(Photo Credit - Matt Albani)
My good friend Evan Sites is back with some new grooves to please your ear holes during these troubling times. I previously interviewed Evan back in August 2019 for the release of his EP “What, Me Worry?” and, always antsy to create, Evan has now released two new tracks he made with all his good friends, complete with a silly but genuine music video. The two new songs, “Chump” and “Mexican Lager,” hit streaming services under both the monikers Sites and East of Youth on March 20th 2020, the day before Evan birthday, and the music video for “Chump” graced the Internet as of yesterday March 27th 2020.
Holed up in our respective Brooklyn and Columbus apartments, Evan and I caught up about life and his music. Here’s another conversation with my friend.
1. “Chump” and “Mexican Lager”: What was your inspiration for these latest tunes? What was the writing process like for the two new songs?
“Chump” has been around in various forms since 2014. It was The One That Got Away back when Adam Rich and I were still actively working on East of Youth songs. After I moved to New York we’d find ourselves drawn back to it and try off and on to finish it remotely but it just didn’t happen.
Finally, when I was back home in Columbus in October we played a show and dusted it off for it. The spark on that song was genuinely really exciting and when we dug up the recordings we realized that the recording was mostly done. So I ran over to my mentor Aaron Bishara’s recording studio and knocked out the drums for “Chump” and “Mexican Lager” in one quick session. I did final vocals in the closet I call a bedroom back in Brooklyn soon after.
“Chump” is heavily influenced by The Smiths and The Cure. Those are two pretty massive influences on Adam Rich and I. We’re all about the jangle! I think I did my best crooning Morrissey bit on this one. It also might be my most personal song yet between the reference to my actually non-color-registering-eyes and those horrible brick streets of Athens, Ohio. That back half of the second verse is probably the most direct lyrics I’ve ever written. It’s that feeling that you’re with someone, but they’re not with you. It’s that sobering mindset where you understand the relationship more than the person who pushed you out of it.
With “Mexican Lager” I was really into that band NE-HI for a while. It started off as a tribute to them but then it turned into a weird Craig Finn-Replacements thing. I’m not entirely sure what this song is supposed to be haha.
This song is a documentation of a normal day “in the life” and how even the most busy day can be screeched to a halt by self reflection.
Also, I love Tecate. I would like to be sponsored if someone can make that happen?
I usually play all the instruments in my recordings, but I like to think I’m pretty good about recognizing my weaknesses. “Chump” wouldn’t be what it is without Adam Rich on guitar. The same goes for the guitar solo at the end of “Mexican Lager” played by my good friend Zakk Sandler. Zakk and I come from very different musical backgrounds (that dude likes bands with genres that end in “core”) but the second I recorded the breakdown I knew he would be able to do something so much more than I could. I love that boy. Shout out to Luke DeMuro for mixing “Mexican Lager” and playing a little guitar with me on the chorus. I should mention that Luke also engineers 90% of the things I record nowadays.
2. How was it having the “gang” back together from “East of Youth”?
It was good and it was really quick haha. Adam Rich and I work really closely on everything I do, he’s just more hands off with the stuff I put out under my own name.
A lot of East of Youth songs start with either Adam Rich writing a guitar riff, or me busting into a door (or a text message) full of caffeine just foaming at the mouth with whatever weird kind of noise I want to make and we go from there.
There’s a lot of:
“So, you want to do a spoken word song over a bass heavy driving riff?”
“Yeah and I want there just to be walls of feedback”
“And I want to talk about brick streets”
For finishing “Chump,” once I had the drums and vocals done, it was finished pretty quickly. We had worked off and on this song for so long we had probably 30+ guitar takes to pick and choose from haha.
I love working with Adam Rich and I have a feeling there’s going to be another East of Youth project sooner than you think (INSERT WINKY FACE)
3. You just put out your EP “What, Me Worry?” in August 2019, with these singles close on their tail. Any long term goals after this little release or are you just keeping the wheels greased?
I love greasing wheels! These are just one offs trying to keep up the momentum and try some genres and sounds I maybe wouldn’t have before.
I have two more EPs written that we’ve started recording for. One is a more laid back “LOOK AT ME I LISTEN TO THE BAND AND OWN AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR”
The other one is gonna be loud and weird. Like playing out of a $15 amp with two fuzz pedals kind of loud. I’ve never gotten to be the loudest band at the show before so I think this is my time.
4. Speaking of, I’m assuming with living in New York City and the quarantine that any thoughts on future shows are limited. Is social distancing having any effects on your musical process?
It’s pretty wild here right now. I went into the city early last week and I didn’t see more than 40 people round trip. I haven’t left my house since except groceries or to have a nice “panic-attack-round-the-block”
It’s giving us more time to work on stuff. I live with Luke DeMuro so we play music a lot or he’s around while I’m bouncing ideas off the walls.
I’m trying to write a song about every person I don’t get to see because of this quarantine. Hopefully no one follows up with me on this...my follow through is horrible
5. It is a little bit of a change in sound for Sites, are you dabbling in something new?
I think just due to the nature of music distribution, you can try something and see if you/the audience like it or not and you haven’t ruined your career or gone in debt.
“Mexican Lager” had a vocal that I wouldn’t do on every song, but it felt right for that vibe. I love yelling (just ask the poor people I live with) so after trying it as a joke it kind of just stuck.
I just want to keep trying a bunch of stuff and seeing what happens. I feel like the aspects of my personality and songwriting will come through no matter the type of sound I’m blasting myself through.
6. Tell me about the music video!
I had never done karaoke before in my entire life until December of 2017. Now I’m hooked! My go-to’s are Brandy by Looking Glass, and Basket Case by Green Day.
I have seen some wild karaoke performances, and I had the idea of doing a combo music video/lyric video thing.
Matt Albani made this video for me. He got the stock footage/Tim & Eric bit right away. I wanted to make something goofy but sincere. Regardless of the fact our walls touch, I couldn’t think of a better person for “goofy but sincere.” Matt Albani is very genuinely one of the most talented people I have ever met so it was great to get to work on something together in a format we hadn’t before. (He also did the single art)
7. Will Matt have his hands in any of those future projects?
We have a couple of songs for our other band JamSkate. We want to make an R&B so we’ve brought in basses and keyboards and all we do is yell adlibs.
8. What do you think young Evan would think about where you’re at now?
I think he would be surprised that someone hadn’t just stepped on us by now. He definitely thought we’d end up taller. And I think he’d dig our tunes.