By Melissa Hahn
With the aptitude to go viral on the Internet these days, word of mouth and YouTube is all you really need to stumble upon a wild card in a deck of hopeful fame-chasers. Aaron Bruno, the mastermind behind electro-rock band AWOLNATION, is one of those wild cards. After playing with bands Under the Influence of Giants, Hometown Hero and Insurgence, Bruno received a windfall when Red Bull Records approached him with an offer he couldn’t resist: free access to the studio with “no strings attached.” Bruno was able to package songs he had already written and move forward with his solo project as AWOLNATION. Within two years of debuting, AWOLNATION charted gold in the United States with the single “Sail” — a salute to Styx’s “Come Sail Away” — from his sophomore album, Megalithic Symphony. “Sail” achieved a spike in the YouTube community with more than seven million views and now AWOLNATION is sailing across the globe on its first world tour. Synthesis spoke with Bruno about the past and present of his music career. And as you’ll see below, the man can be quite…um…mysterious?
Two years after debuting as AWOLNATION and you’re already going on a world tour. What do you think catapulted the success of your single?
I’m not sure. I have written plenty of songs in the past that I felt strong about, but the stars didn’t align for whatever reason. With “Sail,” I think that I was lucky enough to write a melody with lyrics that enough people could relate to. Plus, everyone needs an honest galactic groove every once in a while.
In the past you have been a part of the band’s Under the Influence of Giants, Hometown Hero and Insurgence. How does AWOLNATION trademark itself compared to your past projects?
Well, those were bands in the traditional sense, where we wrote together and decided on all band matters together. With AWOL, I suppose I am the architect, and lucky enough to have my favorite musicians play with me live. I couldn’t do it without them.
What influenced you to change your music from a more rock-based sound [from your past bands] to electro dance beats?
Genres are pointless. I am who I am and I write what I write. People can call it what they want. It certainly is not “electro dance music,” although there is an element of that in the songs. I am a huge fan of nursery rhyme style melodies, which is essentially pop music and what sticks in our heads. Most music I love has that aspect to it.
According to an online source, the name AWOLNATION comes from an old nickname of yours because you always left without saying goodbye. Tell me about your views on departure.
AWOLNATION is a musical escape without any explanation.
You seem to be a fan of science fiction. What is your favorite sci-fi book or movie?
I don’t read much fiction. I find reality to be more inspiring.
If you could invent an alternative world, what would it be like?
Perfect waves everywhere, always.
According to haveyougoneawol.com, you are presenting a couple of 3D sci-fi films, Lost Signal and Deep Danger, both written by Elisabeth Sheldon. Can you elaborate on your involvement in these films and what you want to accomplish through their release?
(Laughs) Yeah, I can’t say. It’s a mystery.