Allies return after three years with Wire Walk | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Allies return after three years with Wire Walk

The youthful optimism of Pikadori is tempered in Allies by the wisdom that comes with being in one's 30s.

Allies return after three years with Wire Walk
Reppin their hoods: Allies (clockwise from left: Max Gregg, Joey Vesely, Joel Grimes, Greg Cislon)

It's been more than three years since Allies released an album. What took so long for the longtime local band's Wire Walk to materialize? Well, for one thing, there was recording the record, losing the whole thing to a computer snafu and recording the record again. 

"We had the whole thing recorded. The computer crashed. We lost everything," explains Joel Grimes, who, with fellow guitarist Joey Vesely, makes up the Allies core. "We'd dubbed all the vocals, everything." 

"The last thing you want to think about at that point is playing those songs, singing all those parts again," adds Vesely, a bit of exasperation in his voice just remembering it.

It was another in a series of what could be considered unfortunate events that befell the band -- but rather than stumbling blocks, they look at these moments as opportunities.

"We had just shifted members -- on our last release, Jo Ma was playing bass, and he decided to go his separate way," explains Grimes. "And Max [Gregg, the band's current bassist] came out of the woodwork. When he came out and played with us, it clicked -- and he has a youthful energy. Plus he's of that community; he's plugged into a younger generation of kids."

It was through Gregg -- who has played in other bands including Science Is Dead, Coal Miner and World's Scariest Police Chases -- that Allies formed a relationship with Dan Rock's Lock and Key Collective, which released Wire Walk. 

"I think the style of music we play -- our peer group has sort of moved away from it, but younger kids still listen to it," Vesely explains. "And for a while there was this transitional period, where it was like, ‘Where do we fit?' And we didn't really fit anywhere." 

Now Allies is looking to peddle Wire Walk to the younger set that might've been too young to see Pikadori, the short-lived DIY band that Grimes and Vesely made legendary in the early '00s. The constantly evolving Allies sound is more diverse than the high-energy output of that band; Grimes looks to former bandmate Jason Kirker for an explanation of what Pikadori did that Allies doesn't.

"Jason used to call it ‘end rock,'" Grimes says. "Every song had to end more intense than the last. There was this feeling with those bands -- Pikdarori, Io -- the live show had this energy. And when you were touring the country, you might only get to stop in a city once or twice ever, so you want to give kids that energy. But now we know we don't have to do it that way."

The youthful optimism of Pikadori is tempered in Allies by the wisdom that comes with being in one's 30s (which Grimes, Vesely and drummer Greg Cislon all are). The title track, Grimes explains, was inspired by the film Man on Wire, about tightrope walker Philippe Petit. Grimes draws a comparison with day-to-day existence and its constant movement from life event to life event. 

"Every once in a while, you stop and look down, and get a little freaked out," he says. 

Then you re-focus on the next destination: For Allies, after the Wire Walk release, it's a series of 7-inch singles they hope to release in the coming months. Since the album took so long to produce, they've got plenty of new material to keep walking with. 


ALLIES CD RELEASE with GERMAN SHEPHERD, WEIRD PAUL ROCK BAND, VOX ROBOTICA. 7 p.m. Sat., Oct. 15. The Shop, 4314 Main St., Bloomfield. $5. All ages. 412-951-0622

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