If genius is indeed one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration, then retro rockers Sweat might have a head start with their name alone.
“Some people don’t like what we’re called,” says Sweat’s frontperson and organist Sue Pedrazzi, “One reviewer said: ‘The music’s good, if you can get past the name…’”
For Pedrazzi, guitarist Richard Stanley and their bandmates Kayla Schureman (drums) and Dan Hernandez (bass), the name ably suggested a vintage rock band from the 70s and 80s. As does Walross, Swiss-born Pedrazzi’s previous heavy psych band back home. In 2013 she met Dave Wheeler when he performed with his band Carousel at a festival in Basel, and by the end of the decade they were married and she’d emigrated to the US.
“I wasn’t able to find over there what I’ve found here, with ease,” she says. “Rock’n’roll wasn’t such a part of everyday life. Here I could be more of a freak. When I first started visiting [the US], I turned on the radio and heard Kansas. I’d never heard them! I thought: ‘Who are these rock monsters?’”
But Pedrazzi had grown up with Americana, blues, folk, prog and power-pop, and it was inevitable that these influences would end up in her songs. But perhaps she needed a conduit to guide the spirits. That’s where Stanley comes in.
“I’d been to a concert with my husband, and I saw Rich play in a band, which I liked. I wanted to start an organ rock group and I thought he’d fit. A few days later I saw him at a bar, but I was shy. My husband encouraged me to approach him… and Rich said: ‘Sure, I’m in!’”
For Sweat’s debut album Who Do They Think They Are? Pedrazzi dug into personal experiences, from the wrongdoings of past relationships to her ongoing chronic-pain management.
“This is catharsis for me,” she says. “For years I was not heard, I was not seen. These songs are my outlet – I’m not hiding behind wizards, mountains, goblins and fire.”
But there is a track, My Side Of The Mountain…
Pedrazzi laughs. “That’s part of our cosmic side, and the longest track that came together the quickest. I think the cabin in the woods, totally off-grid, where we’d recorded the other tracks, was an influence there.”
“I went to my stash of riffs for it,” says Stanley. “I made a patchwork of prog.”
So who do Sweat think they are?
“That title’s meant to be taken with a wink,” Pedrazzi says. “We know we’re not reinventing the wheel. But there’s not enough music like this being made right now. That’s why we’re doing it.”