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Sugarcult Quickly Approaching Sandwich-Screaming Status

Sugarcult have a video – “She’s the Blade” – that’s garnering major airplay, an opening slot on Blink-182’s European tour and an extremely devoted female fanbase. But as singer Tim Pagnotta is reminded every day, there’s still a whole lot of ground to cover before the band can count itself among rock’s elite.

“Whoa, somebody is totally screaming,” Pagnotta said recently while standing backstage in Paris. “Sorry, some kid just saw Travis Barker eating a sandwich, and he just started screaming.”

The fact that a kid wandered by the lead singer of Sugarcult without even pausing – but went totally nuts when he saw the drummer of Blink-182 snacking on a sandwich – pretty much sums up what Pagnotta is going through these days. Everything is a little bit amazing but a lot more humbling.

“This morning, [guitarist] Marko 72 and I were in our hotel room, talking about our day, and we were kind of complaining about something. And we both started laughing, because we’re playing a sold-out arena, opening for Blink, in Paris,” he said. “So things are going pretty good, I guess.”

Actually, things are going better than good for the Santa Barbara, California, quartet. Since they first started playing shows back in 1998, Sugarcult have been toiling away in relative obscurity. But now, thanks to the video for “She’s the Blade,” all that’s starting to change. In the clip, which was shot entirely on a green screen, the boys play doctors who operate on a girl, changing her into a super-sexy vixen who shoots electricity from her hands.

“It’s kind of got a ‘Weird Science’ vibe to it,” Pagnotta laughed. “The weirdest thing was that we had no idea there was going to be that much computer animation going on. Like, every single thing about the video is computer-animated, except for us and the girl.”

Ah, the girl. She’s the linchpin to the whole thing, and as such, the band felt it should play an active role in the casting process. Call it “quality assurance,” if you will.

“When we were on the Warped Tour, every day I would get a phone call from someone from the record company or our manager telling us, ‘Go to this model Web site and scroll through the models and see which one you like,’ ” Pagnotta said. “And so I would go to the production area, and I think they thought I was surfing for porno because I’m stuck checking out these smoking-hot models in bikinis.

“And they were all super-hot, and I could’ve picked any one of them,” he continued. “But when you’re given the power of God, you can rule one out for, like, her eyes being too engaging, or because you want a girl with a bigger butt.”

Don’t take that comment the wrong way. Sugarcult are really very nice guys. Socially conscious, even, as evidenced by their plans for 2005, when they’ll headline the Take Action Tour, which benefits teen-suicide prevention hotlines nationwide. The tour kicks off February 2 in Washington, D.C., and runs until March 10. After that, they head to Japan to open for Green Day. Then it’s back to the studio to start recording a follow-up to Palm Trees and Power Lines.

“We just want to keep all this momentum going,” Pagnotta said. “We’ve gone from touring in vans to flying across oceans in a plane. So who knows what’ll happen next.”

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