From The Horse's Mouth: Daniel Howe, Chris Rigo, Bobby Mathews (Sugar Glyder) on The Eyes : They See

The Eyes : They See

Sugar Glyder, a tried and true indie band from Charlotte, NC that harness the pop leaning spirit of contemporaries like Ra Ra Riot and Passion Pit, caught our attention when they premiered the video for their single “Lost in the Woods” at Purevolume (you can check out the 3D version here: The track will be a part of the band’s forthcoming album, The Eyes: They See, which was produced by none other than Steven Haigler (the Pixies, Brand New, As Tall As Lions.)
Ghettoblaster caught up Sugar Glyder’s Daniel Howe, Chris Rigo, and Bobby Mathews to discuss the forthcoming record as well as their 2011 EP and this is what they said about it…
When did you begin writing the material for your forthcoming album?
Daniel: I think it was late 2011
Chris: It was probably summer or later 2011 when we started to sit down to write the album. We were playing shows and touring though during that time. We often tinker with things for a while and sometimes a riff or melody might be hanging around for a while until it really sees the light of day, other times it happens really fast.
Bobby: We had been tinkering around with a few ideas for this album since we started writing the LALS EP, but the majority of the writing started mid to late 2011.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
Daniel: There were a couple of songs that we were sure would make the “final cut” but inevitably there are always a few that just don’t make the transition from your mind to your mouth, or your head to your hands. We ended up lopping off a few perfectly good songs because they didn’t fit or wouldn’t work.
Bobby: I remember having a hard time developing the song “Baxolectro” as we were writing it. We had the guitar and drums worked out in verse for months before we progressed further with any other parts. That song was definitely a labor of love. There was also a song that we took in to the studio, recorded it, and ended up scrapping it because it just didn’t turn out the way we envisioned it.
Chris: This was the first time we worked with a true producer so it was a big learning process for us. Sometimes things that we thought were awesome, our producer didn’t agree with. Ultimately this makes the songs stronger and makes us more willing/able to try things we might not have originally thought about trying. The toughest song to record (that did make the cut) was “Baxolectro.” We experimented with a lot of different guitar sounds, keyboard sounds and percussive elements. Honestly that is one of my favorite songs on the album. I think all the little tinkering we did really turned it into a song for true music listeners… the ones that try to find the extra little hidden things in a song you can only hear after repeated listens.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept?
Daniel: The most challenging part was making the decision for me was to “re do” a couple of tracks from our EP Release of 2011 Lovers At Lightspeed. We re-did two of those and there are always mixed feelings when revisiting an old song that’s already been done.
Bobby: “Whole in my Heart” transformed quite a bit from its original concept. For example, the drum beat for the bridge of the song was originally used in the chorus. It was a completely different monster in its early stages of development.
Chris: I honestly dont think the songs that made the cut for the album were changed very much from their original concept. We re-did two songs from our 2011 release, Lovers At Lightspeed and they ultimately turned out a bit different than the original indie recordings of the songs. I personally love how the new version of “Song Holiday” turned out. I got to add a bunch of new/extra guitar parts which was very fun for me since I have always been very constricted time wise when its come to recording in the past. I also got to add some extra funk style guitar parts for a song called “Lady Touch” which was really fun to record and wasn’t in the original concept.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Daniel: No, this record is 100 percent ours, except for Steven Haigler’s signature “Rattlesnake” tambourine work on some tracks.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Chris: Steven Haigler produced the album. He is based in New York and has an amazing studio facility. Ive always thought we are very “groove based” individuals but I think Steven brought that out even more. The best example I can think of is the bass line in the chorus of our song, “Campfire.” The original bass line was written an octave higher than it was recorded. I remember him saying that it was an awesome bass line but it need to be fattened up… the easiest thing to try was to just shift it down a whole octave… and BAM! It’s simple things like that where it’s not changing the progression, just shifting it around that I think helped make our new album really great. Steven was also very honest about things and if he didn’t like something he would let us know. It’s important to work with someone that is 110% honest with you and its stroking your ego in any way. Another thing for me personally that I LOVED was that I actually got to spend some time working on the guitar parts for the album. In the past we would take 2-3 hours to track all my parts… that’s just not enough time to get the sounds you want to get. With Steven I got to take a few days which was really fun for me.
Bobby: Steven has a great ear for fitting the different frequencies in to place. When we were mixing the album, we would leave the room at times and let him wrap himself in the songs and tweak tones and levels. There were only a handful of times that we weren’t comfortable with certain changes.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
Daniel: So far, the two records we’ve put out have had a definite theme. 2011 Lovers at Lightspeed was indicative of where we were at the time we put out and where it took us as well. We were moving through a lot of the early stages in the industry at that point and even more that would come as a result of that release. It was only six songs but the entire album had a very contemplative and preparatory vibe to it. We were evaluating where we had been and where we were going, as I had been in my life. 
Lovers took us a lot of places and brought us a lot of great changes. Our debut full length The Eyes:They See (TETS) is a bit different. Theme wise, the record is very journey based. We find ourselves sometimes “Lost”. By that I mean there is a lot of doing one does in life but not a lot of clarity on why. My kind of people tend to spend a lot of time pondering the why. If you don’t you end up old wondering what you did with your life. Furthermore, though we may be lost as to why we’re here or where we are, in TETS we also explore the idea that maybe being lost is part of finding your way, maybe even essential to finding it. The album careens right out of the gate with this in plain sight on the first track “Lost in The Woods” and ends with a track “Baxolectro” (Prounounced(Back-So-Leck-Tro)about a star we actually named and claimed on one of those “name a star” websites. 
(TETS) Narrates the journey from existential wilderness to a better place, our utopian star “Baxolectro.”
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
Bobby: We’ve started playing about half of the album live. We’ve had the most positive feedback for the songs “Lost in the Woods,” “Lady Touch,” and “So Long, Goodnight.”
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Then pre-order the record here: