Life as a pop-punk band can be difficult when everyone is trying to delineate your sound onto either side of the hyphen. To some, you sound too aggressive to carry the pop prefix. To others, you’re too pop to be charging around with the punk suffix. Now imagine on top of that, you’re also an emo revival band trying to make sense of where you fit in the current resurgence of DIY emo music.
Troubled Minds don’t care about what genre you want to nest them in, as long as you listen to their upcoming EP, A Call to Anywhere at All.
As they are today, the Phoenix quartet have only been playing together since March 2018, but the roots of the band go all the way back to 2012, when guitarist and vocalist Matt Aldawood first started the band with drummer Zak Koehnlein, guitarist-vocalist Andrew Hredzak, and bass Brent Huddleston. Hredzak and Huddleston departed after recording a couple of songs with the group. Bassist Gabriel Adair joined Aldawood and Koehnlein in 2016, and the trio recorded the EP Something Worth Saving before guitarist John Bacino came on board in March 2018.
The EP consisted of material Aldawood and Koehnlein had been sitting on since 2012. “We decided to call it that because we broke up without recording the songs. So really, recording those songs was something worth saving,” Aldawood says.
The twinkly guitar that opens the second track on Something Worth Saving, “Chronophobia,” leads into the charged, almost nasal harmonies that build until a breakdown — “The mountains, the mountains, that surround me make me feel small,” sings Aldawood — that, when performed live, begs to be chanted along to. “Punch” has all the familiar characteristics of the emo music of the early 2000s, a blend between the pace and energy of pop-punk mixed with emotional lyricism.
Currently, all the band’s focus is on the new material and setting themselves up for 2019, which is not without challenges as Koehnlein attempts to come back after sitting out their last tour due to having a full-time job. Forest Walldorf of Sundressed filled in on drums on their October West Coast tour and in the recording sessions for A Call to Anywhere at All as Koehnlein temporarily took a step back. Nevertheless, together Troubled Minds moves on and they’re ready for everyone to hear the new EP.
“I think there were a little bit more dynamics on the previous EP. This one’s a little more poppy. I was focusing on catchy hooks,” Aldawood says. While they are heavily influenced by the emo revival and pop-punk music, Adair says they’re focused on bringing a new twist to the genres.
Troubled Minds say they’re going to take their time writing and recording new music before they hit the road on tour. Besides, they like playing in the Valley anyway, especially when Tempe has such a vibrant community of people working together to put on house shows.
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“The Tempe house show scene is such a gem,” Aldawood says.
When they do eventually get back on the road, they know it’s important for them to rep Phoenix in every city they stop in. They know it’s a collective effort, and it’s always exciting seeing other bands from Phoenix getting the opportunity to represent the city in major ways like Sundressed, Holy Fawn, and Gatecreeper have.
“The more eyes on Arizona, the better,” Adair says.
Troubled Minds release their single and music video “Exit Stage Left” on Friday, February 15, and host a release show at the Rebel Lounge on Sunday, February 17.