Band takes music on the road

Andrew J. Ansolabehere

Playing in a band in high school is something that many people experience. Meeting up to play bad cover songs and poorly written originals in a dirty garage or a guest bedroom is a pretty great experience.
A small number of these groups, after a few years, find a connection and improve enough to go on to play for crowds in real venues. Acknowledge Your Sympathy is one of those bands.
The band first came together five years ago. Band members Michael Aguilar, James Morales, and Willy Orantes had all gone to junior high together and started to play together when Willy’s cousin Mason Sizemore moved to town from Los Angeles. For years, they simply got together to jam and mess around, playing a mix of emo and pop rock. They soon started playing shows around town, usually for free, at places like Jerry’s, The Living Room and Studio 99.
The band played their first out of town show Nov. 1 at The Venue in Sanger, which is near Fresno. “It was super simple,” said Sizemore. “I would say similar to booking a local show. They’re a new venue. We heard they need a band to play, and they put us down.”
There is no definite leader of this group. “It’s never been one person that we follow,” said Sizemore. Aguilar, Morales and Sizemore all take up the vocals from time to time with Aguilar on bass and both Morales and Sizemore on guitar, leaving Orantes on the drums.
Only recently did the band decide to go beyond playing the occasional local show. In April 2008, Acknowledge Your Sympathy decided to record “Make Everything EP” which took them until early October to finish.
“We’ve only been serious for not even a year,” said Aguilar. “We started recording in April. We decided this is what we want to do, and we can do it.”
Acknowledge Your Sympathy plays next on Nov. 6 at Winterfest 08 at the Dome. Hawthorne Heights will be the headlining the event. After that, the band is off to Fresno for Fest Fest 599 at The Exit on Dec. 27.
The band is only in the beginning stages of making a name for themselves.”We’re not sure how to go about getting manufactured and published. We sell burned copies at our shows but that’s about it.”
Getting into the major music industry is not really on their agenda. “That’s like dreamin’ too big,” said Aguilar. “I think ‘making it’ for us would be to find a little indie label. Planning our own tour and showing that we can do it all, that would be ‘making it.’ ”
“We’d like to hit up the colleges in California,” said Sizemore. The band also hopes to start playing shows in western states like Nevada and Arizona. To be able to play with a big label band is not something that Aguilar thinks will happen soon but still hopes for. “I’d play with Paramore, try to get that girl to fall in love with me,” joked Aguilar.
Really, Acknowledge Your Sympathy is a group of old friends having fun. Aguilar said, “We’re seeing where we can take ourselves. If you work hard enough, your hard work might pay off.”