Aislers Set Break Through With New Headlining Tour

After spending years opening for other bands, the Aislers Set finally have their first headlining gig.

The San Francisco band is currently on tour in support of its third album, How I Learned to Write Backwards, and recently played the Middle East in Central Square.

The album takes the band in new directions of sixties soul and Motown, leaving behind their reverb-filled punk-pop. Its perplexing title isn’t as philosophical as it may sound.

“Well, I was sick for a while, and really bored in the hospital, and a friend told me she could write backwards, and I thought, well, that would be something to try,” explains drummer Yoshi Nakamoto.

The band is made up of veterans of the Northwest pop scene: lead singer and guitarist Amy Linton, formerly of Henry’s Dress, and former members of Poundsign# and Track Star. In previous years, the band has opened for Sleater-Kinney, Belle and Sebastian and many other major figures in the current underground pop scene.


“[Headlining has been] a lot more work and a lot more pressure, but the turnout has been great and is a testament to the album’s popularity on college radio,” says Nakamoto.

Although he admits that there was charm in being “just an opening band,” he says the Aislers Set were encouraged once they realized that crowds were coming to shows specifically to see them.

This change in position also allows their relationship with their own opening bands to blossom. Currently, they are touring with The Quails—whom they met through Linton’s connections in the San Francisco music scene—and Hella—by mandate of Suicide Squeeze Records. Over the course of the tour, the three bands have become very close.

“They’re the nicest people,” Nakamoto says. “I didn’t know them all the much at first, but now we sit and watch each other’s sets at every show.”

The band has recently shifted away from the noisy, heavy distortion that characterized their style. They resist comparison to Sleater-Kinney, who also evolved out of polemic punk, saying that their move is simply a natural progression for a band whose members are maturing.

For the most part, Nakamoto credits most of the band’s growth to Linton, the band’s main songwriting force, and her expanding musical tastes and extensive knowledge of the San Francisco indie-pop scene.

But some have not responded so kindly to these latest changes. Nakamoto feels some disappointment in critics and fans who were put off by the band’s change in style.

“Wouldn’t you want your favorite band to broaden their horizons?” he asks.

—Staff writer Stephen N. Jacobs can be reached at