Ahead of their September tour alongside Australian favourites The Smith Street Band, we catch up with Ohio’s The Sidekicks to find out a little bit more about their new record Runners in the Nerved World, working with Phil Ek and what they have planned for when they hit Australia next month.
What was the inspiration behind your new record Runners in the Nerved World?
Most of my songs are inspired by having conversations with friends about stuff going on in our lives. About two years ago we were all in our mid twenties and feeling a sort of drive to simulate growth and movement, some in healthier ways than others. That’s the spot the characters on the album find themselves in, individuals searching for something to make them ‘move’.
Musically it was stuff like Darkness on the Edge of Town, Big Star and Chris Bell, Either/Or, All Things Must Pass, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Teenage Fanclub, Nilsson Schmilsson, On The Beach amongst other things. I also watched a lot of freestyle rap battles.
Runners in the Nerved World is your fourth album, how do feel your approach to recording has changed over those records?
We approached each one differently, especially given the circumstances. The first two were recorded very quickly and with friends and that yields certain results, less thinking and experimenting involved.
Awkward Breeds was a mostly live record musically but we took more time to make sure the vibe we were capturing was right, using a lot more room mics and just getting the sound of the space.
Runners in the Nerved World we spent twice as much time as we had in the past and every sound on it was very deliberate, and nothing was settled upon until it felt cool. It’s our attempt at a pop album, in the old sense of the term (see the *influences* question).
Likewise how did you approach the songwriting on this album, and did it differ from previous records?
Runners was the most collaborative album we’ve done musically. I would bring the song, the chords and melody, to the band and everyone would just try stuff out and jam until we got something everyone was into.
Lyrically I took a new approach and just collected a lot of separate lines or couplets, just things I would think about or find to be funny, and then insert them into the songs I was working on. I like songs that have punch lines, like one line that just kills you every time (in either a funny or crushing way). John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats is really good at that, also that’s something I kind of took from watching rap battles as well.
As a side note I can’t really watch rap battles anymore because they’re so offensive and homophobic and misogynistic, but I do have an appreciation for the freestyling aspect of it. Not sure if I totally achieved the punch line thing but that was the goal.
What was it like working with Phil Ek? And what do you feel he brought to the table in the creation of the new record?
He’s awesome! He was really fun to work with and is very very good at what he does. He brought out the best in all of us and was our harshest critic; I became a much better singer because of it. We let him really shape the vibe of the album in terms of the tones and overall sound, as that was kind of the goal from the start.
To work with a *producer*, someone to have their hand in what our band does. He took our idea to make a pop album to heart, and would take little comments we made about what we like and was able to incorporate that into the sound of the album.
You’ve recently just finished a UK tour, how do you feel the tour went? How have the new songs been going over live?
Very sick, we went with a band called Great Cynics and they were lovely companions to rock with and share a van with. The new songs have been going well, it seems people know the new ones, we are still getting a feel for them but it’s nice to get into this ‘era’ of the band so to speak. You learn new things about the songs by doing em live, certain ones get more energy, certain ones we jam on longer. It’s fun, as rock n roll should be.
Between your upcoming summer tour in the States, and your tour down here in Australia you’re going to be on the “road” for a good couple of months. How do like to pass the time when on tour?
I try to go swimming as much as possible when it’s warm, go for walks, hang with our buds in the cities we’re in.
It’s safe to say that Australia is a long way to travel to play some shows, are you guys going to be getting much downtime whilst you’re here? And is there anything in particular you’re keen to do whilst you’re here?
I hope so, I wanna try to do as much stuff outside as possible. Go swimming of course.
What can Australian audiences expect from your live shows?
The spirit of rock n roll minus the macho.
What’s next for the band?
Playing more shows, writing another record.
Runners in the Nerved World is out now on Epitath
Australian Tour Dates
Fri Sep 4 – Weekender Fest @ 170 Russell, Melbourne (SOLD OUT)
Sun Sep 6 – Weekender Fest @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne (U18)
Wed Sep 9 – Manning Bar, Sydney
Thu Sep 10 – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Fri Sep 11 – Magpies, Canberra (AA)
Sat Sep 12 – I Love Life Fest @ Metro, Sydney
Sun Sep 13 – I Love Life Fest @ Tivoli, Brisbane
Wed Sep 16 – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
Thu Sep 17 – The Gov, Adelaide (AA)
Fri Sep 18 – Metro, Fremantle
Sat Sep 19 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (SOLD OUT)
Sat Sep 20 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (SOLD OUT)