Shannon Clark and the Sugar

INTERVIEW: Shannon Clark And The Sugar Talk About Their New Album And Their Music


Shannon Clark


Shannon Clark and the Sugar are an Americana group from Greenville. Ohio. Recently Americana Highways spoke with Shannon about their new album This Old World, their music, their history as a band, and their future plans. The resultant conversation is below.

AH: How did the new album come about? 

SC: The album came about through random events, honestly. I had just finished our album, Marks on the Wall, with Mark Howard, playing random shows, and happened to be in Nashville, so I wanted to book some studio time. I got in touch with Chris Mara at Welcome to 1979 and asked if he had someone we could work with for a single and he recommended Justin Weaver.  

We recorded one single called “Jackie” 18 months ago and just loved working with Justin. At this point, we knew we wanted to record an album but were in the process of trying to find a 4th member. One of my childhood friends, Joey Howard, had recently moved back from South Carolina and was filling in a few dates for us. We played in bands together as kids and recorded our first record together when we were barely out of high school, along with Brittany (our drummer and my wife). We rekindled this magic we had as kids and knew immediately that we had something special. At that point we just started writing and performing together and the album came together fairly quickly at that point. We recorded the rest of the record over two more sessions with Justin within the next year.  

AH: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it? 

SC: Always the toughest question. I’d say the Civil Wars got married to Tom Petty and invited Chris Stapleton and Bruce Springsteen to the wedding and Fleetwood Mac was the maid of honor. Something like that, lol.  

AH: Who would you say are the band’s main influences? 

SC: We all have various influences. I’d say here are the top 10: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Glen Hansard, Ryan Adams, Emmy Lou Harris, Daniel Lanois, The Band, The Pharcyde, Bob Dylan.  

AH: How would you describe the band’s songwriting process? 

SC: It varies… sometimes I’ll come to practice with a rough idea – maybe a few lyrics and melodies – and we develop it from that point on. Other times, Brittany brings ideas for songs to me and we work from the ground up. Or, Joey may bring a riff to practice and that turns into a song. Often, I even just write stories and poems that turn into songs. Whatever works to produce the best result.  

AH: What were the circumstances that brought you together as a band? 

SC: Brittany and I met playing music together when we were young. I needed a drummer and she went to my church, and I knew she had started to play. I had a gig at the local county fair and asked if she could fill in. We started practicing and jamming and never stopped.  

Joey was part of that original lineup as well. Time and circumstances moved us in different directions but years later, we found ourselves back together, wanting to create something special. Music has saved our family by giving us new direction and hope when things were dark. Writing and performing has been a healing thing for us. I often wonder where we would be without it; it wouldn’t be any place good. When Navie was about 14 she started showing real interest in performing with us, so we added her to the roster and never looked back.  

AH: How do you think the family bonds between the members of the band help you as a band?

SC: Well, it helps in many ways; one is the harmonies. Navie knows my vocal runs. She sang with me as early as 5 years old and she follows me closely because of our time together. I also think it bonds us because we write together and the things we write have deeper and personal subject matter when it comes to the origins. I always know we have a good tune when I bring the guitar into the bedroom at night; usually my room is the room the whole family gravitates toward in the evening. Sometimes I have an idea for a song and play a verse and a little chorus for them, and If I can see their eyes getting watery, I know I’m onto something real and worthwhile. It’s honest and we all know each other so well. We have a small family business that the kids help us run, so we work together, we also play music together and we homeschool all of our kids. So as a unit, we are just incredibly in tune with each other. That’s a blessing in my eyes and a big help for the band.

AH: Individually, what does music mean to you?

Shannon: Music is life, and it’s the only way I truly know how to express myself to the world. It’s energy, it’s color, and it’s the lifeblood of our ancestors. If it’s real and pure, there is nothing that compares to its effect.

Brittany: Music is magic. It’s the bridge between the spiritual and unseen, and the physical realm. It’s creative release and internal therapy, and it’s an energy force that can heal and make you feel unstoppable.

Navie: Music means everything. You can express yourself, put yourself into a melody, and it makes you feel invincible. It’s an outlet to really be who you are.”

Joey: I can’t imagine not having music in my life the way that it is. It’s something that’s always made sense to me and as a shy person, it’s given me a way to connect with others. At this point, most of my closest friends are people I started out playing music with. I still wake up every morning and just want to play music.

AH: What can you tell us about the band’s future plans?

SC: Our plan is simple: keep putting out music that we love. Keep playing live, keep inspiring, and keep being inspired. Be honest in our music and hopefully share the stage someday with people who inspire us to be better.  

This Old World,  the new album from Shannon Clark and the Sugar will be available September 8th on the band’s website.

Enjoy our previous coverage here: Song Premiere: Shannon Clark & the Sugar “Cool Waters”

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