By Jessica Hilo
December 10, 2008
On a brisk Friday afternoon, the three young upstarts of band Stuck on Planet Earth (SOPE) returned to Bishop Allen High School for the second installment of their BakPak tour. The school was the scene of a brutal snowball attack on the band one year prior; pelt-and-run assailants who disagreed with SOPE’s grassroots method of self-promotion. This time around was no more successful, as the band faced the embarrassment of ridicule from post pubescents and ejection from school premises on the grounds of solicitation. Still, SOPE treks on, paying their dues along the thankless path of many a musical up-and-comer.
SOPE, comprised of bassist Al Capo, guitarist Adam Bianchi, and drummer Andrew Testa, is hardly new to the music world. At thirteen, Capo and Bianchi started Toronto based band Expo; influenced by 90s and early ought pop punk heroes Greenday, Blink 182, and, of course, Sum 41. Testa joined Expo six months before the band revamped its sound and changed its name entirely. “We loved their music,” Capo recalls, but tastes matured, horizons expanded, and they wanted to be taken more seriously. SOPE found a nice niche after maturation. Its sound became pop punk inspired by a cavalcade of artists of many genres from the past three decades- imagine the Police with a twist of Flock of Seagulls punctuated by the sweaty grime of old MXPX and all deliciously coated with the sheen of recklessness and overconfidence inherent of people in their twenties. The band’s success is hinged on a collaborative writing process founded on the creed “let the best song win;” that and the surprising electro mix mastery of its Flashlight Brown producer, Fil Bucchino. SOPE’s repertoire conquers melody and rhythmic complexity while maintaining the lyrical boyishness of its punk roots; but one cannot stand upon this alone on the road of professional progress and the boys are moving forward yet again.
When I asked SOPE what inspired their band name, Capo answered “everything going on inspired it.” Epic movies, environmental concerns, “everyone’s kind of panicking right now… [This is a] band name that reminds everyone that we’re human. Let’s try to turn this planet around.” SOPE is doing its part artistically, with an EP of five new, lyrically focused tracks. “This is one of the first EPs [where] we really started writing love songs and breakup songs,” Capo explains; it is also the first album to cover real world issues like reliance on technology and obsession with celebrity hedonism. Beyond lyricism, the album showcases the band’s want for innovation, as it is recorded off the floor in order to capture the energy of a live band and with songs done in four takes (Testa: “basically, we’re the shit.”) The band has greater plans with this next album, “you can’t sit on something and expect it to take you anywhere…with this record, our expectations are only as far as what we can do.” Once the months-long tedium of recording, designing album artwork, and BakPak touring is complete, the band expressed interest in a future collaboration with environmental organizations, saying “we never like to limit ourselves.” Grand ideas for a talent so promising and yet undiscovered; one would think they were talking out of their asses were it not for the next line Capo offered humbly: “This is what we want to do for a career and our lives. Whether we’re selling out a stadium or playing for five people, this is what we’re all about.”
For now, superstardom and philanthropy of Bono proportions will have to wait; it’s back to the BakPak tour for our down to earth SOPEfuls. But with a new music video, a treasure chest of clips on youtube, remixed sampling by Jose Maria, and an album on the horizon, the band that screamed “I am ready for anything” will surely test its mettle.