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AWOLNATION’s Aaron Bruno Talks Sunset Strip Music Festival, New Music + More

Charles Epting, Noisecreep

AWOLNATION’s ‘Megalithic Symphony’ remains one of the most definitive albums in recent times, fueled by the hypnotically intense smash hit, ‘Sail.” Led by Aaron Bruno, AN has become a force of nature around the world, and recently at the 6th annual Sunset Strip Music Festival, Noisecreep had a chance to speak with the band’s charismatic frontman.

Calm, cool an collected as ever, he reflected on the explosive success of the album, what the next record might bring, and how he can trace his musical growth by looking no further than the festival.

Aaron, you’ve played this festival before, several times in fact, over the course of your career. What’s it like to come back as a headliner after working your way up the ranks over the years?

It definitely means a lot. The thing is, I can remember specifically all of the other times we played here so it really is pretty easy to chart how far we’ve come since then. I mean, I remember writing a lot of these songs we’ll be playing today right nearby off Coldwater Canyon and Cherokee, kicking around all these ideas with my friend who directs our videos now, literally just up the street in his grandmother’s garage. That really brings a lot of this home.

Do you have any specific memories of your performances over the years at the Sunset Strip Music Festival?

Oh yeah. I remember the first time we played here and it was actually the very first year they had the festival. Nick Adler, one of the guys that runs it, gave us a really good slot at the Roxy. It was smart because he put us on right after Ozzy was wrapping up his set on the main stage and so a ton of people came in and saw us play. That was a really awesome experience and resulted in us playing for way more people than we probably deserved to play in front of.

Another year, we were playing in the Key Club while the Smashing Pumpkins were on the main stage and so we only had about five people in front of us (laughs). Some pretty cool memories. I can even remember skateboarding down here from my house and on the way here today, I retrace the exact route in my car and so a lot of memories came back.

A lot of the music on your album and in particular your live shows blend together many different styles and influences. Was that your experience growing up here in Southern California?

It definitely was. I saw many, many shows growing up and I think they all had some sort of influence on me. When I first started going to hard-core punk shows, right down here near the Strip, it was a very powerful thing to see all of these people united together, singing the words together and creating this instant sort of community. That had a huge impact on me. None of the bands I saw in that hardcore scene went on to have any huge commercial impact or anything but that didn’t matter. It wasn’t about that. It was about people coming together and forgetting everything else on the outside. That sense of unity always stuck with me. People losing their mind for the same thing. But then I saw plenty of other shows that involved bigger commercial bands and those had an impact on me as well because it was the same sort of unity, just on a larger scale. So I guess that’s something that will always have an effect on me; this idea of people coming together in all kinds of gatherings to celebrate music that they think is special. I try really hard to combine all of those experiences and translate them into something positive for our audience today.

There’s a lot of anticipation about the new record you’re working on. Is there anything you can share about it?

As far as it is sounding right now, it’s really just an extension of where I left off on the last one. Though it may have some more screams (laughs). In addition to the new record, I’m also working on a few other projects that I’m writing for and singing on, some of which may be released before the new record. Right now I just have a lot of music in my head and as much as I love this band, I think it’s nice for me to take a little break and explore little bit. I love to surf and it’s kind of like that. If you surf the same wave every single day on the same beach then you’re only going to get so good. But if you travel around the world and surf all kinds of places and experience all kinds of cultures, then you’ll expand your creativity and that’s kind of how I look at my music. When it comes time for me to finish that second record, I want to feel like I have really stretched and explored and come up with things that are an evolution from where we were before. It’s all part of the process and the journey and it’s really just about weaving together as many things that you experience, so you don’t get stuck in a rut.

Our thanks to AWOLNATION’s Aaron Bruno for the interview. The group is currently on tour overseas. For their current dates, click here.

Next: Linkin Park, AWOLNATION + More Sunset Strip Music Festival Photo Gallery

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