Bringing pop punk back


Eric Axen and Sightlines breathe new life into the genre

'Sightlines' go back a decade or more for inspiration, and it;'s great.
‘Sightlines’ go back a decade or more for inspiration, and it;’s great. Photo courtesy of Kate Henderson

When Eric Axen decided to start pop-punk band Sightlines, he wasn’t worried that people might be sick of the simple song structures and hooky riffs that Blink-182 and Green Day used in the mid-’90s and early ‘00s.

“I think we’ve had about five years’ reprieve from garbage like Sum 41,” Axen says, “so people aren’t so scared of the genre anymore.” With Good Charlotte and Simple Plan firmly in the rear-view mirror, Axen uses the label “pop punk” knowingly, in part because it has so many different connotations.

The genre spans wide spectrum from radio-friendly schlock to strongly principled do-it-yourself craft, and the front man thinks, “People are ready to embrace the good stuff again.”

Axen has been writing and playing music in Vancouver’s independent alternative music scene for ten years, most recently as the guitarist and lead singer for two-piece Hermetic. He was writing so many songs, though, that another creative outlet was needed — one better suited to the style of the new material.

“About half of what I was writing was very straightforward and almost embarrassingly sentimental,” he says — content that didn’t quite fit the literate, socially conscious themes of Hermetic’s output, but were perfect in the context of a pop punk band.

So the guitarist got together with two other veterans of the local music scene, drummer Chris Martell and bassist Aaron McHattie, and set out to “clear the vault” of backed-up songs. The three-piece walks the line between straight Ramones-worship andobservant, self-aware punk, but “the common thread is it’s mostly pretty fun.”

The role that Vancouver’s independent artistic community has played in shaping Axen’s music is not lost on the long-time participant.[hr]

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