You wouldn’t think The Smiths would mesh well with My Chemical Romance, but local band Growing Pains is here to prove you wrong.
The four-piece band from Portland, Oregon, has been a part of the Portland music scene since their high school days, meeting at a franchise and performanced based music school called School of Rock (yes, it’s a bit like the movie). But fans shouldn’t just thank the School of Rock in Portland for the band’s formation — in a way, fans should thank emo-rock band Joyce Manor too.
“When we first met we all bonded over our love of this band Joyce Manor,” guitarist Carl Taylor said. In fact, it was Taylor’s Joyce Manor T-shirt that first led guitarist and vocalist Jack Havrilla to strike up a conversation with Taylor while at School of Rock Portland. The pair started making music together, later picking up fellow School of Rock student Kyle Kraft as their drummer then the final piece of the puzzle: bassist and vocalist Kalia Storer.
“The moment that I think of when we first formed, I was in a practice room at School of Rock,” Storer, also a student at School of Rock, said. “I turned around, and they were in the doorway.”
Turns out the trio was so impressed with Storer’s talent they asked her to be in their band on the spot. The four got their first gig from their music instructor Sonia Weber, member of Portland band Alien Boy, who got Growing Pains on the bill with her own band along with some touring bands. After that gig, the group dropped out from School of Rock to focus on Growing Pains.
“We realized that it’s a lot more fun to play your own songs live,” Taylor said, noting the School of Rock program consists of three month cycles that didn’t give them enough creative freedom. The four gravitated to the musical potential having “complete creative freedom” could give them.
Fast forward to today, Growing Pains currently performs at both house shows and professional venues in Eugene and Portland. Its debut album “Heaven Spots” was recorded by Edwin Paroissien at Echo Hill Studios and released in 2020 一 but not without pandemic-related challenges.
“It was pretty weird recording in lockdown,” Taylor said. “It’s like all of these people that you’re super close with, but then you’re wearing masks and distanced.”
Taylor also added that, while the album was being recorded, it was the time when raging fires covered the West Coast.
“The skies were literally red when we were recording,” Taylor said. “It was like we were recording during the apocalypse.”
Storer also described facing challenges with mental health during the recording session, even being brought to tears while recording the song “Houseboat.” Fortunately, Storer is able to look back and consider it simply a funny story about the song.
Since this adventurous week in the studio, the group has worked on some new material with no definitive release dates. When asked about Growing Pains’ songwriting process, Taylor was unsure about calling their songwriting “a process,” as it would imply that they follow certain steps to write a song — which is not the case.
“For songs I write, I will write an entire song out, and I will have a specific vision,” Taylor said. “Everyone else will have their vision, and it will end up being a mix of four different visions.”
Taylor elaborated on this when discussing the band’s musical style, describing the blend of genres and musical tastes that makes the band original.
“For the song “Houseboat”, I wrote it to be jangle pop, like the Smiths,” Taylor said. “And [the band] really wanted it to be like a pop punk song, and that’s why it ended up sounding the way it sounds.” The song has the dreamy guitar lines you would expect in the Smiths, but the powerful drums and tempo of a My Chemical Romance song.
“None of our visions lined up,” Taylor said. “I think that’s why it sounds unique.”
Although indie rock is likely the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Growing Pains, the band doesn’t consider itself to be an indie band.
Taylor notes that it’s “obvious” Growing Pains is an indie rock band, “but it feels weird to describe yourself as an indie band.”
Going on to discuss what the definition of “indie” is, Taylor said the word isn’t just about the music.
“I feel like [indie] refers more to the culture around a scene rather than the genre itself,” Taylor said.
Storer agreed, adding the band isn’t a part of an indie culture. The idea of indie culture generally refers to the mindset of actively opposing the mainstream with expression through art, clothes and more. This is why indie rock bands tend to be more experimental with sounds and music than mainstream pop.
“We don’t wear tiny little beanies,” Storer said, referring to the mainstream style of indie culture.
Overall, Growing Pains is a must-hear for any fan of indie music and the Eugene scene – especially those that also love pop punk. While the band doesn’t have any upcoming shows or new releases, you can stay up to date by following its Instagram account: @growingpainspdx. Debut album “Heaven Spots” can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp and SoundCloud.