Check out the song: “Sail”
There is just as much music out in the world as there are different types of food, movies and opinions on whether or not the moon landing was fake, but with all those differences there are plenty of similarities; stepping outside of the box with musical ideas can be a gamble these days but Awolnation seemed to embrace the challenge. Awolnation was the brain child of Aaron Bruno, a young man who has been in prior successful bands yet never tapped into his full potential. Releasing Megalithic Symphony earlier this year, people have been noticing and appreciating his art form which has been classified by some as “Danger Pop”, which makes him laugh. I had a chance to sit down with Aaron at the Sound Academy up on the balcony, he very much enjoyed the waterfront so it just made sense.
So how’s the tour going so far?
Aaron: It’s going great, just the opportunity to be able to tour sincerely feels great. All the shows just seem to be getting better and you know, every time you play a show you get better as a band, so we are really stoked.
Any memorable moments happen on this Canadian leg of the tour?
Aaron: Well we got on a ferryboat and went from Vancouver to Victoria and that was incredible and I would also say that this moment right now is memorable. This whole atmosphere with the water and the skyline at this venue is pretty memorable… even though we haven’t played the show yet, but this is a nice way to kind of finalize the tour before we go home. You know each show is great for it’s own reason; the small ones because they are very intimate and the bigger shows are great because you are reaching more people and that’s always good too.
I read in prior interviews that you’re a big fan of 80’s music due to your mom, and when she would drive you to school she would play all those 80’s classics in the car. What else has your mom influenced you in in your daily life, other then your love for Prince and Michael Jackson?
Aaron: My mom is one of those glowing beams of positive energy at all times and I tend to be a bit pessimistic. I over think things, get anxiety and all that fun stuff. She’s always been very encouraging and really she’s been that dream mom that everybody sorta wished they had and I had her. I feel really lucky that my parents are still together which is a very rare thing today and I kind of feel like an outcast because they are still together. She’s also a teacher so she has this nurturing energy about her, she also seems to get more beautiful as the days go by and I’m just very aware of how lucky I am.
If Prince and Michael Jackson were to have sex, who would be the top and who would be the bottom?
Aaron: I know Prince would automatically think he would be on top because he’s gangsta and he goes against the grain more so them M.J. would, but M.J. is the king so I don’t know if M.J. would be on top or bottom, but he would definitely be calling the shots.
My first full listen to your record I got a real big Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo vibe. Has anyone ever said that or compared you to him?
Aaron: It’s funny because in my last band someone had compared me to him, we had a couple of songs vocally that may have reminded people of him but on this project no one has ever said that. I am a huge fan and it’s extremely flattering.
So recently I’ve noticed that people have referenced you to a genre called “Danger Pop” but to be in a genre I feel there should be other bands to join in. Who would you say is “Danger Pop”?
Aaron: I felt that the new Sleigh Bells record that came out was incredibly ambitious and it was recorded so well. It was just really heavy and almost broke the speakers in my car, it made them rattled like no other record I have played in there. So I would say Sleigh Bells would be in that category and also M.I.A in a lot of ways would be in there with us as well, they are the two off the top of my head I can think of.
You used to be a pop writer before making the transition into being a solo artist. Who did you write songs for?
Aaron: I was an aspiring pop writer who would write some Micky Mouse cookie cutter stuff for a few hundred bucks a shot just to pay the bills and it didn’t pay the bills, but I did get a bunch of those 99 cent burritos at the local Mexican joints which were delicious.
Who would be on your Awolnation dream tour, you guys plus a few more bands.
Aaron: I would say The Sounds, they are a Swedish band who are really good friends of ours and on a personal level we get along really well. They are Swedish and I am half Swedish so we have this odd connection, Jesper the keyboard player has the same birthday as me. Also, Dave my bass player and I’s last band got to tour with them and it was really one of the funnest times of my life. Adding to that I would pick this band called Middle Class Rut who I really love who are also old friends of mine and they are actually coming out on the next tour with us. Lastly I would have to pick Neil Young to close off the night, it would be amazing to see him play after us so I can just relax and enjoy the rest of my night and not worry anymore.
What does surfing give you that music can’t?
Aaron: Given the fact that music is my job for better or worse, surfing isn’t my job and it’s complete freedom. You become in tune with nature in way that nothing else can compare. Sometimes you play outdoor festivals where there are trees around or you have a day like today where we are hanging out in the coolest atmosphere possible, but most of the time you are in a dingy club that smells like beer and piss when you walk in. So surfing gives me things like the Sun on my face which is very healthy for the human body and spontaneity or a wave coming at you knowing that no two waves are alike; each wave you ride is nothing like the one before so that spontaneity of reacting to the rhythm of the ocean would be the coolest part for me. You can also go inside of a wave and get barreled or tubed and you get shot out of being in God’s ocean. It feels like playing with God’s toys and there’s really nothing better.
What is the biggest non musical influence in your life?
Aaron: Well surfing obviously is in there, but in addition of that, the ups and downs of life really. Just experiencing different things, meeting different people, going on the road, experiencing different weather, just seeing the struggle of man in society inspires me a lot. It make me feel very fortunate and it hits me when when I see a bum on the street or someone who seems to be really insecure or whatever it may be, something about it just really hits home from the extreme despair and sadness and at times I try to turn that energy into something positive and uplifting as I try to put that into a song and represent that persons heart. I hope that didn’t sound too emotional. [laughs]
Check out the song: “Burn It Down”
What’s the best part about having A.D.D in your life?
Aaron: The fact that I often… um, what was the question? [laughs] I used to talk about A.D.D all the time and now that it’s in a lyric I can’t even say it, It’s become that cliche thing for this band, but I think it’s provided me with artistic and creative freedom. I’m not really stuck to just one thing or one sound, like when you ride in a car with me you might get annoyed because I always change the song after that main breakdown or transition because I know that the last chorus is coming just like the first 2 so let’s move on. So basically I think it allows me to explore more stuff because I’m never caught into a whole song or a whole situation, I kind of get what I need out of it and move on.
Who would you like to collaborate with if you had the chance?
Aaron: The list would go on and on because there are so many, but first off I would have to say is Jeff Lynne of ELO, he has produced so many things from Beatles songs to George Harrison and Olivia Newton John who I love so he would totally be the first guy on my list. I wouldn’t really pick like other singers or anything, but I guess having Zack de la Rocha come in and do a verse or scream a chorus would be really cool too. Adele is blowing up obviously and I keep hearing her voice and I think it would be cool to have her voice on top one of my heavier beats.
If you could compare Awolnation to a meal, what would it consist of?
Aaron: Hmm… It would have to be some sort of fusion. There’s 4 courses in a nice fancy dinner so it would start off with Caprese with a nice mozzarella, then off to the sushi and after it would be a Filet Mignon with some gnocchi and my mom’s apple pie.
What’s on tap after this tour?
Aaron: We go back home and have like 4 days off then we go and have 8 different one off shows where we have to fly to 8 different places all over the country where we do these radio festival things, we are doing a couple of shows with Incubus and then we are home for Halloween and we are also doing the Jay Leno Show and then finally another headlining tour.
What do you plan on doing for those 4 days off?
Aaron: Surfing the whole time, hanging out with my girlfriend and catching up on all the horrible TV we watch along with the awesome shows like Damages and Breaking Bad which I love, but if Jersey Shore is on I’m totally going to get really high and watch it. There’s a lot of documentaries I look forward to watching when I get home as well to feel smarter and well I’m an American Football fan and my team is the Oakland Raiders so I can’t wait to watch them this Sunday – they are 2-2 and after Sunday I hope they will be 3-2. It’s great to just sit down and watch some TV at your house, makes you feel more normal.