Editor’s Note: Photographer and frequent WY collaborator David Evanko has excellent taste in music. So when he reached out for us to consider punk bandits The Side Eyes, we were happy to oblige. Listen to their new single “Teenage Jerk,” off upcoming debut album So Sick, and read David’s interview below. –Maya Eslami
The Side Eyes are no strangers to the musical underworld of Orange County and Los Angeles. They are more than privy to relentless show schedules, raucous warehouse pits, and one minute songs. Now, they‘ve bottled their live energy into a prim debut package titled “So Sick” which will be released this Friday 8/25 through In The Red Records. As you prime your ears with “Teenage Jerks” (a song which lead singer, Astrid McDonald, may have screamed into your face once or twice) prepare yourself for a record that will displace you to the rank garages and broken skateboards of it‘s origin. World, meet The Side Eyes. –David Evanko
WHAT YOUTH: Who are The Side Eyes and how did So Sick come about?
THE SIDE EYES: The Side Eyes is Kevin Devine on guitar, Astrid McDonald on vocals, Chris Devine on bass and Nick Arnold on drums (he is a founding member and plays on the album, but our current drummer is Sam Mankinen). We are a four piece punk band that likes playing really loud and really fast with hardcore elements as well. We are unapologetically proud of our music, and the name of our album reflects that. “So Sick” was created through a culmination of our references and life experiences while living and growing up in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and New Jersey collectively over the years. It basically encompasses our philosophy of giving every show we play full energy and power, whether it be to a full club or an empty beer drenched dive bar playing to one drunk, heckling person. We also thought it would be funny to name our album “so sick” so that anyone who doesn’t like us would be forced to say “Ugh I hate their album “So Sick” haha.
As a band based both in LA and Orange County, you’re kind of in the middle of two similar yet different music cultures. How does this translate into your songwriting?
It has just broadened our perspective and influence! I (Astrid) have been going to shows for as long as I can remember, but when I met Kevin and Chris almost three years ago, they took me to a garage show in south OC which gave me the key to the underground punk world I’d dreamed of entering my whole life as well as endless inspiration for songs.
Teenage Jerks sounds like it comes from personal experience. What’s the story behind it?
“Teenage Jerks” comes from an endless amount of stories we have gathered being around a group of teenagers we have met and befriended through the music scene. They are younger than us and have this hilariously lawless, fascinating punk rock life that seems to come out of a movie like Another State of Mind (1982). We have gotten lots of material watching these kids do their thing.
You‘ve earned a reputation for being an extremely hard working band. People living in Southern California you can catch a Side Eyes show just about every week. Has this helped to shape the record in any way?
Playing often has shaped the record in a huge way. We have spent the last two and a half years playing punk garage shows, backyard shows, parties, the dingiest dive bars, and established venues that we had always dreamed of playing. Every show we have played has given us experiences that have woven into our lyrics and songwriting. For example, our song “Cat Call” is not just about the woes of being a woman walking down the street for five minutes, but also about the Zero tolerance we have for the misogyny and sexism I have faced for simply stepping on stage. It’s the song I love to sing while maintaining eye contact with whoever wants to mess with me that night. It’s very liberating. We also wanted the album to capture our live sound so what everyone hears on the record reflects what we sound like in our element playing live.
Is that pace going to change now that the record is finished?
No, we plan on playing as much as we have the past two and a half years. We stayed local because of our full time work and school schedules, but we hope this year brings even broader travels so we can bring our wild, Southern California punk drenched live shows around the world.
So Sick is set to release 8/25. What’s in store following the release?
More live shows, music videos (which we do not even have yet), a tour and eventually another album because we have loads of unreleased songs that you can only hear live as of now!