Band of the Week: Uptight Sugar

Meet the Band: Dave Hamilton (lead vocals, keyboards), Matt Vance (lead guitar, vocals), Mike Murray (keyboards, guitars, vocals), Adam Christian (bass), Dan Jankowski (drums, percussion)

EVOLVING INTO AN ORIGINAL ACT: Singer-guitarist Mike Murray and singer-keyboardist Dave Hamilton started the band as an outlet to play the type of music they play with their cover band, Sunrise Jones. But with Uptight Sugar, they decided to play original music. "This is something I've wanted to do for a while," says Hamilton when asked about the band's origins. "We got this lineup together about a year or two after Sunrise Jones had formed in 2013." Uptight Sugar released its first EP, Under Blue Light, in 2018. "We were neck deep in our cover band aspirations at the time and having a ball doing that," says Murray. "We learned all these complicated songs to play with Sunrise Jones, and that inspired us to want to write some original music, and Dave [Hamilton] had a huge catalog of stuff that he had cultivated for years. I wanted to give it a shot and start recording material in a way that feels modern but feels like an homage to the music by the bands we were learning. The record was born from that."

THE FOLLOWUP EP: The 2019 five-track compilation, I'm OK, You're OK, followed. "That first EP was like, 'Let's put our toe in the water and check the temperature and see where we're at,'" says Hamilton. "We had so much fun with it and people seemed to like it and relate to it. I'm OK, You're OK is more like us stretching our legs a bit to see how far we can take it." Writing and early production was done in Murray's basement. For the drums, they went to Superior Sound Studios and worked with veteran engineer Jim Stewart. "[Stewart] helped us put it all together," says Murray. "He's fantastic to work with." Jimmy Weaver of Welshly Arms mixed the album, and Becker Mastering in Los Angeles handled the mastering. Late last year, the band released the Beatles-esque "Fell for You," the first track off their next record planned for 2020. "This is the first time we're getting together as a group and focusing on songwriting from the ground up," says Murray when asked about the forthcoming album. "We have an eclectic mix of songs. We're really exploring the genres. It'll feel eclectic but in a very cohesive way — I hope."


WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: "Crawl," one of the highlights on I'm Ok, You're Ok, features echoing vocals and lush synthesizers, echoing '80s acts such as Pet Shop Boys and Tears for Fears. With its mix of taut electric guitars and synths, "Die Before I'm Dead" also recalls British pop/rock bands that were popular in the '80s. A piano ballad, "The Blue Light (Parts 1 & 2)," opts for a more somber sound.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Uptight Sugar performs with Window Dogs and Spirit of the Bear at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24, at Stella's Music Club and with Apostle Jones at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, at Collision Bend Brewery.