"Don't shy away from who you are" - Action/Adventure on Pulling Focus

A meteoric rise-to-fame saga for the modern internet era, Chicago pop-punk five-piece Action/Adventure shot to the sphere of public consciousness after a sixty second music video they’d posted up on TikTok went viral.

When we chatted with the band recently, they expressed their surprise at the extent to which it took off – a whopping 60k plays in the first day (the count now stands at 1.3 million!). When they originally wrote the song – ‘Barricades’ - they planned for it to be a “quick in and out one minute banger. We hoped it would do well on social media but as far as the numbers…we had NO expectations…it was definitely surreal.” Since the band’s fan demographic had always been the slightly older end of pop punk, it hadn’t occurred to them to put the video on TikTok. “We had it on Instagram, we had it on Facebook, but the TikTok was a sort of…last minute thing.” It was almost a throwaway thought suggested by their guitarist Brompton “on a whim” but the video - which brought up the issues of racism, prejudice and stereotyping that had been faced by the all-BIPOC band in a predominantly white pop punk world - seemed to really resonate with the young TikTok audience. “I think people were stoked that we essentially said what they were feeling. As a group, we kind of felt alone in [these issues] but seeing the response and people were really relating so much to the message…made us feel like there were more people out there that felt the same as us and we did the same thing for them, which was really nice to see.”

"I think people were stoked that we essentially said what they were feeling"

Now that the band – and their hashtag #PunkInColor - have taken off, there’s invariably some people accusing them of being some kind of industry plant and that the whole thing has been contrived. But as guitarist Oren Trace told us, some of them have actually known each other for fifteen years – way before TikTok was even invented! And the fact they’re all BiPOC is purely a coincidence. “It’s just so funny to read those comments knowing where we come from and how we all got together.”

“When I met you all, I didn’t even know what you guys looked like,” laughed lead vocalist Blake Evaristo. “Me and Brompton and Adrian [drums] went to high school together,” explained Oren. “Manny, our bassist, we met through mutual friends. Then Blake we actually found through a Craigslist post looking for a lead singer.”

And while you can expect to hear reference to their own experiences as BiPOC faces in the punk scene in their music, they also like to “go beyond that” and there’s plenty of your standard pop-punk type topics too – relationships, pizza, general complaints about life etc. They boys in A/A are also a pretty humble bunch. They don’t claim to be some kind of pioneers for non-white faces in punk, recognising there are others in the scene fighting the same corner. They’re also positive and optimistic, telling us that things have actually started to change for the better a little recently. “We’re in a crazy cool renaissance of pop punk at the moment…and we’re seeing a lot more persons of colour…More and more of the pop punk community in general is becoming more aware of the diversity and for once everyone’s trying to support each other and bring more inclusiveness to the scene.” Of course, there’s still some way to go to achieve full equality and representation across the scene, but the band are planning on just keeping going and that’s the advice they would give to other similar bands and artists. “Continue to play in your scene and show your face…don’t shy away from who you are.” They’re not here to preach. It’s just about “being willing to have that conversation.”

"We’re in a crazy cool renaissance of pop punk at the moment"

The band’s latest EP ‘Pulling Focus’ came out last month via Pure Nosie Records. Although this is their fourth EP, it’s their first release through a major label and the one that people have been paying the most attention to. The band itself have been going since 2014 and have had a journey of ups and downs. Prior to this they had a smaller, more hardcore following – “our last show before the pandemic was to about 15 people” - which has since expanded and grown. “When you’ve been a band for this long, you kind of learn to take the wins with the losses. We’ve definitely had peaks and lows.” There’s been times when they’ve struggled and doubted themselves when things weren’t working out and it’s been difficult to arrange things sometimes with work and family schedules. “It’s just time too, y’know? We’re all adults, and It’s definitely got harder as we’ve got older.” But despite that they still managed to practice twice a week pre-pandemic, a sign of their resilient, hard-working nature and despite early setbacks they’ve remained close.

Now, all that hard work and commitment has finally started to pay off. Getting signed to Pure Noise was certainly a proud moment for all the guys. “It was huge. A ton of the bands on there we’ve looked up to for a long time…we talked to a few people but Pure Noise was easily the best fit.” A full length album would logically be the next step for the band, who admitted they’ve been “sending some stuff back and forth” during quarantine but otherwise remained tight-lipped on future releases. They’re also in “loose talks” to arrange tours and shows in the upcoming post-Covid era although nothing is set in stone just yet.

With the band in a really healthy place and with exciting times ahead, Action/Adventure hope to continue to develop their unique nostalgic blend of easycore, pop punk and emo vibes way into the future. “We want to be playing shows and having people listening and singing along. And connecting with people. That’s the biggest thing…To get to this milestone is so huge for us…and once live shows come back, having that catharsis of singing to all these people. We just hope we can keep doing that ten years down the line.”

Pulling Focus is out now via Pure Noise Records