Too tough to die
On-again off-again rock stars the Sights throw a homecoming (of sorts)
Published: December 7, 2011
Since forming in 1998, Eddie Baranek has led his Sights to near-stardom and back again a couple times over (search our online archives for the complete stories). Four studio albums and countless tours later, and the band's putting out a "demos and outtakes" album aptly titled Twelve in the Bar. To celebrate, the Sights play a Detroit release party, but it's no ordinary show; every available ex-member of the band (of which there are many) will return to rejoin the Sights for one night only. It'll be a great moment in Detroit rock 'n' roll, to be sure.
The ever-affable, never-tiring Baranek, who started the band when he was a teenager, sat down to answer some questions about the new album, the show, the past and the future.
Metro Times: There have been so many musicians in the band now that I have to ask, are you the Sights?
Eddie Baranek: Whenever there's a new member, whichever lineup I'm with I'm like, surely this'll be the last. It's not like I plan on having a revolving door. When the first three guys got together, I was like, oh, this is the Sights. Then another guy would join, and I would be like, OK this is the Sights. So it's not so much a plan. I always think that the current lineup will be the last band.
MT: Are you confident of that now?
Baranek: I hope so. [laughs]
MT: You've played with many bands, including Shotgun Wedding, KO & the Knockouts, Spitting Nickels and others. Are you playing with anyone else right now?
Baranek: It's just the Sights. I mean, I play with Scott Morgan but no KO and the Knockouts, no Spitting Nickels, none of that stuff.
MT: You also work at the School of Rock (in Rochester), teaching kids the devil's music. How is that going?
Baranek: The School of Rock is kicking ass. Me and Augie from the Hard Lessons are putting on an AC/DC show. Hopefully, we'll be doing a Stones show, coming up in the next couple of months. It's all going strong. It's fuckin' rock 'n' roll. I love it.
MT: I've seen some of the shows you've put on, and you look like you have fun prompting your pupils from the front ...
Baranek: It's so funny. Sometimes people have an older brother who teaches them how to do shit, but there are not really that many older brothers who know how to play guitar. A lot of people have older brothers who can tell them how to hit a baseball or throw a football. So it's a good opportunity to show people how to fuckin' let loose, and not to take things so seriously. That makes sense.
MT: How has the sound of the Sights changed over the records, as members have come and gone?
Baranek: It's going to change as different personalities come and go. Everybody adds a little bit of their own flavor to the mix, definitely. But, y'know, I don't know if everyone always gets slower as they get older, as opposed to maybe the young energy. That first album was really all about the energy. That young, going-for-it energy. I think that energy is still there now but it's different. It's not all that youthful, having nine lives and just fuckin' going apeshit. Now it's more personal. But I just have this intense rage on stage. In a good way.
MT: Tell me about the new record. It's a "demos and outtakes" deal, right?
Baranek: It's like demos, outtakes from album recordings and some radio stuff. We had done a seven minute version of "Nobody" at an NPR thing in Philly. We threw a little riff in there. It's a side of us that isn't always on our records. There's that raw energy that we get live. It's on record now. It captures our humorous side, that I don't think sometimes our albums showcase. We have a song called "I Wanna Fuck Your Sister." There's another song called "Monkey in the Middle." We use carnival circus organs, like Sgt. Pepper's. I think sometimes some of that stuff gets lost. We wanted to capture it.
MT: Demo albums, like deleted scenes on DVDs, can go either way, right? Like, sometimes you hear them and think, "There's a reason that was chopped off the album"...
Baranek: Yeah, yeah, but I think that we all have that in us, that desire to look, take a peek behind the curtains. Maybe if we see them with their pants down, it can shine a bit more light on it. Literally, I guess.
MT: Are all of the ex-members of the Sights coming back for this show?
Baranek: Yeah, we've got a bunch of them, man. The guy that named the band, the original drummer, Mike Trombley, Dave Knepp, there are like nine guys or some shit.
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