It is something every aspiring band dreams of: playing on the big stage in front of a huge crowd. A few local musicians got that chance when KAABOO Cayman launched in February this year, and one band is taking the experience even further.

Pop-punk group Suckerbox has been officially invited to play at KAABOO Del Mar, being held in San Diego from 13-15 Sept., joining the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Black Eyed Peas, Kings of Leon and Mumford & Sons on the roster.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Reno Ciantar took time out from his busy schedule to answer our pressing
questions about the history of the band, what it was like to play at KAABOO Cayman and how the boys are
preparing for the big trip in September.

How did Suckerbox first form as a band?
There is some debate as to the actual date because it was a crazy period of time in Cayman for all of us. I first presented the idea of a band to Derrick [McKay] who I met through jam nights. We performed with Luciano [Canzanella] on drums back then and it was during that time I started toying around with writing original material. The first song I ever wrote for a Suckerbox record was ‘Enemy’, which appeared on the ‘Sucks! 2004’ album. It was very nerve-wracking introducing my songs to people, because they all hit home to me. I don’t believe in writing without substance. When Mark [McTaggart] was brought in as our drummer, that’s when our sound really started to take shape. He had a handle on background vocals and harmonies that Derrick and I  didn’t really understand.

Who are the members of Suckerbox?
The current line-up, which has been going now for over 10 years, includes the original founding members
Derrick on bass, Mark on drums and myself on lead vocals and guitar. The ‘new guy’ Robert Neesome (lead guitar) joined in around 2008. [When it comes to] vocals I do all of the lead work, but everyone else has a mic on stage and sings backup/harmony – way more fun that way.

What genre would you say best describes your type of music?
Pop-punk. I think people get a little thrown when you just say ‘punk’ – it either brings up images of the Ramones or Sex Pistols or more hard-core thrash style punk, but we aren’t that. We like to have a decipherable story to tell so we have cleaner lines and catchy flow to our music…or at least that’s the objective.

Our songs hopefully come through as familiar in some ways; relatable and fresh and not just noise, which has its place, of course.

What was it like playing on the stage for KAABOO Cayman and being a part of the event?
The entire KAABOO experience has to be taken as a whole to really appreciate it. We were provided with unquestionably the best sound crew ever and the staging was first class all the way. The crowd really made it for us. There were a lot of familiar faces…the locals really came out to support, but we also performed to a lot of new people and even had a couple of their super VIP guests come down from the comfort of their hospitality area to watch us as soon as they heard [the first few seconds].

The highlight of my weekend (other than performing of course!) was watching Bryan Adams’ set backstage, only to realize I was standing next to Debbie Harry who was enjoying the show. I got to meet her; was only a handshake and a smile, but that was still an amazing experience for me.

What is the ultimate dream for Suckerbox?
As a band, we just love to perform and spend time in the studio. Some of the best moments with the band for me have happened in studio – it’s a process unlike any other. It brings us to a whole different level and the focus is intense. If we could do this full time, tour the world with our families, get paid to create and perform and not have to do anything else, that would be the ultimate scenario, at least in my opinion.

What are you most looking forward to from playing at KAABOO Del Mar?
Having fun, doing the best we can, sharing it with friends and family, making new friends and fans, and being part of a truly incredible festival experience.

You guys have to basically cover the costs to get there – are you doing any fundraising between now and when you go?
True. Even though we are getting paid for our time, we are bottom-feeders. Most artists jump at the opportunity for exposure and that is exactly what we are doing. We are going to do whatever we can to make the most of the exposure afforded to us by performing at KAABOO festivals.

First, we are raising money for a new album.

This is essential. Butterfield jumped on board early as our first corporate sponsor with an artistic grant, so we are very grateful for their support. We have also been sponsored by Mainstay Sailing. In addition, we are presently launching an crowdfunding campaign to facilitate this. It will be called ‘Suckerbox 2.0, Opportunity of a Lifetime.’

The second bit of fundraising will be to help us buffer some of the cost of taking our show to California. We will be performing at a Del Mar send-off party on 6 Sept. at Macabuca where people will be able to make donations, buy tickets in support or just come enjoy the show and send us off to Cali with a bang.

For sponsorship information, email [email protected] or call 925-1581.