Interview: Skylar Sarkis of Such Gold

Coming from a place like Rochester, New York, a part of the country with a legacy for birthing hardcore acts, it’s no surprise that young guns Such Gold latched on to a melodic hardcore sound that is played fast and drips with nostalgia.  But, while dizzying guitar lines, throat-searing vocals and heart-on-sleeve lyrics are the building blocks of a solid and locally celebrated D.I.Y. band, it rarely translates to larger levels of success.  After talking to guitarist Skylar Sarkis, who said that Such Gold may not necessarily be a “career choice,” I’m not sure the band’s goals stretch past getting in the van and playing their way around the world for as long as it makes sense. 
That’s part of the young band’s charm; and their earnesty can be heard in one-off EPs for labels like Mightier than Sword and 6131, as well as their forthcoming full-length, Misadventures, for Razor & Tie.  With support from their new label, the band hit the studio with producer Steve Evetts (Saves The Day, Lifetime, Snapcase) and the resulting effort is 28 minutes of thoughtful aggression that doesn’t miss a beat.  Ghettoblaster caught up with Sarkis as the band prepares for their album release date on August 14 and a Fall tour with Strung Out to talk about hall shows, travelling and beaches.  Here’s what he told us…
The last couple years have been crazy for Such Gold – in addition to huge tours and signing to Razor & Tie there were also some low points.  What was the deal with Ben getting stabbed in Boston?  
That was a non-musical issue and didn’t really have anything to do with Such Gold, other than us having to take a few weeks off and me having to fill in for him on a few short east coast/Canada runs.
Is he fully recovered from that injury?  Did the stabbing ever threaten to permanently sideline the band?
He is fully recovered and has been for some time now. It became very apparent in the days following the incident that it would in no way affect the future of the band.
I guess it has been a while since you graduated from basement and hall shows to playing actual concert venues, but do you recall having any growing pains during that transition?
We still play basement and hall shows pretty frequently (especially hall shows). I prefer playing halls and D.I.Y. spaces a lot of the time, especially because it makes it possible to have a lot of different bands on a show that wouldn’t necessarily be possible on a touring package that’s hitting bars/clubs as its primary markets. Beyond that, some of the best experiences we’ve had have been in basements and halls; there’s a completely different energy. I think we were all more or less used to the club setting from playing in bands before Such Gold, so there have never been any serious issues with adapting to those settings.
You guys worked with Steve Evetts on Misadventures, right?  
 What did he bring to the table that made him a good fit for the record?  
He’s worked on my favorite Snapcase and Deadguy records, for starters. More importantly, though, he has years and years of experience with recording aggressive music and is an incredible engineer. He helped us tie up some loose ends during pre-production and changed a lot of really subtle things in our playing while we were tracking that ended up making a huge difference in the final product.
 Was it comfortable being in the studio after so much time on the road?
It was a pretty comfortable studio to hang out and write at. The only real discomfort I remember experiencing was nerves, since I had never recorded with anyone of Steve’s caliber and really haven’t ever tracked guitar on a proper punk full length.
Did you record any b-sides?  Was there anything left on the cutting room floor?
No recorded b-sides, but yeah, we left one track on the cutting room floor. It just didn’t end up fitting. We’ll probably strip it for parts and use it for something else at some point down the road.
Has the transition from smaller independent record labels to Razor & Tie been smooth? 
Yeah, there haven’t really been any major bumps in the road at all. Usually when we want to do something, they’re totally down with it. We’re also pretty easy-going as a band and, by extension, indecisive, and they’ve been really cool about that as well.
How did you decide that signing with them was right for the band?
The offer came kind of out of the blue. They seemed to be really into what we were doing as a band and had a lot of resources that we were interested in tapping into. We decided to try something different and see where it went. As long as we can make the music that we want to make, we’re happy.
What do your parents think about this as a career choice?
All of our parents are super supportive, which is an incredible blessing. I don’t really consider this a “career choice,” necessarily, I think there are other things myself and the other guys are interested in doing down the road.
Being from Rochester, New York I imagine you guys grew up under the influence of a lot of hardcore.  How does that influence manifest itself in your sound?  
Quite a lot, actually. Maybe less so vocally, but as far as the rest of songwriting goes, you can definitely hear the influence of Marathon and early Polar Bear Club riffage, as well as bands like How We Are and maybe even Snapcase on some of our newer, heavier tracks. I think Upstate New York has an incredible legacy of punk and hardcore bands, and these are bands that I was into at a pretty young age when I was still pretty clueless about the subculture as a whole. I think that can be said for most if not all of us.
Did I hear that you guys may have a Snapcase cover in your band of tricks?
We cover “Energy Dome” from time to time.
Did you guys do Sound and Fury this year?  How was it?
We didn’t go this year, but last year was a great experience. I’m bummed I’m missing Blacklisted this year.
On “Committee Circus” Ben talks about getting out of one’s small community and seeing the rest of the world.  Had you guys travelled abroad before joining the band?  
That line “the world’s a whole lot bigger…” is actually just a comment on how people get into punk music in order to get away from the limited social circles in the small, often suburban communities that they grow up in and what that tends to lead to more so than it is about traveling the world. I think, aside from Canada, none of us had gone very far before Such Gold. I went to Italy once to visit a friend, and Ben went to the Grand Cayman Islands once.
How has travelling with Such Gold influenced you as a person?
It’s humbling, and it’s made me feel lucky to come from a place with so many thriving punk/hardcore communities. When we went to Costa Rica, kids were all about our band and our peers’ bands; bands that I remember seeing in basements in Allston when I was going to school in Massachusetts. I feel very blessed to be from where I am from and to have still been able to meet so many ambitious people from all over the world that help make this kind of thing possible.
 I expect the next twelve months will include relentless touring in support of the record, right?  
We’ll see. The next couple months, for sure. We’re going back out with Strung Out in September to do a full U.S. tour and then heading down to Gainesville in October for the Fest.
What are you most looking forward to?
Seeing some places in the U.S. that I have still yet to see this coming September, like Corpus Christi and a few cities in Florida. I like beaches.