Isolation Drills: Aaron Sternick (Welcome Center, tinmouth, Timelapzzz)

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Sternick: Before COVID-19 hit, I was on my way to having the busiest year musically of my life. I play in a band called Welcome Center, which has been a socially distanced band since before social distancing was a thing. My bandmate lives in Dallas, I live here in Philly, we collaborate cross country and travel to tour as a two-piece. In 2020, we had between 60 and 80 tour dates planned, better shows in our own respective cities and a new EP we’d been working on for almost two years. Had COVID-19 not hit, I would’ve returned to Philly this week from a Dallas-Chicago run.

This period has taught me a number of things about my own blessings. Above all, I have not contracted the virus, and in general, I’ve never been healthier. I get to work out, listen to my body, go on long bike rides, etc. I was also not dependent on gigs for my main income, so my living situation remains the same and my lifestyle in general hasn’t changed much.

I’ve also been able to get out in the street and protest on behalf of black folks who are unfairly targeted by our country’s law enforcement—a struggle that has given me hope for this country’s future. And then I have a great group of friends; we do Zoom dates, we do socially distanced hangs, some of us still even play music together.

As a producer, this time has allowed me to learn and grow, try new sonic palettes and genres and develop as an engineer. Welcome Center has a ton of raw ideas we are refining into a series of singles that should start dropping soon. I finished a solo LP under the name Timelapzzz that I’ve been working on for almost two years, and that’ll be out in the early Fall. I’ve also had the idea for a dance-music project featuring female/POC voices and collaborators, and that idea has started to see the light of day.

tinmouth, a three-piece indie-rock band I’ve played in since 2012, is doing final tracking for our third LP. And I have a handful other artists who hit me up for production work on the regular, so we’re all staying in touch and working on that. This was supposed to be “the year of the tour” for me. I feel very lucky that, in spite of that change in plans, I am growing and embracing development in ways I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.