How does a band start with a mission minded label, release an EP, gain grassroots support through Kickstarter, sign with an indie label, change it’s core members, and still release an awe inspiring full length? It’s not easy, but for Sons, they pull it off beautifully. We sat down with Aaron Newberry, front man of the band to find out more about their amazing journey.
Kurtis: How long have you, Aaron, been creating music? Are there any other projects you’ve been a part of?
Aaron: I’m 25 and have been seriously playing music for about a decade, closer to 11 years actually. I’ve played with a lot of other bands growing up. Obviously a lot of local bands basically. I’ve had the opportunity to play in more prominently know bands too. I started as a drummer. I didn’t deliberately fall into being a guitarist, but it happened. I am a songwriter on the side, I do songwriting for other artists. I have a solo outlet too. I do a solo record every year or so that’s comprised of other music I’ve written that wasn’t picked up by other artists or Sons wouldn’t necessarily be the right outlet for.
Kurtis: Is the solo stuff something that fans can get their hands on? Has it been released at all?
Aaron: I do it for creative outlet, but obviously the intention is for people to hear it. I released an EP back in the winter; I did it very nonchalantly through Noisetrade. It’s free, or you can give money if you want, but for the most part it’s just free to whoever wants it. Really as a debut, I wasn’t deliberate about the record. I’d just written a lot of songs and I wanted to put them out there to maybe start a foundation I could build on.
Kurtis: Previously having support from Come & Live and through your Kickstarter, why did Keep Quiet take so long to release?
Aaron: Most people don’t know when the record was finished and I have no problem giving full discloser. I think the record was wrapped April of 2011. At that point the record had been tracked, mixed, and mastered. We did almost 7 revisions of mixes. That’s part of the reason it took so long. Had we released on Come & Live, it probably wouldn’t had been available until June or July for whatever reason. Part of why it took so long is because when we made the transition from Come & Live to SloSpeak we wanted to give ourselves the appropriate amount of time to release it. We also were pretty much drained to spend any money on the incentives from what was given from the Kickstarter initially. We had to basically save up money to fulfill the incentives. We kind of had to take the stance of better late than never. It was a little embarrassing trying to get everything together and it taking so long, but all and all I really feel like we dealt with it the best we could. That is, with what we had, and really to be honest, what we didn’t have.
Kurtis: Any reason for not being a part of Come & Live with Keep Quiet?
Aaron: I’ve explained this before and I’ve said it to a lot of people, Come & Live would tell you they’re not a label. They would also tell you that when they quote, unquote, sign a band, it’s a non binding contract. Which means, they literally say, Chad says, “If at any point you want to leave, feel free.” You have the right to because they don’t want to feel like they have to harbor you to keep you. And really, if you didn’t want to be on the label, why would they want you to be? We got Come & Lives blessing, because at a certain point we realized that just like people, bands obviously go through seasons, because, bands are comprised of people. We were in the season where we were like, man we literally can’t exist anymore unless we have some kind of capitol, or money. So unfortunately half of the reason was financially driven, that we were just drained. We were running dry. The other half was that we were being approached by major labels and we were trying to not allow that to go to our heads. I felt that none of us wanted to go the major route at that point in our career. But we felt like we needed a label, an actual label that would distribute the record. So a lot of it had to do with how sincere and genuinely slospeak came across to us and wanting to work with us. We were really drawn in by their passion for what we were already doing. They didn’t want to change us; they wanted to facilitate what we were already doing. So that had a lot to do with it.
Kurtis: There were a lot of lineup changes between the EP released through Come & Live, and the release of keep quiet. Did those changes come prior to the completion of the record last April, or since then? And, are there any specifics as to why those changes occurred?
Aaron: It was interesting, because they were all there for the recording process. But before recording was over they were out of the band. So, by the end of January I think they were out, and we were sending them opportunities to put in their revisions too. It was kind of strange, but a lot of it was just life happening. That, and just respectful disagreement, and I suppose you can say, at times, maybe not respectful disagreement, just different personalities clashing. Some of it had to do with family situations and circumstances. I’d say a large part of it was financial in the fact that we were so spread out. There were families involved that were kind of taking a hit financially and some of us even personally were taking a hit. Eventually it just stared to not make sense anymore. It started to get extremely stressful, and we just had to kind of bring it in and make a decision. To be honest it was really hard, and it was not a good break. I’d say at this point we have finally reached a resolution where we can all be ok with each other and what happened.
Kurtis: Do you, Aaron do most of the song writing?
Aaron: I did most of the song writing previously, but I don’t anymore.
Kurtis: What about in regards to lyrics?
Aaron: I did write the lyrics on Keep Quiet, but I have no idea what that will look like in the future.
Kurtis: In regards to the lyrics on Keep Quiet, there is a storytellers approach. They’re honest songs and I’m curious, are these stories and situations from your own life? Or things you witnessed from those around you? Or did you just create them?
Aaron: There are a couple of songs I can think of which were real scenarios in which I wrote my perspective on. Certain situations that had happened, or that I’d witnessed, or that I thought were much generalized things that had happened. A lot of it was an introspective of how I feel and things I have experienced with myself. It was kind of all over the board. A lot of it was written as if I was looking in a mirror and talking to myself. The storytelling vibe, I would say only makes up about 15 to 20% of the record. I was doing an interview a week or two ago and I was talking through the record song by song, and I realized, though It wasn’t deliberate, the record really ties itself in from beginning to end. I’d honestly never really noticed it or realized it. I’m kind of baffled by what I would consider to be divine because of the way that it was written. I really don’t think that I’m inherently that, umm… I’m not sure what the word is. I’m defiantly poetic but I don’t know that I could deliberately create a story in the matter that it all came together.
Kurtis: A few of the lines that stand out to me on the record would be, “You’re just as crooked as this Christian nation” and “How can Jesus and the prideful co-exist, church funds get bigger while poverty persist” So my question is, were you being intentional with these words or were you just being poetic?
Aaron: They were defiantly intentional. I approached some of those lyrics with some trepidation, but, I felt like I had to say them, because they were already on my mind, and they worked so well. A couple of those were written in third person like, “You’re just as crooked as this Christian nation”. The other two, I think you brought up were from the last track on our record, “Is this a dry season or does agnosticism plague us all?” Those were legitimate questions that I’ve asked myself. Questions, which I feel like a lot of people, ask. But, not too many people approach them in a way where they can respectfully ask them wanting to have an actual answer, instead of just asking out of what is already distaste of the Church. My intent wasn’t to upset anyone, but because I’ve asked the questions myself, I kind of wanted to help facilitate other people in asking those questions legitimately to be able to get an actual answer.
Kurtis: As far as the music is concerned on Keep Quiet, it somehow comes across very humble. For example, on the title track, Keep Quiet, there is a piano piece laid just beneath the guitar tones that’s so beautiful, but a listener could miss it if they weren’t paying attention. Was that intentional in the production, or did Sons just get lucky?
Aaron: I think it’s a little bit half and half. The intentionality on the record, if it came from anywhere, it came from me and Jared sitting in the studio for 40 days straight just trying to figure out a way to tie the songs together. A lot of it came from after the recording process, with me just feeling like, “ahhh!”, and thinking there might be something missing. I didn’t want to go overboard with it which in some cases I now look back and wonder if I did or not. It’s interesting man, looking back on the record I continue to tell people, a lot of what happened wasn’t deliberate. Even the writing of the record, was so scattered and fickle at times that it didn’t really become deliberate until midway through the process. So I would stick to defiantly a little bit of luck and a little bit of intentionality, but it defiantly came late in the game.
Kurtis: As an artist, comparisons come often.
Kurtis: Me, as a listener hear a bit of musical style were Brand New left off after Daisy. I’ve also heard comparisons of the band Copeland. Do you find these comparisons to be accurate? And whom do you think Sons draws influence from?
Aaron: I think those are extremely accurate. I feel like If we’d approached the record from a production stand point a bit different, we may have ended up sounding a whole lot more like Brand New. I think the Copeland one is pretty obvious too, with me singing in falsetto quite often. I’ve been a huge Copeland fan for as long as I can remember. I got to play a show with them a long, long time ago when I was with local bands. It was before anyone really even knew who they were. They had just finished recording “beneath the medicine tree”, so it wasn’t even released yet. To act like bands like that don’t have an influence on me would be defiantly a mistake. I’m more then okay with drawing influences from bands like those. I haven’t really heard a whole lot of bands that we’ve been compared to so far that I think were in left field. There’s been a couple, but for the most part I’ve been extremely pleased to be compared to some of the bands that people have drawn out.
Kurtis: Do you feel like Keep Quiet has been enough of a purging for you? Have you said what you’ve wanted to say or will there be more to come?
Aaron: I don’t know that I will ever purge all of what’s on my mind, or what I’m passionate about, or what I think. I have an unfortunate (Laughs) ability to impress my feelings upon others whether people want them or not, and my thoughts on situations. So if anything, I use songs to give voice to my reasoning in a more non abrasive way to get my point across, or at least to provoke thought. So to think that I could be done saying what I have to say, I think is impossible. I really think it’s impossible for anyone. But no matter how many records we continue to put out I will want to continue to ask the hard questions and say the things that I think that people ought to hear.
Kurtis: Where are you currently touring, and where is the best place for your fans to get this information?
Aaron: Sonsofficial.com was launched about two or three weeks ago and we’re continually updating it. We’re working on making our live show better, and in the process of solidifying a new drummer. Then, we are doing a week straight with Wolves at the Gate, who are on Solid State at the end of April into Agape Fest. We’re putting together something currently for July, August, and September. August and September were heading out west and will be spending quite a bit of time out there. Before that, it’s still up in the air. We’re still working out a few things like that, but I can honestly say it’s our hope to play a whole lot more this year before we kind of hibernate again to write another record.
Kurtis: Well thanks for taking time to do this. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Aaron: It’s just nice to get an opportunity, to get a chance to answer such sincere, honest, and genuine questions. I get asked the same things a lot and I would encourage anyone that’s wanting to pick an artist’s brain to really think through the questions that their asking them. Because, as artist, if we’re trying to provoke peoples thoughts then we want our own thoughts provoked too. Especially in interviews, I would just hope that interviewers would take a more artistic standpoint when talking to an artist. So I’m thankful that you had these questions for me
Kurtis: Well thanks so much I truly appreciate your time.