Echosmith just might have been born in the wrong decade.
The California indie pop trio known for its smash hit “Cool Kids” comes to the Beachland Ballroom on Tuesday, Feb. 18, on a tour in support of its hard-hitting sophomore album, Lonely Generation. The album chronicles the plight of the youngest ’90s kids, walking the line between millennial and Generation Z, and trying to find their place in the dizzying social media age.
“We’re part of this generation that kind of has had an understanding of a life before being able to connect through nine different social media platforms on your phone,” says bassist Noah Sierota in a recent phone interview. “I was able to go outside, play with my friends in the cul de sac, kick soccer balls around, and not even think about what people were liking on Instagram.”
The 24-year-old mastermind behind the up-tempo title track wrestles with how quickly social media changed his childhood and the way we view ourselves and others.
“I’m still part of the generation that got social media quite early. I was in middle school when I had Facebook,” says Sierota. “So, it’s like that weird transitional generation where we know what life was like before, but we don’t necessarily remember how to live that way.”
The eldest member of the band of siblings finds solace in exploring whatever city Echosmith has set up camp in for the day, meeting new people face to face.
In his free moments on tour, he bounces around from coffee shops to restaurants, looking for a nook that catches his eye. It’s his way of combatting the lack of tangible interactions his generation has grown accustomed to.
“At least if we know that something’s wrong, then we know that we can
at least try to solve it,” says Sierota. “Scared to be Alone” is the track that Sierota is most proud of on Lonely Generation. Much like the title track, it delves into how uncomfortable we have become with ourselves in the digital age. Lead singer Sydney Sierota brought the chorus concept to the studio, and things took off from there.
“[Sydney] and I started talking about what it’s like to experience loneliness, but also to experience a necessary side of being alone,” says Sierota. “Knowing that we can’t always be around people or always be filling our minds with things. We need to be able to be alone and just sit with ourselves and that can be a very terrifying feeling.”
Sierota worked with his father to produce the record and threw in some new techniques this time around. The signature sound on “Scared to be Alone” was achieved with a slide guitar line and “funky rhythmic, but mid-tempo drums.”
The tight-knit trio created nearly the entirety of Lonely Generation with only the aid of its father. “Shut Up and Kiss Me” is the only track with the stamp of an outside producer on it. “We keep it in the family,” says Sierota. “It’s really cool to be able to self-position, and it’s a really great story for us, as a family.”
In studio sessions, each band member brings in concepts, but ideas don’t progress without approval from all members.
“We’re very democratic, which I think is a very smart way to go,” says Sierota. “Especially as a family. But I think in general for bands, if there’s one ruling member you can get yourself in trouble.”
The album’s most personal and simultaneously most optimistic track is a soft, stripped-down, acoustic ballad that Sydney Sierota drafted last year in the middle of the night for her and her husband’s first dance.
“Follow You” finds Sydney Sierota so blissfully in love that nothing can take priority over her relationship.
“I saw a glimmer of hope in it. And it’s really cool to have that story for the fans to get to hear,” says Sierota.
The female perspective that Sydney gives the band is what sets Echosmith apart from other alternative acts, but it doesn’t come without obstacles.
“When you have a girl leading the band, especially a band that leans more alternative like we do, the industry side has trouble knowing where you stand. Generally, the industry will think of a girl on stage being pop star, only pop star,” says Sierota. “It’s hard to break past that mold that’s expected of us. We are that weird in-between. We have that indie and alternative capability, but we still love pop punk.”
As a brother, Sierota also finds himself wrestling with “creepy dudes” that message his sister on Instagram.
“I’m watching out for that at all times. That’s what family does. Our family is very much ready to protect Sydney at all costs. And that’s good cause there are some terrifying people out there,” says Sierota. “A lot of bands that only have dudes in it don’t really know what that’s like.”
But for all the negatives, the positives carry much more weight. One of the most fulfilling parts of his career, Sierota says, has been supporting Sydney and cheering on other female-led acts.
“Most of the great music that is being put out now is being put out by girls,” says Sierota. “So, even to be a part of that, to be in a band led by a girl is a really cool deal.”
Sign up for Scene’s weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.