By Michael Petitti
photo courtesy of NEW LINE RECORDS
The Sights - Don't call them garage. As long as you follow that rule, you'll be allowed to see Detroit's own The Sights on Saturday at Plush.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Eddie Baranek is about as casual a man as you're likely to meet. Calmly, he comes across more as a California surfer than the lead vocalist and guitarist for one of Detroit's most rockin' outfits, The Sights. Who'd you expect?
The Sights bring all the influences of their hometown, from greasy rock to Motown, into their music and still remain as instantly embraceable as fellow local favorites The White Stripes. The band admits to being influenced by the likes of Ike and Tina Turner, as well as Solomon Burke, but for Baranek it was not through conventional means.
"I never really grew up hanging out with black people," Baranek said. "I grew up in white suburbia and the R&B I got, personally, was like what my mom's Motown hits were."
Willing to embrace all of their disparate influences, The Sights are reluctant about accepting one label: garage rock. Baranek sees the success of The White Stripes as the root of such comparisons.
"I think indirectly (The White Stripes' success) helped us and indirectly it's hurt us," Baranek said. "It's like, OK, bring up the Jack (White) question, I won't answer it, but whatever. I was reading this article in The Stranger in Seattle where the guy, the writer, Eric Davidson, kind of blamed us for not being garage anymore. It was kind of like 'I didn't know we came out of the garage in the first place.'"
Baranek has a rightful beef as The Sights' sound has always owed more to The Beatles and Motown than Iggy Pop, The Stooges and The Velvet Underground. Baranek thinks it's mostly tired journalists and critics who are lumping them into the overtired genre.
"This band's always come from a more pop and songwriting standpoint," Baranek said. "If people do lump us into this garage and Detroit thing, its kind of nauseating because that's only like one-eighth of our sound. That's just laziness on other people's part."
What cannot be overlooked or ignored is The Sights' hardworking attitude. The band has toured relentlessly and released three full lengths since their inception in 1998. This production is particularly stunning given the initially high turnover rate of the band, which included a revolving door of drummers and bassists before settling on current (and original) drummer Mike Trombley and bassist/pianist/organist Bobby Emmett.
"We've always had other really good musicians stepping up to the plate wanting to be involved when others left," Baranek said. "We never had a shortage of talent. I've been very fortunate to be surrounded by good musicians."
The Sights' determination and hard work is finally paying off with their latest album coming out to rave reviews in March and tours with The Donnas and, strangely enough, the blues-garage male-female duo, The Kills.
"It's always good when you can steal some fans," Baranek said. "Like from The Donnas you get the cuter, young girls and with The Kills all the hipsters come out so you can steal some of the jaded people as well, hopefully, and make them into your fans."
With emerging success come corporate endorsements. Baranek is pleased to see his small band from the big city getting some recognition.
"Yeah, we've had some offers and some interest, which is really cool to kind of see that kind of shit happen," Baranek said. "I just turned 24 and grew up watching '90210' and The Flaming Lips were on that and that almost seems like the start of it to me. I remember watching that going 'What the fuck, how did The Flaming Lips get on this?' Like for 'The O.C.' to bring that stuff in is a really awesome positive thing."
But make no mistake, The Sights did not begin making music with the intention of ending up on the soundtrack to a show about young, pretty people with problems.
"We started a band because we wanted to make out with girls and get free beer and get into shows for free," Baranek said. "We were so young we couldn't get into any of these Detroit bars and pretty soon we're making an album, then we're making two albums, now we're touring our brains out. Like four years ago I was like 'Holy shit we're opening for The Creation,' now it's like 'Whatever, they're just a bunch of old guys, we'll blow them away anyway.'"
With a cocksure attitude and prolific output it's no wonder these Detroit boys are finally getting the attention they deserve. Move over Jack and Meg; The Sights have future plans for success.
"Tour our brains out for the next year," Baranek said. "Have our significant others get really mad at us, hopefully make some monies and get on 'The O.C.'"
The Sights are playing with Rock 'n' Roll Soldiers, The Sweat Band and The Deludes at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Cover is $5 and the show is 21+.