As you guys have probably heard by now, Arizona post-hardcore act Scary Kids Scaring Kids will be reuniting for a special 15-year-anniversary tour in celebration of 2005′s game-changing LP The City Sleeps In Flames.
What you guys may not have heard is how the whole reunion actually came together. Thankfully, that’s where we come in.
Sitting down with founding members and longtime friends keyboardist Pouyan Afkary, guitarist Chad Crawford and drummer Pete Costa, The Noise was able to find out just how the reunion no one thought would happen, well, actually happened.
To see what the small-town heroes out of Gilbert, AZ had to say about stepping onto a stage together for the first time in over ten years plus what it’s going to be like without the late Tyson Stevens by their side, be sure to look below. Afterward, make sure to grab tickets to Scary Kids Scaring Kids’ fast-selling anniversary tour here.
So Chad, the idea of the band getting back together, how did that start? What led to you guys touring again?
CHAD: Well, I put out that song called “Loved Forever” and we kind of got a pretty good reaction from it. Someone came to us asking if we had any interest in doing another tour and I brought it up to the other guys and everyone seems to be pretty in so it was a good excuse to have a really good time.
So there were no talks about touring before that song came out?
CHAD: We had maybe been approached by one or two other people in the past but nothing recent.
Wow, so this is all came together pretty quickly. So Pouyan, when you got the call like, “Hey, let’s get the band back together,” what were your initial feelings towards that?
POUYAN: To be honest, I didn’t think it was gonna happen. As Chad mentioned, we had a few people in the past that had reached out. And our general hard line was, “We don’t see how it would work without Tyson. Fun idea, would love to see our boys again but we just don’t imagine that happening.” So basically, it’s kind of always been a no for everybody but [this time] I said listen, “If these promoters and this booking agent who initially approached us really think there’s a value in this, we’re down to explore the opportunity.” And our biggest question was obviously, who’s gonna sing? For the longest time, the only person that we really wanted to have on the road with us to fill Tyson’s spot would be Cove [Reber, ex-Saosin, current Dead American frontman].
[pause for a fun spontaneous phone call from Gilbert native and former Lydia drummer Loren Brinton]
POUYAN: So talking about serendipity and to talk about the tour, when people came back to us, we were like, “Cove would be a great singer for multiple reasons.” It’s really tough to replace Tyson and to honor him [but] Cove and Tyson were really tight and they were buddies. We also obviously think Cove has a fantastic voice and he’s filled in for Tyson before on Warped Tour. So we had a chance to hear him sing Tyson’s songs when we were in a tough spot and he’s always been the guy. We’ve reached out to him in the past and it just didn’t line up. So when we mentioned Cove [filling in], we mentioned him [thinking] that’s where the conversation would end. And then they said, “Great, I hear he’s actually open to doing this kind of stuff again” and we’re like, "Oh, cool! No way!” So we were like, “Let’s keep playing this game. Let’s see how far it goes.” So we talked to Cove and he was like, “Yo! My dudes! I’ve missed you. Oh my god. Thanks for thinking of me. This is gonna be so much fun. Of course, yes, if I’m available we’re 100% doing the tour together.” And then piece by piece everything has been consistently happening and there have been these weird serendipitous moments where like, even if something that we tried to make happen doesn’t work out, the right thing ends up falling into place. Like Pete playing drums on this.
PETE: We’ve been in touch over the last couple years. Me, Chad and Poyuan, with just kind of what we’re doing in our professional lives, it just started kind of lining up. I think that helps a lot with it.
POUYAN: Pete and I are working on some other stuff separately in the VR industry but Pete runs his own company. He’s the CEO of his own company, so it was like, “Wait, Pete’s not going to be available? No, Pete is available!” Pete founded the band with everyone else and is like the origin story of Scary Kids. He was the dad figure until, you know, he wasn’t.
CHAD: [Pete] honestly got us basically started. Without Pete, I don’t know if we would have done that first tour or made that CD.
PETE: Teamwork makes the dream work.
POUYAN: He was the head on the shoulders that figured out all the logistics and I don’t know if you did it through like AOL or whatever [laughs]
PETE: I could expound on basically those first couple of years and when we got started. I mean, we had just graduated [high school]. We recorded After Dark senior year and at Flying Blanket with Bob Hoke and there was not a computer in the room. It was all analog tape. There was no like, “Hey, let’s replace these drum sounds. Let’s do this.” It was all raw. So that’s part of the reason why I like After Dark. That’s real what you’re hearing there. And then basically, we graduated high school and we were all kind of going our separate ways and I uploaded the album on to mp3.com.
CHAD: Yeah, PureVolume and all that.
PETE: PureVolume wasn’t even rolling yet and somehow [After Dark] got shared on Absolute Punk and it went viral in whatever “viral” was in 2003.
POUYAN: 12 shares? [laughs]
PETE: So I go and I look and I was like, “Wow, we’re getting like 1000 downloads a day” and then I was getting emails from like Capital Records and Interscope and all these other management companies and we’re like, “Dude, what’s happening?” So we just said, “All right, let’s try it.” And basically the manager we had at the time, we were like, “Hey, we want to go on tour.” So he’s like, “Well, go book your tour then.” I was like, “How do you do that?” He’s like, “Just go and like book a tour.” So I went on PureVolume and just basically went and threw a map out – we didn’t have MapQuest or anything at the time. So it was some thumbtacks on a map on the wall and it was like, “All right, well, we want to go to LA and we want to go to Seattle and Salt Lake and all these places.” So I just started reaching out to different bands and we went on that first tour. We had these shows all booked and two days before we didn’t have a van. We didn’t have a trailer. We got the shows all booked and then we’re just like, “Uh we got to find a van.” And we were like 19, so you couldn’t rent a van. So my dad was very, very generous and helped us co-sign a loan.
POUYAN: “Dad! We booked a tour already, you have to get us a van” [laughs]
PETE: That first tour was awesome. We met a lot of the same people that we’re still in touch with today. We played Chain Reaction on that tour. We played Boardwalk on that tour.
CHAD: Sold out too. It was packed. It was probably our best tour for like the first two years of touring.
PETE: I think it was just that serendipity, man. I think it was just, you know, the universe saying “You got to do this.” I think our first show was Las Vegas. Mickey’s hot dogs.
CHAD: Yeah, that was the first show.
POUYAN: We had so many of those, like, terrible shows. That’s where we proved ourselves. Like if we went hard, like the fewer people that were there, the more energy we gave. There’s some sense of pride of like, “I went hard even though there were three people in the audience.”
PETE: Oh, yeah. It didn’t matter. So I mean, we were doing it. We were just doing it because we loved to do it. And as long as we could get to the next city, that was fine. I mean, I remember one time, I think we were right when we started our tour, my wallet got stolen at a hotel. We had bought a bunch of food to eat on the road, but it was like Twinkies and ramen, and I couldn’t buy any real food so I remember sitting on the beach eating this Twinkie and being like, “Oh my gosh, this is terrible.”
CHAD: Someone came up and gave you a sandwich.
PETE: That was in Florida. The guy thought I was homeless [laughs]
POUYAN: Well, you did sleep on the beach.
PETE: I slept on the beach. I had tour face.
CHAD: We were basically homeless.
POUYAN: And you did take the sandwich, right?
PETE: I did.
CHAD & POUYAN: [laugh]
PETE: It was the best sandwich I’d had. I remember thinking like, “What is this guy doing?” He was with like his five-year-old daughter. He’s like, “Hey, brother. Hey, brother.” And he like woke me up on the beach and had a sandwich.
POUYAN: I mean, like, in retrospect, we were homeless. We lived out of a van and we didn’t have money and we were like…
PETE: Homeless in a different sense.
POUYAN: It’s all about perspective. Like, “We’re not homeless. We’re in van, guys. We’re on tour. It’s different.” [laughs]
Do any of you guys look at bands starting out today and think they’re so lucky? You know with their GPS on their phones and Spotify and social media?
POUYAN: I don’t know, man. I don’t see them as lucky because I love exactly what we went through. For me, that was the most special time having to go through that journey. Like, having to go through those challenges and not having some of those things really helped you troubleshoot. Like, in Sacramento there was a church we played and our van broke down. Do you remember that? It was still the early days.
CHAD: Yeah, we were stuck there for like two or three days while the van was getting fixed.
POUYAN: The church let us play two or three shows like, “Yeah, keep playing. We got a couple other shows, you can open up for all them and just sell your merch and get enough money to get out of here.” They made us spaghetti, right? Dude, Sacramento has a lot of really fun memories. But I don’t know, like having fewer resources and having bigger challenges, I think really shaped us and made the experience more fun in a way. The early days, the very start of the band before we got into a bus and before we had the resources and before we expected anything from anyone, like before we expected a venue to have food there, those are the most fun days to me. Those are the most fond memories. Like, we had a giant large soda cup with a change thing and we would put any loose change in there then refill the soda cup and that’s what everyone would drink out of. We’d share that.
PETE: The Danker Danker.
POUYAN: It was called the Supertanker and then DJ [Wilson, bassist] probably just pronounced it wrong [laughs]. But we would also get these 99 cent, they’re called bomb burritos, and they have these chili dispensers at the hotdog machine. So when the dude wasn’t looking, we’d pack the chili into this into these bomb burritos and then we would all do bite-for-bite until the burrito was gone. Like, anyway we could save money – because when we finally gave ourselves per diems, it was like what you would pay for a Chipotle burrito today.
PETE: Yeah, five bucks a day.
POUYAN: Well yeah, we did $5 and then we did $15.
CHAD: You missed it, dude.
POUYAN: You missed when we made it big dude [laughs]
So when you guys think about touring in 2020, what comes to mind first? Are you worried that some of those things might creep in, like the difficulties of early on touring? What are you anticipating for these dates?
POUYAN: So now we’re adults. Like, Peter runs his own company. I work as a professional. Chad has a family. Like, we all have a lot more responsibility than we did when we were 17. So we know how to manage our own time and how to be responsible.
PETE: Work hard, play hard. Kind of answering the previous question, when we started we were just before this new digital age where you had to rely on distribution in order to get your albums out into certain markets. You know, you had to have a record label that gave you that distribution. Now, you can just release it on to TuneCore or DistroKid and it’s everywhere. And those were the things that we didn’t have. Now you can reach your fan base through any type of social media platform and they know exactly what you’re doing and when. I think before you had to organize a street team and you had to have people that were distributing flyers and you’d pay them in merch and now it’s just so much more connected. We were kind of at the end of the old age and at the beginning of this new age. So just being able to announce [our return] and get so much feedback so quick is, in itself, such an easy task in a way.
POUYAN: You’re right. We’re armed with more information than we ever were. Like, right now, when we started out we were like, “Oh, we don’t know if there’s value for a tour.” And then, this booking agent goes, “Alright, let’s do a, b and c then we can see numbers for who puts in their information here and there and then we can know how many tickets that we’re going to sell and then we can decide.” So there’s a lot more information from the resources that we have today. But yeah, I mean, we’re [going] out on the road, dude. It’s gonna be just as fun as ever. I mean, we know where to put our energy and where not to put our energy.
PETE: Partly because we’re just getting older too [laughs]
So when was the last time you guys played together?
CHAD: All three of us?
POUYAN: Pete, when did quit dude?
PETE: The last show was in the UK. We played at…
POUYAN: Astoria, London?
PETE: Well it was Rock City, I think in Nottingham. That was that last tour with Bullet For My Valentine. Oh, and I think I jumped on a song…
CHAD: Yeah, you played one song on the farewell tour.
PETE: Yeah, Crabby Don’s I think I played a few songs with you guys there.
CHAD: At the clubhouse. I think that last tour you played at least a song with us.
POUYAN: So it was at least a decade ago, could have been two. [laughs]
So was it nerve-wracking to announce a tour knowing you guys still haven’t gotten in a room to play together?
POUYAN: Book the tour, buy the van later man! [laughs]
PETE: That’s right. I mean, Chad and I, we’re still active musicians. I mean, I went to school for music. I did music as a career for a while and then Chad too.
CHAD: I’m locked in already. I’m more excited to get in with everyone and play than anything that’s nervous about people, you know, not being up to par or something. I think it’s going to be more fun than anything. I think it’ll be awesome.
PETE: I think we’ll sound better. I mean, Pouyan, when we just rehearsed over the weekend, it was like riding a bike.
POYAN: Man, it was muscle memory. Okay, so if you had asked me this question literally yesterday at this same time, I would have told you I was nervous as shit. Like, last night, we finally sat in the room together and I had the Motif [keyboard] which I always played and it had the springiness I was familiar with and all the patches. We were mid-conversation, I was playing this part, and I thought it was like one beat different and I was like, “Oh yeah, I got it” and then as we were talking my fingers auto-corrected to what the sound should be. I was like, “Dude, I accidentally remembered which chord I go to at which time!” Because, yeah, it’s all in there man. Like every single part, like six or seven songs, I just went like, "Yep. Oh yeah, that’s the chord it starts on. Yeah, that’s the whole part.”
PETE: Open up all those neural pathways again.
POUYAN: That’s right, man. I have a very partial understanding of that level of science but it just unlocked. It was literally just like it unlocked and it started flying. So yeah, not too nervous.
So The City Sleeps In Flames will be turning 15 years old next year. Does it feel like it’s been 15 years since it came out?
CHAD: It’s really quick, that’s for sure. 15 seems like a pretty big number for something we did.
PETE: Time is relative.
CHAD: It definitely feels like it has been a while, but 15 years? I don’t know. Not quite 15, I’d say. I was just thinking that we’ve already known each other for over 20 years which is kind of crazy.
POUYAN: Pete, when did we meet? In elementary school, right? You came with your mittens to Arizona from Minnesota. [laughs]
PETE: Yeah, I remember the first time I started hanging out with Pouyan. We were at Heroes, which was the comic book store where you play video games and Pouyan was there with these like goggles on his head and he’s like, "Hey, man, go buy me some warheads!”
CHAD & POUYAN: [Laughs]
PETE: So I went next door to Water ‘N Ice. I was like, “Okay, dude!” I bought him some warheads and he didn’t pay me back…
POUYAN: And we’ve been friends ever since! [laughs]
PETE: And then Chad, it was our first year of high school. First hour P.E. Chad sat next to me because our last names were close together. I looked over at Chad and I was like, “Nice earrings” because he had these big gauged earrings. And from there we just kept on playing in bands and then junior year in 2001 we started playing all of us together with Tyson. We’d met Tyson and DJ and then Pouyan was taking piano lessons and you were jamming with the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto.
POUYAN: That’s right!
PETE: You decided to jump on the keys. But yeah, we just kind of always played together. And so for us, I guess, the nice thing is sitting down and doing this, it’s not awkward at all. It feels like something we’ve always been doing.
It almost feels like this tour is more for you guys than the fans in a way because it’s about you guys reuniting and rekindling that old friendship. Would you agree with that?
POYUAN: Listen, I can’t imagine any fan of the music is going to enjoy this tour as much as we’re going to enjoy it. But that being said, we mentioned touring in a caravan or these little vans long before we ever got to be on a bus. In that duration, we met so many friends on the road and [we’re going to be playing] a lot of the same venues from our very first tour. So the people that we’re seeing, in addition to people that love the music, are people that we’ve grown with and have [made us feel] like a local band. Because like, when we went out there we’d stay at their houses. We did that for two years. We were just staying in people’s houses. I don’t think we ever got hotels. So yeah, I think it’s going to be a reunion almost like a high school reunion for us with a lot of people that we get to see at the shows again.
PETE: Also music is a way we can reconnect with old friends. I imagine, I’ll listen to some old album and it’ll make me think of “when I hung out with this person” and I’ll send them a message and be like, “Hey, I’m listening to this song right now.” So we hope that this [reunion] scales across to everybody reaching out to old friends and being like, “Hey, we’re going to the Scary Kids show. Let’s get our group of friends back together to come see the show.” So we hope we create this giant community and we’re all having the same experience in a way.
So this is obviously a very exciting reunion. But when you guys heard about the My Chemical Romance reunion were any part of you like, “Ah man, they stole our thunder”?
POUYAN: Not at all, man. No, no, no, no. No, we didn’t think they stole our thunder [laughs].
It is an exciting time for this scene though. It feels like nostalgia is pumping through everybody harder than ever. With all the emo nights, Chad you deejayed a few of those, is it refreshing to know that there are new generations of people that want to get into this music again?
CHAD: Yeah, I was kind of taken back by how emo everyone wanted to get at all of those DJ sets. The people were loving it. It really does, like Pete was saying, it kind of brings people back to a certain time in their life. And, you know, I guess it’s true what they say, emo isn’t dead.
Pouyan, you’ve admittedly been out of the scene for a while. Have you not been listening to this music as much as you used to?
POUYAN: Yeah… yup [laughs]. I mean listen, like every so often I’ll throw on August Burns Red when I’m getting a super pump on. Like, if I’m feeling heavy I’ll go heavy every once in a while. But yeah, for like five years after we stopped playing, it was so hard to listen to emo or post-hardcore. Not for any emotional reason but I just cringed like “ahhhhh.” It’s like someone reminding you of a fashion choice you made as a child – like wearing goggles on your forehead. Like, you’re super embarrassed about it and you’re like, “Oh, don’t do this to me again.” So yeah, I totally turned it off for quite a while. And I also was very surprised that there’s still an interest in this type of music because I thought it’s like, “All right, that was a period and people moved on and very quickly moved on and didn’t look back.” That was my impression of it for the longest time.
PETE: Well I think also too, when we started the band when we heard “emo” we were thinking of bands like Thursday or Thrice or Get Up Kids, Reggie And The Full Effect, Dashboard Confessional, Jimmy Eat World.
CHAD: I wouldn’t even consider them emo though.
PETE: But we were calling that emo back in the day. I know Jimmy Eat World was an emo band, Promise Ring…
CHAD: Stuff like Promise Ring and The Jealous Sound…
PETE: Yeah so it’s kind of weird how…
CHAD: We got turned into that?
So going back to these upcoming shows with Cove. There’s going to be the inevitable questions about him replacing Tyson. Have there been communications with him at all about any potential backlash?
POUYAN: I think like, we’re all homies. We’re all buddies. And and as I mentioned, he was really close friends with Tyson too. So he was a friend of the group at that time. I think this is a great way to honor Tyson and anyone that really feels like there should be backlash is pulling something out of thin air and is really trying to address something that’s just not there.
PETE: I mean, we talked to Tyson’s mom and family and they’re super excited. I know Tyson’s brothers were like, “Dude!” like one is going to come from Utah to go see the show. So they’re super excited. I think part of what the organization that we’re supporting on the road is about – I think everybody has been affected by the experience that Tyson went through and we want to be able to provide some sort of support and just say, “Hey, we all go through this but this is something that hopefully we can provide some sort of insight or message or inspiration for somebody to want to be able to get help.” And I think that’s part of why I think there’s a novel reason why we’re doing this as well. You know, it’s kind of a message that we want to send out.
POUYAN: To expand on that, the company that Pete’s talking about is To Write Love On Her Arms. They’re going to come out on tour with us and be a part of it and be a resource to say like, "Listen, we wrote a lot of very angsty songs and if you connect with those songs or did connect with those songs, people that maybe connected on a deeper lyrical level may be affected by depression or addiction or feel certain struggles that a lot of humans feel. That’s totally okay. It doesn’t fully define a person.” We’re gonna have a professional out on the road to let people know that they have somewhere to go. And if it’s not for them, for a friend or family member. I think most people have had a loved one go through something like this and it’s hard to know where to look [for help because of how] it’s stigmatized or you look or feel weak or whatever your reason is not to not to seek help, we just want to say, "It’s not a problem, there are people that care about you” and open up the conversation and have that dialogue in a healthy way.
That’s awesome. Glad you guys are providing such a positive message. Now ending things on a happy note, are there any bands you guys wish would reunite?
POUYAN: Some amazing dudes and unbelievably talented musicians that I would love to see get back together, The Receiving End Of Sirens. If they did a reunion tour I would pop in for sure.
CHAD: Hmm, you know, I don’t know. I’m trying to think some right now…
There’s a lot of reunions going on right now. Motion City Soundtrack is playing shows again. Anberlin’s playing shows. A lot of bands are getting back out there.
PETE: I think Saves The Day and Get Up Kids. I mean, Jimmy Eat World is still going. Some of these bands, I don’t know if they’re still going because I’ll be looking online, like, Strung Out was just through here and I’m like, “Are they still going or are they getting back together?” So any band that’s still rolling and like doing the thing, I salute them.
Well, just putting it out there, whatever you guys can do to get The Bled back together would be awesome.
CHAD, PETE & POUYAN: YEAH!
Maybe give them some sort of nudge.
CHAD: Yeah, okay!
POUYAN: I was trying to remember, I was like, “Who was that band I loved so much out of Tucson?” I couldn’t think of The Bled’s name.
PETE: Well, Jeremy [Ray Talley, guitarist] was in a band with Tyson, Coma Prevail.
POUYAN: I would love to see The Bled again for sure.
Alright, so is there anything else we may have missed?
POUYAN: Come out to the shows, come see us, help us make the energy good.
And there will be additional dates possibly?
That’s right, yeah. We’re going to announce all of our West Coast dates and that’s going to be January then we’re going to have fall dates on the East Coast. More to come.