Way back in 1998 Australian band Superjesus released their album Sumo. An album that would go on to shape the soundtrack of many Aussie’s youth and cement the band as a premier home grown headline rock act. Now fast forward twenty years later to 2018 Sumo is getting re-released with extra tracks and even getting the vinyl treatment. Also to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the album Superjesus will be touring across Australia to play the album in full. We caught up with Superjesus vocalist and guitarist Sarah McLeod to talk about the album and tour.

SCENEzine
How’s 2018 going for you?

Sarah McLeod
Well it feels practically over. It’s definitely going quicker than I would like.

SCENEzine
It must be surreal to think it’s twenty years since Sumo was released?

Sarah McLeod
I feel like that was a completely different life, maybe a parallel life. I can’t really put it into chronological order but I know I was there. I remember bits of it but I feel like it was in another dimension (laughs).

SCENEzine
What do you think it was about Sumo that so many people connected with?

Sarah McLeod
It’s a really different sounding album. It sounded different to a lot of the other records that were made around that time and still sounds pretty different to what people make today. They are strange songs not three minute pop songs or your standard verse, chorus then verse, chorus. It was weird song writing. When we were writing it I was thinking this is too weird but I think that is what’s made it stand the test of time because it’s really different.

SCENEzine
I feel it’s hard to explain to someone if they’ve never heard Superjesus what kind of genre you are?

Sarah McLeod
Yeah I sort of look at it as dirgy but I think I made that term up. It’s not grungy it’s dirgy.

SCENEzine
Is there a story behind how you came up with the album title Sumo?

Sarah McLeod
Originally we were going to call it the absolute truth I’ve actually got a cassette somewhere that says Superjesus the absolute truth. We had it printed and the artwork made but then at the last minute we thought hang on this sucks. We were on a Ansett flight and reading the inflight entertainment and there was a thing about sumo wrestlers. There was this cool picture of these big fat wrestlers on the front. Chris and I were looking at it and looking at each other and said sumo that’s fat, our records fat, let’s change it. We always change everything at the last minute.

SCENEzine
With “Down Again” which kicks off the album was it the kind of song that came together super quickly?

Sarah McLeod
Nothing we did ever came together super quickly. We only ever wrote enough songs for a record that we would labour over every song. I’m talking seven or eight different versions of one song until we got it right. If we thought it wasn’t good enough as we were writing it we would just stop and go onto another song. So if we finished a track it made it onto the album.
 

 
SCENEzine
Did you have a feeling people would love that song when you finished recording it?

Sarah McLeod
I loved it. I remember putting the finishing touches on writing the vocal at a hotel in Brisbane called Kangaroo Point Motor Inn. We were just about to play at the Big Day Out in the Gold Coast the next day. I finished the vocals for it the night before and we debuted it at Big Day Out. I remember thinking this is a good one.

SCENEzine
Our personal favourite track from the album is “Now and Then”. Is there much of a story behind that one?

Sarah McLeod
“Now and Then” we actually wrote on the spot in Atlanta Georgia when we were there to record the album. It’s not like us to write anything at the last minute we are careful planners. We just started it in the studio like those stories that you hear about people writing that last minute excellent track that they weren’t expecting on the spot. I’ve always had a fear of that because I don’t like to put that pressure on myself. But Chris and I put our heads together and came up with a last minute one and it was “Now and Then”. It was great because we brought in the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra into the studio. They played strings on it and it was just magic.
 

 
SCENEzine
Back in 1998 vinyl wasn’t very popular but now for the anniversary you are releasing Sumo on red vinyl.

Sarah McLeod
It’s funny how vinyl was not big in the 90’s. It dropped off the radar for two decades and now it’s back.

SCENEzine
Do you own much vinyl yourself?

Sarah McLeod
Yeah I love playing vinyl it’s pretty much all I play. I have an old machine called a Grundig it’s like a piece of furniture. It’s like a cupboard, it’s giant. It can play up to three albums if you stack them up, it’s cool.

SCENEzine
On the re-release you cover Kylie Minogue’s “Confide In Me”. Have you had a chance to play that song live yet?

Sarah McLeod
Yeah we played it on the Hotter Than Hell tour that we did at the beginning of the year. That was before we recorded it. Now since we’ve recorded it we’ve played it once with Spiderbait recently but otherwise we will be thrashing it out on this tour.
 

 
SCENEzine
How have the rehearsals been going for the tour, are you nailing every song?

Sarah McLeod
Yeah (laughs). Definitely got our work cut out for us though.

SCENEzine
Will the album be played in order?

Sarah McLeod
That I’m not sure about. We are definitely going to play it in it’s entirety. To play it in order is a bit confusing because of all the guitar tunings. Personally I’d rather play it in blocks of tuning so I don’t have to keep changing guitars every three minutes.

SCENEzine
With the band having a few line up changes throughout the years it must be cool for you to look across at these shows and see Stuart knowing he lived through the Sumo era like yourself?

Sarah McLeod
I look over and see Stuart and think I remember you and your big oversized checked shorts and your wife beater and your long hair in a ponytail. I remember him coming to the audition and remember thinking I like your shorts (laughs).

SCENEzine
Back when Sumo was released and you were playing on TV shows and big festivals was it hard to enjoy those moments because it was going by so fast?

Sarah McLeod
Exactly yeah it went by so fast that we didn’t really get a chance to enjoy it because there was always something on the horizon that was more terrifying that we had to address. It was like that for about two years.

SCENEzine
If you could go back to the 1998 version of Sarah is there any advice you would give her about the years to come?

Sarah McLeod
I think I would tell myself to find one thing and stick to it. One of my problems is I try and do too much. I jump from project to project all the time. If I just set on one thing and got really good at it I think that probably would of been a better idea but then again I wouldn’t know what I know now.

SCENEzine
Lastly can you give us a message for all the Aussie Superjesus fans that are stoked for the tour?

Sarah McLeod
We are going to go out there and destroy the place gig by gig and blow the roof off the joint at every single show. That’s our goal. Every show counts and it’s important to us to make sure that we uphold the legacy of this album as it deserves. We are going to work really hard to make sure it’s fucking cranking and people are having fun.

(interview by Christian Ross)
 

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