By Roger Sharman – The Omeara London
RS: Good afternoon Mr Aaron Lee Tasjan and welcome to London. I’m Roger Sharman, reporting for countrylowdown.com.
RS: Very nice to meet you sir! Have you been to O’Meara before?
ALT: This is my first time.
RS: Have you had a chance to have a look around?
ALT: We’ve been trying to figure out how to get the van into the alley. No, I haven’t had a chance to have a look around yet. I’ve heard its great. Randall Baxter played here last month.
RS: I heard that was a great show. You’re very British in appearance and in sound, I’m sure that’s been said before, so who are you British influences? Obviously looking at you I see The Beatles, John Lennon in particularly.
ALT: I love John Lennon. You know, my British influences would probably be a lot of the bands that Alan McGee Signed.
RS: The Creation label.
ALT: Yeah … I love Teenage Fanclub. I know they’re Scottish, but I love them, certainly Oasis. ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory’ came out when I was 11 years old and I’d just started playing guitar and those songs were easy enough that you can learn them just by listening to the records. So that was a big one early on. Beyond that I would probably say I have been most influenced by American artists who are influenced by British artists. The two main ones being Elliott Smith and a guy named Richard Swift
RS: I’ll have to check him out.
I see your pretty active on social media. In this day and age, with all the information flying around, do you think it’s really important that you keep up with that and keep getting your message out to your fans?
ALT: I don’t know important it is. It’s definitely, you know, a way to get to the end of the rainbow as they say. I think, you know, if you place value in what you’re saying on there, it gives people a reason to maybe pay attention to it so it becomes an avenue for you to let them know that you’re playing gigs or got a record coming out besides whatever else you are doing.
I also think it’s a double edge sword really, it’s a bit of a dangerous environment because it’s tempting to say things there that you probably wouldn’t say to someone face to face in a conversation.
RS: and of course, there is no way of taking it back once it’s out there.
ALT: It’s a tricky walk in some ways, I try to use it for good, I try to talk about things that I love, artists that I love, and you know if I have any message to spread at all. I think love is the new punk rock you know I think love & empathy are something we can all use a little more of.
RS: Was there a reason for the more Rock orientated sound, the more Oasis kind of sound on this than previous records?
ALT: I live in East Nashville, which is kind of the sort of epicentre of you know, the Americana Revolution if you will, and I was hearing a lot of records that were sounding really similar to me, and if I’m going to be true to me, when I think about my roots music, what I grew up listening to, it’s more British music & British influenced music, things like The Beatles, and even Tom Petty. You know I think a lot of people don’t always realise the influence British music had on his music. It was some of my favourite stuff by that band. I just wanted to create something that was true to me but also that wasn’t just going to be another record with acoustic guitar and pedal steel & some earnest lyrics on it. I can appreciate that very much when it’s done well, but you know, I think for me personally that sound is maybe a little stale. This style is kind of really truer & more authentic to the kind of music I’m really a fan of.
RS: You are quite a snappy and sharp dresser. You are quite a quirky person I guess, with a sharp sense of humour. Would that be a fair assessment of you as a person?
ALT: sure, yeah, I hear that often enough that it seems accurate. **laughter**
RS: You & me both ** more laughter**
Alt: Its true, we could be twins, we should go out shopping together.
RS: Are you a Religious man?
ALT: I believe in God so much as God is the trees, God is music and God is sex. I think that playing music is a little bit like believing in Santa Claus you know you, and you have to be prepared to take a little bit of criticism for that sometimes. People might say you ‘who are you to believe in yourself here, you come back down here with the rest of us and be real’. The truth of the matter is there is real magic that you can find when you believe in the unseen and the unknown. In that way I guess rock and roll has been a religion for me, in that you don’t always see you know, what’s up the road, what’s at the end of the line, but you believe that the work you do between here and there in has value and is important.
RS: If there was one person that you could bring back from the dead who would that be and why?
ALT: Right now, Charlie Chaplin so that he could perform the speech from The Great Dictator. I think we could all do with hearing that one more time.
RS Here’s a left-field question, do you like horror movies?
ALT: That’s a tough question. There’s quite a few that I enjoy. I’m a big sucker for the classics. I think for my money you can’t do any better than Godzilla.
RS: Do you have any funny stories from fans? I interviewed BJ Barham yesterday and he has an unusual fan that depending on the song they play throws an item of clothing on stage. Do you have any fans that do something interesting or unusual like that?
ALT: We don’t have any fans that throw clothes at us. I would say as a whole our fans seem to be pretty lovely people. There’s definitely been some uncomfortable moments. I would be reluctant to share too many of the details only because I wouldn’t want somebody to read it and feel sad. I think it’s definitely a curious thing because you know the reality of your situation every day, and through the internet it probably appears differently to the people who are watching you, so you have to be aware of that because you know people will treat you in a way that feels very strange because you sit there and think to yourself you’re some guy playing guitar. I’m not a celebrity or anything like that. But I’ve had a lot of encounters with people that most folks would consider to be celebrity so maybe there’s a weird guilt by association kind of thing going on.
The most famous fan that we have is Sir Patrick (Stewart), he’s our favourite guy, we love him. When he comes around, we get to have a chat and have a whiskey, and I went to dinner with him and his wife Sunny when we played the Americana music awards. We’re big fans of his and I feel very fortunate that he is appreciative of what we do would.
RS: Would you consider yourself to be a success?
ALT: Oh yeah! I mean I haven’t had a job in I don’t even know how long.
RS: Doing something that you love and making money out of it, being able to pay the bills is a good measure of success, I think.
ALT: Absolutely, here’s the thing about success, it’s a term that means a lot of different things depending on who you’re talking to.
RS: But for you personally?
ALT: It’s important to define it for yourself. I remember talking to John Moreland when John and I first went on tour together, that was one of the first tours that I did. We were talking about songs and all this stuff one night and he just said ‘I’ve made it’. You know we were playing to fifty people everywhere we went, and I remember thinking in that moment that’s how you’re supposed to become or not become successful. I think it’s a decision that you make more than a thing that happens or doesn’t happen to you.
RS: As long as you are success in your own eyes it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
ALT: You have your own goals and aspirations and as long as you can see that, I think that you are on the road to achieving personal success.
RS: Thank you very much for your time, Aaron.
ALT: Thank you, Roger.