Photo by Eric Sanchez Photography
Robby J. is the Co-Lead vocalist for the band “Sicksense”. The band recently released their debut EP titled “Kings Today” which is a fresh and blazing mix of rock and metal stylings which harkens back to the sounds of the late 90’s Nu Metal movement. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Robby about the formation of the band, what its like to work with your significant other and the bands ominous bear mascot.
Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on the formation of Sicksense?
Robby J.: The band first started with our guitarist and drummer back in 2017. They were in another band at the time that had recently parted ways with their singer. They were holding auditions and a former guitar player of mine suggested to me about auditioning. I ended up contacting them and they sent me three tracks which would subsequently become Sicksense songs. While I was working on those, I was asked what I thought about having a second vocalist. I was completely fine with that, but I did say that I would like creative control of the lyrical direction and storytelling. They agreed and I knew I had the right person in mind for the job. It ended up being my wife Vickie and the rest is history. Shortly after that decision was made, we started working on more songs and once we had those all down, we recruited our bassist Sam, and the lineup was complete.
AL: How do you and Vicky balance your band/home relationships?
RJ: Not to get cheesy with it but it’s all about being entirely supportive of one another. Being in a relationship of this nature you must be willing to work with each other. Over the last few years, we have gotten to the point where we have really built each other up. We are fortune in that we both work from home and behind the scenes I do a lot of work on Vicky’s social media for her own stuff as well as for her other band The Agonist. It’s very cool and easy to work with your significant other in this capacity especially if you are so supportive. We are at the point where even while we are working on other projects, we can at the same time bounce ideas for Sicksense off one another. It’s great having each other right there as a lot of times in bands you must schedule a time and place to meet which takes time. In our situation we are right there and can instantly start working on something the moment an idea hits. As long as there is balance and no egos involved, I think something like this can be a beautiful thing.
AL: Were some of those early songs that band first worked on what we are hearing on the new EP?
RJ: Two of those three demos that we first worked on in 2017 are on the “Kings Today” EP. When the pandemic happened, we got together and wrote and recorded a full lengths album worth of material. We then decided to split that in to two separate EP releases. The song “Make Believe” is one of those first songs and one that I did with Vicky in mind. The song “Soul Snatcher” was the other song from the 2017 demos we included. We have one other song that was from those demo sessions that will be on the following EP.
AL: When you are writing are you doing so with Vicky in mind or do you adjust what you had already written after the fact?
RJ: I try to base my work around what is going on with the instrumentation. I will either follow along with what the instrument is playing, or I will try to come up with something different to make things less monotonous. I tend to write my parts first. What sometimes will happen is I write a specific piece with me in mind but then Vicky will take it. I wrote a lot of the music for these EP’s with myself in mind but if I ever got stumped on something, I would let Vicky take control. That goes back to our understanding of each other and her knowing where I am trying to go with a song while at the same time adding her own twist to it. We have some songs coming out in the future that were entirely written by Vicky. For the “Kings Today” release I feel the material is very Robby heavy.
AL: Can you tell us about the decision to release these songs as two separate EP’s rather than one full-length album?
RJ: That was an easy decision actually and It really came down to Vicky and I living in Chicago
and it was during the early stages of the pandemic that we finished recording. It was becoming difficult to travel back and forth to Canada, so we decided to wait until we travel a little easier. We started to get a little tired of waiting and eventually bit the bullet and made the trip to Canada where we ended up having to quarantine for almost a month. After all of that and being a new band, we just wanted to get our music out for people to listen to. We decided it would easier to get things going if we split the ten songs in to the two separate five song EP’s along with three music videos for each. This gave us a lot of content to put out which helped our exposure.
AL: You also have a new video for the song “Forgotten Days”. Can you tell us about that?
RJ: The idea for this video was something that had been suggested at the last minute by our PR team to help support the EP release. Vicky and I reside in Chicago, IL while the rest of the band members are spread out in Eastern Canada, so it was a little challenging to come up with a concept so quickly and having to work remotely. We worked with the director who did our previous videos, and he had a concept based around the song and shot everything remotely with each member which ended up working out really well.
AL: Some of your other videos as well as a few social media posts feature a yellow bear. What is the story behind this guy?
RJ: (Laughs) That guy has become a little bit of a cult figure for us. I guess its our version of Iron Maiden’s “Eddie”. He has sort of become our mascot. The idea for him originated when we were shooting the food fight video for “Kings Today”. We wanted to have an even number of people at the table we were sitting at, so we created this character who we now call “Deli the Bear”. It ended up being played by our friend who has the same nickname just spelled differently. The idea behind him in the music video is that he has multiple meanings for us. We encourage our listeners and watcher to come up with their own interpretation of him. For me personally he represents that elephant in the room or “bear” in this case. He is this problem that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge that its there. He can also be an interpretation of social media in that there are people arguing amongst themselves and there could be these strangers/outsiders you are not aware of that are looking in. Deli is/can be anything we want him to be. We have adopted him as our mascot, and you will probably be seeing more of him in the future.
AL: The genre or term “Nu-Metal” is a moniker that seems to be closely associated with Sicksense. What are your feelings on this?
RJ: I think this goes back to a couple of the founding members previous band which was shamelessly Nu-Metal. I loved that about them! I feel like its sort of a taboo thing to be proud of in the music scene, but I love/loved a lot of Nu-Metal bands. This is what we sound like and we are just running with it. Being branded as “Nu-Metal” is fine with me.
AL: I know the band just finished up a run of live shows. What do you have planned next?
RJ: We have some more content based around the “Kings Today” EP that we want to still get out but just as we were releasing this EP, we were finishing up a new video for a song that will appear on our next release. We hope to have that out in early 2023 with the EP release shortly following that. The rest of this year will be just wrapping up things such as graphics and what not related to our next release. We are planning to release a vinyl version of the 2023 EP which will be on one side of the record with the “Kings Today” EP being on the other. That might be out a little later than the EP, but I think that’s going to be a cool thing for fans to be able to get. We have also already started working on what we want to release after the 2023 EP so will be working on that through out the summer as well.
For more information on Sicksense you can visit their official website at www.soundescapeagency.com/sicksense