an interview with Hope Nicholls

“I’d love to be Smurfette!” laughs Hope Nicholls from her home in Charlotte, N.C. You see, somehow (well, I asked how her “wig that grows from her head” is currently styled) we got on the topic of hair color and body dyeing, and Hope insisted she wanted to be blue. “If we have the technology, use it.” Guess she’d be the luckiest woman on the face of the earth, since there was only one female Smurf.

Tank Top City was recorded in ten weeks off and on, and is by far the band’s best release to date. Marc Becker, a friend since Top Loader, produced the album. He balances studio production with the live feel and energy of Sugarsmack. Finally, the perfect Sugarsmack album. Seven tracks are named after presidents and seven are named after non-presidents. Seems like a concept album. “It’s kind of a false concept album,” says Hope. “At first I had Ford and Lincoln. So it could have been cars or presidents.” I’ll put in my own shameless plug: it is by far the best album I’ve heard from them to date. Pick it up for the love of your country. But who is that vocal power? Well, that’s Hope Nicholls, and I want to know a little more than tracking, instruments used, and other details that attending a show we tell you. So it became a mission.

Hope has done it all. Back with Fetchin’ Bones, her day job was being a musician. After the break-up, she started Sugarsmack with her husband. She toured with Pigface supporting Fook. And the last time I heard Hope mentioned was as backing vocals on two tracks for Marilyn Manson’s Portrait of an American Family. But Sugarsmack continues to resurface every so often and show the world what they’ve got. Today she works in a Charlotte boutique. “Hopefully we are about to go back to being full-time musicians,” says Hope.

It’s a common mistake to believe that musicians are uneducated. Hope reads a lot, but mainly Science Fiction and nineteenth century authors. “I read both for the style,” she says, citing William Gibson and Jane Austen as favorites. “I like nineteenth century literature because it reveals how people use to think.” She’s a woman in rock, so I assumed (and we know what that does) she read the Women of Rock issue of Rolling Stone. “I try not to read music, it’s another arm of the corporate machine.” Pretty well put if you ask me. So I failed on that task. Leave it to assumptions.

Continuing forward. Musicians have to listen to music, so I can’t go wrong. So Hope, what sort of music are you currently listening to? “Missy Elliot, Fatboy Slim, DJ Soul Slinger, Veruca Salt, Radiohead… ” With fear I had to interject that I thought her list would go for days. “You’re probably right.”

Anyone that knows Hope knows she has a certain flair for fashion, and isn’t afraid to express it. I found out a long time ago at a Pigface concert: combat boots, multi-colored hair, and an attitude to kick in your teeth. Just last month, Atlanta’s Cookie Puss introduced a new line in their cosmetics: Sugarsmack. “Glamorize the world” is how she described it. I must admit, ever since that Pigface show my teenage eyes were drawn into a boy-ish crush. In the years that followed, my attention always circles back to when the next Sugarsmack album will be released. Each time I have sworn that the next would be their major label debut. Finally, at the beginning of January, I saw what I have waited four years for: Sugarsmack’s debut on Sire Records, Tank Top City. I wanted to throw a party. “I’m sure there are others (that have followed us) out there that feel the same way,” replies Hope casually from her home. Over the course of thirty minutes, she washed away every fear I ever had regarding women and combat boots. But after it all, she’s got to have some regrets. “No regrets,” she says. Well Hope, if that’s Visualiz(ing) Sugarsmack, I’m all for it!

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