Sidetracked Interview

Interview with Jay Tichy
Questions by Jim Walkley of Don’t Be Swindle zine

Jay Tichy is the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for Sidetracked; I’d assert that either live or on record, Sidetracked are one of the best powerviolence/fastcore bands currently in existence. (Should you doubt that, pick up a copy of the new Self Inflicted/Sidetracked split EP on Deep Six, and just try to keep track of how many times you play the Sidetracked side. As for myself, I quickly lost count!) Jay generously took a few minutes out of his hectic daily schedule for an email interview. Now’s the time to get out your Sidetracked vinyl, drop the needle on some wax, and read the following full interview!

1) Most people might not be aware that Sidetracked began as more of a “youth crew”-styled band before evolving into your current fastcore/powerviolence sound. What can you tell readers about that era of Sidetracked? Does that sort of sound still influence you as a songwriter?

Growing up, youth crew straightedge hardcore was a huge part of my life. I was obsessed with bands like Side by Side and Chain of Strength. Everything from the positive lyrics, the mid-level yelled vocals, down to how normal the dudes looked. My first exposure to “powerviolence” was about fifteen years ago from a dub of Capitalist Casualties “Raised Ignorant” and it completely changed everything. I would say those two sounds were what influenced Sidetracked most in the beginning. I came up with the name and started writing the first batch of songs in early 2000 and we played our first show in December of 2000. We were definitely more positive, more “fun”, and had more clear sing-along and breakdown kind of parts. I still would throw in short songs or songs with kind of weird structures, though. Brian joined in January of 2001, and I remember in the beginning, he wasn’t completely interested in going all-out in the pv/fastcore direction. He still liked to play straight without going all-out into the choppiness. I think once he got more proficient at blastbeats (and was, like me, feeling restricted by the limitations of youth crew), the change in direction was natural. For the most part, I purged a lot of the remaining youth crew influence on the second half of the One Lane Road Ahead disc. I wanted to intentionally have that CD start off with some of the crazier songs I had written and then the second half to be these youth crew-ish songs that had been sitting around for years. I have one more record written somewhat in that vein, but it’s more mid-paced with a lot of build-ups (the to-be-recorded “Unnerved” EP). I also feel it’s worth stating that the verse riff to Chain of Strength’s song “Let Down”, to me, is the epitome of a good hardcore riff, and it’s something I always come back to.

2) I overheard you mention at a house show that the “Uniform” EP is your favorite Sidetracked recording thus far. What sets that 7-inch apart from the multitude of other Sidetracked releases?

After finishing One Lane Road Ahead and the “Just A Front” EP in 2005, I started writing a ton in my room, just constantly recording riffs and splicing certain parts together. It was just a really great time and I got to a point where I had about thirty songs. Fifteen of them were in this really chaotic, Lack of Interest and No Comment vein; the other fifteen-or-so (as I mentioned in the previous question) were these weird, mid-paced youth crew-type songs with a lot of build-ups. So my plan was that, eventually, these were going to be two separate records (“Uniform” and “Unnerved”). What ended up happening, though, through the years, was that things would come up — for instance, in 2006, we were asked to be on a tape comp called “Hesh N Aggression”, so we went into the studio and knocked out eight songs in one hour and that’s what eventually became the “Hustle” tape. I gave up on the comp and released it as the aforementioned tape. Half of those songs were left over from an early 80’s-style band I was gonna do that fell apart (that’s where the songs “Boycott Show” and “Shut You Out” came from), but the last song, “Against The Grain”, was definitely part of the original “Uniform” set of songs. I felt like the session needed that song. The tape comp actually did come out, but I didn’t get a copy of it until a year after we released “Hustle”. Then, what kept happening was that splits would come up, such as In Disgust, Dead Radical and Hummingbird of Death. So there was no time to record “Uniform” because of these obligations. (That’s the main problem with splits. There’s this unspoken urgency to get those done first). So through all this, the “Uniform” songs were just sitting, waiting to be recorded. And the whole time, I knew they were my best songs. That’s not to discredit the other records we did before it. I love everything we’ve done from “Just A Front” on (I guess I do have a soft spot for the Summer League split, but I digress); “Uniform” was just what I had always wanted to do and to be known for. Part of it is a bummer that it took so long to record it, but part of me thinks that’s cool, because that means that the songs held up over the years — and I was still as into it in 2009 as I was in 2005 (when they were written).

3) The label that released the “Uniform” EP, To Live A Lie Records, is based in Raleigh, NC, but as far as I know, Sidetracked have never played a show in that part of the country. Has your band ever played on the East Coast? Is touring that far from your home base of Tacoma, WA, just not very feasible, with gas prices being so elevated, hit-or-miss turnout at shows, and your own family/work commitments?

We’ve toured plenty, in my opinion. We did West Coast tours pretty much annually from 2002 to 2009. In 2008, we did a thirty-day tour across the U.S. That was when gas prices were REALLY bad. And needless to say, we lost a ton of money. It was a huge strain on my wife to be gone that long. And while I was doing it, in the back of my mind, I was thinking this was going to be the only time we do this. It was just so inconvenient. And speaking of North Carolina, we were booked to play a record store in Charlotte — and nobody showed up. I remember seeing To Live A Lie samplers around there, but I hadn’t talked to Will yet. I’ve never been greatly impressed with our tours. It’s been cool meeting people and seeing bands I like, though. As for now, I have a sixteen month-old daughter, and leaving for over a week seems very irresponsible. So it’s hard to say. It’s been crazy, though, because since she was born, we’ve had four releases come out and it seems like a lot more people are hearing about us who maybe wouldn’t have before. So, it would seem that right now would be the time to tour, but nothing has come together yet. Another big factor is working out schedules with our other bands and their tours. My goal is to do another West Coast tour and play with Lack of Interest (because I love those guys!), and I also wouldn’t mind flying out to the East Coast and booking a sick tour with all my favorite bands. Maybe Europe one day?

4) On the subject of touring, will Sidetracked be embarking on a Canadian tour with Hummingbird Of Death in the coming months? If so, please give readers a tour itinerary (if you already have one). I can definitely attest that Sidetracked are just as great live as on record and would encourage everyone reading this to see your band live.

Right now, we’re planning on: Sept 6 – Seattle; Sept 7- Squamish; Sept 8 – Victoria; Sept 9 – Vancouver.

5) Sidetracked are one of the bands scheduled for the TLAL 100 Comp, which should be amazing. Do you have an idea as to what your track on that compilation will sound like? Certainly, the general guideline for the comp (songs that are under 30 seconds in length) shouldn’t be any problem for your band!

I’m really stoked to be a part of TLAL 100. Some of my favorite bands are going to be on there. As for our song, it’s gonna be fast. It’s gonna be chaotic. It’ll definitely be under 30 seconds. Don’t know what else to say!

6) If everything works out as planned, another future Sidetracked release on To Live A Lie will be the Sidetracked/XBRAINIAX split LP. What can you tell readers about your band’s side of that split? Apparently, it might be awhile before that split LP materializes, depending on when XBRAINIAX record and complete their side.

We’re basically done with our side. I’m hoping to go to the studio this week to get the final mix. Our side is fifteen songs that I wrote in 2010. I should note that five of those songs are very short bursts, but they’re cool — and some of my favorite songs we’ve done are on it. It’s definitely in the chaotic fastcore vein like “Uniform” and, when I was writing it, I had a few oddball influences on some tracks, such as Soilent Green and SWA. XBRAINIAX have written their side, but haven’t recorded it yet. It’s been difficult for XBRAINIAX to practice their songs since Zach (the guitarist) left the band a few months back.

7) A few months ago, To Live A Lie released the “Wrench” tape by Sidetracked. These songs are something of a departure from the sound heard on the “Uniform” EP. I theorized that your band was going for a noisy, brutal, live-sounding take on mid-’80’s hardcore, but the long-running punk zine MRR basically considered it powerviolence, similar to your other releases. The powerviolence aesthetic is present in most Sidetracked material, but I thought “Wrench” was a creative (and successful) alteration of your sound. Would you agree? Does Sidetracked have any further tape releases in the works?

I’m glad you enjoyed “Wrench”. The first song, “Fascination With Violence”, was originally an ending to a yet-to-be-recorded song which I made its own thing — and then wanted to just keep going in that reckless direction of more straight-forward hardcore punk. The influences for some of the songs were Poison Idea, Black Flag, Bone Awl, Ildjarn, Von, and Rorschach. (For those that care, the song “Dog Eat Dog” was originally written for Bookburner). I had the songs grouped together in the summer of 2010 and some time after that, my bass player Andrew’s other band, Criminal Code, recorded a rehearsal in his basement. I was shocked at how good it sounded coming off a tape deck. So I decided to record with the same tape deck in the same basement, and then record vocals in a studio later on over it. We’ve never done a raw recording like that, so in that sense it was an experiment — and I’m really happy with it. I don’t consider it a powerviolence release at all! Oh well. As for tapes, I’m planning on doing a six-song tape called “Untitled” through a German label called Knochen. It’s gonna be these weird songs I’ve had for years, some of them with a more dissonant edge. The other tape on deck is a split with our friends from Las Vegas called God’s America to be released through the UK label Tombs in the Valley. I’m still working on those songs, but I’m planning a more early-80’s hardcore vibe with it, and hope to cover songs by Go!, NYC Mayhem, and CIA.

8) Sidetracked are currently a three-member band (Jay on guitar/vocals, Andrew playing bass, and Brian on drums), but each member is incredibly active with other bands and projects. Please tell readers about some of these bands, as well as what they might be up to in the near future.

Brian and I also play together in Sojourner, Fever, and Bookburner; there are two more bands which are just in the talking stages, but haven’t materialized yet. They are called Modern Man and Eliminator. Brian sings and writes all the music for Sojourner and Fever. Sojourner is hardcore that has some more groove-oriented parts, but is still very choppy and experimental at times — like a mix of Right Brigade, Sheer Terror, Rollins Band, Burn, and Rorschach. We’ve released two 7-inches, a tape, and an LP, and are about to record our second LP. Fever is his “solo project” take on powerviolence. He did a 7-inch a few years back, but the only other thing he’s recorded since that time is this really strange music consisting of him playing the piano and yelling. I just play guitar live for the few sporadic Fever shows. Bookburner is powerviolence influenced by Despise You, Suppression and MITB. I played guitar and bass on the EP and wrote most of it. Brian just drums for us live. There’s been talk of us working on an LP, but it’s been hard to get it going. Modern Man consists of these songs my friend wrote that I’ve been trying to bring to life for years now. It’s kind of mid-paced, choppy hardcore (maybe like a mix of Striking Distance and Infest? I’m not sure. I like the songs, though). Eliminator is a band I’ve had in mind for years (that we need to get hustling on); it’s in the vein of Bl’ast! and later Black Flag. Andrew and I just started a band called Exit Bag that he writes for, and it’s hardcore punk with a raw black metal slant like Ildjarn/Bone Awl. I also play guitar in a band called Dethrone, which is like a weird mix of early Celtic Frost with some fast blast parts that are akin to Immortal. Brian also plays drums in Earth Control, RCA, Dead Weight, and Shore. Earth Control is a crazy metal band that used to be called Owen Hart and have released a demo, EP, LP, and tracks on the Relapse comp This Comp Kills Fascists Vol. 2. RCA is a side project of Earth Control that (to me) sounds similar to them, but with shorter songs; they have a tape coming out soon. Dead Weight is a NYHC-style band that just released a 7-inch; Shore is a bit more rock-influenced, in the vein of Helmet, Far, Failure, and Hum. Andrew also sings and writes for Negative Press, plays bass for Criminal Code, and plays guitar for White Wards. Negative Press is like a mix of Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, Poison Idea, and Nirvana; they’ve released a demo. Criminal Code is like a mix of The Wipers and Hüsker Dü and have released a demo, 7-inch, and a 12-inch EP, with a few more EP’s set to be released. White Wards is fast, noisy hardcore in the vein of Void, Die Kreuzen, Mecht Mensch, etc.

9) You run a couple of Sidetracked-related Blogspots. On the Problems They Persist blog that you operate, you recently posted an in-depth (and fascinating) interview with the Australian powerviolence band Nailed Down, who once featured Rohan as a member (later the frontman of Extortion). Please give readers the web addresses for these blogs and share with us what you might have in store for them.

The Sidetracked blogspot is and it’s the go-to for all things ST-related. Problems They Persist is a “label” whose purpose is to release limited-quantity CD’s for Sidetracked. I also wanted to use that blog for interviews, reviews, and ramblings. I’ve written one more interview that I’m waiting to hear back from, but for the most part I want to interview bands that maybe haven’t been interviewed yet — or ask questions of documented bands that maybe they don’t get asked. The url is:

10) Thanks for the interview! Do you have anything else to add in closing? South End Style (Tacoma, WA) forever!

No, Jim — thank YOU for the interview! Keep your ears peeled for more Sidetracked records (as I hope to suffocate the world with my songs!), and if you want to get in touch with me, email me at



This entry was written by Will , posted on Wednesday August 01 2012at 04:08 pm , filed under Interviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Response to “Sidetracked Interview”

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>