While listening to Sugar Ray’s music, one can’t help but daydream about sunny, sandy beaches and frozen cocktails. With their catchy, melodic sounds, Sugar Ray has charmed music listeners worldwide with well-known hits such as “Fly,” “Someday” and “Every Morning.” Stan Frasier is primarily known for thumping the drums for this chart-topping, Southern California band. However, he’s played guitar for most of his life as well. He uses his diverse skills to perform with multiple instruments on stage and during the song creation process for Sugar Ray’s albums. Stan speaks to VOX about the sounds of Sugar Ray.
VOX: You are primarily known as the drummer for Sugar Ray, but how long have you been playing guitar?
STAN: I’ve been playing guitar on and off as a hobby and as a writing tool ever since I was in the sixth grade. I picked up the drums, but there were always guitars around my house, because the guys would leave them there to rehearse. I taught myself how to play and have had different people show me things over the years. It also has become a really great outlet for me to strap on a guitar and come to the front of the stage. The guitar has also been my fundamental tool as a songwriter.
VOX: What is Sugar Ray’s songwriting process like, and how do you and the other members of the band contribute?
STAN: Usually it’s a collaborative effort, and everyone can bring to the table whatever they want. It wouldn’t be completely freaky in this band for the bass guitar player to come up with the drum part or vice versa. We are all pretty open-minded. We’ve been a band for 15 years, and there’s nothing that is off-limits for any particular guy. I think you can get a lot more variety if you make an album like that.
VOX: So you guys are working with producer David Kahne again, right?
STAN: Yeah. We’ve made three records with him. We worked with him on the album Floored. Then, we took a hiatus from David Kahne, and started working with Don Gilmore, who has produced for artists like Linkin Park, Lit, and Eve 6. Don is a very guitar-oriented person, and he brings a great guitar-driven sound, so it was great working with him. But we felt a natural a natural progression to go back to David Kahne on the new album, In The Pursuit Of Leisure.
VOX: How do you keep the groove going when you are out front playing the guitar?
STAN: Our DJ has a plethora of equipment at his DJ station, which includes a replay machine, turntables, samplers and sequencers. We program the drums and the proper elements that are going to be on the track into his equipment prior to going out on tour. I can come out and play guitar, while our DJ plays all the drums sounds. We can go in and out of a genre or style. We can play one of our really heavy songs like “Mean Machine,” that’s really fast and up tempo, or we can lay back in the groove and play a song like “Someday” and have acoustic guitars and a drum loop, and sing harmony. So we have a bunch of different things happening at a Sugar Ray show.
I feel fortunate and glad that we didn’t decide to have me only play drums, and hire another guitar player to play the parts that I am playing now. I think it’s pretty unique. I look forward to the songs that I am not playing drums on. Most drummers would probably think I’m crazy, but it is a whole new dimension for a musician or artist to be able to play two instruments during every show, and be that involved in the writing. I’m pretty lucky.
VOX: Can you name some songs on which you use your VOX Valvetronix amps?
STAN: One of the songs that I use the Valvetronix on is, “When It’s Over.” I made my own presets on the amp. I went through and I goofed around for different songs, and I found a bunch of different patches and settings that I used. I kind of mixed it up. And you’re able to save your own settings, not that the factory settings aren’t great, because they all sound awesome. But I was just more particular about using certain reverbs, or certain types of delays.
It’s also great because it’s all just built in. I don’t have to have a huge pedal that I’m constantly meddling with to get these sounds. The amp is just stock. I go up, I walk over I hit preset 1B and I’m in. It’s really convenient and great. We are still developing other songs, because we just finished a long tour with Matchbox 20. So we’re going to be doing a bunch more headlining stuff. I’ll probably play guitar with that amp on three or four other songs. We’re going to revamp our whole set and be playing a bunch of different stuff.
In addition to the release of the newest Sugar Ray album, In the Pursuit of Leisure, and performing on upcoming tour dates, Stan is also working with another songwriter, Steve Fox, to put together an album for a new artist named Ashley Simpson, Jessica Simpson’s younger sister. Stan will not only produce and write for the album, but he will also be playing guitar on it, using his VOX Valvetronix. For more information on Stan and Sugar Ray go to www.sugarray.com.
By Ming Chen