Young Detectives' new singles showcase a growing versatility in suburban alt-rockers' toolbox
Moving "Away" means being conscious of where you were while watching that past fade into the distance.
With two new singles -- "Away" and "High Top Sneakers" -- released over the weekend, indie alt-rockers Young Detectives explore where they've been as reference points marking the path to their futures.
First written in early 2020 when guitarist Christopher Bryant of Lisle and drummer Stephen Utterback of Wheaton paired up for the Young Detectives near the start of the pandemic, the songs took on new life as Bart Sakowski and Deerfield native Ben Weis joined the band midway through 2021.
"There's just been so much maturity added in our songwriting with the help of everybody in this band," Bryant, the Detectives' original songwriter, said. "The story of 'Away' was kind of fun ... but I just felt like it didn't tie into what the track was about, which was going away, being away and getting out from a situation, moving and progressing in life."
"Away" feels like a Bryant-written Young Detectives song at heart, with its jangly guitars over an upbeat but chill beat. But according to the songwriter, when the band was ready to head to the studio with it, it became more of a "their" song than a "his" song.
"That's where it came together and just made more sense. The lyrics did a better job of painting a picture of unhealthy relationships. And I think that that's something we all can sometimes relate to," he added. "I wish that wasn't the case, but I think we live and we learn and we progress," he said.
"And I kept thinking about that idea that sometimes we have people in our lives who tell us, 'Don't go back. Be strong. Move on.' And eventually -- too little too late -- we figure out that maybe those people were right."
Bryant and Utterback's musical chemistry is built on 14 years knowing each other and playing together. The addition of Sakowski and Weis folded new elements and new influences into the mix, bringing more versatility and a broader outlook to the songs. It also has introduced a more collaborative era of songwriting to the foursome.
Former Naperville resident Sakowski, who, until the pandemic, had played in a string of metal acts, brought some of that perspective of change to the band.
"I had been thinking of switching it up for a while ... As a bass player, you're sort of pigeonholed as to what you can and can't play in that genre," he said. "I wanted something where I had the opportunity to noodle around and really let my playing shine and have songs that are a little bit more catchy, a little bit more accessible."
"I think it's important to not be afraid to do something different," Bryant said. "And I think that, to me, is something that Bart brought to us. To try something new to try to stand out."
Guitarist Weis sees Young Detectives as part of a new evolution for himself. Playing music casually for most of his life, his role in the band is actually his first in any band, he said.
"They were kind of a perfect fit for me," Weis said, "because I was ready to try to take my playing of music more seriously. To put stuff out and play some shows and play with some really talented musicians to try to push myself and better myself as well. And it's definitely been all of that so far."
While the two new Young Detectives songs are on sale and available for streaming, the concept is the start of a series that echoes throwback cassette singles, featuring a main song and a B-side track. The band plans to drop a pairing of these dual releases every month for the first part of 2022, possibly longer.
And while they're holding off booking shows this year until things settle down again with the pandemic, they did celebrate the release by filming a set with WNIJ (NPR) in DeKalb, which will be online soon.
Fans can also catch a recent Young Detectives performance from November on "Live In The Bunker," now streaming on YouTube.