Canadian alt-metal band Sumo Cyco are set to release their long-awaited new album, Initiation, on May 7th through Napalm Records. With their recent single “Bystander” inspired by frontwoman Skye “Sever” Sweetnam’s frustration with life through the pandemic, we spoke to the vocalist about the challenges she experienced, recording Initiation during lockdown, and her plans for the future of Cyco City.

Thanks for your time Skye, how is life treating you today?

Skye “Sever” Sweetnam: “Pretty good.”

Let’s talk about your awesome single “Bystander,” a song inspired by the pandemic. Did it help you to let out your frustrations by writing a song?

“Yes, 100 percent. It’s all I could do in the situation. I think to a certain extent we all felt helpless watching the world.”

Throughout the pandemic, what has been the most difficult challenge you’ve faced?

“I mean, I think it’s been a huge mental hurdle to cope with a worldwide pandemic. Being away from friends and family has hurt my heart especially with ageing grandparents and being a new aunt. There were days that I was just completely lost questioning my entire life’s plan. It puts things in perspective when you have a wake-up call with how fragile life can be.”

Now the world is starting to come out of the other side, what is the one thing you will take away from the last twelve months?

“We need each other. We need to start realizing how connected we all are and to be kinder to one another.”

Onto the album Initiation, it’s out as we start a new way of living. Do you feel like this is a new start for the band?

Initiation is an invite to let people into our world. We don’t feel like it’s quite a new start since we can’t quite be everything because we are without live shows. We do feel that with Napalm’s reach we are finding ourselves exposed to a new audience. It’s been great seeing more people find out about the project.”

Part of the story of the album I read continues your tale of Cyco City. Where do you see this concept going, and has being in lockdown given you the freedom to spend time developing Cyco City and the story?

“Cyco City has been the home to all our music videos and imagery for the past ten years. For Initiation, we invite fans to take a quiz on our website to see which Cyco City club they belong to. Each of our music videos has some easter eggs about how the clubs are intertwined. The concept was developed back in 2018 when we first launched a crowdfunding campaign, so it’s been there bubbling for a while. The pandemic actually changed my plan a lot since now all our music videos couldn’t include all our friends who played different characters. So I had to figure out a way to include the concept in ways that only involved a few people. Much of the artwork and a few of the videos I started filming in 2018/2019 so thankfully some of the ideas are still intact.”

Artwork for ‘Initiation’ by Sumo Cyco

In terms of the “real life” aspect, you’ve talked about the polarization of the world we live in. Do you think the world has become even more fragmented over the past twelve months?

“Yes. I’m a child of the internet age so I do understand how cool it is. But on the other hand, using social media, the internet has helped radicalize groups of people to the extremes. When someone surrounds themselves with like-minded thinkers it’s super harmful. I think being isolated has pushed people into their own worlds, and kept people separated in more ways than one.”

What do you think real life will look like going forward? Will the world ever be the same given that some people are ready to get back to normal where as some people are terrified of setting foot out of their homes?

“I think we will reach some sort of new normal. This is not the first time humans have been through a pandemic. We’ll get through but it will affect us in ways we don’t even understand just yet.”

How do you think you have changed as a person over the last twelve months from your experiences?

“I’m not sure yet. I feel like I’m still in the situation trying to survive. So that I can’t see things from the other side just yet. I know I’m a bit hardened by it. I also will most likely be so much more grateful when I can be with friends and family and do simple things like go to a concert.”

You’ve transferred the Cyco City story to video for your music videos. If money was no object would you turn the concept into a full-length movie and who would you want to be in it?

“I’d love to make a movie one day. I truly believe it will happen, not sure if it’ll be Cyco City-themed, but that would be sick. If money was no object, it would be cool to have some characters played by some of my favourite musicians like Gwen Stefani, Benji Webbe, and Neil Fallon.”

Given the split between reality and Cyco City on the new album, what do you hope listeners take away from listening to Initiation?

“I hope we’re able to bring some sort of distraction and joy when people listen to Initiation. I hope that it can help people in some way to survive through this tough time.”

The album is due to drop in May when we should have a better idea as to future restrictions. Have you made any plans for the release of the album?

“We are still under one of the strictest lockdowns in North America until after the release of the album. Even live streaming concerts have been banned. So we’re looking towards the end of the year for concerts and in the meantime, we’re working our asses off on new music videos.”

Thanks again for your time and good luck with the album. Over to you for the final words:

“Thanks so much, thanks to everyone for reading! Can’t wait to get back out in the road!”

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.