Sucker Punch, by Josh Held (@heldhousemedia)
Sucker Punch, by Josh Held (@heldhousemedia)

High energy pop punk rockers SUCKER PUNCH tackles mental health with new EP “Better Pleasures”

6 mins read

The pop-punk scene has always been an avenue for raw, emotional storytelling, but Sucker Punch is taking it a step further. With their latest track, “I’m Ready To Ride Giants, Kunu,” the band dives deep into the psyche of the modern individual, addressing the very real struggles of mental health that many face today.

The track comes from “Better Pleasures” EP, released on October 20th, and serving as an exploration of these themes, with “I’m Ready To Ride Giants, Kunu” as its crowning jewel. The collaboration with Chris LoPorto from Can’t Swim adds depth to the track, especially in the bridge, creating a harmonious blend of their distinctive styles.

“I’m Ready To Ride Giants, Kunu,” offers a refreshing perspective amidst the often cynical emo genre, motivating listeners to reclaim their lives and mold into versions of themselves they can genuinely admire.

The song’s composition is a blend of intense vocals, dynamic percussion, and ambient verses that allow a moment of introspection before surging back into its powerful chorus.

Chris LoPorto’s contribution adds a distinct edge, emphasizing Sucker Punch’s post-hardcore influences. His verses, backed by a harmonious blend of guitars and bass, touch on the strains of self-imposed expectations and the internal narratives that often plague the mind.

Guitarist Billy Butka sheds light on the song’s inspiration, stating, “‘I’m Ready to Ride Giants, Kunu’ is a tribute to those ensnared in the relentless trap of self-doubt.”

“We’re talking about mental health more than ever.”

“After facing a global pandemic that provoked fear, isolation and an economic downturn we’re still feeling the effects of, it’s no mystery why mental health conditions affect roughly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. In artistic communities, the rates can be even higher.” – comments the band.

“Pressures regarding finances and media oversaturation have become more intense as touring costs rise and artists are urged to expose themselves as much as possible through digital content creation, media coverage and near-constant production. It’s an extremely tricky balancing act at best, and a full-blown health crisis at worst.”

“In a capitalistic world, creators will have to fight for their place continually and may feel like nothing they accomplish is “worthy” or “successful” enough.”

Expounding more on the single, they continued: “On our recent single “I’m Ready to Ride Giants, Kunu,” we sought to address negative thoughts and self-doubt that creators especially could relate to – the sentiments that echo “not good enough” or “fraud.” Healing and accepting ourselves are never linear processes, but it all starts with a thought. In the song, that thought is “I’d kill to never feel this way again.” Once you make that decision, you start moving forward, slowly but surely.

We chose the title based on a quote from the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” where the main character faces his own self-doubt by learning to surf.

If you tell yourself you can’t do it, then you definitely won’t. But what if you just tried?”

Sucker Punch, by AJCPhotographee
Sucker Punch, by @AJCPhotographee

Originating from Montclair, New Jersey, Sucker Punch has deep roots in both the New Jersey and Philly DIY punk scenes.

Their influences span from bands like The Story So Far and early Fall Out Boy to New Found Glory.

Bridging the musical narratives of the early 2000s emocore era with the contemporary emo and pop-punk movement, Sucker Punch stands out with its introspective lyrics set against the backdrop of infectious riffs and melodies.

“I’m Ready To Ride Giants, Kunu” is a beautifully evocative title. How did the quote from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” resonate with you to the extent that it became the title for this track?

To us it was one of the more memorable quotes that stuck out to us that just so happened to fit the theme of the song. The giant waves were a challenge to take on, just like the negative thoughts you can have in your head that hold you back. Plus Kunu is a hilarious and likable character!

The narrative of self-doubt is a recurring theme in your music, especially in “I’m Ready to Ride Giants, Kunu”. Was there a specific event or period in your life that triggered this exploration?

Self doubt is something that everyone faces at some point in their lives. There have been countless times we’ve all told ourselves we weren’t good enough or that we weren’t worth it. We still battle with these thoughts and feelings in our day to day.

Chris, the lyrics you’ve penned for this track seem deeply personal. How do you navigate the vulnerability of sharing such intimate thoughts with a wide audience?

One of our main goals as a band is connecting with our audience, and we think a good way to do that is through being vulnerable and sharing our emotions and experiences. We can’t be the only ones grappling with these feelings and we feel safe sharing with like minded people.

Your collaboration with Can’t Swim’s Chris LoPorto brought an added layer to the song, especially in the bridge. How did this collaboration come about, and what was the experience like?

We actually played with Can’t Swim at a venue called Elevation 27 in Virginia Beach. We were next to them at the merch table and shot our shot to see if he would be down for a feature, to which he replied something along the lines of “Sure, when you have something ready for me hit me up.” So we got to writing, and after a few exchanges we were able to make it happen! We even recorded LoPorto in our own home studio which added to the experience.

The song captures the essence of the anxious inner narrations that many face. How do you hope your music serves as a catalyst for change or healing for those grappling with similar emotions?

We hope our music serves as an outlet for anyone struggling. We’ve received a few messages about how our music has helped them through tough times, and knowing that is really inspiring to us. We want to make sure fans know they aren’t alone out there and want to encourage growth and healing.

The mental health conversation is pivotal in today’s world, especially in the artistic community. How do you envision artists using their platforms to amplify this dialogue further?

It seems like artists have wide open platforms to be vulnerable in ways that havent been “acceptable” in the past. It seems like topics of social anxiety and depression have become commonplace which opens the door for more conversation.

In your recent commentary, you mentioned the heightened mental health conditions affecting roughly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., with even higher rates in artistic communities. How do you see the future of mental health support and awareness evolving in the music industry?

It seems that more and more people are open to talking about it, which is fantastic. We predict it will only get better as time goes on and we embrace the shift.

With touring costs soaring and the pressures of staying relevant in the digital age, how does Sucker Punch maintain a balance to ensure mental well-being?

We don’t.

Sucker Punch by Kaddy McAuliffe min 1

Art often mirrors life, and vice versa. Has the act of creating music provided a therapeutic avenue for addressing and confronting personal challenges?

Absolutely. Every one of our songs is about some struggle one or more of us has faced. It’s very cathartic to deal with our issues through an artistic outlet and playing them for other people to vibe and relate to.

The local music scene can often play a crucial role in shaping an artist’s journey. How has the NJ and New England scene (where you recently played two wild shows) influenced Sucker Punch’s sound and ethos?

New Jersey has so many different pockets for the music scene. New Brunswick, Asbury Park and South Jersey all have their own little scenes going on, and we like to dip our toes in each of them. Jersey has had a plethora of groundbreaking bands in addition to the scenes happening across the border in NY and PA that we’re spoiled.

We’ve only played New England a handful of times and we have been treated very well! Massachusetts in particular has a really healthy and welcoming scene. There’s so many hardcore and punk bands from the area that we take inspiration from. Bands like Transit, Killswitch Engage, and Four Year Strong have all been very important musically to us as a band.

Lastly, “If you tell yourself you can’t do it, then you definitely won’t. But what if you just tried?”. This sentiment is inspiring. What would be your message to budding artists or individuals struggling with self-doubt and hesitation?

This IS going to be a GRIND. Sometimes you’ll play empty shows. Sometimes you’ll get negative criticism. Sometimes your numbers won’t grow at the rate you’d want them to. You have to love what you do in spite of the hard times and be consistent. If you’re good at what you do and you keep at it people will notice.

Hungry for more? Check out our lengthy Melodic Punk Rock playlist on Spotify:

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