Deceptively Innocent has had one of the steadiest gigs in Tucson: a staple show performing outside the Chicago Store during Second Saturdays.
Starting, the band jokes, when their guitars were bigger than they were, the pop-punk trio of Daniel Blanchard (20), Brent Burdett (19) and Toby Chivers (18) have missed only one month in five years—when they were in Los Angeles auditioning for "America's Got Talent."
"People know we're going to be there so they show up. It's the most fun for me because we get to play four hours, and the crowd is right there in front of us," Blanchard says.
From middle-school until now, Deceptively Innocent has played with dedication and ambition that's rare for musicians of their age, claiming opening slots for bands like The Misfits and Plain White T's. Now the band is set to release a new EP, Game Over, that showcases a more mature sound and songwriting.
"Early on, we stared playing places 'kid bands' don't play," Burdett says. "We'd play the [Fourth Avenue] Street Fair or the Pima County Fair and do shows at The Rock. We always knew that this is what we wanted to do, and we always had our eyes set on the next bigger thing, playing bigger shows to get our name out there."
The band first started about a decade ago as an elementary school talent show project named Wedgie. Weaned on pop punk and their parents' CD collections—"Our influences back then were almost the same as they are now," Burdett says—the boys played a cover of Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69," replacing the chorus with "the summer I turned 9."
Formative influences like Blink 182, Green Day and Yellowcard blended into a wide mix of '60s, '70s and '80s rock like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Joan Jett, Journey and Poison. "Each one of our parents had different genres to raise us on," Burdett says.
Around the age of 12, the boys outgrew Wedgie and started transitioning to something more serious, committed to practicing a couple times a week. They renamed the band Deceptively Innocent, and when one drummer left, they decided to continue as a power trio, each of them taking turns on lead vocals, drums, bass and guitar, able to switch the lineup around song by song.
"We were locked into what we wanted to do," Blanchard says. "We ended up deciding to switch around on each instrument so every one gets a shot. We all have our own styles on each instrument, so it depends on who has the coolest idea on whatever instrument."
Loosely, Chivers has the strongest punk aesthetic, Burdett leans the heaviest and Blanchard favors the more technical music, but the trio has been playing together so long they naturally blend into each other's songs.
"Each one of us definitely has a favorite instrument, but we all like switching around too much to stop. I love playing drums, but I'd hate to be stuck back there the whole show. I still want the opportunity to get out in front and sing to the crowd," Blanchard says.
Game Over, which is technically the band's third EP, is the first adult project for the band, with more seriousness lyrically and an expanded sound that moves away from the three-chord pop punk.
"Pretty much everything we wrote for the longest time was about girl problems," Burdett says. With this, we've matured and the songs hit on more serious points. We're a lot more proud of this one."