The Sidekicks

AdHoc Presents

The Sidekicks

Gladie, Trace Mountains

December 3rd

7:00 pm

Alphaville

$12

This event is all ages

The Sidekicks
The Sidekicks
Growing up is weird. Very few of us ever end up doing that thing for a living that we imagined we might when we were kids. Even fewer end up doing the same thing for the rest of our lives that we were doing as teenagers, even if that thing happens to be making music with our friends. In the case of The Sidekicks, a teenage affinity for playing propulsive punk rock somehow, against all odds, managed to turn into a full-time life pursuit. After nearly a decade of making noisy rock music, The Sidekicks have the audacity to finally grow up and their newfound maturity is at the very core of their excellent new album, Runners in the Nerved World.

"This band essentially started when we were kids, when we were fifteen," recalls front man Steve Ciolek. "Every time we make a new record I always stop and ask myself if we're even the same band now. We were in high school, you know? We loved bands like Against Me! and that's where we were coming from. Over the years we've all grown and changed—like anyone does—and you want the art you make to reflect that. It's just funny sometimes to think about it. The Sidekicks feels like an arbitrary moniker sometimes, you know? We're certainly not the same people we were back then."

Formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 2006, The Sidekicks paid their dues according to the old-fashion punk rock model—by playing lots and lots of shows, sleeping on floors, and generally devoting themselves to recording and touring at the expense of any other kind of life. The bands earliest recorded efforts—2007's So Long, Soggy Dog and 2009's Weight of Air—reflected this. By the time they released 2012's Awkward Breeds, the romance of punk rock was beginning to wane and the influence of pop music began to creep in. "To me the appeal of punk rock was that there weren't any rules," says Ciolek. "Now the word "punk" has changed so much. I still like the whole spirit of punk rock, but it's crazy to spend so many years on the road playing with so many bands that all sound exactly the same, like they are all working within this very rigid formula. A lot of our music now feels like a reaction to that, to having been around that for so many years. This record was really about trying to get away from that punk format, even though I have a lot of respect for that music."

For the recording of Runners in the Nerved World the band— Steve Ciolek (Vocals & Guitar), Matt Climer (Drums), and Ryan Starinsky (Bass)—decamped to Seattle to work with famed indie-rock producer Phil Ek, a pairing that proved to be something of a dream come true for Ciolek. "The dream from the very beginning was to work with Phil Ek," says Ciolek, "When that became a reality it was almost too good to be true. It was working with Phil that really shaped the sound of the record. Up until this point we'd just go into a studio for a week and record everything live and that would be it. This time around I just really wanted to make a great pop record. I was ready to abandon that idea that we're a punk band and everything has to sound like we're a punk band playing in a basement somewhere. I wanted to let the songs just go wherever they needed to go, which was liberating. This time we got to spend six weeks on the songs instead of just one."

According to Ciolek, the songs that eventually found their way onto the new record represented a period of growth for the band, which is obvious from the beginning of album-opener "Hell is Warm"—a track whose feather light guitar lines give way to charging drums and Ciolek's soaring vocals asking the question "How do we not get lost?" It seems a fitting question to open an album all about piloting new and mysterious paths. Tracks like "The Kid Who Broke His Wrist" and "Deer" bring to mind the kind of jangly pop euphoria of early Band of Horses or old Built to Spill records, while "Everything in Twos" is the kind of pop punk jam seemingly tailor made for singing along in a car at peak volume. According to Ciolek, the album offers a variety of firsts for the band. " 'Satellite Words and Me' is kind of the first ballad we've ever written, like our version of "The Long and Winding Road" or something," he explains. "Also, 'Jesus Christ Supermalls' is kind of our way of taking a step towards making a real pop song. We weren't trying to get all symphonic or Phil Spector on this record, but there wasn't any rule that we couldn't use strings and things like that. For the first time ever we really let ourselves explore the possibilities of a studio. Plus, Phil Ek really knows how to make guitars sound great and I think he really enjoyed the opportunity to make a real rock record." The end result is an album that feels deceptively effortless; a collection of songs about the need to move forward, packed with buoyant melodies and razor-sharp hooks that go on for days and days.

"At its core, Runners in the Nerved World is about getting past the excitement of growing up and finding new ways to simulate that movement," says Ciolek. "How that movement manifest itself varies from song to song--whether it be chemically (basically all the drinking references), physically ("Blissfield, MI"), or even by having new romantic partners. The point the record is supposed to make is that it's often pretty arbitrary how that movement is simulated. Regardless of the situation, inevitably the characters in these songs just get stuck in those cycles. The record tries to deconstruct that inertia--that constant motivation to run."

As for what happens next for The Sidekicks, Ciolek and the rest of the band look forward to getting back on the road and playing shows that reflect the bands increasingly varied back catalog. "Everything we've done in the past is still relevant for us," says Ciolek. "It's just weird to think about how something just becomes your life's work, you know? It just happens without you even realizing it. Maybe that's what some of these new songs are kind of about. You know, sometimes it's scary to think about doing this when I'm 30 and I'll have been doing this for fifteen years at that point. It's wild. The Sidekicks could be a totally different kind of band by then, which is fine as long as we're still having a good time."
Trace Mountains
Trace Mountains
My name is Dave Benton and I write the songs for the band Trace Mountains. I was born in 1991, I’m from Ridgewood, New Jersey, and I currently reside in in New York City. Since 2009, I’ve released records in various groups, including some projects that are ongoing (LVL UP, Yours Are The Only Ears). Repeating the process of writing and recording music has become an emotionally stabilizing ritual in my life, and I have been very lucky to share that process over and over again with some of my best friends; many of whom I met at SUNY Purchase, a liberal arts college in NY state that I graduated from in 2013. The scene there was vibrant and welcoming to me, both facilitating and inspiring the collaborative work I made in that period and beyond.

Near the end of my college education, I began acting on a latent desire to make something wholly my own. I had been collaborating for so long that I felt it could be invigorating to explore the world of sounds on my own again, as I had done growing up. This endeavor led to a batch of songs that can now be found on the compilation record Buttery Sprouts & Other Songs (2016), which also includes some newer demos and field recordings that prelude my first proper record, A Partner to Lean On (2018). Scrappy and lighthearted, the songs on Buttery Sprouts & Other Songs were first and foremost an exercise in learning to be pragmatically self-sufficient, while exploring new poetic styles and even finding a place for humor in the words. While my songs are usually attempts at candid & vulnerable story-telling, I’ve often tried to make room for a joke, or at the very least, playfulness in the lyricism.

Remaining in a long stage of gestation after the initial creative burst, Trace Mountains practiced and performed infrequently. I was preoccupied by the responsibilities of running a record label (DDW, a label I co-founded and subsequently left in 2016), and touring with my friends in the band LVL UP. Trace Mountains would get together with different groups of folks to perform locally and sometimes tour in the United States & Canada. One particular incarnation of the band (featuring Jim Hill and Liz Pelly), was documented in this heartwarming video filmed in 2015 at a house show in Allston, MA. We covered “Bucket,” a Jeff Mangum rarity that I was obsessed with at the time. Now, when I look back on that era in my life, it gives me a sense of just how grateful I am for these people and for the bond that music can bring. Moments like these come and go in an instant, and sometimes I’m unable to fully feel the impact until years later. One of the few things I know of music-making, is that it has brought me closer to the people I share the process with, if only for short periods.

A Partner to Lean On, the first proper full length from Trace Mountains, is both an extension of my initial excursion to explore the world of sounds in solitude, and a continuation of my lifelong relationship with music-making as a social process. The songs featured on A Partner to Lean On came about over the course of many years, featuring some ideas that pre-date even the earliest Trace Mountains release in 2013. There are also more current songs, written right up into the summer of 2017 when the record was recorded and completed, a time of extraordinary confusion & anger, when the refuge of listening to & creating music was needed more than ever. The way the work spans time periods is intended to be reflected in the record itself, perhaps not strictly linearly, but flowing from place to place, idea to idea, connecting memories, thoughts and things in a way that feels purposeful. It starts in the present, and branches out into different directions to hopefully arrive at a meaningful assessment of where I stand.

Unlike my older work, A Partner to Lean On relies on the talents of a group rather than just myself. In addition to co-producing a portion the record at Gravesend Recordings, Jim Hill played electric guitar and synthesizer. Rhythm section performances were provided by Kyle Seely (drums) and Nick Corbo (bass), and additional vocals were contributed by Susannah Cutler and Ben Smith. I played guitar, synthesizer, and recorded a bunch of other things, overdubbing at my home studio, and when the record was complete, it was mixed by the inimitable Mike Ditrio. It was then mastered by Paul Gold in October of 2017.
Venue Information:
Alphaville
140 Wilson Ave
Brooklyn, NY, 11237
http://www.alphavillebk.com/