The Sugarland Express to dig into the influences behind their latest blast of gloriously addictive psychedelic-pop.
Following on from the release of their debut single ‘What's the Matter (With the Music)’ late last year, an even-tempered psychedelic joyride, Sydney duo The Sugarland Express have returned with ‘Party!’, upping the ante with an extra vibey dose of their signature sunshine-pop that finds the pair journeying deeper into the world of kaleidoscopic 60’s pop with its joyous hooks and infectious groove.

Completely living up to its name, ‘Party!’ burst out of the gates with a radiant organ lead backed by an undeniable backbeat. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the fun of it all - swarms of exuberant percussion tangle with a relentless bouncing bassline, and vocalist Alex Carlo-Stella’s sandy vocals come loaded with charisma as they weave plenty of ear-worming melodies over the colourful instrumentation. And like any killer party, it’s vital that The Sugarland Express are joined by good company; fortunately so, Sunfruit’s Winnie McQuinn is hanging around to lend some guitar to the track, and as the song spirals out of control, Anthony Rositano swoops in with a sprawling sax solo to elevate things up to the next level. Packed into just three minutes, it’s got all the markings of a perfect blowout, leaving us completely addicted with the band’s vibrant universe.

Speaking about the track, Alex shares “everything you need to know is right there in the title. We want to have a party and everyone is invited. Digging deeper though, it touches on some key ideas that are a part of the Sugarland ethos. We aim to write music for people to have a good time to, and we want to welcome everyone to join in from all walks of life. As the cliche goes ‘music is about bringing people together’, but really that’s what it should all boil down to. We definitely had the picture of a groovy 1960s party in our heads when we wrote this too, where everyone came to get down and boogie.”

To get ourselves amongst the fun a little more, we caught up with The Sugarland Express to delve into the influences that inspired the track.

Elvis Presley - ‘Hot Dog’
The key inspiration for this track! ‘Party!’ was born out of Alex’s obsession for this song and prompted him to record a quick voice memo on his phone that ended up being the bare bones of the track. A week later he wrote the main organ hook to the song where I then quickly went over to his hose and we wrote the entire song in the space of 2-3 hours.

Grateful Dead - ‘The Golden Road’
Certainly a main thematic inspiration for the track. What the Dead capture in this track is almost the exact image we had in our heads when writing the song. Emphasising a sun-soaked party, The Golden Road calls everyone to come and join in and have fun, which is a theme that certainly runs true with ‘Party!’

George Harrison - ‘This Song’
A personal Sugarland favourite, ‘This Song’ by the beautiful George Harrison is possibly the quintessential 70’s song. An up-tempo groovy beat, piano-driven, complete with a pulsating sax solo. For a long time we were unsure what sort of solo to put in the track, experimenting with guitar, keys and the trumpet. Finally, we tested a sax solo and was immediately blown away by what our friend Anthony Rositano produced for us and is what you can hear in the track.

The Beach Boys - ‘Heroes and Villains’
This was a late inspiration for ‘Party!’ as we were putting the finishing touches on the track. Looking to add little sound bites and embellishes, Alex knew exactly what was needed in a certain part, aided by a certain sound that can be heard in ‘Heroes and Villains’. A very high pitched whistle is present in the Beach Boys song, and through some research and digging on the internet, Alex purchased an old whistle used in the military which makes an appearance in the the track.

PAINT - ‘Daily Gazette’ (music video)
More an artistic influence, as PAINT’s music video for his track ‘Daily Gazette’, directed by Sam Kristofski, has been a video we have always loved. We are long-time admirers of both PAINT and Kristofski, so it’s no wonder we’re obsessed with this music video. The use of a fish eye lens elevated the video and so we wanted that for ours too.
‘Party!’ is out now in all the usual places.