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September 2022

Sick Joy: "Does it sound good to us? Yeah? Then cool, let's do it!"

With their much-anticipated debut album, Sick Joy are ready to fly.
Published: 5:02 pm, July 15, 2022Words: Kelsey McClure.
Sick Joy: "Does it sound good to us? Yeah? Then cool, let's do it!"

Brighton-based three-piece 'Sick Joy' are amongst the most exciting new players in the grunge scene. In between the hustle and bustle of releasing their newest single 'don't feel like dying', we caught up with Mykl Barton (vocals/guitar) to discuss their gem of a debut album 'WE'RE ALL GOING TO F***ING DIE'.

What were the main influences behind this album?

I guess with my limited writing technique, I tend to lean towards writing about the simple, universal things in everyone's life, like love, death, sex and sadness, but also happiness and either side of them. Not just some Mötley Crüe bullshit about sex or the misery behind death. The first song I wrote, 'don't feel like dying', was there as soon as I woke up, in a brief moment of clarity, and it just felt right to get it down. Because 2020 had happened, I didn't know if anyone would hear it, and it could have just been like a bedroom project with me and my drummer. We didn't know when the world would happen again, or if anyone would give a shit when it came around again.
Some super early influences were things like Pixies, Nirvana and all that 90s stuff. And then there was also the British side of it like Blur records, a lot of Thom Yorke, Placebo and Radiohead. I also love a lot of metal, so I was getting back into Korn and Slipknot as well. It was like it didn't matter what people would like. I didn't have that voice that every person, never mind every artist has as to how it will translate when it goes out. Instead, it was just, does it sound good to us? Yeah? Then cool, let's do it! So probably every band I've ever listened to that I thought was good, I thought, let's do a bit of that.

Can you talk us through the inspiration behind the cover art, too?

This is going to sound so obnoxious or pretentious, but I don't actually remember. I don't want to say it came to me in a dream or some bullshit like that, but I don't remember its embryonic state. The only thing that was different was that it was going to be a blue background, not white. But then it made more sense to just be plain. It was an idea kind of based on the title and how we could best represent the meaning behind it. I think a lot of people think the title negative, but it's not supposed to be. It's poking fun at the part where all of us are that person on the cover. It's supposed to be a representative of missing out on the things that we could be doing. Its inspiration was itself.

What was it that first made you want to make music?

Probably isolation. I guess it sounds cliche or pretentious but feeling like you're on your own or not really fitting in - which even includes with the people who didn't fit in. I heard loads of songs that sounded like me and was like, 'oh I get that!' I wasn't even really expecting to be in a band; music just makes me feel good and like time disappears. We really get to be present, and it makes you feel good. It helps you to understand yourself and the world a bit better. So sadly, just because I felt lonely.

Did the creation process differ from the recording of your EPs?
I wasn't worried about anyone else; an outside influence wasn't even a part of it. There was no ghost in the machine telling you, 'what's Brighton going to think about this?' or 'what are your current fans going to think about this? It was just go, if it sounded good. But I also lived with our drummer Drew at the time, and we couldn't get out anywhere, so I just had to learn how to use Logic, which I still suck at. We had the bones of it but couldn't constantly be going back and forth between the rehearsal space. So we were able to just keep building it up and adding things we wouldn't usually do and spend ages on it. Before we'd even gone into the studio to write, we already had the harmonies done. We ended up using stuff from those Logic sessions in the record. The beginning of 'rich hippies' is something I actually made a mistake on and thought it sounded like an intro.

When it comes to songwriting, do you tend to lean towards the music rather than lyrics first?

Yeah, we go for the melody first, and if you get a great lyric, then it's the full package. If the lyrics are really bad, then it fucks it. If the lyrics are fine and you can't understand what they're saying, but the melody is great, then I'm in! In some of my favourite songs, I still don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

Which song from the record are you most proud of?

I liked making all of them because you got to do stuff you can't do on EPs, since there you have to find a way to best represent yourself in three minutes. Closing track 'ultimately' is something we'd usually never do. I think that song is a refined version of what made me want to get into music. I remember feeling not great and naturally leaning on the thing that I do during those times - which is music. The day was a write-off before it was even 12 o'clock, and thankfully, I spent the day doing that, and it became a write-on instead. I'm very proud of that one, but I like a lot of the songs for different reasons.

On the flip side of that, what non-Sick Joy songs do you wish you could have written?

Oh, there's fucking millions. The first one that came to mind is 'Ain't Nice' by Viagra Boys, but l also love '2008' by Cleopatrick - that one is unreal. Then there are bigger songs like 'Dumb' by Nirvana and 'Debaser' by The Pixies. All the songs I love, I'm like, 'I wish that was mine'. At the same time, I'm glad it's not because I get to enjoy it properly.

Can you sum up the new album in just one word?

Ultimately. Because ultimately, we're all going to fucking die.

Taken from the August issue of Upset. Sick Joy's album 'WE'RE ALL GONNA F***ING DIE' is out now.

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