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INTERVIEW: Aaron English

October 20, 2010 by  

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INTERVIEW: Aaron English

1. Tell us who you are and where you’re from.: Aaron English from Seattle, Washington, USA.

2. Describe your music.: On my website, we have the tagline “Piano man from Seattle. Songs from the rain.” But I came up with another ridiculous phrase for it that I’ve been infatuated with recently: “Granola Goth”. To me, that means dark-and-brooding British influences (say, Catherine Wheel, Peter Murphy, Nick Drake, David Sylvian) fused with American hippie sunshine – because I’m always pulling in the tribal stuff that gets the American hippies going, like reggae, Celtic folk, rai, Afrobeat.

3. Tell us how the band formed in three sentences.: Same old story: 1) Forced to take piano lessons as a kid. 2) As a hormone-crazed teenager, realized that girls dig rock musicians and pop stars. 3) Grew up, hormones calmed down, but discovered that at some point I had fallen in love with writing songs and noodling on the piano.

4. What did you do before you were in a band?: Odd jobs to feed my music habit. You name it, I’ve probably done it.

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5. List the first CDs/records each of you bought.: George Michael’s “Faith”. My dad asked me not to play it around my mom.

6. What’s the band up to over the next few months?: Finishing a couple more videos. Also, going into Death Cab for Cutie’s studio here in Seattle this week with my full band to finally record a sprawling medley of Norwegian Wood and Kashmir that’s always been an audience favorite at live shows.

7. Best item of fan mail you’ve ever received?: I got an email last month from a sixteen-year-old somewhere in the American Midwest who was asking for the chords to my song “The Lullaby of Loneliness” so that he could play his acoustic guitar and sing it for his ex-girlfriend – not because he wanted to win her back; he just wanted to make her feel bad. That’s just the sort of completely dysfunctional thing I would have done when I was in high school.

8. What music do you have on repeat in the tourbus? : The sounds of our Portugese bassist and Serbian guitarist practicing their scales in the bus’ lounge ALL DAY LONG. We also had “Viva La Vida” stuck in the stereo system; every time we started up the engine the CD would automatically start playing. I got sick of that album real fast.

9. What gear do you use?: For live shows, I tote around a brutally heavy digital piano, a loop pedal to create layers of piano and voice, an electronic tabla box from India for beats, and several African folk instruments.

10. What’s your best on-tour story?: Pick any gig, there’s an insane story to go with it. Hmm, how about the time we were playing a festival in Haida Gwaii, which is an island chain off the coast of British Columbia? Our drummer got stopped at the Canadian border because he had a laptop computer that the customs people decided they needed to tear apart….so he missed his plane to the gig…and then he didn’t call to tell us. We figured this out several hours before the gig. We managed to pull together a funk drummer and three local percussionists, teach them a few of my songs, and play what turned out to be these weirdly cool funkified jam-band versions of my music. Just before we went onstage, a rainstorm came sweeping in from the ocean. I remember this mass of people crowded around the festival tent, covered in mud and dancing while I played bizarro versions of my songs with a rhythm section I’d only met a few hours before.

11. What do you demand on your rider?: The biggest issue over the years has been making sure that there’s somewhere to park a 35-ton tour bus. In big cities or at some music festival in the middle of nowhere, there never seems to be room enough to park something that big.

12. What’s your website?: http://www.aaronenglish.com




 

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