Since 2011’s epic Megalithic Symphony release, AWOLNATION’s ridden a welcome and unexpected tidal wave of platinum and commercial success ever since. Having singles featured in prominent TV shows and blockbuster movie soundtracks thrust the Los Angeles band into the glaring spotlight. Not only receiving critical acclaim, they’ve also acquired a diverse and passionate fanbase as worldwide fans zealously connected with songs like “Sail”, “Kill Your Heroes” and “Not Your Fault” that blur genre lines and create a trademark sound unto itself. Working on their second album and touring Europe and stateside this summer, this band’s definitely been busy “burning it down”.
mxdwn connected with Aaron Bruno, home on a mini-break in the tour schedule recently to chat about his offstage passion, his first song on guitar, what we’d find in his music collection and more. Check out his answers below and visit AWOLNation’s website!
I’ve read that you’re happiest when you’re surfing. How does the ocean inspire you?
Ever since I was an extremely young kid, it’s just been a huge component to my life and a big influence and inspiration to everything I do. It’s really the only time I feel completely at peace. It’s a very spiritual moment for me in time. It’s very therapeutic, clears my head and makes me able to focus on song ideas, not to mention a lot of song ideas come to me when I’m in the water. Both lyrically and melodically. They’re both similar, both very rhythmic- music and surfing- and you gotta go with the flow.
What significance does “La Bamba” have to you?
It was the first song I learned on guitar and my dad taught it to me… He was always into Spanish flamenco style guitar strumming [when I was] growing up and I guess it was the easiest song he could teach me. The feeling I got from playing music with him at a young age was very impactful and planted a seed in me for more to come later. My mom also taught me a bunch of basic chords cause she was a teacher and those are basically the same chords I use to this day.
What would someone be surprised to find in your music collection?
I would hope that people would be understanding of all the stuff that’s in my music collection cause I like a lot. I have certain songs that are terrible songs that I have either accidentally or possibly as something that ended up in my collection so I would never make the same mistake, in my opinion, of that song, you know, as a reminder. There are plenty of songs that are jokes in my library just to play once in a while to make people laugh… I wouldn’t prefer to badmouth any songs or any songwriters cause it’s hard enough to put yourself out there. That would be more for critics to decide and I’m not sure they would be right either.
You’ve had sci-fi themes running through your music and in your stage show. What makes a good sci-fi movie, in your opinion?
It has to have a good story, an element of cheesiness and it has to just look good. The same elements that make any movie a good movie. I felt like some of the music I created would be aesthetically pleasing to see the future as predicted by the late ’70s-early ’80s. That’s what appeals to my eye.
What was your creative process like for your new album? Did you change your approach with this one compared to how you’ve worked in the past?
Yeah cause I wrote all these songs on my own and did it all myself with the exception of a couple little parts. With the other bands I was in, I was writing with the rest of the guys in the band so of course it’s different… There’s no timeline [for the new album]. Whenever it’s done and seems appropriate is when we’ll release it. Not a second before and not a second too late. In the meantime, we’ll do our best to give little snippets for people that have been loyal to us since Day One who are really yearning for something new.
Who would you not want to trade lives with?
I wouldn’t want to trade lives with anyone. Who I wouldn’t want to trade with would be everyone… I was put on this Earth as me so I don’t fit as someone else.
What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve ever had onstage?
You can’t take yourself that seriously. I’ve slipped. I’ve fallen. I don’t care about that though. The PA system went completely off recently when we headlined the Milwaukee Summer Fest and that could have been embarrassing. I just walked offstage, they fixed it, we came back on and played. I made a joke about it onstage and just rolled on. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. The songs are dead serious and we play it serious but as far as who we are, life is too short to get caught up in those types of things.
Do you get tired of being asked about why your music fits multiple genres?
No, I get sick of being asked what genre it is cause I don’t know and to go full circle to your question, no, I don’t get sick of being asked that. I think it appeals to a lot of different folks cause I’ve always liked different types of music. I have different types of friends and never really felt comfortable in one scene or another. I guess it’s only natural that my songs would appeal to different types of people. That wasn’t what the goal was but that’s what happened naturally… I don’t know who our audience really is, just a bunch of folks that relate to a bunch of stuff I said and the way the songs have come together luckily for me.
Have you been surprised by which songs your fans have connected most with?
No, I’ve been surprised that people connected with any of them at all. So which ones those songs may be on a given night or any different way that someone has turned onto this project, I am grateful for any song it may be…This didn’t happen by accident but it happened in a way that was unexpected but much appreciated and greatly accepted.