Sometimes you don't get to write your own ending -- it's dictated to you. Post-core sextet Scary Kids Scaring Kids got that chance, though, and chose to pay tribute to their fans with one final tour. "We'd just rather end on a friendly, positive note and one that we can dictate versus letting little things drag out to the point where you don't want to be around each other," says bassist DJ Wilson.
The Phoenix, Ariz., band began in 2002, when the members were still in high school. They might have broken up and headed off to college, but decided instead to explore the buzz generated by their debut EP, After Dark, and at least take their shot. They soon signed to Immortal Records, which reissued the EP and paid for 2005's The City Sleeps in Flames. Though Flames possessed some strong melodies, cool synth textures and intriguing arpeggiated guitar riffs, it didn't separate itself from a crowded emo-core field.
But SKSK's self-titled follow-up, in 2007, was a tremendous step forward: The 15 tracks pursued an anthemic, mid-tempo, more rock-driven sound anchored to sharp hooks, crisp post-punk guitars, a light dusting of breakdowns and a strong overarching theme focused on self-identity and assurance. The screeching vocals were all but gone, replaced by more supple, full-bodied sonics that took advantage of Pouyan Afkary's undulating keyboard riffs.
"We didn't have the constraints we did the time before, where we only had certain amount of days to write and record the record," says Wilson.
The synthesis of their old and new sound reaches its apogee on "Faces" which blends muscular riffage with a particularly catchy chorus that captures the album's sense of self-discovery: "Let's tear away these faces we hide behind, cutting through the airwaves, open up our minds, show ourselves to the world tonight."
It's a great album, but the label was about to go under and couldn't provide the support it deserved. However, RCA saw potential. Scary Kids were "already pretty far down the road with making our new record" when ruptures began to appear in the band. Though Wilson declined to discuss specifics, it appears things came to a head when singer Tyson Stevens abandoned the group for "personal reasons" with four days left on the Warped Tour. (He later returned to the group.)
"He has his own reasons. I don't know all of them, honestly," Wilson says. "Ultimately, it comes down to: Everybody has different personalities and really different opinions on where the band should go and what we should do with it."
Scary Kids Scaring Kids with The Sleeping, Parcore and In the Wake. 6:30 p.m. Fri., Feb. 12. Diesel, 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. $13 ($15 day of show). 412-431-8800 or www.dieselpgh.com