By Matt Davis
We love a good side project. So many of our favorite musicians are taking their talents off the main stage and on to the sidelines, choosing to focus on the music they’ve always wanted to make. Side projects are a popular way for artists to a) fill their free time and b) make dope music.
So, check out what your (our) favorite artists have been up to on the side.
Main: Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years
Side: Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties
Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years takes fans in a new direction with this project started in 2013. Campbell has consistently been considered one of the best songwriters in the pop-punk genre, and he has taken this talent to the next level with the fictional persona of Aaron West. West is a character who has faced many personal troubles such as divorce and the loss of an unborn child. The lyrical content of these songs feel personal and intimate, like those of The Wonder Years that fans have grown to love so much. However, the idea of creating a band revolving around a fictional character is genius and makes this project feel more like a work of literature rather than a musical endeavor.
You can catch Dan, or more appropriately Aaron, opening for Streetlight Manifesto tomorrow night (9/13) at Franklin Music Hall (formerly the Electric Factory).
Main: Angus Stone of Angus & Julia Stone
Side: Dope Lemon
Angus Stone, one half of the Australian sibling duo of Angus & Julia Stone, began recording music under this name in 2016. While retaining some of the soft, acoustic-folk sound that has garnered so much success for Angus & Julia Stone, Dope Lemon feels a bit more adventurous. His music sounds like it was born out of a musician longing for more artistic creativity. With the level of success that Angus & Julia Stone have achieved, it can be difficult to shake the labels and expectations that come with such popularity. Everything about Dope Lemon feels fresh, exciting, and free, and it’s something that Stone himself seems really excited about. He dropped his second full length album, titled Smooth Big Cat, under the moniker earlier this year.
While currently touring Europe, hopefully Dope Lemon will grace us American’s with his presence soon!
Main: Ned Russin of Title Fight
Glitterer is the brain-child of Ned Russin, who is more well known as bassist and frontman of post-hardcore legends Title Fight. While the man writing the music is the same, Giltterer and Title Fight share few similarities. According to Russin himself, Glitterer began when he started playing around with some new gear he got in 2016 after going back to school full-time. He released a self-titled EP towards the end of 2017, followed by another EP in 2018, and finally a full length album released in July of this year. While the idea of a hardcore kid creating music that falls somewhere between shoegaze and synth-pop sounds odd at first, fans can see it coming in retrospective. Title Fight’s last album ditched the hardcore sound for dreamy noise music that resembles shoegaze greats such as My Bloody Valentine. On top of that, it seemed like Russin wanted to branch out and create music that didn’t fit the Title Fight vibe, and he brought in close friend and bedroom-pop icon (Sandy) Alex G to help produce his debut album. The end result is a phenomenal album that feels like, in many ways, a new beginning for a guy who has already spent so many meaningful years in the music industry.
If your looking to see him live, you can catch Glitterer touring the country with Ceremony and Choir Boy through the end of this month.
Main: Matt Murphy of The Wombats
Side: Love Fame Tragedy
Matt Murphy of The Wombats branches out from the infectious guitar music that his band has become known for over the past decade. As with most side projects, Love Fame Tragedy seems to have been foreshadowed by shifts in a bands sound in the preceding years. The Wombats increased production value on their records throughout the years, and that’s something on full display with this new project. Murph still sings in a way that makes you want to get up and dance, and upon first listen, many of the songs sound like they belong on a Wombats records. However, there’s something about this band that sounds a little more unique and personal to Murph himself. Additionally, Love Fame Tragedy has found the perfect balance between guitar and electric music that, at times, has eluded The Wombats. While he collaborated with Alt-J’s Gus-Unger Hamilton, among others for this new project, it feels like a true solo project in the sense that Murphy is in full creative control.
You’ll be able to see Love Fame Tragedy playing at New York City’s Mercury Lounge on September 26!
Main: John O’Callaghan of The Maine
Side: John the Ghost
So many side projects originate out of a longing that musicians have to create something that is deeply personal to themselves. Writing in a collaborative process can produce amazing results, but solo projects allow musicians to express themselves completely unfiltered. This is what John the Ghost has allowed John O’Callaghan to do. O’Callaghan is known for his work as frontman of the Arizona pop-punk band The Maine. As the band members have grown older and matured, so has the sound of The Maine. The band has been categorized as anything from pop-punk to indie rock, and John the Ghost seems like it was the next logical step in O’Callaghan’s songwriting career. These songs are self-reflective and convey a feeling of searching. This project seems like it was not only a place for O’Callaghan to experiment as a musician, but also a place for him to explore his self-identity.
John the Ghost hasn’t been active much over the past few years, and with The Maine back to making new music and touring, I’m not sure he will be anytime soon. However, if O’Callaghan ever starts playing under John The Ghost again, I’ll be the first one in line for tickets!
Head on over to our Spotify to check out a playlist we made of these side projects and more!
Do you know about a project that we missed? Let us know, we’d love to hear about it!