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For a man who was about to play a sold-out show in New York City, Aaron Bruno, the lead singer of AWOLNATION, was surprisingly calm and relaxed. Sitting on couches in the upstairs dressing room of the Bowery Ballroom, he told of the sub sandwich he had in Cleveland, how he schools kids on the drums at random Guitar Centers across the country and not to take his weird mood personally because there was glass in his feet from walking around barefoot most of the time.
He told of albums he had on cassette when he was younger, his passion for surfing as well as his dislike for surfer music. It was an average, run-of-the-mill conversation coming from a person who is creating music that is anything but average, music that people were becoming obsessed with basically over night, stemming from the band’s first single “Sail” playing on a radio station in Austin, Texas.
“I didn’t even know about that,” Bruno said. “But he started playing it, and I got a call a week later that we were number one in phone requests and all this sexy stuff, and then we went over there and had this outrageous show and it was packed and everybody sang all the words and that sort of had a domino effect throughout the rest of the country.”
Currently, AWOLNATION is playing on the airwaves in every city, except one: ironically Cleveland, Ohio.
The idea of becoming a musician professionally just came to Bruno much like a simple decision people make on an everyday basis.
“I never decided I wanted to,” Bruno said. “It just happened. I was in different punk bands and hardcore bands and I think there was a certain moment where there were bands around our neighborhood who were starting to get record deals. So I think at one point we decided to get kind of serious in just trying more and becoming professional and rehearse every day and so forth and so on.”
After a semi-successful career with other bands and other labels, Bruno is currently working on AWOLNATION, his solo project, signed to Red Bull Records. AWOLNATION has released an EP as well as a full-length album since signing to Red Bull Records in 2009. The music has been described as rock and roll with an electronic influence, a union Bruno didn’t set out to create but rather just let happen.
“They’re just sort of ideas that come to me or certain things I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little kid that I didn’t have to means to do,” Bruno said. “So when the time to make art and music that no one else had a decision in but me, of course it’s just an extension of really what I like. Anything you see or hear is what I’m a fan of basically coming out in my own way… It’s just me, so this is just who I am.”
Bruno said in an interview with LA Music Blog the band’s name actually stems from a nickname he had in high school.
AWOLNATION is currently on tour, something that Bruno has mixed feelings. He says he doesn’t like all the down time and hates flying on an airplanes, but he really enjoys playing shows because he gets to be closer to his fans.
“I get kind of bored,” Bruno said. “You know, I get very restless throughout the day so when we play it’s just like all the cliché things you hear from other bands, most of those things are true, but for me, you’re just jamming with your friends. You’re literally playing for a living, so no complaints there, but to have an energetic show where people are jumping around, sweating, singing all the words, that’s the ultimate goal for me.”
Even fans that don’t know all of AWOLNATION’s lyrics still have an affect on Bruno.
“Chewing gum, as we call it when people are just chewing gum and acting like they know the words when they don’t. I see a lot of gum chewing at our shows, which is really cute, but I’m appreciative that they want me to think that they know the words at least.”
With a wide variety of music interests such as Michael Jackson and Neil Young, it is easy to see where Bruno finds inspiration for his songs. He works hard at making songs he thinks people will like, all the while staying true to himself.
When asked what he would be doing if he weren’t in a band, he took a second and then said, “That’s an impossible question to answer because I don’t know. I wouldn’t be me, you know?”
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