In their home country of Australia, Sick Puppies hit the big time a long time ago. Singer/guitarist Shimon Moore and bassist Emma Anzai met in 1997 in their high school music room, bonded over Silverchair, and formed a band with drummer Chris Mileski. In the decade that followed, the Puppies added an album and some EPs, several national tours, and a hotly downloaded cover of Destiny's Child "Say My Name" to their resume.
Stateside, however, Sick Puppies are another YouTube success story. To save up money for the band's planned attack on the American market, Moore got a job at a Sydney mall, where he befriended and videoed a man named Juan Mann, who stood outside the mall every day with a sign reading "Free Hugs." When Mann's grandmother died, Moore edited that footage into a short video that chronicled Mann's Free Hugs Campaign, set it to the Puppies' "Nothing Really Matters," and sent it to Mann as a sympathy card. Moved, Mann posted the video to YouTube. By the end of 2006, "Free Hugs" had reached 11 million views, was featured on Oprah and CNN, and helped the Puppies (now with Mark Goodwin on drums) snag a deal with Virgin to release 2007's
Dressed Up as Life.