Australian rock bassist Emma Anzai, who has climbed her way to eminence with her band Sick Puppies has become a substantial role model for female artists. When we interviewed the band in 2016, they were about to release their fifth studio album titled Fury which included their hit Stick To Your Guns, a song that reached the number one added song on Rock Radio and the Billboard Charts for Billboard 200, U.S. Top Alternative Album and U.S. Top Rock Album.
As Bryan Scott (lead vocals, guitar), Mark Goodwin (drums, backing vocals) and Emma Anzai (bass guitar, backing vocals) begin the process of writing new material for their sixth studio album, we sat down with Anzai after her signing at the TASCAM booth during the NAMM 2018 Show to catch up. So much has transpired since the release of Fury and Anzai considers the positive outpouring of success and the strong bond they have a blessing. “Looking at what we had done before it was definitely our most advanced and successful album being able to continue to make music and write together. A lot of bands break up or what not over the course of time but we maintain a strong relationship musically and personally, and I think it is an advantage and it shows in the new music.”
In a male dominated industry, women are really beginning to push back and fight for equality in hopes more women will join bands and the scale can be balanced. Anzai opens up about her experiences as a woman in a man’s world. “I think it’s becoming more and more of a regularity. I remember when I first started it out you didn’t really see many women on the road who were touring or attending the shows, but nowadays it’s just refreshing to be able to see and hang out with other women. That’s actually an important thing when you are constantly surrounded by guys and working with guys to be able to have a bit of ‘girl time,’ I guess you would say.
Anzai began playing music at a young age but was first drawn to the guitar. “It was the easiest one to learn in the shortest amount of time. Once I decided I wanted to join a band I moved over to the bass.” Giving credit to fellow Australian band Silver Ships as her main source of inspiration in becoming a musician she confesses “they were the ones that really gave me the passion to want to pursue a career in music.” As many artists branch out in their careers, Anzai hasn’t given much thought to doing any outside or solo projects. Right now her loyalty is to Sick Puppies and their vision. With a talent like hers though, it is only a matter of time before that changes.
As a musician it is important to stay true to your roots but equally important to continue to evolve and bring new elements into each new song, and each new album that ties into a band or artist’s classic sound. Anzai tells us “When you’re young you are very impressionable and you just want to learn everything at once. I think now as time goes on you tend to focus more on the dynamics and just get better at one thing. It goes in cycles. But, one thing I can say is once you know what you want to do you will always find a way to do it.” As an artist, you sacrifice so much to be on the road and as we spoke about earlier about being a woman in metal, it isn’t always easy. Anzai says “as with anything in life you just have to remember why you are doing it because it’s easy to get lost along the way. Even though I have been doing this for a long time it still happens but the key is to realize that it will happen and if you can’t be 100% passionate about something then you are going to more easily succumb to those obstacles. If you just keep your head up and stay on the path eventually you will get there. It’s an ongoing process.”
With Anzai being one of the most prominent female bassists in rock, it is good to know she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Her key to success? “I had no plan B so I had to make plan A work.” That is the best advice we have ever heard.