The Side Eyes serve up high energy spunky punk on their debut album soon to be released on the indispensable In The Red label. I sat down with Astrid, Kevin, Chris and Sam and chatted about their shows, favorite bands and their guilty pop culture pleasures. They play Sunday at the Echoplex with Redd Kross, J.F.A. and more for the "Punk Is Dad" show. This interview by Tiffany Anders." /> L.A. Record


June 16th, 2017 | Interviews

photography by ward robinson

Sam Mankinen: I’ve had a bunch. I was working at that time for a commercial air conditioning, like a warehouse guy. Running places and taking pieces to the guys on-site and stuff. Now I work little jobs here and there and I’m getting a union job and so I’m waiting for that to start and then I’ll be an engineer. I’m taking the safe route, but then I also can do this stuff at the same time. It’s nine to five, or whatever, so I’ll be good.
Chris Devine: I have an eight to four thirty, and then a night job sometimes, and a couple bands.
Astrid McDonald: You’re a busy bee.
Sam Mankinen: It’s better than college!
Kevin Devine: I work at Welcome Skateboards, and I’ve worked there for three and a half years, and my boss is a huge Redd Kross fan. Right when I started he was like, ‘You gotta get into them!’ Then I see Astrid, and she was wearing a Redd Kross shirt, and I commented, ‘Oh I like that shirt,’ and she said ‘That’s my dad’s band,’ and I was like ‘The brothers with the bangs!’ So I work at a skateboard company but me and Chris used to be lifeguards too. Cool lifeguards! Not Huntington Beach, but down in Mission Viejo and Santa Margarita. Like super south Orange County.
Astrid McDonald: They’re far. I’m technically here, in like Griffith Park, but I’m still back and forth. Chris Devine: Which is cool because we can be an L.A./OC band!
So let’s talk about the record.
Astrid McDonald: It’s crazy because we started recording it, I would say, two years ago.
Kevin Devine: We were recording for a tape on Burger Records initially, and we recorded four songs—
Chris Devine: And we did it in an afternoon—
Astrid McDonald: —just with Steve. Then we decided to use those on the full-length, but we didn’t record the rest until a year later. But we did all of that in one day too, so it only really took two days, but spread out over time.
Chris Devine: A lot of the songs sound like we’ve been playing them forever but as we progressed that year they got faster, they got heavier, this and that, so it’s cool—you kind of see where the Side Eyes have been in the past two years.
The quality sounds really good. Did Steve do it in this practice space?
Everyone: Yes!
Kevin Devine: When we had to do over-dubs, we’d move the amp into the hallway and he’d record it out there so we could play back, so we could double up the guitar and stuff.
Astrid McDonald: We did the vocals at his house but it was a short drive so we could fit it in a day.
I wanted to talk about ‘I Hate Dates’—where that come from? I’ve never done Tinder, but I have considered it.
Kevin Devine: It’s good and bad.
Astrid McDonald: I’m really an advocate for it because of my luck, but I think my luck was so random—
Kevin Devine: You can get unlucky too. Oh like—
Astrid McDonald: There’s like psychos out there.
What happens if you go on a creepy date?
Astrid McDonald: It’s—that’s just the gamble you’re taking. I say give it a go! There’s no harm! That’s always been my advice. ‘I Hate Dates,’ we wrote that one of the first times we hung out.
Kevin Devine: We were laughing cuz we did go to the mall together.
Astrid McDonald: ‘We don’t want to be mall date people.’
I also really like ‘Dead End Boys.’
Kevin Devine: That was the first song we ever made.
A lot of girls will relate to that song.
Astrid McDonald: Yeah! I wrote the lyrics to that song before I met him—it was his melody and my lyrics. When you’re angsty your songs are angsty.
You have a lot of young girl fans who have commented on the lyrics. I’m imagining being a thirteen or fourteen year old that’s really into the Side Eyes cuz there’s a girl singing about all sorts of cool shit I’m going through … except we didn’t have Tinder back then.
Astrid McDonald: We’ve only had a few of our songs released right now, so no one got to hear the lyrics, so for the most part—
—It’s just the show experience!
Kevin Devine: It’s cool when you see people show up and sing along. Girls go up with Astrid and they’ll be singing ‘Cat Call’.
What’s a TV series that you’re obsessed with right now?
Astrid McDonald: We love The Bachelor!
Kevin Devine: I was never into it and then I meet Astrid. Her whole family, like Monday nights … I was like ‘I’m not going to get into it.’ Then four weeks later, I’m on the forums online.
What are some guilty music pleasures you like? It can be teen pop, or the worst country, or it can be something totally random that’s not Side Eyes at all.
Astrid McDonald: Everybody knows this, and I’m not even guilty about it at all. People try to put on this guilt, but I’m not guilty. Loud and proud! Jonas Brothers for life. I used to sleep on the sidewalk to meet them. I was the most devoted Jonas Brothers fan you could ever meet. I was psycho. Like psychotically obsessed with the Jonas Brothers.
Kevin Devine: Me and Chris experienced it because our sister was psycho-ly obsessed, and we both got to go to a Jonas Brothers show. The first time I didn’t want to, and it was like the Teen Choice awards, and they turn on the TV and pause it and Chris is on with these Jonas Brothers neon sunglasses!
Astrid McDonald: The funny thing is I was there too!
I wanted to ask about your favorite place where you find the most inspiration and joy. A diner, a beach, a record store—
Sam Mankinen: This is the part where I include the IE, cuz there are two places. Showcase Theatre—that’s where hardcore and punk went down in Corona. One of the best venues in Southern California that shut down in 2009—one of the reasons why I play music today. And then Chain Reaction in Anaheim, an all-ages venue that had my favorite hardcore bands. It was like hanging out with your best friends. It was a good place to grow up and not be too old—perfect for high schoolers.
Astrid McDonald: I love the strip in Los Feliz of like Vermont and like Hillhurst, with House of Pies and all those places. Those were just my teenage years—seeing people and people watching and soaking it in and using those experiences later.
Kevin Devine: My favorite place is probably this beach in Dana Point called Strands. Me and Chris have been going there since we moved out here. We’d surf there, body surf there, do whatever … throughout ten years of living here, you can still go and have the classic California beach experience with the cliffs. Astrid McDonald: Now there are sharks.
Kevin Devine: Yeah, now in all of Orange County there is a historic shark—
Astrid McDonald: —infestation!
Kevin Devine: Now the whale-watching boats are chumming cuz they’re making so much money off of the people wanting to see great whites. So they throw bait off it and now—
Astrid McDonald: —they’re never going to leave!


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