Chances are, you haven't heard of Scary Kids Scaring Kids, but the chances are also high you'll be hearing more of them soon. The band recently finished its run on the Warped Tour and is currently on its first headlining club tour. It's a steady momentum that's been building for years, but as the fan base grows, the band's music continues to broaden the aural landscape.
At the 2007 Warped Tour stop in Charlotte, throngs of teens bounced in the pit and sang along to all of the Scary Kids songs. And, those crowds keep growing at each show -- after all, it's been six years in the making.
Though the band started in high school in 2001, it didn't start touring heavily until the beginning of 2004. "It was totally just something to do," keyboardist Pouyan Afkary says of the high school years. "We took the music seriously, but live shows were just something to have fun with. We had no idea it had this much potential for growth."
The band also didn't have an easy way to go about touring because, as Afkary says, "nobody's parents had a van or trailer we could use."
It was after high school graduation, while some of the band members were in college, when the group decided to go full-steam-ahead with their music instead of half-assing it.
"We either had to tour all the time and give it our everything until we can't do it anymore and it's not going anywhere, or we all go to college," Afkary says by phone from a tour stop in Illinois.
The band's name comes from the title of a Capn Jazz song. Guitarist Chad Crawford had a few words in mind for the band when he Googled them and came across the song title. It stuck. As far as the style of the band's music -- it's up for debate. Their guitar-heavy, scream-laden, sometimes aggressive music has been labeled as alternative, screamo and post-alternative. Afkary has an easier description. "I just tell people it's rock and roll and they should listen to it," he says.
The band has numerous influences, Afkary says -- from Sigur Ros and Radiohead to As I Lay Dying and DragonForce -- and it comes through in their music. While numerous metal riffs lie under the vocals of singer Tyson Stevens, Afkary's keyboards supplement their sound with another layer that isn't typically found in metal. Afkary credits guitarist Steve Kirby with a lot of the metal sound.
"I love to dance," Afkary adds with a laugh, referring to his high-motion habit while performing on stage. "I like to put some funk up there sometimes." He's also known for some destruction -- a video of him destroying a keyboard at the 2006 Warped Tour can be found on YouTube.
"I've definitely seen that," he says with a laugh. "I was actually hoping for it (to show up online.) That was an expensive keyboard. It was going out of tune and I had gotten it repaired multiple times. It was driving me crazy for two days in a row. I just ... got infuriated and destroyed it. My new keyboard is starting to do it again to me on this tour." (Stay tuned for "Round Two" of Afkary vs. the keyboard.)
While the band has a pretty intense live show where the passion is easily visible, it's not all heavy. The band's new self-titled album hits the streets on Aug. 28, and features a number of slower songs -- as have previous efforts. "I absolutely love it, more than everything we've ever done," Afkary says. "I think our best songs are on this album. I don't think we have to stick to a genre. We should make music that we feel and not be afraid to branch out of the aggressive."
They've also got a few instrumentals in their repertoire, which Afkary says is a chance to take the listener places without vocals. "They're more short-lived, but we do it for the album flow to let you relax," he says. "This way it's not constant aggression, especially with 16 tracks."
The band's still adjusting to its life as a headliner, though it's not a huge leap. Instead of the 30-minute slot on Warped Tour, the band is playing for just under an hour. "It's weird not to open for somebody and have all these people's full attention," Afkary says. "We're also excited to be able to play a lot from the new album. We always just feed off the energy."
The band will continue to tour to support the album through the fall. They'll team up with Warped Tour cohorts Chiodos and Emery later this year. They're also looking forward to a trip abroad next year when they perform in Australia for February's the Soundwave Festival. Their only other international trip was to the U.K. -- for which they're getting return requests.
So, is it all going fast for the band? Afkary says he finds it hard to believe he's only been touring for three years. A fact he reconfirms to himself by asking, "Wait ... what year is this?"
Scary Kids Scaring Kids will perform with Boys Night Out, The Dear Hunter and Daimera at Tremont Music Hall on Sept. 2. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 day of show.