AURAL METHOD Interview – JULY 2013

aural method 2

FTY : Can you give me a brief history of Aural Method, including how you came up with the name and when you started this solo career? 

Well, I made my first instrumental record for a girlfriend back in about 2000 or 2001. It was terrible (and we didn’t last). The “record” was me trying to sound like whatever was influencing me at the time (mostly metallica… think “orion” without drums…) I recorded it with an ESP LTD guitar, a ZOOM 505, and cooledit pro. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know what a compressor was. I just wanted to make music. I’ve always had a strong desire to create.

In between then and now I have been involved in several musical ventures. I played for my church in my small hometown for many years. I played in little garage bands with friends. I ended up falling into teaching guitar lessons and eventually paying gigs. The work that came to me kept me very busy in an ever expansive network of performing with various musicians but didn’t necessarily allow me to create something of my own. I always recalled the times sitting in my room just playing guitar parts over each other with much fondness…

Around January of last year I decided it was time to go back to the “sketch book” (a computer and microphone) to see what came out. I released a few “sound sketches” and was taken aback by how well the people who listened had begun to respond. People wanted to download and listen to MY music and there wasn’t even a singer in front of me?!

From there I felt I needed to invest in recording something “for real”. Now, I’ve worked in several home and a few commercial studios for the past few years. Though I’m a fan of home studios and the “do-it-yourself” approach, I prefer the feel of setting aside time in a dedicated environment. I have a very good relationship with the owner of an amazing studio near where I live. I think there is something to be said about paying for time in a place designed to facilitate creation. (I chose to be part of the machine I guess)

I am no stranger to producing and arranging music for other people. I knew pretty early on what instruments I wanted to have in the songs. I knew that I wanted real drums and strings, especially cello, to be a big part of it. I don’t play those instruments but I have many friends that do. I didn’t feel the need to be the only player for the project and I like working with other humans.

The story for the name is nothing special. I wanted something that, first off, wasn’t taken.. Which is nearly impossible. I also didn’t want to use a french or icelandic word or whatever, though I did dabble in latin. I sat in a room bouncing ideas off of a video/photographer friend of mine for a few hours and just landed on Aural Method.

FTY : How would you describe your sound?

I’d say you could reference the “standards” for what’s going on in post-rock for sure (no need to name them). Maybe a bit more string focused than some. Funny enough, I end up having to describe my music to a lot of people that don’t listen to any ambient or post-rock. I usually just say it’s instrumental music with delayed out guitar, rock style drumming and string arrangements. Hopefully that doesn’t sound cheap… If I’m writing a bio sometimes I’ll just say “poetry set to music” or something. By no means am I pointing the finger at any fellow artists when I say this but; I try not to be too pretentious about what I do.

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FTY : You have a new EP, tell me about it, maybe what some of the songs mean and particularly the writing and recording process? 

“Slumber, Savage Beasts” is a written out as a Haiku. It’s about inward struggles, both as an individual, and also those common to us all. It’s actually about finding rest and relief from them. Though it’s fairly abstract, I wanted it to invoke thoughts on a more personal level with the listener. The first track is sort of a command to oneself or maybe a personal “demon”. “In lonesome winter forest” is simply about finding peace in solitude. “Breathe Deep Your Chorus” is meant to be about relief or victory. The tracks in-between each of the lines in the haiku, simply called caesura 1 and 2, have no defined title and are meant to just be felt, rather, convey a thought.

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FTY : You also released a full length album last year called When I drifted i heard A Faint Melody. How does that album differ from this latest EP?

In short, I approached “When I drifted…” as more of an architect. I recorded each instrument individually. For the most part I had no concrete or final arrangements in mind, only a few melodies. I spent long hours cutting/ splicing/ moving/ and pitch shifting things around. I also had some friends add several things to a couple of the songs. Even though I’m a very novice keys player, various piano and keys lines/textures ended up being as much of a part of the sound as guitar. The final product was very dense with layers.

SSB was approached from the stance of capturing a three piece band (Guitar/Bass/Drums) with the arrangements laid out. We did several takes of the songs together until we got what we needed. I added Cello and Violin afterwards with pretty specific arrangements in mind. I didn’t put any piano or keys in the main three tracks. I should note that the caesura 1 was recorded just like the first record with many layers and much editing. Ceasura 2 is mostly me and a Cellist in a big room doing improv. I added several layers of strings and vocals to it after the fact.

SSB ends up sounding much less polished than WIDIHAFM, which is what I was going for.

FTY : Who are your influences?

Well I learned guitar from playing Metallica and late 90’s radio songs but as an ambient artist I’d have to say some of the typical ones. I recently had the honor of meeting with Marc Byrd and sharing some great conversation and beers with him. I’ve always been inspired by his melodic sense. It’s very hard to layer electric guitars the way he does and not make it sound like a big mess. As he explained to me he likes to build intensity with an “onslaught of melody”… simply genius…  Jonsi of course. When I heard Sigur Ros I didn’t get it at first. I revisited “()” a couple of years ago and fell in love with the sounds. I try and emulate those drums often. I loved reading about the microphones they used and all.

FTY : If you could choose one person to collaborate with, who would it be with and why?

Marc Byrd, because it would make the most sense. I love what he does, we have friends in common, and he lives in Nashville. I love Nashville.

FTY : What was the last piece of music you listened to, apart from your own?

The band “Bastille”. Nice, synth pop vibe going on and cool videos. Funny enough, I was working on something of my own entitle “Bastille” before I listened to them…

FTY : Would you say that artists such as yourself are changing the music industry and how people perceive artists who can produce music such as yours without a big budget and all the glamour of a recording contract?

Well I wouldn’t say I’m raising that banner intentionally, but I’d say the tide has been shifting for awhile and I’m okay with it. I think more people are scratching their heads about what ends up selling and what doesn’t. Some people are bitter about home recording and Pro Tools. The path is less laid out and the “gatekeepers” (labels) are losing their grip on the keys. The doors to getting our product from the little laptops we use into people’s ears have flung wide open. This is cool to me. I have friends that are on labels and have some great support because of it but I’m seeing more of them happily leaving those contracts behind and doing things like KICKSTARTER to get capital.

FTY : How do you promote yourself, are you using Social media and to what extent and how successful is that media to the success of what you do.

Truth be told, I don’t consider myself that great at it. I’ve tried to start cultivating an image. Pretty much my only outlet for promo has been social media. Facebook and Youtube have been very useful. I try to create content before a release and get a buzz going. I’ve made a couple of videos in the months before each release to tease the audience. I also try and maintain relationships with other artists. I think artists in my genre are happy to help spread the word about each other’s music.

Bandcamp has been the best place for me to sell my stuff. I’m not sure if it’s just that the right people are creeping around that site or what, but I’ve been amazed at how often people are searching for post-rock type stuff. You can tell because band camp allows you to have a personalized site and even lets you know where your listeners are clicking from. The music is categorized and tagged so if people search “post-rock” and find your site it tracks it. BC lets you sell your music at whatever price you want and lets fans tip as much as they want. You can give away tracks or albums via download codes too. There are certain limitations to how much you can give away free, but it’s a very lenient system.

FTY : Can we expect Aural Method on the road any time soon?

Probably not this year. I am currently working on some live incarnations of the music though. 🙂

FTY : What does the future hold for Aural Method?

If I could answer that I would. I am going to keep recording music as long as I can. I hope for many new things. I am working towards doing more collaborating and playing to live audiences.

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