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Allstar Weekend embracing more mature music

Allstar Weekend (left right) now features Brent Schneiders Michael Martinez Zach Porter CamerQuiseng DillAnderson.

Allstar Weekend (left to right) now features Brent Schneiders, Michael Martinez, Zach Porter, Cameron Quiseng and Dillon Anderson.

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♦ 6 p.m. Feb. 9

♦ Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake

♦ Tickets: $25-$75

♦ (312) 666-6775

It was just over two years ago when the members of Allstar Weekend were enjoying pop music euphoria ­much of it via their Disney-owned record label. Their ’tween-friendly music was on the radio and climbing the charts, and their adorable faces and over-played music videos were plastered all over the Disney Channel. Life under the watchful eye of the Disney empire felt comfortable and safe for the four young lads from California, until the group collectively decided to do something so many artists before them never had the guts to do.

They left the label.

“I can’t believe it’s been two years already,” exclaims 22-year-old Allstar Weekend bassist Cameron Quiseng of the group’s split from Disney-owned Hollywood Records last year. “It’s been a difficult process to actually stand out from underneath that Disney umbrella. People will always associate us with Disney. It’s where we started and we will always be thankful for what they did for us. But it’s frustrating. It’s not what we are all about at the moment. We now have 100 percent freedom to do whatever we want, and yes, the music has changed — a lot.”

Indeed, the group seems to be distancing themselves from the sound of successful past hits such as “Dance Forever” and “Not Your Birthday” in favor of a more folksy, rock sound.

“It’s totally different than what we have done in the past,” says Quiseng, who is currently out on a headlining tour alongside fellow Allstar Weekend band members Zachary Porter and Michael Martinez. “[Our music] was just so mainstream pop before. Now we have a much more raw sound. No bells and whistles. These days, it’s just us and our instruments.”

The band also will soon distance themselves from the name “Allstar Weekend,” recently choosing to reorganize under a new name to be announced this year. Appearing at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge Feb. 9 in what is sure to be part of their final Allstar Weekend headlining tour, the foursome turned threesome (guitarist Nathan Darmody left the band last year) has spent recent months recording in Nashville with producer Jason Lehning.

“Jason produced Mat Kearney’s last album, which was an album that we were obsessed with,” explains Quiseng, who points to everyone from Prince and Queen and Jack Johnson as musical influences. “Getting back into the studio has been amazing. Zach [Porter] has an acoustic guitar basically glued to his arms, so he is writing all the time. And lyrically, it’s a different story this time. Our lives are totally different now.”

And while much remains to be seen in terms of the band’s future, the group says they look forward to getting out in front of their fans in a live setting with a mix of both new and old material.

“We will probably play a lot of the songs from previous albums, because we know that the fans we have had from the beginning still like to hear the old content,” says Quiseng. “This summer, we will also be out on the Warped Tour, where it’s going to be rad to play to a whole new audience. When we were younger, we went there every summer. We are fans of music, so it will be great to perform and see what the other performers bring to their live show.”

Pleasing that “whole new audience” is a challenge Allstar Weekend says they are up for.

“The majority of our fan base is in college now and is over eighteen,” said Quiseng, who claims to be single and plans to partake in some Lou Malnati’s pizza while here in Chicago. “We love the ladies in Chicago. I don’t know what it is, but the girls there are really pretty. I have no doubt that our diehard fans are more than ready to grow up with us.”

Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.

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