NS: One question somebody wanted us to ask you was, would you ever cover a Blur song? Because they thought your vocals sound a bit like Damon Albarn.
Aaron: Interesting. No, we wouldn’t. Because there’s kind of an unsaid rule about doing covers, where you can’t do them of bands that are still bands. Or maybe you can, but it’s gotta be at least a couple of decades old or something like that. But I like that band. A lot. I don’t think I sound like Damon. I think Mike kinda sounds like Damon when he sings.
NS: If you want the whole truth, is was actually “Damon Albarn with a cold.”
Aaron: That’s cool. That’s probably cooler actually. I’ve been compared to worse. No one’s ever really said the same thing twice…
NS: So, what’s funniest rumor you’ve ever heard about your band or yourself?
Aaron: Mostly, rumors about myself, that I started myself. Ha. For me, with Buddyhead for example, I always thought it was interesting exploring the concept of how people will believe ANYTHING that they read. Buddyhead, a lot of the time in the past, was always a funny way of doing these little experiments in mass manipulation. Just fucking with people… Which I must admit is probably my favorite hobby… Besides music.
NS: One of the things I sometimes feel when I sort of read about you is that you really like people not being able to pin you down.
Aaron: Well, it’s not about being pinned down or not being pinned down… I just have an odd sense of humor, and the LEAST I can do out of sheer boredome, is just entertain myself somehow by pushing people’s buttons. With Buddyhead, everybody always mentions how much we “make fun” of other people or bands. But if you read the stuff, we’re making just as much fun of ourselves… If not more. That also has to do with the “manipulation experiment” thing… Which have led to some of the funniest rumors about me, that would range from me being gay, a smack addict… The craziest rumor I ever heard… From multiple people actually, involved me getting ripped off in a drug deal. It was all over the internet, and my aunt actually asked me: “I read this thing on the internet about you getting ripped off in a drug deal, so you broke into the drug dealer’s house with a couple of your friends, and you pistol-whipped the guy, knocked out his teeth, took all his money, and then stole some of his guitars.”
NS: Quite a story.
Aaron: Yeah. Obviously I’ve never pistol whipped anybody. I’ve never even owned, or HELD a gun. I hate guns. But that was pretty funny. But usually, yeah… That I’m gay, I’m on drugs… Or at least I’m on really heavy drugs. I dunno. All kinds of stuff. That’s just funny to me. Who cares anyway? I don’t really give a shit. Whatever people think of me, outside of the band, or outside of the music, doesn’t matter, because it has nothing to do with the music. So if people want to believe that I’m gay, then cool, I’m gay. I have nothing against gay people. I have nothing against drug addicts. But it all has nothing to do with the music. And if some type of gossip dissuades people from liking or not liking the music… Then they’re fools anyway… Because pretty much ALL of the people who make the music that you look up to, if you REALLY knew them personally, you’d be severely disappointed.
NS: So, making music. Songwriting. How do you do it?
Aaron: It’s always different. Myself and Mike have written all of the songs for the band at this point, and musically, it’s different every time. There are songs where he’ll write a part, and then I’ll write another part, or vice versa… And then I’ll write a vocal melody to go on top, and it becomes a song. Or sometimes he’ll write an entire song with vocals, etc. Or sometimes I’ll write the entire song. Lyrically, it’s a different process every time…
NS: How is that?
Aaron: Usually, for me… I’ll write a bunch of stuff at first that I don’t like. Basically just rough, stream of conscious words that have the vocal melody being used. I’ll know what I want the song to be about thematically, and then later I’ll write better words, and maybe keep some of the original ones… And then a couple of weeks after that I’ll be like: “Oh, I kinda chickened out here… and here… And this is kinda bullshit.” So then I’ll ask myself: “What am I trying to say with this song?” Then when I realize I’m trying to say this… Whether or not it makes me look like an idiot, shallow, petty, slightly misogynistic, or simply just a shitty person… That doesn’t matter. As long as the lyrics convey total, blunt honesty, that’s what it HAS to be. Anything else is chickenshit, and a waste of my time, and the audience’s as well.
You can’t sugar-coat it, lie, or try to make yourself, or the incident look better than it actually was, because that’s not interesting. It’s like reading an autobiography, where you KNOW the person is trying to make him or herself sound like an amazing, flawless human being. Who cares? Wouldn’t you rather read an un-biased biography telling the REAL story? So… If I’m honest, and I’m saying: “This is how it is/was, warts and all, and this is my perspective on it”… Even if it’s possibly putting myself into a position where I feel vulnerable, naked, or even just stupid that I was so wrong or fucked up at the time, it’s always the only real way to go. Maybe certain people will be offended by my opinions or whatever… But maybe certain people will also be able to relate with it.
Again, as long as you’re honest about who and what YOU are as the storyteller, that’s all you really have to offer that is unique anyway. Anybody can pretend to write about something else. Like whatever band is going to play this club here tomorrow night… The singer could write a concept record about, you know, space trolls or whatever… Anybody can do that. Who cares? But what nobody else can do, is see the world through my eyes, standing in my shoes, based on my personal experiences. So why would I try to offer anything more, or less?
NS: So you don’t do anything else right now except music?
Aaron: No. I wish I did. I used to write a lot more. Do more for Buddyhead and stuff. Work a lot with other bands, especially the ones on Buddyhead. I used to play or “jam” with more bands too. I just found myself spread too thin… And that it was keeping the music in this band from being the best that it could possibly be. That’s all we’re trying to achieve… And the reason why things can often be delayed here and there. Y’know… “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”. In my case, it’s this band, this music, this album. Excessively pushing myself as hard and far as possible… Which has also pushed me to the edges of sanity as well. Ha.
But, to make this the best that it could quite possibly be… Even if it ends up just being fucked up or weird… As long as it’s the BEST type of fucked up or weird possible, then I’m satiated… Whether anybody else cares about it or not. But if people can connect with it after that, then that’s a bonus, and that’s cool too. And if not? Whatever. We’re still gonna do it our way anyway.
This isn’t a hobby for us. We’re not gonna decide tomorrow that we want to be real estate agents. We like to play music and write music and that’s what we do. So if someone says they don’t like our music… That’s fine, they can go listen to something else. But we’re still gonna do what we wanna do, OUR way.
All pictures by Anne Tai, except 2 which is mine