Let’s be honest, Gilbert, Arizona, probably isn’t most people’s idea of musical Mecca—and with good reason. Nestled in the shadow of Phoenix, the town’s conservative climate doesn’t exactly foster creativity. However instead of being discouraged by the constraints of their hometown, the members of Scary Kids Scaring Kids were inspired to rebel against it. “They weren’t very accepting and I think that’s where we all developed the desire to be an individual,” explains SKSK keyboardist Pouyan Afkary when asked how to describe his hometown. “It was a constant struggle because it’s such a whitewash town in a sense.”
Formed during the members’ junior year of high school, the band—which also features guitarists Chad Crawford and Steve Kirby, drummer Jamie Ethridge, singer Tyson Stevens and bassist DJ Wilson—self-financed their debut EP, After Dark (which was eventually re-released by Immortal Records in 2005). From there, they decided to pursue the band full-time, hosting carwashes and taking out loans to finance their tours—and although it took a few years to build up a tangible fanbase, all the hard work paid off, culminating with a coveted spot on the Smartpunk stage for the 2005 Warped Tour, which led to supporting spots alongside their peers like Silverstein and Bullet For My Valentine.
However, despite the positive reaction to their 2006 full-length debut The City Sleeps In Flames, no one could be prepared for what the band would accomplish with their second full-length, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, due out on Immortal August 28th. Whereas most acts in the band’s scene thrive on being categorized and labeled, Scary Kids Scary Kids have crafted an album that finally encompasses the full-scope of their seemingly disparate influences. For example, the anthemic “Degenerates” and “Holding On” take the band’s screamo-inspired sound to stratospheric new heights; strikingly vulnerable ballads like “Derailed (Derailed)” and “Goes Without Saying” trade acoustic guitars and pianos for blazing guitars and still manages to sound just as powerful; and, finally, borderline glam-metal tracks such as “Snake Devil,” showcase the band’s musical virtuosity.
Produced by Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Good Charlotte) in North Hollywood, California, Scary Kids Scaring Kids is a landmark release for a band who spend most of the year living on the road. “I think we really had time to make this album sound exactly the way we wanted to and focus on every track individually,” explains Afkary. “In the past, we’ve been so limited with time, but with this disc we could really focus on the small details that made a big difference to us.” This is most evident in the introductory “Prelude” and carefully constructed transitions between songs, facts that might not seem major on the surface but ultimately help Scary Kids Scaring Kids like an album as opposed to a collection of songs haphazardly thrown together.
Lyrically, Scary Kids Scaring Kids is essentially a quest for the truth in its most organic form, something that the band explore in-depth over the course of these 16 tracks. “It’s all about reaching deep within and pulling out who you truly are,” Afkary explains, adding that although there’s a healthy amount of political dissent inherent in the disc, these tracks manage to express universal themes without sounding preachy or dogmatic. “With these songs we really tried to vocalize the beauty of being an individual and speaking out for the things you believe in without fear—and I think that’s a constant theme throughout the album as well as something that’s important in our day-to-day lives.”
However, ultimately, music is made to be listened to and not overanalyzed—and now that you have the requisite background information, sit back, relax and listen to a CD that’s as unique as the members’ dreams, hopes and inspirations. Scary Kids Scaring Kids may not be an easy album to describe via words or catchphrases, but when you think about, what truly great work of art is?