Aaron Bruno of AWOLNATION has furrowed a fresh, unmistakable approach to alternative-rock.
Through Bruno's authoritative songwriting and spectral production, AWOLNATION experienced success from the start. Their first studio album, Megalithic Symphony, features a certified platinum track called Sail, which has gone on to define the band’s anthemic melodies since 2011.
“The old saying of a honeymoon phase of a relationship, that’s how songs are. If you’re really, really, really lucky, that honeymoon phase lasts forever,” Bruno said. “I’ve been lucky to have a few of those songs that still feel like magic to play, and still feel exciting, even though I’ve played them thousands of times.”
Today, Bruno finds himself recording his fifth—and possibly final—album under the name of AWOLNATION. Though listeners might expect Bruno to churn out a few more hits before moving on, Bruno isn’t writing with that pressure in mind.
“I just love music very much, and I just want to write good songs and have good melodies. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a heavy song, or a ballad, or a dance song, or a rock song. I just want it all to feel sincere and touch into a certain kind of emotion,” Bruno said.
“I don’t feel that I have anything else to necessarily prove.”
Still in its early stages, Bruno is brainstorming to release the record in three parts, likely next summer. Its contents will span topics from Burno’s personal life to recent global events.
“I became a father recently, so that’s been heavy on my mind. Lyrically, I suppose a lot of this newer stuff has been heavily inspired by the thought of bringing life into this world,” said Bruno.
“It’s kind of my observation of the world turning in certain directions, on both sides.”
Fans might be surprised to know that Bruno isn’t only a songwriter. He also produces all of AWOLNATION’s music–a double-edged accomplishment that few artists can claim.
“The word or term ‘production’ feels so fancy to me. It’s just really making a song, and I’m just lucky to have a vision of how I want it to sound like,” said Bruno.
“If you don’t have a song idea then you don’t have anything, right?”
And Bruno has no shortage of sonic visions.
“There’s always a new idea floating out there, a new way to go about a beat or a guitar part that is on the tip of my tongue,” said Bruno.
“Having ideas is not a problem for me.”
But for Bruno, music is more than just mapping out melodies and album cycles. It’s personal.
“Music in general is incredibly nostalgic for me,” said Bruno.
“Songs definitely take me back to a high school relationship, or a moment with some buddies riding my bike, or family Christmases, or my dad taking me surfing when I was a kid. The great thing about music is it takes us back to wherever we were.”
In fact most, if not all, of Bruno’s lifelong relationships are tied to music and surfing.
“Whether it was the different punk bands or hardcore bands I was in, or listening to music on the way to find different waves…Almost all my relationships now that I still maintain have a thread, which is either surfing or music,” Bruno said.
“I think music and the ocean kind of keeps us together.”
While music may maintain Bruno’s close relationships today, AWOLNATION wouldn’t have started without one of his previous bands breaking up.
“I always had a vision for how I wanted things to sound but didn’t really know how to get there. It was only around 2008 that it became clear to me, when my last band broke up and we all went our separate ways, that I had no choice but to move forward alone,” said Bruno.
“While that was scary, I saw it as an exciting opportunity.”
That opportunity has turned into a 15-year-long, award-winning project which has unquestioningly expanded the umbrella of alternative-rock. With a triumphant career already secured, Bruno is excited to evolve his work in a new direction.
“There are a few other genres I want to explore and projects I’ll be releasing hopefully this year, in addition to new AWOLNATION music, and certainly next year as well,” said Bruno.
As AWOLNATION reaches what could be their triumphant end, one thing’s certain: fans have far from heard the last of Bruno.
“I just feel so lucky that anyone is anticipating these song ideas that come to my head. They come to my head, and then I record them, figure out how to make it sound best, and people actually listen to them,” said Bruno.
“What a beautiful thing.”
GLC Live at 20 Monroe
Sept. 22, 7 p.m.