When Chris Cardenas of Alcatraz Records invited the members of Sick Puppies up to Alaska to play a show in 2005, vocalist/guitarist Shimon Moore thought he was crazy.
Moore and bassist Emma Anzai had just moved from Australia to Los Angeles and were trying to make it in the music business. After putting out an ad on Craig's List for a drummer, Mark Goodwin joined the band. Shortly thereafter, the rock trio took Cardenas up on his offer.
"We basically worked on a trust concept, which was, 'We can't pay you for the show, but we can pay for all of your expenses and we'll show you a great time,'" Moore recalled.
Sick Puppies ended up playing in Anchorage and Fairbanks in late 2005, right before the 2006 success of their breakthrough single "All the Same," which was featured in a YouTube video for the Sydney-based Free Hugs Campaign.
In between shows, Cardenas introduced Moore, Anzai, and Goodwin to his friends and family.
"They took us out for dinner and treated us like guests, which most places in the states don't," Moore said. "They don't treat you like guests; they treat you like tourists, which is different."
"We got the idea that, 'Wow, this is going to be great. This is what touring is going to be like,'" Moore said of the band's first Alaska trip. "No, that's not what touring is like; that's just what Alaska is like. And that's why we go back."
Sick Puppies is set to play an Alcatraz Records-promoted show at Hooligans in Soldotna on Sunday. The tour comes in the wake of the March release of their 7-track EP "Polar Opposite," which includes acoustic repackagings of Sick Puppies' most well-known songs.
Moore described the band's sound as heavy melodic rock; think Rage Against the Machine meets Foo Fighters. "Face-melting" would be a good adjective to describe their high-energy, visceral shows, he said, explaining that there is an unspoken agreement between band and audience when one walks into a Sick Puppies show.
"If anyone is unhappy with the show - if they walk in the room and they don't feel better when they walk out - they can have their money back," he said.
Having never been down to the Kenai Peninsula before, Moore said he doesn't know what to expect. He hopes for a good mix of established Sick Puppies fans and kids who just want to seize the opportunity to enjoy some really good live music.
One of the band's motivations for coming to Soldotna in the first place is the sheer lack of an international music scene; the market is saturated with local artists, but bigger names usually shy away from the area due to a perceived lack of interest or support.
"I think that's a good reason to come," Moore said. "If there isn't a lot (of live music), there should be more. If there are people that want to hear it, we should bring it to them."
Tickets for the July 24 show are $40 and can be purchased at Hooligans or at www.groovetickets.com.