Rock ’n’ roll’s history is full of stories about young kids picking up guitars to achieve stardom. Aaron Civic wasn’t one of those kids, at least not initially.
Civic, 17, did start on the instrument early, taking his first guitar lesson at age 10. But it was his mother who dragged him to lessons — he didn’t have any interest in going. At the time, he didn’t have much interest in any extracurricular activities.
“Before I was playing guitar, I didn’t really have anything going on,” he said. “My dad was trying to get me into sports, but I was terrible at sports. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself. In fact, before I had the guitar lessons, my mom tried to teach me herself, which didn’t go well. She wanted to give it one last try and take me to guitar lessons with someone else.”
It only took one guitar lesson with George Fletcher to convince him otherwise. Since then, the Queens-born, Saratoga Springs-raised Civic has become a familiar face at open mic nights around the Capital Region, and has performed in the area with numerous bands, beginning in 2008 with Legal Limit.
Check Out Lucy
When: 8 tonight
Where: Valentine’s, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany
How Much: $5
More Info: 432-6572, www.valentinesalbany.com
Today, he plays guitar and sings with Check Out Lucy, the alternative rock group he formed in June of last year with guitarist Elliott Brassard, bassist Jesse Herchenroder and drummer Jonathan Neville. So far the group has already performed at Caffe Lena, Red Square in Albany and a battle of the bands in February at Northern Lights. Tonight they make their debut at Valentine’s.
This is some of the same ground, show-wise, that Legal Limit covered previously. After that band’s breakup in 2009, Civic spent time in other groups, but nothing lasted. Check Out Lucy seems to be a hardier group than its predecessors.
“This has stuck around for basically the longest time, or it seems to be, since that band in 2008,” Civic said.
He first met Brussard through the guitarist’s Craigslist ad searching for a band. After jamming with a few different rhythm sections, the two eventually hooked up with Herchenrader — an SCCC classmate of Civic’s — and Brussard’s friend Neville.
So far, Civic has taken the songwriting reins. Check Out Lucy is playing a few of his older, classic rock-inspired songs that he’s been performing at open mic nights.
“I had a lot of unfinished instrumental material that I was playing solo — I had a keyboard and I would loop drums, bass and rhythm guitar and just play by myself,” he said. “I designed the songs to play them on my own in a solo show, but now that I have a band I bring it in and see what they can do with it.”
But mostly the band has been playing some of his newer songs, such as “Tiger Mountain” and “Better Be Careful,” which showcase his increasing interest in alternative rock groups like Weezer, Foster the People and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“When I write originals now, I sit down, and a lot of times I think about the songs that I get into,” he said. “Let’s say, I’ll think about Young the Giant, think about their style, and yeah, it does have an influence over some of the newer original material.”
The band plays a number of covers along with originals, including songs from The Killers and the aforementioned bands like Weezer and Foster the People. However, the goal is to become an all-original band.
“We don’t want to be a human jukebox,” Civic said. “We’re kind of reverting back to cover songs . . . because what we really want to do is get shows. But as we open ourselves up to play original places that do want us to play originals, we’ll use the originals more and more and start getting those out there.”
The band may have a CD to sell at shows soon — Brussard has a friend who has offered to do some recording for them free.
“We may want to record one or two covers, but since we want to get our original material out there we’ll start pursuing getting a good quality recording of them,” Civic said. “Since it’s free, there’s really no risk.”