Sublime yet penetrating. You couldn’t find a better description for the sound of Aaron Bruno, the frontman of AWOLNATION. With his straightforward, uncompromising lyrics and booming, sharp rhythms, this lifelong rock fanatic has captured the hearts of millions of alienated youths and earned the praise of critics and fellow rockers alike.
From cutting classes in high school for freestyle rock sessions, to being a drunk vagrant on the streets of L.A., to riding on the crest of his first single, he’s lived the life of a well–travelled musician; and now he’s released his third album, “Here Comes The Runts” last February 2. Fresh from a whirlwind nationwide tour with the Prophets of Rage, he’s taking the time off in his newly–built home studio in Malibu to recharge his batteries before a new set of tours in America and Europe next year.
“I was always drawn to passion and sadness,” he says, sipping a cup of coffee while observing the sunset being swallowed by the nearby canyons. “I love vocals that torture our hearts and souls. I am moved by singers who push themselves to the point of cracking or breaking their vocals. John Lennon, Prince, and Kurt Cobain are great examples of that.”
“I love vocals that torture our hearts and souls. I am moved by singers who push themselves to the point of cracking or breaking their vocals.”
All this creative mastery is not just through his inspirations, as his last two albums (2011’s “Megalithic Symphony” and 2015’s “Run”) have demonstrated his willingness to push beyond his musical boundaries and appeal to a diverse range of listeners. “Each record is a time capsule of how I am feeling at the time,” he says, recalling the evolution of the Awolnation sound over the previous years. “I hope that I am aging like a fine wine!”
He checks the internet through his phone, and sees how his fans have gone wild over the inspiring video for his song “Passion,” which shows a Brazilian man turning tricks with his skateboard despite contracting polio. There’s a clear anthemic feel to it, a call to action and a bugle against lethargy. “I am constantly exploring the reasons for people’s feelings. We all want to be happy, and music is a wonderful way to help that.” He plays some classical music from the stereo, letting the cellos and saxophones clear his ears from the vocal–heavy songs all around. “Music has always been my main passion, so I wanted to share that with the listener and invite people to figure out what they are passionate about.” It’s clear that the audience is interested in more than his songs, as he reads fan questions about his reaction to the meteoric rise of his two hit singles, “Sail” and “Run.” Other questions delve more on how he gets around writer’s block, and his advice for fans following in his footsteps. “I am so happy that my songs have reached millions of people, I can still remember a time when it was almost impossible to catch a break!” He looks through the windows at silhouettes of runners going up the nearby mountain. “I was able to step away from the white noise of society and focus on a connection with nature and God, and I think I have been lucky enough to avoid artist’s block. I only write when I feel the time is right.”
“I am constantly exploring the reasons for people’s feelings. We all want to be happy, and music is a wonderful way to help that.”
The time is indeed right and on his side, as he prepares himself for the hive of activities and tours in promoting his new album. “I wake up every day and remind myself how lucky I am to share these ideas with the world. I feel so blessed to have people that care about the songs I write.”
By: Zachary Sung