A Guide to Detroit with The Kickstand Band by The Kickstand Band in Detroit, Michigan

Gordon Smith and Allison Young play the kind of cheery, doo-wop music you’d want floating though the speakers during a summer backyard party. But the music that sounds like an easy effort comes with a lot of DIY work. The Kickstand Band records their own songs and books their own tours, playing big and small shows, on the beach, in theaters and at festivals. In this interview, Gordon and Allison talk about living in Detroit and being part of its unique local band culture.

Name:The Kickstand Band

What is the best thing about Detroit? It’s huge. Geographically. Sometimes you’ll look around and get the feeling that anything is possible.

What is the worst? It’s shrinking, population-wise. Has been for a while. Things can’t get permanently better until people feel safe enough to move in instead of out.

What is a perfect day in Detroit? Summertime, bikes, barbecue, Belle Isle and bands.

What’s it like being a band in Detroit? It seems like everyone here is in a band. It’s nice, every couple of years, people play musical chairs (no pun intended) and we get a few brand new bands with some of the same talent. The only downside is that if there are a few shows on the same night, there aren’t enough non-musicians to actually fill all the rooms.

Describe a typical week in your life these days.

Allison: Working two jobs and making candles.
Gordon: Freelance music work and pretending I don’t need a day job. Other than that, just practice, practice, practice then play a show.

“Literally on a beach” via @thekickstandband

What inspires your songwriting? A rich blend of previous relationships and the sinking feeling we get when we think about the fact that our college degrees might be completely worthless.

What’s your favorite way to interact with fans, before, during and after the show? We like chatting, but we’re bad at introductions, so if you see us just start yapping away at us.

If you could tour with any band or artist from any time in history, who would it be? Van Halen. We hate brown M&Ms, too.

Do you have any pre-show rituals? We sing along to Pete Faint’s Vocal Warm Ups in the car.

How do you get oriented in a new city? Ask the locals, of course! Everyone likes talking about food, so that’s a good place to start. “Where’s a good, cheap place to eat?”

Which bands/artists are you listening to these days? Lionel Richie, dude can write a bridge. We also dig some White Reaper and Colleen Green, if you’re into contemporary stuff.



Detroit photo by Peter Baker.

This Yodel by Era Bushati


Name:The Kickstand Band



Favorite place to eat? 

Onassis Coney Island across from where old Tiger stadium used to be = cheap, fast, versatile. Bucharest Grill for shawarma. Gordon used to cook at Green Dot Stables and we can recommend that place for cheap exotic sliders, but make sure to go during non-busy hours, it gets crazy there.

Favorite place to drink?

Bumbo’s in Hamtramck is a new favorite. Pool table and killer jukebox is essential.

Local tip?

Save your bottles and cans! You’ll get 10 cents back.

If someone was visiting, what must they do?

Don’t be scared to drive around and explore the city. Don’t do anything stupid and don’t just gawk and Instagram the ruin porn, but definitely take some random turns and get a little lost. It sounds cliche, but when you’re driving around, you will understand what makes this city so different than every other place in America.