In Session: The Sugar Hold

TROY – Music, like a lot of art, has a multitude of ways it can be expressed. Whether it’s through an academic endeavor and approach, for example, or one meant solely for enjoyment purposes – especially between the band and its audience – each way is valid in its own right. For The Sugar Hold, the band bursts forth as a shining proponent of the latter method. Hailing from Albany, these folks know how to not only churn out danceable, enjoyable (this author tried to come up with another “able” word, but, alas…) tunes, they also have personality in spades.

The Sugar Hold, from left-to-right: Matt Malone, Dan Clark, Mikey Baish, John Olander. Photo provided.

I had a chance to sit down with half of the band this week and get to know them a bit. Before the interview started, Mikey Baish, lead singer, and guitarist of the band, said something to me that made me realize very quickly what these folks are about:

“The world can be dark and depressing. We’re just here to forget about that and party.”

And, that’s exactly what the band sets out to do – and does well – every time they perform. Continue reading on to catch our conversation.

Lucas Garrett: Thank you guys, for sitting down with me today to talk about your band, The Sugar Hold. Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Mikey Baish: I’m Mikey Baish. I play guitar and am the singer for The Sugar Hold. I started the band; I’m the bandleader, I guess you could say.

Dan Clark: My name is Dan Clark and I play lead guitar.

LG: How did this all happen? How did the band start?

MB: It started with my buddy, Jud, and I just writing these fun little rock and roll songs in the basement here. We decided that we wanted to actually start a band. We used the demos we’d written to try to get people to join the band. We had one practice with John Olander on drums before the pandemic hit… Once the pandemic hit, it was pretty apparent we wouldn’t really be able to get together or do shows, so I decided to release those demos as a first EP. It’s fun music, and wasn’t necessarily the most fun time. We felt it was pretty appropriate to do it.

Once we were able to start to get together, we luckily had a large practice space that we had access to where we could distance and mask up for practices. We started to really hone in on what we were doing. That’s kind of when Dan came in; I found him through a Craigslist ad.

DC: I came from the internets!

MB: Hahahaha. We really lucked out with him. That was pretty instant; we knew Dan was going to be our guy right away. He came in and knew the songs better than us.

DC: Hahah.

MB: Even to this day – I write a majority of the songs – if I have questions about, you know… what part goes here? What’s the order? I’ll look at Dan and say, “Dan, what’s going on here?”

DC: Hahaha.

LG: You mention your music’s fun; I agree with that. What are your creative influences?

MB: For me, I grew up listening to punk rock stuff. I was into punk and ska, and I was in a ska band back in the day. I’d play Big D and the Kids Table; stuff like that. My biggest influence is The Pixies. I love The Pixies. I think they’re a band where it’s more about the feel of it than necessarily what the song is about.

LG: Absolutely.

MB: I’d say that’s where I’d go, and then obviously the Beach Boys and Buddy Holly. Stuff like that.

LG: How about you, Dan?

DC: I was going to add to that. Even though we’re labeled as “surf-punk,” there’s a lot of Buddy Holly; Chuck Berry. That’s a little more of my background; I come from a blues guitar background. The way Mikey writes these songs, I think my style lends to that pretty well. On the surface, it’s punk rock, but there’re a lot of shuffles and stuff like that. It’s a nice fit.

LG: Curious question for the both of you… what are your thoughts on Pet Sounds?

MB: I think it’s fantastic. That’s one of the best albums of all time.

LG: I really think, in my opinion, that anyone that writes a song should listen to that album.

MB: Oh yeah.

LG: It’s a masterclass in songwriting.

DC: I agree one-hundred percent.

LG: So, you’ve got Dan with you now, and you’re working on some new material. What’s coming up for the band?

MB: We’re going to be playing Art on Lark on June 11th, less than a week away. We’re playing at 4:00 pm. We’re the last band; there’s also Laveda that’ll be playing. They’re awesome. Architrave, who we’ve played with before are playing; they’re fantastic. Lemon of Choice, who we played our first show with, are playing. I absolutely love those guys. They’re one of my favorite local bands, hands down. JB!! aka Dirty Moses will also be playing. He’s a hip-hop guy and seems really awesome. It’s hosted by Tall A$$ Matt and Baby Hands, who are DJs.

The last thing we did was dope at the Jive Hive, which was awesome. That was on April 20th, and it’s what led to me becoming more involved there. That’s a really fun video where we go through pretty much all our songs on that. It’s a thirty-five-minute live performance video. It was a lot of fun.

DC: I think our longest song cuts at just over three minutes.

LG: Nice.

MB: We try to keep it at two-and-a-half; there’s a few of them that are right at two.

DC: Good for the attention span.

LG: I don’t know how to write a two-minute song; all my songs are around eight minutes long.

MB: I just don’t have that much to say, I guess. Our songs are about, more or less, fairly relatable things: eating cheeseburgers; driving shitty cars; getting laid, you know?

LG: Nice!

MB: …doing drugs, maybe here and there?

LG: It sounds like a great weekend to me!

MB: That’s what we’re there for! We’re there for a good time.

DC: Hahaha.

MB: We’re a “party” band. When people come to see us, they dance. They have a good time, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. What you see is what you get!

DC: No layers.

MB: We’re playing what you want to hear; you can probably guess where the changes are going because that’s what sounds good.

LG: Absolutely. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?

MB: On June 17th we have a show at Rare Form with Pencildive and Lemon of Choice.

LG: Pencildive’s awesome.

MB: We went and saw them with Candy Ambulance the other day. That was a great show. We’re also taking a trip to the Avalon Lounge; it seems like everyone’s going there these days. We’re going down at the end of this month.

LG: What date is that?

DC: Wednesday, June 29th.

LG: Wednesday? That’s a weird day for a show.

MB: Wednesday’s easier for us.

DC: Hump day; we’re there to break up your week.

The Sugar Hold, from left-to-right: Matt Malone, Mikey Baish, John Olander, Dan Clark. Photo provided.

LG: You’re going to be there to break up the week talking about cheeseburgers and sex.

DC: Exactly!

MB: That’s exactly it, man.

LG: Maybe eating cheeseburgers while having sex?

MB: We haven’t gone there yet.

DC: That’s an idea, we can run with that.

LG: It puts a whole new spin on “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.”

MB: It sure does!

DC: Hahaha.

LG: Thanks again for taking the time today to sit down.

MB: Thanks a lot for chatting with us, Lucas!

DC: Yeah, Lucas! Thank you so much.

LG: Have a great day.

MB, DC: Later!

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