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Appalachians set to 'make noise' at Summerfest

Indie rock band performs on two stages on July 1, 6

June 26, 2012

From a couple of guys "making a bunch of noise" in a Town of Mukwonago garage to two performances at the "world's largest music festival" this year - not bad for a bunch of guys "keeping it fun."

The weekend rock warriors are seeing their hard work pay off, as the local indie rock band the Appalachians take the Refugee Stage at Summerfest at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 1, and the Cascio Interstate Music Groove Stage at 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 6.

It's been four years since the group started in the garage of lead singer Adam Sutkiewicz,with many band members coming and going. A combination of "luck and working our butts off," along with gigs at Milwaukee bars, playing with bands that have been on Summerfest stages, led the group to this pivotal point.

"I was really excited. It was a sense of accomplishment," said Sutkeiwicz. "It's really hard being an all-original band. It's frustrating because anybody can go and play somebody else's music, but it takes another whole level of talent to draw people in with your own music."

Playing cross-generational music with lots of influence from the '70s, '80s, and '90s, the group brings "straight in your face rock 'n' roll" with something for everybody.

Band beginnings

Sutkiewicz was surrounded by music growing up with older sisters, listening to the Beatles, Nirvana and anything from grunge rock to boy bands to classic rock.

When he was about 11 or 12 he fell in love with the guitar. John Bohman, lead drummer for Led Zeppelin, and Dave Grohl, the drummer with Nirvana and founder of the Foo Fighters, shaped Sutkiewicz's love of rock 'n' roll. Now Sutkiewicz will step onstage in the same music festival as one of his idols, just days after the Foo Fighters play at the Marcus Amphitheater.

Band members come from Fond du Lac, Whitewater, and Twin Lakes and commute to Mukwonago to rehearse in Sutkiewicz's garage. When the group started in 2009, they needed a name.Sutkiewicz always liked old-fashioned names such as The Cars and The Who. They wanted something with an outdoor, wilderness ring that they could identify with as a group, but The Pines was taken.

"So we went with The Appalachians," said Sutkiewicz. "It's kind of deceiving, in a way, because Appalachian music is its own genre of bluegrass/southern folk. So when we go on stage, sometimes people are thinking they're about to hear some hillbilly mountain man music, and then we hit them in the face with rock 'n' roll."

Their songs might originate from an idea Sutkiewicz had on the guitar or a vocal melody someone else came up with. They bring even the smallest idea to practice and let it grow and evolve until it becomes their song. Sutkiewicz said a lot of music today is "kind of stripped down" and "doesn't have a whole lot of human element."

"I feel that's what's special about our last recording. It has a lot of naturalism," Sutkiewicz explained. "We draw a younger crowd. There are a lot of people who are interested in what is coming out of the Milwaukee music scene."

A lot of people are getting sick of hearing the same songs played over and over again by someone other than the original artist. They are looking for something original, Sutkiewicz added.

Their album "tells its own story" with an "almost bright to dark contrast" as it goes from an almost dreary tone to a complete eerie haunting sound.

"I feel like there is something on there that everybody will like," Sutkiewicz said.

Now that they have released their first album and have their set list figured out, their schedule has eased somewhat from "if you weren't working, you were doing band stuff." The album, "Long Lines, Slow Wait" is free for download at theappalachians1.bandcamp.com/album/long-wait-slow-lines, to get the group's name out there, Sutkiewicz explained. However, the reason they work hard is because making original music is fun for them.

"For right now, it's all about keeping it fun. If you take yourself too seriously, it will take a toll on what you do" Sutkiewicz said. "As long as it stays fun, we will keep releasing albums and go wherever the wind takes us."

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