Even a cursory listen to the songs on their newly released full-length CD, We Only See from Where We Stand (Geykido Comet Records), showcases a young band whose musicianship has matured well beyond their age (bassist Nate Garret is still getting busted for attempting to purchase alcohol with fake IDs). Just now in their early 20s, the members sound as confident and self-assured as any of their peers, while still infusing their music with a sense of earnestness and angst-laden naivete typically reserved for sheltered kids who haven't yet been introduced to the stark realities of adult life.
Well, maybe they're still a little sheltered -- after all, singer Nick Thompson and guitarist Michael Short do live in a modest house that Nick's father bought for him to live in while Nick attends Xavier University.
"I can see it now," Thompson snipes, "East Arcadia Not Punk. Daddy Buys House."
As the rest of the guys laugh at their bandmate's proposed headline, there's an overall sense of groundedness that surfaces.
While drummer John Goodridge and brothers Ryan and Nate Garrett (guitar and bass, respectively) agree that committing themselves to music full-time would be an ideal situation, all are realistic enough to either hold down jobs or go to college -- or both.
The common misconception that being "Punk" means dressing like a retarded Sid Vicious and shirking all of life's responsibilities isn't one that the band members buy into. Instead, they've resigned themselves to work hard at their goals of serving as positive role models to their fans by attempting to spur an awakening of consciousness through their music.
"The thing that got us into Punk Rock before MTV thought Green Day and Rancid were cool," Ryan Garrett says, "was you could go to a show and, instead of the bands running out the back door and jumping into their limos after their set, you could actually go and hang out with them and get them to sign your records or whatever. I looked up to Axl Rose and Slash when I was a kid, but no more than I look up to Joe Queer or The Ramones now. The thing I learned from all the bands I listened to growing up was everyone's fucked up, but that doesn't mean you're stupid."
Taking cues from other local bands that came before them, the members of East Arcadia decided early on that making their music and themselves accessible was the only way to pursue their craft.
"When we first started this band, a lot of my influences were from local bands rather than big national acts," Thompson recalls. "I thought the world of bands like Spodie, Pincushion and Snotboy. I figured if I could be in a band that would make kids go home and say, 'Wow, I could do that,' then you've pretty much won the battle."
Speaking of battles, the members all agree that playing in Cincinnati can often times feel like just that. When asked what they think this town needs to foster a stronger music community, the band responds with a resoundingly unanimous, "More venues!"
While having more venues would certainly afford bands more options when deciding where to have shows, there's no guarantee more people would come out to see them.
"It's crazy," notes Short, "People come to watch the one band they know and then they leave."
"Yeah," adds Nate, "I went to Atlanta the other week just to see what the scene was like there, and everyone seemed more friendly. Everyone would talk to you as you were standing in line to see a show. That doesn't happen here. Here in town it's like people go to shows and it's a nuisance that the band is playing."
Although the group maintains an endearing sense of commitment to the local scene, several tours, a couple full-lengths and a few compilation appearances (one of which has East Arcadia's track sandwiched between more renowned artists like Jello Biafra, Bouncing Souls and Chumbawamba) have already propelled them beyond the limited scope of the city's notoriously fickle music audience. And while the number of people they can share their music with has all the potential to grow exponentially, East Arcadia is still taking things one step at a time.
When encouraged to offer up some words of advice to young bands looking to have a similarly good time with music, Ryan sums things up nicely.
"Just do it yourself and don't worry about what other people think," he says. "Play what you like and don't worry about what it sounds like. If people don't like it, then just don't do it for a living."
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