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Sugar Ray Combines Hip-Hop Beats With Guitar-Based Rock - 2001-06-21

When Sugar Ray first started playing in their home town of Orange, California, their intention was to make some extra money by performing at local parties. When they were offered a lucrative recording contract by Atlantic Records, their lives changed dramatically. Their latest release is a self-titled album.

Influenced by California punk and 1980s new wave, Sugar Ray draws heavily on those sounds for their fourth and latest album, titled "Sugar Ray." The collection conjures up the sensation of driving down a California highway in a convertible with the top down. The band combines easy-going pop with raucous guitars and reggae rhythms. Lyrically, the theme of the album is the ups and downs of relationships.

Together now for 13 years, all five members of Sugar Ray contributed to the songwriting process, which lead singer Mark McGrath defines as dysfunctional. He comments, "A song can come from anywhere. Craig might have a drum loop, or Stan might have a chorus, or Rodney, our guitar player, might have a bass part." One of the tunes, "Disasterpiece," echoes the Rolling Stones or the Black Crowes.

Sugar Ray's lead singer Mark McGrath lives up to the rock star image by frequenting the typical celebrity haunts, like the notorious Viper Room club in Los Angeles. He has appeared as a contestant on "Rock and Roll Jeopardy," the game show produced by cable music network VH-1. McGrath was highly visible at the VH-1 Fashion Awards, and has hosted the VH-1 special, "The Most Shocking Moments in Rock."

Mark was also featured in the first episode of "Smash," a situation comedy created by Gene Simmons, the bass player for heavy metal pioneers, KISS. And he's competed on the celebrity version of the popular show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."

Sugar Ray recently traveled to Australia to film their part in the live action film "Scooby-Doo," based on the 1970s animated cartoon series. Mark McGrath says it was the role of a lifetime, and admits that he still catches re-runs of the cartoon show on television.

On July 10, Sugar Ray will starts a U.S. tour in Texas, along with opening act Uncle Kracker, the DJ in Kid Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker Band. On the upcoming tour, singer Mark McGrath will have a chance to show his new skills on guitar.

For their new single, the members of Sugar Ray appear in a video where they live out their fantasies as martial arts experts, and patrons in punk and striptease clubs. There's also an alternative, animated version, which was produced in collaboration with cable television's Cartoon Network.