First things first … big THANKS to Mr. North for taking the time to do this. Not only did he answer the first batch of questions (with bonus fave albums list), but he also let us throw a bunch of others in. And we didn’t even have to bribe him!
So we’re splitting this up into two parts because they’re freakin’ long. Look for Part Two sometime on Friday, May 12, when we’ll also announce the winner of the Buddyhead DVD. It could be a couple of hours from now, depending on how bad the insomnia is tonight. Er, moving on … NS would also like to thank all the folks who sent in questions! Without them … we’d be sending Aaron blank messages and he’d be convinced we’re all a bunch of whackjobs. Which is true anyway, but I digress again. So without further ado, here’s our little Q & A with Aaron North.
You are one wild motherfucker on stage. I especially enjoyed your stage/speaker dive from the speakers in Cabazon. How much fucking fun is that? And do you scope out your landing prior to takeoff?
I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to “exorcise my demons” by playing live. I don’t know what I’d do with all the built up frustrations and anxieties otherwise. I can’t say I’ve ever had “fun” playing live. Making or playing music has never been about “fun” to me. It’s always been something I’ve had to do to stay sane and resolve certain feelings… that made me sound like a treehugger at Burningman. Do I scope out my “landings”? No. I’m surprised I haven’t been hurt more than I have. Knock on a woody.
Let’s say you had to perform only one more concert for the rest of your life, would you make that last show extra special?
Hmmmm… there’s been a couple times where I thought, “This is the last time I’m gonna do this ever again.” I knew when I played my last show with the icarus line that it was going to be my last with them… they didn’t. Sad, cos I had been playing with some of them for 8 years or so. Sad knowing it’d be the last time I’d ever play those songs. But, life is only interesting when it changes… and sometimes you have to force change.
What’s the worst injury you’ve ever suffered while playing?
Probably in Minneapolis with the icarus line. The club we were playing… the 7th Street Entry… really cool legendary club where Husker Du recorded their first album live, the Replacements played a bunch… anywhoo… the monitors happened to be hanging above the edge of the stage instead of on the ground… and there were lights up there somewhat camouflaging the existence of these monitors… so I didn’t notice them, and on the last song of our set, I jumped up, hit my head on the monitor, split my head open wide across the front, and landed on some kids below in the audience with blood gushing from my head like a waterfall. Next thing I knew, I was lying on the sidewalk in front of the club in a pool of blood. Besides that, there was another icarus line show in San Francisco… can’t remember where… I think we were playing with Zen Guerilla and the Bellrays… anywhoo, I tore a fingernail off that got stuck in my pickguard somehow, was so freaked out about the amount of blood coming out of my hand that I started trashing the stage, and then the sound guy from the club and I ended up in a brawl cos he was pissed I had wrecked his stage. The only other time I remember being injured of note on stage was recently in Atlantic City… me and Trent got tied up in the middle of the stage, pushed off each other to break loose, and as I started to fall into my amp, I put my hand on the top of it to break my fall, and my guitar swung around and smashed my fingers up real bad on it… fingernails popped up, blood started gushing, I recoiled a bit in surprise, and in doing so, the headstock of my guitar cut my forehead open. Buzzkill. I had to play the set for the next few weeks with my index and pinky finger… re-learn how to play a lot of the songs this way, and we had to cut out some songs with the more intricate chords from the set for awhile cos I was unable to hold certain chords til my fingers healed. Neg vibes.
If you had a signature guitar made, what would it be like and would it be as cool as Troy Van Leeuwen’s?
I actually had a guitar company make me my own “signature” guitar. A company called First Act asked me to design a guitar any way I wanted, and they’d make it for me… and they did. But, guitars are kinda like masturbation techniques… you get bored of a certain thing after awhile and need to try something new to keep things exciting. I like all types of guitars… hollow bodies, single coiled, beefy humbuckered… I wouldn’t be able to come up with a single guitar I would play 100 percent of the time. And nobody is as cool as Troy Van Leeuwen… that dude even smells good ALL THE TIME. Even after playing an hour set. Shit is wacky.
Ever thought of forming another band of your own in the future?
I’m sure it is inevitable. I’ve had the opportunity to play with many talented people. I never envisioned myself playing in a huge established band that toured enorma-domes… if somebody had asked me before I quit the icarus line if I’d ever play in somebody else’s band, I probably would have said, “No… unless like, Queens of the Stone Age or Nine Inch Nails or something are looking for somebody”… and last year I had the opportunity of playing with both… so… who knows? Life is weird and then it gets weirder. I’ve been so busy touring this last year and a half, I haven’t had the chance to put any music together properly… but when I get a minute, I’m sure I’ll finish some stuff that will bum people out. One of the reasons I quit the icarus line… ironically enough… was cos I was tired of playing loud rock music and running around on stage like a monkey, and wanted to play the type of music I actually listened to the most… like, traditional folk and blues… I had started working on a record of this type of music, and booking shows where I played alone with an acoustic guitar and harmonica and “singing”… then the nine inch nails thing came along and I had to learn 40 songs at once and leave on tour forever, so I had to erase my brain’s hard drive to make enough space for that much rock, and a lot of the songs and ideas were forgotten. Weeks later I was back onstage… on the same side of the stage, in the same clothes, playing the same guitars, and playing some of the same places. Déjà vu.
What do you think of all your crazy fangirls?
Awwwww… yer all so cute… I just wanna roll you all up into a little ball and put you in my pocket… then let you out once inna while for pillow fights and root beer float parties.
What did you dress up as for Halloween last year? What was the best costume you ever wore?
I dressed up as a chicken of course. My best costume ever?… I was a weird looking pale dude that looked like he was homeless and on heroin… oh wait, that’s every day.
Are there any other instruments you’ve played, or have considered taking up, besides the guitar?
Played piano as a kid. I also play a mean flesh flute.
Where’s your favorite place to be?
In the arms of large bear-like men.
Name something you want to do before you die.
2 dudes at the same time.
What are your all time favorite albums?
Here are a few of my all time favorite records…
Bob Dylan “Bringing It All Back Home”
The Stooges “Funhouse”
The Who “Live At Leeds”
Nick Drake “Pink Moon”
V/A “The Anthology of American Folk Music”
Kaleidoscope “Tangerine Dream”
Funkadelic “Maggot Brain”
Spacemen 3 “Sound Of Confusion”
The Replacements “Let It Be”
Billy Bragg “Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs. Spy”
The Stone Roses “The Stone Roses”
Simon & Garfunkel “Sounds Of Silence”
Black Flag “Nervous Breakdown” e.p.
Neil Young “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”
The Jesus Lizard “Goat”
Pink Floyd “Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young “Déjà Vu”
The Birthday Party “The Bad Seed” e.p.
13th Floor Elevators “Easter Everywhere”
Shellac “At Action Park”
Depeche Mode “Violator”
Bad Brains “Bad Brains”
Joy Division “Closer”
Creedence Clearwater Revival “Green River”
The Weirdos “Destroy All Music” seven inch
U2 “Achtung Baby”
Guns N’ Roses “Appetite For Destruction”
Jawbreaker “24 Hour Revenge Therapy”
Born Against “9 Patriotic Hymns For Children”
Led Zeppelin “Physical Graffiti”
The Wipers “Is This Real?”
Black Sabbath “Volume 4”
The Misfits “Static Age”
Van Halen “Van Halen”
Circle Jerks “Group Sex”
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band “Safe As Milk”
The Damned “Damned Damned Damned”
Johnny Cash “At Folsom Prison”
Bikini Kill “Pussy Whipped”
Harry Chapin “Greatest Stories Live”
Devo “Freedom Of Choice”
Rolling Stones “Let It Bleed”
Daniel Johnston “1990”
Red Cross “Red Cross” 12 inch e.p.
Primal Scream “Exterminator”
Neil Diamond… everything dude
Mudhoney “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge”
Faith / Void “split LP”
Frank Sinatra “Songs For Swingin’ Lovers”
F.Y.P “Dance My Dunce”
Jefferson Airplane “Surrealistic Pillow”
Nirvana “In Utero”
The Beatles “Revolver”
(End of Part One. Photo #1 taken by Jess. Photos #2 and #3 stolen from Lucas.)