Artist of the day: Awkward Age
Awkward Age is a ’90s pop-punk-influenced power trio, standing on the shoulders of giants (Superchunk, the Ramones, Samiam, the Replacements, Jawbreaker, Jimmy Eat World) without wearing their influential hearts on their sleeves.
Ideologically. they’re more concerned with making music for their own enjoyment than as a career move. All three are settled into jobs they enjoy and are comfortable with. They’ve traded cramped vans packed with sweaty dudes and nights on random strangers’ floors for local venues, soft beds and the creature comforts of home.
Guitarist Matt Shumate and drummer Eric Turner both hail from a previous incarnation of New Bruises. Having admired singer-bassist Vic Alverez’s work in The Knockdown, they had been interested in working with him for quite a while. A brief musical hiatus on Turner’s part, and a sojourn to New York for Alverez, gummed up any potentially collaborative works for a couple of years.
But in late 2010, things changed...
When and how did you finally get a chance to get together?
Alvarez: There was a trip to Busch Gardens a few years ago where we were talking about this.
Shumate: Was I coherent during this? I don’t trust my memory.
Alvarez: Yeah, I was there. That idea went of into its own thing, but the remnants of that idea became what eventually was Awkward Age.
So, Busch Gardens spawned Awkward Age?
Alvarez: It planted the seed of Awkward Age.
Shumate: A trip to Busch Gardens and a bunch of time in a warehouse.
What did the seed’s gestation in the warehouse beget?
Turner: Well, we try not to take ourselves too seriously. I’ve been in bands where they’re like: “We gotta go on tour, we gotta play these right shows, we have to do a record, we have to, we have to, we have to...” We take the approach of: “No, we do what we wanna do, ’cause it’s fun.” I took a break — I was playing in bands and I was having problems, and I quit music. I sold all my equipment. I was like, “Forget this, I don’t wanna play in bands.” I had some bad experiences with the previous band, so I just gave up. Two years went by and I was like “Wait, I forgot I played music ’cause I actually liked it.” It had just turned into that weird thing where it was almost like a job. So, that’s when we started doing this.
Shumate: We got together one day, when my other band was on its last legs. He was like, “Hey, I just wanna come up and play the drums again.” So he and I did a bunch of Pop Punk, (Screeching) Weasel, Queers, and Ramones songs, just for the hell of it. He was like. “Oh yeah, I remember what this is like.” I love playing with Eric; the guy plays perfectly and is how I would like a drummer to play. It’s nice to play with dudes that are pretty chill and just wanna have fun with it. When it’s super worked up, it’s not fun. We’ve all had that experience where it gets super intense and it’s, “Why am I doing this?” I work 45/50 hours a week. I get yelled at at work all day. I don’t need to go to a stressful band situation.
It’s a more realistic approach than most bands have.
Turner: We all have jobs/careers that we enjoy doing. In this band, we’re not gonna take four weeks off in the middle of February to go on tour. We’re not gonna call out (of work) every three weeks to play out-of-town shows. We’re gonna play locally and do whatever we want and have fun with it. We’re not gonna get picked up by someone and (have the band) become our full-time jobs. This is what we do in the evenings and on the weekends when we have free time. We enjoy doing it.
Have you pinpointed what the exact awkward age is?
Shumate: Thirty-year-old dudes playing pop punk.
Turner: We’re in our early 30s doing things we typically shouldn’t. By this point we should be married and having children. We have one foot in adulthood and one in the early 20s.
Awkward Age performs with Feral Babies and Chemical Ache at 9 p.m. Saturday at New World Brewery, 1313 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $5. Click here.
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*. Photo: Nicole C. Kibert / elawgrrl.com