Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties | photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN

The Wonder Years frontman Dan Campbell is becoming more and more known for his side project, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties, which just announced their first full tour following last year’s Bittersweet EP. This is a pretty big deal for Campbell. He’s played songs as the persona Aaron West at a few festivals, like Vans Warped Tour’s acoustic stage, but this is the first time we’ll get to hear his work they way he initially intended – full frame, full band, full story. This fall, he’ll be joined by Dryjacket, Shortly, Allison Weiss, and Norwegian Arms. The tour kicks off in New York on November 3rd and then heads West, then loops back home to end on December 2nd in Philadelphia.

Campbell describes this project as “a character study conducted through music,” and credits his influences to Bright Eyes, The Mountain Goats, and The New Amsterdams. And if you listen, Campbell has absolutely mastered an edgy, almost artfully angry vocal tone contrasted with bright guitars and horns. It reminds me a little bit of some of Neutral Milk Hotel’s tracks. It’s a sound that immediately catches the attention of a listener who is attuned to the juxtaposition of heavy and light. Aaron West does this.

There aren’t many underlying hints of The Wonder Years surrounding Aaron West, either. There is the same level of edginess for sure, but where the two bands differ is in the vocals. Aaron West has a more organic and raw sound than The Wonder Years, and I think that’s what makes this a good side project. It’s different. Sometimes artists struggle to escape the comfort of the work they do on the daily with a band they’re so used to. Branching out and changing sounds isn’t easy, but I think Campbell’s got it down.

Campbell is making all the stops in this tour, headlining in major cities like Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and Austin. For a side project to gain this much traction is a big deal, and the band absolutely has the support of fans of The Wonder Years to make sure this tour is awesome and full and alive. It’s a really cool thing when artists who have branched out from the band that initially brought them to fame are able to carry their new work to old fans. It’s a testament to the longevity of music, and I think that’s what makes small band tours successful. At least in Campbell’s case, he’s lucky that he has The Wonder Years’ following, because getting started can be the hardest part, and luckily, he’s already there.

You can catch Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties at World Cafe Live on December 2nd; the show is on sale now, tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.