These are some questions Aaron Allen answered for me! He does solo stuff, and stuff with his band Aaron Allen and the Small City Saints. He’s rad. Seriously, if you don’t know who he is, check him out!
1-Let’s begin with basics, not only are you in a full band (Aaron Allen and the Small City Saints) but you are also a solo artists. How do you differentiate the two?
-I will label a cd solo or full band based on the input provided by out side sources. For instance the first cd was low key and mostly just me so that’s solo. For the 2 Small City Saints cds I may have wrote the songs at there core but the band brought them to life. They changed and became or songs. I felt the songs didn’t just belong to me anymore and that’s great.
2- Who are the rest of the folks in your band?
-My brother Myles plays drums. My wife plays bass and keys. Tom Vandeven plays lead guitar and Keegan Panjer plays bass for live shows. All Chatham folk
3- How did you the group actually come together?
-Myles and myself have been playing together for 15 yrs or so.
I started dating Aimee at the age of 18 and she knew how to play piano but not bass. So we bought her a bass and that was that. Keegan was in other bands around Chatham ( Room Without a View and The Ruthless Cunt Killers) When those bands dissolved he started jamming with us. Tom was in a band called Karman Line they were local to Chatham since disbanded. I always admired his guitar playing and when I needed a guitar player to go on tour I asked him. We haven’t played together in about 3yrs but he’s back on the new stuff and we are happy to have him. He also is 1 part of the duo Bear Flag, check them out.
4- Your wife is in your band. What is the dynamic there?
-I love having her in the band. See knows me better then anyone so she always plays exactly what I’m feeling. Aside from bass and keys she’s one hell of a singer. We harmonize really well together and I think people can tell there is a special connection.
5-Up to this point in your career, what has been the most satisfying show you have played?
-I played a really nice intimate solo show at The London Music Club about for years ago. It was after my mom passed away and I was pretty broken up. People in the crowd were very emotional to the point of tears as was I. They could feel the pain and loss in the songs and I could feel theres as well. It was an amazing feeling and just what I needed at the time.
6- Every band has it struggles, has their ever been a point where you were ready to ‘throw in the towel’?
-Every other day haha. Its a love hate thing for me. Music consumes me so its hard to do things in the real world when all I can think about is playing that show our laying down the next song. I hung it up in 2011 but decided to enter Free Fm 98.1’s under the covers contest. I covered Neil Young’s ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’. I won $4000 in recording at Emac Studios here in London. I got the band back together and we made a kick ass cd. Better then anything previous and I’m really proud of it. Its good to be back.
7- If you could pick one song out of your catalogue, which would be the one your are most proud of? Lyrically, musically or other.
-Thats hard. I think A Place Called Hell is one of my fav’s and I’m really digging a new song called Not Built That Way. But over all I think No One Knows is an all around great song. The lyrics are extremely meaningful to me and it was played and recorded great. Its lose in timing but works for the subject matter. Its one I listen to and it can still bring tears to my eyes. I know, lame.
8- Every band has had that ”night” where things just aren’t right, vibes are wrong, instrument/gear failure etc. Have you guys had one of those nights?
-Ya on the first full band tour had some hiccups. I assembled a group of guys who had never toured together so we had some off nights and bad attitudes. There was one incident where the van broke down on the way to Halifax and we had to cancel the shows and come home. Another time Keegen and Tom were digging a hole and Keegen took a good chuck out of Toms finger accidentally with his shovel. You know the regular crap.
9- When your writing songs, who do you bounce ideas off of mostly?
-Aimee usually hears the songs before the rest of the band, so If she oks the song I then show it to the band. As far as collaboration Myles and I have wrote a few together.
10- You have a full time job running a tattoo shop/ barber shop salon with your wife. How do you balance it?
-Well its nice, I have a lot of freedom. My wife has a great clientele. She books about 9 months in advance. That gives our income a good amount of security. She has an apprentice that can watch over things while Im gone and I have two other stylist here that will cut my clients hair while Im gone. I couldn’t be in a better position to do music.
11- Has there been a show that everything just went right?
-Ya its always good playing home. That being London or Chatham. You can’t go wrong when its family and friends mistakes never matter then.
12- You are obviously different than most bands I interview, so let’s see how many people know your answers. Who are some of your biggest influences, lyrically and musically.
-I’m sure it’s no secret that Ryan Adams has heavily influenced me over the years. I love Steve Earl, Neil young, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. Classics artist that just keep making great music. In some cases they are better then they have ever been.
13- What band or artist clicked for you and made you want to be in a band?
-I really got into punk early on. It was pop punk though. Blink, MxPx,NUFAN, NoFx ect. I started out playing drums in bands so we had a few punk bands. I think I really started taking music seriously when I heard Matt Good. He was the total package. The band rocked, his voice was beautiful and his lyrics were honest and heartfelt. So I’d say Matt Good.
14- As a lyricist, I often get writers block, and can’t write for huge chunks of time. Do you ever fall into this, and likewise, how do you get over it?
-Not really. I don’t write songs until I have a plan. If I want to make a new record I set the goal or the date and write some tunes. The cd will usually be written over a short period of time. I don’t like to sit on songs. Over the years I have had writers block but I’ve learned not to push it and let it come when it wants to. So it doesn’t really effect anymore.
15- What big things are you looking forward to for the second half of 2012?
-Im looking forward to the release of this EP. Free Fm is really supporting us and I hope other radio stations give us a spin. If all goes well I will put together a tour and take this thing on the road. For the first time Myles said he is willing to tour so that would be great.
16- Every band has their favourite place for pre/post show eats. What restaraunt do you guys stop at the most eats?
-I’m a vegetarian so Mexican or pizza works well for me. On a solo tour I did I ended up in Road Island for a while I ate at this place called Nice Slice Pizza. Best dam pizza around.
17- Being in a band, In know this feeling. If there was one person in your band who you could take in a wrestling rig for 5 minutes to blow off some steam, who would it be?
-Anyone but Myles he’d kick my ass.
18- Bands often have a lot of free time pre show. You load in, then have nothing to do for 3 or 4 hours until you play. How do you guys occupy your time?
-Drink. It’s really all there is to do. I don’t really care about seeing the sites. I really like Ottawa and Montreal though, i’ll check that out for a bit and then drink. For the most part its all the same to me.
19- Most bands have a family dynamic. In the band, who’s the dad, mom, etc.
19. Well we really are family haha. But I’d say we look to Aimee for all the answers so shes the mom. I’m the indecisive dad who has a bit of an attitude problem. Myles is my younger brother so I see him that way. Tom and Keegan are brothers as well. We have a special connection, Tom didn’t play with us for years but when we showed him the new songs every note was great. He was missing piece to make this new EP great. Keegan we look at as the brother with the energy on stage. We don’t move around alot so he’s the one that can get the crowd moving. We are a complete family again and its great.
20- If you described your band dynamic as a sitcom group (Friends, Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld etc) who would it be?
-I would say ‘Friends’. I really love these guys/girls and would do anything for them. We have ups and downs but I think we can all count on each other no matter what it is. Our lives may change but I don’t think the bond that ties us will.