AWOLNATION has been touring relentlessly since last year's release of their excellent debut LP Megalithic Symphony, and most recently tore up the stage in New Orleans at this year's amazing Voodoo Experience festival (check out our full coverage). CraveOnline was on hand for the events, and caught up with the band’s frontman Aaron Bruno and bassist Dave Amezcua before their show.
CraveOnline: Welcome to New Orleans and Voodoo Fest. How are y'all doing?
Aaron Bruno: Good! We're excited to be here. The last time we were here we played the House of the Blues and had a blast. This has gotta be the most interesting place in all of the States and we're all huge fans. It's always insane to share a stage with a band like Metallica because in sixth or seventh grade – and I think I can speak on behalf of all of us – that seemed untouchable. Of course, I'm a fan of their older stuff mostly.
What happens in your songwriting process? You've mentioned in previous interviews that it's a bit random at times.
Aaron Bruno: It's really usually an idea that comes out of nowhere. And you do your best to turn that idea into the reality of a song. Sometimes it's also good to write bad songs to get those out of your system. Just like sometimes me and Dave will have to say a couple of bad jokes to get to our best joke. See that was a bad joke right there. We have a lot of bad jokes.
Dave Amezcua: Offstage too. To each other. We're still waiting to get to the good joke.
Aaron Bruno: See I laughed at that but she's a tough audience. We're gonna make her laugh.
In addition to good inspiration there is bad inspiration. Like, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. once said they drew inspiration from how bad Nickelback is...
Aaron Bruno: Well that's the problem with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is that Nickelback's amazing.
Is this on the record?
Aaron Bruno: Yeah. Anyone who's reading that understands what I meant by that. Which I still don't know what I meant honestly. (laughs)
Is there an overarching message in AWOLNATION's music?
Aaron Bruno: That's in the lyrics. That's every song. If anyone gravitates towards a specific message then that's a beautiful thing and we're really grateful for that. We just kinda keep our heads down and play music, mostly trying to impress ourselves because we're all such critics of music. We love so many bands, like Nickelback. You know the thing is about them is that people poke fun at them all the time but if you just consider pop songs, he [Chad Kroeger] writes good pop songs. They're no different than a Katy Perry song.
Dave Amezcua: Let me remind you that he wrote “This Is How You Remind Me.”
Aaron Bruno: I did recently hear that Chad Kroeger was at a party and he played our record on repeat from front to end. I did hear this. I swear. So if you interview him, ask him.
Sure, we'll get right on that. What have been the benefits of the freedom Red Bull Records has given you with your music?
Aaron Bruno: They're not a major label. That's the biggest benefit, that they're independent of the major label system. And I don't think any of us ever want to be a part of that major label system again. It's funny to not call them a major label because they're a massive company but they're just kind of flying under the radar. They don't go out of their way to force me to talk about it or be holding a Red Bull can in interviews.
You don't have to jump from space?
Aaron Bruno: I would like to but they didn't let me. We'll see. I'm gonna jump from center earth, actually and shoot through the earth's core. And I'm gonna sing a Stone Temple Pilots song.
What does a major label experience mean to you versus what you've got with Red Bull Records? Have majors been unkind to your music?
Aaron Bruno: I don't know if they've been unkind to us so much as we've been unkind to ourselves. Drew and I were in a band when we were 21 years old. We got signed. Drew probably handled it better than me. I know for myself, I was young and it got to my head a little bit. I made some mistakes that I would never make now. I think more than anything it showed me what not to do. And the harsh reality of the music industry being a business at the end of the day. Sometimes you meet folks who are involved behind the scenes that really care about the music and other times you'll meet folks who treat it like selling perfume.
A lot of those records from your previous bands were never released. Will we ever get a chance to hear some of that material?
Aaron Bruno: With Dave and Drew's last band Under the Influence of Giants we were in the process of working on a whole new record when we all parted ways. Every once in a while we like to listen to some of the old stuff. I'm still really proud of some of those songs. I'm sure when the time is right we'll throw that out and see what happens.
What's next for AWOLNATION? Are you headed back into the studio anytime soon?
Aaron Bruno: This is the last show of a two month tour and what better way to end the tour than Voodoo Fest. We head to Europe in a few weeks and just keep going on and on. Always getting ready for the new record. We love to play a few of those new songs live as well.
Keep up with AWOLNATION at their official site!