“WHEN YOU’RE PLANNING IN A 3-PIECE BAND, you’ve got to make each instrument count,” says Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies. With her pickstyle grind, fingerstyle dexterity, and slapping panache, Anzai certainly does her part in Sick Puppies, which is hitting the road hard in support of Connect, its fourth album since forming in 1997 in Australia. Initially connecting over their mutual admiration for the music of Silverchair, Anzai and Puppies singer/guitarist Shim Moore began playing together in high school and built a following in Australia before relocating to Los Angeles following 2003’s Fly. The band’s 2007 single “All the Same,” which forms the soundtrack to a Free Hugs Campaign viral video was key to introducing the band to a wider American audience, which the band continues to cultivate with heavy hooks and big melodies on Connect.
|From left: Emma Anzai, Shim Moore, and Mark Goodwin
How do you view your role as Sick Puppies’ bass player?
I’ve always tried to incorporate rhythm and melody into whatever we do. My main influences as a kid were Victor Wooten and Flea—I was into heavy rhythmic slap kind of stuff.
You jump freely from one playing style to the next, with slapping, picking, and plucking all part of your right-hand repertoire. How do you get your ultimate live tone?
The Ampeg SVT Classic has great bottom end for playing straight-ahead rock with a pick, and I leave the settings where they are as I play with other styles. I try to keep it simple so I can concentrate on the performance.
How does that translate in a studio setting?
This album is not as heavy and in-your-face as our past records, so this time we used an [unknown] Ampeg combo rather than the SVT stack.
Have you always played in Drop C tuning?
When Shim and I started playing in high school, we loved Silverchair, who has a lot of songs in Drop D. When we moved to the U.S., we started experimenting with even deeper tunings, finally landing at Drop C.
Another marker of your playing style is your use of upper-register fills throughout a given song.
Yeah. In a 3-piece, those kinds of things can cut through, but if you’re playing in a bigger band with rhythm guitar, etc., that can start to get muffled.
Sick Puppies, Connect [Capitol, 2013]
Basses Warwick Streamer Stage I (tuned CGCF)
Rig Ampeg SVT Classic with 8x10 cabinets
Strings D’Addario XL Nickel Wound, .065–.135
Picks Dunlop Tortex Pitch Black, 1.0mm
Effects Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI, Emma Electronic DiscomBOBulator envelope filter/autowah