Drew Ailes, the newest addition to the Lambgoat team, called up Bane frontman Aaron Bedard last week to discuss a host of topics.
How are you doing? What's new?
Well, we played three shows this weekend, and our record just came out. We played in Albany, Wooster, and last night at CBGB's. So it was kind of a long weekend we got back a little late, and seriously, you called me just as I was getting up. I'm glad I didn't miss you. But it was a good weekend. Really good.
So who played those shows with you?
We played with a band called Suicide File. Well, they got back together and played two shows with us. And Josh from Coheed & Cambria has a hip-hop side project called Weerd Science, and they played all of them this weekend, and they're going to play all of them next weekend. They're really really cool, so it's been fun to play with them because they sound totally different than the other bands we play with.
Do you prefer the sort of thing where you play with bands that sound pretty diverse?
I definitely would. We definitely don't like it when every band sounds exactly the same, we like to try to have at least one band that sounds a little different.
Was that what was going on with Silent Drive?
Yeah, I mean, that's cool for us and two of the dudes in Bane are in Silent Drive, so it's really important for us to help them out as much as we can. That's a band we really believe in and they're going to have a tough road because they sound so different than everybody else. Your average hardcore fan, it's a little harder to get their mind to open up a little bit. We're just going to force it, I mean, they're such a fucking good band that I think eventually kids are going to get it. They're really good.
I wanted to ask, who did the art for The Note, and what made you decide to go with them?
Our friend Dave Manganaro, an artist from Baltimore, Maryland. He drew the pictures. He's just a young aspiring artist who's really into comic books and stuff like that. And Pete, our bass player, did all the coloring and computer work.
Was there any sort of meaning or semblance to it?
No, I mean our bass player and I talked about what we wanted the record to look like for a long time. We decided we wanted it to be something that kids would have to look at a whole bunch, that it wouldnt just spell it out for you, be this easy thing to understand. There's honestly not this big, deep, meaning or concept to it all. We just thought it would be fun to have a little bit of a storyline where kids would have to flip through it a bunch of times or discuss it amongst themselves to decide what they felt it really meant. We thought one way of doing that would be to have this ominous note that existed and no one would really tell you what it said, you'd just come up with your own conclusion based on what the drawers are. We just wanted to do something that'd be fun to look at. Something that wasn't just a bunch of live shots. Kids were thinking that... because in some of the lyrics there's some letters in red that actually spell out the names of people we know who've passed away who've been to close to us. They think that those letters are in "the note". And that's what we meant for kids to do. Jump to their own conclusions and hopefully draw their on conclusions. It looks sharp, I'm really happy about it.
I heard you weren't too pleased about one of the layouts.
Yeah, on It All Comes Down To This. That's the one Jake Bannon did and I was feeling really disappointed in how it looked.
...because he put the actual text over the photographs?
Exactly. Yeah, I was infuriated with that. And that put an end to us working with people outside of the band as far as who would have the say over the layout. Give Blood and The Note were both overseen by our bass-player. That way if something goes wrong it's our fault.
I know there's a pretty distinct difference in songwriting as far as Give Blood and The Note are concerned. What would you attribute that to?
I think it just came with three years passing and everyone getting a little bit older. Maybe we're a little more confident with the success of Give Blood, sort of realizing that we can make a record that comes from our heart and maybe that isn't a standard hardcore record. One that doesn't apply to the typical framework. If it's us, and it's honest, then kids are going to like it, and you don't have worry about if it's hardcore or enough, or if kids are going to be able to mosh and blah blah blah. But make a record that feels right. We tried to do that with Give Blood and that was a very successful record. I think there was a little bit of a swagger to us when we were writing this one. And also, Zack is the chief songwriter in Silent Drive, and that band wrote some amazing fucking songs and put out a really good record last year. I think he just felt like he could be more involved.
I was going to ask, who's idea was it for him to sing on "Swan Song"?
It was his. He knew that he could make it. There's no way I'm going to be able to touch that range. Kids are loving it. When we played at CBGB's and there were kids screaming along. It was so, so cool.
It's very epic sounding.
And that's what we were going for. He just... he really got involved in every step of the way of The Note from writing of the songs to how I was fitting my lyrics, and in the studio he was involved throughout the whole process. I just think that on Give Blood he was involved, but, he wasn't as involved. He really took his providence and put it on his back for the Note and gave it his all. And I really think it shows.
I wanted to ask, I read that you enjoy playing smaller venues. Are you opposed to playing to larger crowds?
No, we did a whole tour with Hatebreed and we were playing big venues with barriers and huge stages. To some degree it's fun because you're sort of challenged to grab the attention of kids who aren't always on your side. Those stages are a little tough to play, you really have to find the energy and emotion in yourself, whereas when you play a typical hardcore show there's kids all around you and it's so easy to get lifted off the ground, emotionally. It's cool to do, and we're actually hoping to do one this year if we can find a right match, doing the support thing.
Yeah, I was going to ask if you would accept an offer to play one of the big festivals if you got invited?
There were a few things thrown around, but when it gets to that level there's just all sorts of people involved and it gets really hard. I know Poison the Well was talking about us touring and stuff with them, and we're really good friends with Rise Against, because their members used to be in Reach The Sky, and our drummer was in Reach The Sky. So they're always talking about bringing us out and having us do some shows, and we'd love to do it because we love that band and it'd be an amazing opportunity for us, but it's just hard because when you get to the level of that band I don't think that all the decisions are being made by them. So it's been hard, but, we would be willing to do something like that if it just felt like a good fit. But our first choice, honestly, our first choice would always be to play a small stage where the kids are all around us and there's no fucking security everywhere or barrier. We're a hardcore band who's doing best when we're playing to hardcore kids. But you also understand it's a good thing for us to get out there and to be challenged, and to play for new faces. We're always up for that.
How'd the tour go with Comeback Kid?
Whew. Man, that was an incredible tour. That band is enormous right now. They did great. They gave us a run for our money every night. Kids are so excited for that band and they're so good that it was really a cool tour for us to be on tour with another band that's just on the rise and that everyone is excited about. Seeing the responses that they'd get every night just lit a fire under our ass to get up there and play our hearts out. It pretty much, honestly, everywhere we went, the venues were packed. Even in strange little places like Kansas City and New Mexico and in places where we played previously to very small crowds, based on the popularity of Comeback Kid there'd be twice, three times as many kids there. We would do well on our own in Southern California, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. But they were some of the craziest shows we ever played. That was a really fun tour to be on.
Every interview someone seems to ask you about your lyrics. I've always heard that the way to get into hardcore usually comes through either punk or metal, and I'm one of the people who ended up getting into it through metal. I'm not used to listening to lyrics, because in metal, if you pay too close attention, you can't take the band seriously. What possessed you to write what you do?
To be honest, this might sound like I'm straying from the question, but I don't know any other way to write. I don't know how to express myself without being blunt and honest and using a lot of imagery to get my point across. I think if I've been fortunate enough with anything in my life, it's been that I've had the ability to articulate my thoughts and my feelings. I think that a lot of that comes from... when I got into punk and hardcore when I was a 14 or 15 year old kid, the bands that I was drawn to were very strong and honest lyrically. Some of them weren't straight up hardcore bands. But like... DC... the original "emo bands," like Rites of Spring and Embrace and those bands, pushing the envelope, lyrically, not being afraid to express emotions that went beyond just typical aggression and a lot of the stuff that hardcore kids feel safest with. So I loved those bands and loved the way they made me look at the world and challenged the way I thought at a young age. As I got older, I realized that those lyrics made me a better person, they made me better prepared to make my way through without swallowing all the bullshit that's getting kicked down our throat at every turn. So then when it was time to get into Bane and be the frontman of a hardcore band I knew I was going to be writing lyrics and I was old enough to know that this is going to be very important. I remember when I was 15 and how these lyrics changed my life, and I wasn't expecting to write lyrics that would change kids' lives, but I wanted to try. I wanted to be open and honest, and maybe make kids look at the world the way those bands when I was a kid made me look at the world. Never in my wildest imagination would I have dreamed that it would be so successful.
I've read elsewhere how you talk about how each time it's so strange for someone to come up to you and talk about how something you wrote really changed the way they felt about something or helped them through a time.
I just think it's just because I'm older and I just realize how special it is to hear that. There was a lot of time in my life when I felt like I was never going to get a chance to maybe do something a little bit more - to add some contribution to the music scene I love... and then to have it happen. To have kids come up and say that the band is helping them out in any way is just such vindication, not as a musician, but as a human being. That when this ends and I'm 50 and looking back at the things I did in my life, I'll always have this. It's the most incredible feeling and I'm constantly overwhelmed by it, and humbled by it as well.
I hear that you're doing guest vocals for that FC5 band?
Yeah! I did a little thing when we were in Denver actually. Bill Stevenson, the guy who was producing the record, he just brought a little mobile studio out in his mini van with a laptop and a few mics. I dont know what the hell he had going on, but I know Scott from Comeback Kid did a verse, and I did a verse as well.
What are they like? I haven't had the chance to hear them.
They're a great hardcore band. They're really high spirited, they have a lot of melody. They're Japanese. They're really capable of playing their instruments, it's not just three chords, there's a lot of stuff going on. They just have a great way of delivering. They're not just screaming so hard that you don't feel connected with the music. They're great dudes and a really special band, I hope that this record will really get them somewhere.
What were some of your aspirations growing up? Did you always intend to have something to do with the music scene or did it just sort of fall into place for you?
I think that I always knew right from when my mother introduced me to record albums and bands. She was into a lot of really cool bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, and a lot of great stuff. I was just always really drawn to it and I always wanted to be a part of it in some way. I got into punk rock when I was pretty young, and when you get into that it establishes itself as something you can do. It's not like dreaming about being a basketball player or something. You can do it, just have your friends pick up guitars. It can work out for you. It just seems like I almost followed this path right into it. I love the music and I love the rebellion, it's just the fact that these kids weren't your average kids. Just a bunch of idiots... sitting around in high school making fun of everyone and stuff, I was just really drawn to that and before I knew it, I didnt know any other way to live or any other way to think.
What did you do for work prior to Bane?
I just did odd jobs my whole live. I've worked in a lot of print shops running copy machines and bindering, stuff like that. Definitely nothing too glamorous.
Did you ever go to school or anything like that?
Hah, I mean, no. I didn't. I went one year of high school but I was just way too into skateboarding and being a punk rocker. I dropped out real young. I took a few college classes when I was older but I just wasn't learning much and my attention span wasn't very good, and I found out I could learn more reading books and living my life.
I noticed the same thing myself, I went to a community college for a little bit and dropped out. But since I've been doing my own thing, I've picked up so much more just by reading and experiencing things than I could by sitting in a classroom.
Yeah, there are a lot of really smart people that just follow the typical education system in America, but it's kind of sad because in order to get taken seriously, you do have to abide by it by some degree. I never want to tell kids "oh, fuck school, drop out, I didn't go to school and I'm fine," because when you go to school and you go through that whole process, I just think you'll be taken more seriously than on the average if you have a degree and are confident. It's just a sad truth of living in America. I think there's been times where I've been envious of kids who are just getting to have that four-year college experience when you can just have fun.
I read that you're a big Bukowski fan.
I am, he's my favorite author.
I wondered in particularly what about his writing lures you in and if you had a chance to see that documentary.
I saw it about a year ago, actually. I thought it was very good.
Sitting on the couch, kicking his wife and screaming...
Yeah, he was a madman for sure. Actually, not to be all punk rock about this, but the dude who got me into him was Henry Rollins. I would read Rollin's early interviews and he'd always mention Bukowski and Henry Miller as being a big influence on him. And when I was 17 or 18, just devouring books and reading anything I could, something about how honest he was with his words just really hit me in the right place.
It's poetry but it's not... for lack of a better term, it's not frilly. It's full of euphemisms you can relate to as opposed to overly elaborately written material.
That's really true. That's what I always loved about him, he just comes off like a real dude. And sometimes he's sad, sometimes he's scared, and sometimes he's real angry. But, he's able to present himself in this really honest way. Yeah, I love it.
I can probably predict your stance on this, but what do you think about the rising trend of violence with crews and gangs in hardcore music?
Yeah... I mean, I just... I can't stand it, you know? It drives me fucking crazy that it is... growing more and more all the time it seems. It seems that maybe things are as bad in that department than they've ever been, that kids have to affiliate themselves with these crews and gangs...
Where do you think it comes from? Is it just boredom or is it...?
I think it comes from insecurity and I think it comes from the other side not taking a strong enough stance to say, "look, things don't have to be this way. This isn't what hardcore's all about." It's sort of counter to everything that we were supposed to be about. And I think that when you're a young kid first getting into the scene, you're real impressionable, and you're looking to see what's the easy way to be involved. Like, who are the cool people, who are the ones you want to be around, or that you want to be like. And... these guys who are walking around with their affiliations spread across their chest and they've got these videos glorifying the way that they act... and I just think there's a lot of impressionable kids who are getting a hold of it and thinking, "hey, this is the way I need to go to be taken seriously. I need to be hard, and dance hard, and be down with these crews," and I just don't think the other side is voicing itself loud enough, that we do not need to be like this. We're supposed to be a family, it's supposed to be all of us together.
Do you feel that you, as the frontman for Bane, one of the more positive bands out there, do you feel that you're doing everything you can?
Every night I'm doing everything I can do. I mean, I can't take them by the hands, but I'm definitely getting up there and taking the time to talk to them and making them realize that it doesn't have to be this way, that violence and being hard and being cool and that a bunch of kids beating up on one kid is... it's cowardly. I make sure to say something every single night before Bane plays, we always try to set a tone of, "this isn't going to be about kids punching or kicking each other. We're not going to stand for it." And the thing is, it's all you have to do to settle a whole room down. We played in Chicago and during the Comeback Kid there were a lot of big tough dudes getting out of line, there was a fight with some bouncers and there was definitely a degree of tension in the air. And the room was packed. I go upstage, and this is before we started playing, and I said "Look, we're not going to deal with that. If anybody steps out of line, we're out of here. We'll stop playing and get out of here. I want every kid to feel safe and looked out for in this room," and there wasn't one single problem. It's so funny to just think that that's all you need to do. For all the frontmen out there who are going to read this, all you need to do is just draw a line in the sand. "This is where we stand, this room is our room right now. We want it to be safe and fun."
I wanted to just quickly go over the hiatus you took from hardcore a bit and drummed for more straightforward rock and indie rock bands. Tell me a little more about that and what the bands you were listening to around then.
Well, you know, a lot of my favorite bands were getting older and breaking up. The bands that I loved the most were the early Revelation Records, like, 1988-type bands. Like Youth of Today, Chain of Strength, Judge, and a band called Burn. Those bands were just breaking up and not playing shows anymore, and I wasn't really inspired by the new bands... I was getting a little older... I was just really getting into a lot of different kinds of music. The kids who I was hanging out with at that time weren't your stereotypical hardcore kids, they were turning me on to a lot of different rock and roll. I don't know, I just wasn't getting the same feelings at shows and I just felt like I couldn't relate to a lot of the kids, so I stopped going. I stopped buying so many records and I just started drumming in this band called Over Under who were a little bit more influenced by bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Quicksand and a lot of those post-hardcore bands that weren't afraid to slow things down and play with a little more rock. So we did that for a while and we actually played a lot of 21+ shows and we played at bars. So... the kids that I was hanging out with were just getting older and it all seemed sort of stale and uninspired and no one had that same passion and ambition that came with being with young punk rock kids. Leaving hardcore was when I realized all the beautiful things about it and was able to accept all of it's shortcomings and a lot of the pettiness and baloney that comes along with being a 17 year old kid. I mean, you think you know everything, but the bottom line is you don't know anything. The beautiful thing is that you think you do, and you have all this fire in your stomach, and you believe that you can stand up to those around you and you can stand for something special. So when I was hanging out with these dudes in bars that were all getting jobs and getting into real serious relationships, I just missed hardcore. I missed these kids dancing all crazy and screaming their heads off, and feeling like they could take on the world. So, when I got back into it, I was real accepting of its shortcomings and decided to concentrate on the things that made it so special. And then, within a year, I was in this band and I got to stay involved in this scene at like, every level, and I'm really glad I did. Because I still believe in it, and I still think it's a beautiful place. But I think that there are kids, that when they get into their early 20's, they go through a stage where they're not feeling it anymore. Where it's just lost its meaning to them. And I always try to give advice to just do what I did and just walk away. You don't have to be here. There's no such thing as selling out or stabbing your friends in the back. Just go and live your life. I feel so bad for some of those kids who have that pressure on their back who are thinking "god, I don't really have fun here anymore, and I don't really relate, but if I leave everyone's going to be mad at me..." You find out who your friends are, and you find out who you are through those times and what's really important to you. So I always try to encourage these kids, don't be afraid to walk away. I walked away for a couple years and it was one of the best things that's ever happened to me as far as realizing how much I really love this music.
What about in terms of new music? What kind of stuff have you been playing?
My favorite band over the last couple of years is this French indie band called Stereolab, if you've heard of them? I'm so in love with them, their old stuff, I've been obsessed with them. Then there's this electronica band that came out a few years ago, I don't know if you're familiar with them, M83? I dig them a lot. I've never listened to too much hardcore, I did when I was younger but I haven't in years. There's some bands in the scene that I like a lot. This band in Boston called Mental who I'm really excited about, and I still listen to Unbroken regularly, but I'm usually more into the indie rock side of things. I like a lot of really sad songs, and I like a lot of hip-hop.
I really like The Wu-Tang Clan and I really like these dudes from New York, The Diplomats. They're really good. And some indie stuff. This group called Cannibal Ox.
Yeah, they're great. Have they put out anything in a while?
Nah, they just put out that one record and then they broke up. I think it's one of the best hip hop albums.
I have a friend in Boston who's been trying to create some sort of hip-hop scene out there, and he's just having the hardest time. People just aren't coming out.
It's so weird. With so much youth in Boston, with so many colleges, with so much going on, you'd think we'd be able to get some sort of scene going, hip-hop wise.
Are you out there right now?
I'm actually in Worcester right now, about forty miles west. But I'm out there all the time, it's where all my friends live.
My friend just recently relocated from Boston back to Minneapolis. She basically was just complaining about how the people there are sort of... mean, I guess. The people here are cold and just kind of... they don't want to have anything to do with you, and they don't think you want anything to do with them. But she said the people in Boston are really just sort of abrupt with everybody....
That's true, that's the word I was going to say, theyre just a little more blunt with what they're feeling and they don't tend to take your emotions into account always. I mean, there's just an attitude out there that can be a little scathing. And obviously everybody isn't like that, but your average person isn't the warmest person. I didn't learn that until I started traveling around with Bane and seeing how people are in other areas.
Yeah, are there certain places that you notice are especially different in the way people act? Whenever I go down to the south it's...
That's the first thing I was going to say is that when you go down to the deep south, how differently they're wired. Just the way their brains are programmed. It's just so different. And in California too, and even in the Midwest. It's strange.
It's interesting how just in one country how different we are, coast to coast.
Exactly. And that's one of the things that makes traveling so much fun.
We're kind of approaching the end here. Somebody wanted me to ask about the time you played a show at The Lab in St. Paul and apparently lost a filling after receiving an electric shock...?
Oh... a filling didn't fall out, I might've said that just as a joke, but yeah man, I fucking... I guess I touched an ungrounded microphone and I got a whole shock that went through my whole body. I'll never forget that moment.
I have friends that actually have that on tape and they have a pretty good time watching it occasionally.
(laughing) Oh my god, that's hysterical. I would love to see that. Yeah, I'll never forget how badly that was, that was the worst.
I'll talk to them, I'll see if they can get you a copy.
(laughing) That is... that is just funny.
Well, that's pretty much everything. You guys are going out with Cursed and who else?
We're going out with Evergreen Terrace, Cursed, and Verse, a band from Rhode Island.
I'm a huge Cursed fan, I did an email interview with Chris Colohan a couple weeks back.
That dude is a diamond in the rough. He's so smart, I love him. I'm so excited to hang out with that dude for a month, and I think his band is great too. I think that latest Cursed record is incredible. We really really wanted them to come out on the tour. He's going to have good things to say every night, and they're going to bring out a bit of a different crowd than the average Bane crowd.
Well, I'm really looking forward to seeing all of you guys out there, that should be a great show.
Thanks for this man, see you in Minneapolis.