Catching an energetic, young band that just formed can be a fun experience for music fans.
The Paddlers musicians, who have just 10 songs to their name, are in the embryonic stage.
“We just formed a year-and-a-half ago,” vocalist-guitarist Caleb Steig said by phone from his home in Spencer, in northwest Iowa. “We don’t have much material, but we can play a show.”
When The Paddlers perform Friday (12/20) at Gabe’s in Iowa City, expect the band to play each of its original cuts, which are primarily urgent, dark and catchy.
“I’m all about fun-sounding songs, but with depressing lyrics,” Steig said.
Now 25, he learned a lot about that sonic combination from listening to his father’s Beach Boys records when he was a kid.
“The funny thing is that I hated my dad’s music when I was a kid, but I love that stuff now,” Steig said. “It’s had a huge impact on me. I like making these songs that are sad but also happy at the same time.”
The Paddlers’ sound is reminiscent of the melodic pop-rock band Brand New.
“I hope we’re more energetic than Brand New, but I’m a fan of theirs,” Steig said. “It would be great to have a career like Brand New someday. I’m just trying to write songs that are hopefully going to stick with people.”
So far, so good for The Paddlers. Steig was inspired to write “Lovely Vibe” and “Come Closer” courtesy of his wife, whom he married last year.
“There’s some positive songs like the ‘Lovely Vibe,’ but I have a darker side that you can see when you listen to something like ‘Let Yourself In,’ which is about dealing with the hard times.”
Expect a number of covers during the Iowa City gig.
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“We’re going to do some songs from our favorite bands like the Front Bottoms and Bayside,” Steig said. “Those bands have energetic, fun songs that we have a blast playing.”
Recording artists who travel as far as across the state have big dreams and expectations to match, but not Steig.
“I’m trying to be realistic about this,” he said. “None of us in this band take it too seriously. We take it seriously, but we’re not delusional. We don’t see this going anyplace, but if it does, that would be amazing.”
Each band member works long hours.
“We all have jobs,” Steig said. “So I can’t think about this band 24 hours a day. I clean windows, paint and do drywall, so I can’t be overly preoccupied with our band, but I have more fun than anyone can imagine. That’s why we’re driving so far for our show in Iowa City. The cool thing is that we have some family and friends there. It’ll be cool to play before them and hang out there.”
As much as Steig downplays his hopes for a full-time career as a musician, he admits that he dreamed about musical stardom as a kid.
“I talked about being in a band before I could play an instrument,” he said. “It always seemed like the coolest way to live your life. It’s hard when you have to travel so far — but it’s worth it.
“It would be so surreal if we ever got successful enough to quit our day jobs. Who knows what the future will bring? We’ll play out as much as we can afford to, since it’s what I enjoy more than anything,” he said.
“Hopefully people will keep coming out so we can continue doing this for as long as possible. We’ve gotten good feedback. That’s something to build on.”