Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The rendezvous point for the second Daytrotter Barnstormer tour, featuring the likes of Dawes, Snowblink, Christopher Denny and the Natives, Maritime, Paleo, Brooks Strause and the subjects of this essay - Suckers - was the Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last October. Every band except Dawes were late to load-in, but it was Suckers who made the biggest impact when they finally arrived. Already the oddball band on the bill, the New Yorkers showed up in the Gigantic van - the pass-around baby that all bands that have ever been friendly with the label got to take out and across the wide-open country - and singer/guitarist Quinn Walker got out smelling as if he'd just done a belly-flop into a swimming pool filled with gasoline. His jeans had been splashed with the stuff at a gas station along with the way and yet, you'd think, that the first thing he'd want to do - the first thing that his bandmates would want him to do - would be to put a different pair on, to save them the light-headedness, that wooziness and nausea. This conversation must never have happened, as the second day of the tour - after a night at the lovely Doubletree, with its showers and fresh, hot cookies - at a pumpkin patch and corn maze in rural Lodi, Wisc., brought a bundled up and whiskeyed Walker still potent with the refined cologne of fuel. It gradually wore off as the six days of the tour melted away - the 40 degrees below normal, Midwestern autumn temperatures must have helped. Sure, it's an anecdote, and perhaps one that means little to nothing to you, but so much of it stands as an insight into what makes this band and its debut album, "Wild Smile," such memorable and important things.
Walker and his cousin, Austin Fisher, share the songwriting and lead singing duties and the two distinct styles are of the greatest importance in this band being what it is. Fisher, often reserved and mild-mannered in his jean jacket and in his focus - the sugar to Walker's absinthe, and he writes the sweet parts of melancholy and nostalgia, while Walker often adds the colorful altercations and asides, the chairs breaking and the table crashing, the food splattering on the wall, the crazy mumblings and screechings, the drunken memories, the converse, the clothing covered in gasoline and fire. Walker adds these wobbly, but parallel stories and spices that - along with the bizarre, imaginative, and essential bass playing of Pan, along with the unpredictable and equally essential drumming of spacey Brian Aiken - Suckers songs what they are: love and family dramas for real and imperfect people. They are songs that are more complicated than you give them credit for upon first listen as they move you, they sway you with their swiveling movement, but they exist of troubled minds looking for the skeleton key of life. They exist to make certain that everyone realizes that so many of the complexities that we run into are so far beyond our control and we're kept running around in circles and there's no way off the ride, it just keeps getting faster and making us sicker. Walker wears those gasoline jeans and in both real life and when he sings on "A Mind I Knew," "Your heart is like a crippled demon, semen on your clothes/Kill everything I built around me, nervous, I suppose," we sense that he's daring someone to throw a lit match at his feet to see what would happen. It's Suckers music. Welcome to the uncertain conclusions.
Suckers Official Site