Action/Adventure (A/A) is a pop-punk band hailing from Chicago ready to shatter decades-long stereotypes of the scene. Comprised solely of BIPOC, their mission is to create #PopPunkInColor and ensure pop punk is a genre where everyone is represented on and off stage. Playing collectively together since 2014, the group has gotten attention from alt scene tastemakers like Alt. Press and Kerrang!, garnered nearly 20k monthly listeners on Spotify, over one million plays on TikTok, and even secured a slot at the final Vans Warped Tour in 2018.
The band consists of Adrian Brown (drums), Blake Evaristo (lead vocals), Manny Avila (bass), Oren Trace (guitar), and Brompton Jackson (vocals/guitar). They’ve released multiple singles along with three EPs, Rumble Pak (2015), Last Minute Stuntman (2016), & Going Heel (2018), Pulling Focus (2021). New album “Imposter Syndrome” is out November 11th on Pure Noise Records.
Typically landing somewhere near melodic hardcore, the dynamic five-piece collectively write music that slides along the vast spectrum of pop punk. Poppy lyrics and melodies bring an air of familiarity that are simultaneously bringing a fresh perspective through a new lens, and gripping riffs and thrashing breakdowns that you can nod your head to, they draw inspirations ranging from Fall Out Boy to Senses Fail and Four Year Strong.
A/A has now successfully planted their flag into the national landscape of the pop-punk scene following the release of their powerful 60-second single, “Barricades,” which details discrimination each band member has faced while gigging at pop-punk shows across the country. On a whim at the suggestion of a friend, guitarist and vocalist Brompton Jackson posted the impactful music video for “Barricades” onto TikTok one afternoon with their hashtag #PopPunkInColor, and uninstalled the app shortly after. By the end of the day, they had over 60k plays. Within three weeks, the guys had over one million plays and an email from their dream label in their inbox.
Speaking about “Autopilot” the band said: “We like to think this song encapsulates the monotonous pursuit of chasing a dream. We started writing this song during a time where we were really running a lather, rinse, repeat gambit. We had band practices starting in the evening going into the AM often resulting in rough morning commutes. We spent weekends driving hours away to play shows for gas money to get home. We had to miss important friends and family events because there was always another gig, rehearsal, or miscellaneous band event to take precedence. After a while it just becomes clockwork. You’d review the year of backbreaking work in exchange for what felt like a smidge of progress begging the question: Is all of this sacrifice worth it? I think the release of this song years later answers that question. Paired with instrumentals that immediately get your head nodding, the song cooly coasts giving an anthemic vibe that aims to get you singing along. With any creative endeavour it can take years of blood, sweat, and tears before getting to those 30 minute live sets of euphoria. And we can’t wait to experience those moments soon”.
The band also spoke on the video and said: “The music video for Autopilot was sincerely a labor of love. Everyone involved in this project from the video team, actors, bar space, and “extras” were close friends and family. It’s a really cool feeling for us to be able to press pause throughout and name every face as all our friends on the shoot have been seeing us play since the beginning. The shoot itself really felt like a celebration amongst the inner circle. The video team of Alex Mueller, Connor Nichols, and Jeremy Whitmore really knocked this video out of the park. The cinematography, directing, and lighting really gives this video a very warm and homey feeling and I think does a great job placing the viewer into the space with us. Wade Hunt, the boss character at the start, does a hilarious job of setting the scene as we feel everyone has dealt with a superior like that at some point in their lives. Plus it leads to our Kevin McCallister moment. ‘Autopilot’ is one of the songs on the record that was written 4 years ago. Thematically it deals with the trials and tribulations of chasing the band dream. We often feel like we’re playing high stakes for little return as we’ve taken some emotional and financial losses during this time. With this record and video coming out – I feel that it shows us that this is indeed worth it. And we’re excited to expand our circle”.
“Carolina Reaper is an interesting track because it was essentially all written in one sitting. Back in 2018 Blake brought Carolina Reaper peppers to practice one night and of course, all of us being spice buffs had to try them. Instant regret filled the room, the decision to try the peppers was a mistake. I was definitely frantically trying to solve time travel so that I could go back in time and stop myself from eating the pepper. After about 10 minutes of freaking out, we started joking around on our instruments and somehow a whole song ended up coming out”, says the band.
Action/Adventure shouldn’t be here. At least, that’s what the Chicago-based five-piece seems to think.
They’re wrong – very wrong – but that’s the overriding theme of their debut album. That’s partly why they named their forthcoming record “Imposter Syndrome” – because when the band signed to Pure Noise Records, they couldn’t quite believe it.
“For us”, says lead vocalist Blake Evaristo, “having a debut on Pure Noise is insane. Especially because, when ‘Barricades‘ blew up for us and we got all that TikTok clout, it happened during the pandemic, so we didn’t even play a show till nearly a year later. And I feel like, in that time, we were having Imposter Syndrome, hence the title”.
The band’s feeling of imposter syndrome runs deeper than just what we mentioned. Namely, because they’re an entirely BIPOC band in the pop-punk scene, which automatically adds an extra layer of depth and uneasiness to everything. It’s what the TikTok video for “Barricades” was all about, and it’s an inherent part of their identity.
That video was never meant to blow up, nor was it meant to be overtly political. It simply captured how they felt about who they were and was uploaded by Jackson one day on a whim.
Still, Action/Adventure are acutely aware their existence is nevertheless important in terms of visibility. They’re just also keen to stress that their initial intentions were all music-focused, and that it’s chance, not design, that they’re all BIPOC. “Those two parts have to co-exist on completely even playing fields”, explains Jackson. “One can’t really outshine the other. Growing up in the scene, I almost felt like a pariah–I could count the amount of other black people going to shows on one hand. One of them is Adrian! You’d always see the same four or five other black people at shows, so you get to know each other. So it’s important to not lose sight of that, but also don’t want us to be a token band. We’re just a band. We’re a group of people playing music that we like to listen to and that we like to write–and we just all happen to be people of color. It was an accident, it wasn’t planned”.
One listen to this record, and that’s clear. It’s emotive and erudite, sophisticated and serious, fun but also full of the trials and tribulations, insecurities and uncertainties that make us all human. All that is channelled into these 10 impassioned and precise, vigorous and spirited songs. The fact that it hits so incisively and profoundly demonstrates why – even if they use the term with tongues firmly in cheek – pop-punk for adults is the perfect description.
“This might be our first album, but we’ve all been through the wringer, and I hope people hear that we have real stuff that we’re dealing with – whether that’s being in a band, being a person of color in the scene or chasing a dream that seems so hard and unattainable. I really hope people can feel what we’re feeling”, says Evaristo.