Q&A: Marko DeSantis of Sugarcult

run. During this period Sugarcult had hit singles with “Bouncing Off the Walls” and “Pretty Girl (The Way I Love You).” The band's latest album, 2006's Lights Out, garnered strong reviews, reached No. 64 on the Billboard 200 and produced the hit single “Do It Alone.”

Although Sugarcult has not been touring much recently, the group continues their seven-year tradition of Orange County Christmas shows with another festive bash to be held at the House of Blues Anaheim on Thursday. The benefit for Toys for Tots also features outstanding local rock acts–all handpicked by Sugarcult– Call the Cops (a Long Beach band that recently signed to MySpace Records/Interscop), Hollywood's Prima Donna and OC's Venus Infers. We spoke to Sugarcult lead guitarist and Pasadena resident Marko DeSantis (pictured) by phone recently about the upcoming gig and his band's rich history with Orange County.

12/17 UPDATE: Show canceled. Click for info.

OC Weekly (Wade Tatangelo): Sugarcult has held a Christmas Show at House of Blues Anaheim for the past seven years. What prompted this tradition and makes the event so special?

Marko DeSantis: Sugarcult spent most of last year off the road, so, we're actually more rooted than we have been in 10 years. But, traditionally, we're a vagabond, gypsy troupe. We broke out of Santa Barbara in 1999, hit the road in 2001 and just kept going for years and years. So, House of Blues, I don't know how it started. I think they wanted us to play. We started brainstorming and thought we should do Toys for Tots since it was Christmas. The first show I imagine was in 2002–and it was just so fun. Honestly, touring is kind of like a dream. If you don't have and old friend from back in the day or a family member, people to give you a figurative pinch so you know you're not dreaming… It's really surreal to come home. People try to relate but there's that whole side they won't understand about being in a constant state of motion. It's like New Year's Eve on a nightly basis. 


What made you choose an OC venue over your native Santa Barbara or LA?

DeSantis: It's centrally located for where we all live. And we're on neutral ground in Orange County. There's nothing more stressful than playing right in your hometown. It's like Facebook come to life. 

People you haven't seen in years requesting free tickets?

DeSantis: Oh yeah. It's like that friend request from the junior high kid you haven't seen sicne junior high…It can be stressful. But there's something special about playing the Anaheim House of Blues. The Sunset Strip, shows in Hollywood, blow [laughs]. There's something about Hollywood. Unless you're just starting out and are suppose to be the next big thing, or currently have a giant hit song, or are during a reunion like the Stooges, other than that, it's pretty terrifying. Everyone stands there with their arms crossed; everyone is in a band that's cooler and better than your band [laughs], or work at a label and are bitter. We try to avoid playing there. In Orange County, there's the glossy corporate culture, but something about being in Disney with the trees lit up is majestic. You put your political and social views aside and get old fashioned.

On the single “Los Angeles” there's the line about the city “killing me.” Is that how you feel about LA?

DeSantis: I know this is a generalization but there's a universal feeling of people who live in Los Angeles that it's a love/hate thing. There's something about LA that kicks your ass: The audiences with their arms folded, traffic jam, girls who are too cool to talk to you, you don't know the promoter so can't get in, nowhere to fucking park, everyone trying to make it. LA, it's like being in an emotionally abusive relationship with a smoking hot girl– she corrodes your soul but she's so hot you can't give it up!

Before Sugarcult started doing Warped and world tours, did you play many Orange County venues?

DeSantis: Right off bat I can think of Chain Reaction [in Anaheim]. We did some shows there in the early days and after our first record or two came out. I just love that place. It's one of those places where the people who run it have their heart in the right place and the kids who go there–it's old fashioned, like where people might chip a tooth. There's no barricade between you and the audience. It's where you play the kind of show where you're rocking out with three kids holding the mic stand because people keep knocking it over. I love that exchange. Orange County fans are just awesome. I'll drive an extra half hour to see a show there instead of LA because the fans just go crazy. 

Speaking of Orange County, any chance of covering a holiday classic for the Christmas show at House of Blues Thursday?

DeSantis: Funny you mention that. Once a year we do our version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” which we actually recorded in Orange County, Ramones-style, bare-bones.

Click for ticket info.

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