Sick of Sarah on Tour: Laughing and Fighting

This is a monthly column by Sick of Sarah — whose music can be heard weekly on Brunch with Bridget, and on a recent episode of South of Nowhere — about their experiences as an up-and-coming band.

Hello world! I’m Brooke Svanes, I drum for Sick of Sarah, and I approve this blog! (Though I’m not so sure the other girls will after reading this.)

Now, since our lovely bassist Jamie discussed touring in our first installment, I will diverge. Although [insert higher power of your choice, or not] knows I could talk about touring “until the cows come home.”

And being from the Midwest, it is totally imperative to use phrases like “until the cows come home.”

Suffice it to say, touring is a blast, and by blast, I mean it rocks and sucks simultaneously. I love the fans, hate the travel.

Being kind of a princess at heart, I really look forward to dates closer to home like the one at The Cabooze where we had our CD release show on August 8th. It was perfect: a huge capacity crowd, a great vibe, and only ten minutes from my house.

Load-in is always stressful because my bass drum is bigger than I am, which is why I have band mates (note sarcasm). On this particular night, after sound check, we all got together in The Cabooze bathroom with a video camera (only because it was the quietest place in the venue, not because any of us have an affinity for group meetings in bathrooms per se) so we could tape ourselves for Japan.

Our first album is being released in January in Japan and our lead singer, Abisha, was raised in Okinawa so she is going to Tokyo for its release. Consequently, we got to yell “Hi MTV Japan! We’re Sick of Sarah! Check out our new record!” into the camera, which upon saying seemed very surreal. It still does.

One very small detail: the person holding the video camera was the head of our label (a guy) and we were filming in the girls bathroom. All of a sudden we were confronted by a woman who, seeing the five of us clustered together around a guy in the girls bathroom, completely freaked out, ran out screaming she was going to have us ejected from the club.

Normally, we would have left the bathroom out of consideration for her but we had the Japanese to consider, and besides she never asked. We posted two more girls to guard the door for us, just to make sure that Ms. Negative Nancy didn’t come through the door again, but she never did. We kinda hope she stayed for the show though.

We eventually left the bathroom and met up with Justin, the guy who directed our “Not Listening” video. Justin’s making a documentary on Sick of Sarah and needed separate interviews with each of us. Mine took place in front of some chauvinistic, very rude old men (clearly my favorite demographic) but I managed to ignore them.

Growing up in North Dakota, I came out with a seasoned ability to ignore people like that and most anything else. Being able to tune stuff out is a skill that comes in handy, especially on stage when I look at the other girls, think of things we’ve done and then want to die laughing.

Katie, perhaps the wittiest band member, changes the words to songs so that “bittersweet” turns into “buenos dias,” in an opera voice no less.

Jessie, ever the rock star, totally works it on stage but I still recall her face when she ripped her pants during a video shoot while jumping (the day before she ripped her pants playing hackey sack with us outside of a club; I’m totally waiting for the inevitable third time but pretty sure she’s not).

Abisha puts contacts in her phone with names like”poop1″ and “poop2” (although she claims not to know who these numbers belong to). During the ballads (which are totally beautiful, don’t get me wrong) I especially have a problem; inappropriate laughter is a quirk of mine. So that coupled with serious Abisha really gets me going.

And then there’s Jamie. We both have a habit of using words (correctly, i might add) we know but can’t define. So when she’s got her laid-back-bassist-face-groove on I just want to scream some totally esoteric word like “nomenclature” in her face just to see her laugh. She does this thing where she gets really close and laughs silently in your face. It’s contagious really.

And this is why I rarely look at them on stage. If I did, I would die laughing. And they’d be out of a drummer.

We laugh about as much as we fight. I mean, yes, we’re all BFFs but Aunt Flo is a bitch and she turns us into bitches. Thank God for “tobacco” and the music that binds us. Imagine having four wives you work with, throw in some very different personalities, not to mention all the drama that comes with being in your 20s. Oy Vey.

I’ve “quit” the band more times than i can remember.

But the music and the fans keep me going, those wonderful people who hear your music and it speaks to them the same way Sleater-Kinney or Team Dresch spoke to me, those people who want our picks and drumstick so bad, and then (when they catch them) ask us to sign them, and I know we just made their night, and you can see it in their eyes.

Those people who list Sick of Sarah as one of their influences. Wow. Words cannot even convey how much this means to us.

Even though I love drumming more than anything in the world, even though it’s the best catharsis I’ve ever known, it’s the fans that keep me playing, that make me want to be better, that make me want to inspire others to do the same, that make me want to come up with something so awesome that jaws will drop.

Trust me when I say you’ll hear it on our next record. Stay tuned for many CD release shows to come and thank you!

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