Interview with Aaron Bedard of Bane (and more!)

Note: This is not just an article about my interview with Aaron Bedard, the leader singer of Massachusetts hardcore veterans Bane. This is more of a description of my experiences surrounding the Bane show at Club Dada on June 9, 2014.

Since at this point in time I was bound by a legal curfew, my amazing dad and I worked out an arrangement where he agreed to drop me off at Club Dada after dinner and pick me up after the show. Excited to see another great band at one of my favorite venues, and assured that I wouldn’t have to worry about police officers fining me for being out too late, I make the journey with him to the venue, and then I am left alone, slightly uncomfortable since I knew no one in line. Most of my friends don’t understand “extreme music,” and the ones that do were unavailable, so I ventured into Club Dada alone.

After waiting for the doors for about 30 minutes, I overheard three other guys in front of me talking to two girls, all of us awaiting admission into the venue. I noticed that their dialect was slightly more southern-fried than mine was, so when they asked about the Dallas hardcore scene, I asked them where they were from: they had driven three hours from Shreveport to Dallas just to see Bane perform. I was astonished, but also admiring of their dedication to their love of music. Their names were Cody, Caleb and Gabriel, and they were some of the few last patrons of Shreveport’s hardcore scene. Due to the frequent closing of venues, and the relocation of favorite local bands to different cities, Shreveport’s hardcore scene had almost been completely eradicated. Straight Edge especially has had a hard time developing, since, according to the three Shreveporters, “there’s nothing to do but drink.” This makes it difficult for the hardcore culture to manifest, because it de-incentivizes bands to form and tour through the city.

I continued talking with the Louisianans, who were very passionate about hardcore. Caleb had a dream of becoming a music producer, and although neither straight edge nor familiar with Bane, Caleb accredited the ideals of straight edge with a lot of positivity in his life, while Gabe had never been to a show before. Cody, another traveler, eventually told me that Aaron Bedard, Sweet Pete (of In My Eyes), Jacob Bannon (of Converge)

and Pat Flynn (of Have Heart) were all huge influences in his life. He was working as a Hibachi chef back home, but had aspirations to front a hardcore band and be a graphic designer who designs his band’s own merch. He expounded upon how hardcore, especially straight edge, impacted his life, inspiring him to work hard to accomplish his goals, a fuel for his fire. Since I could feel the passion emanating from him, I told him that I had an interview scheduled with Bedard, and that if he wanted me to introduce him to the singer, I would gladly oblige. Although extremely nervous at first, Cody accompanied to the merch table, where Aaron was awaiting my arrival.

With a genuine smile, Aaron shook my hand and said hello. I then introduced him to Cody, who’s mouth quickly stretched into a grin, excited to meet a driving force in his life. Cody inquired about Aaron’s relationship with hardcore and his life in Boston among other things, but your homeboy (me) was too fascinated by this short but profound conversation to pull out his recorder. After they were done conversing, we began the interview.

We started by discussing Cody’s long journey to Dallas, which was overwhelming for Aaron. “it’s crazy to be a part of something that gets kids…doing something. It’s really flattering. I remember doing that myself for other bands. I think it’s an important part of hardcore, that you have to work at it…to be involved…I feel really humble that my band makes kids do that.” Bedard frequently ventured all over New England for the pursuit of music with friends in high school, demonstrating his dedication. He also attests to the fertility of the scene of his admittedly depressing hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts. He described it as an aggregate of college binge-drinking and “failed industry,” but he champions it as his hometown nonetheless. Amidst this environment, he discovered punk and hardcore through older kids. “One of the first bands I was turned onto was Minor Threat.

The lyrics to that band affeted me on a deep level…during that time, I had to make decisions on what my teenage years were going to look like, and I was apprehensive. I didnt’ know what straight edge was, but I knew that I didn’t want to be a kid that was f**cked up all the time.” After getting intoxicated and having a terrible experience, an older kid introduced him to the subculture. His experiences with fitting in and finding a place in the world bleed into his lyrics, so this was a testimony to how his life affects his song-writing process. I just turned 18, so this really hit home. “I think it’s cool when you take straight edge as a personal thing that will help guide you through your tough path.” Once you internalize it, that’s when the true potential of following the lifestyle manifests.

Along the lines of growing up, we delved into the subject of school. “My head was so in the clouds back then,” admitted Aaron. Due to an innate desire to abandon school to spend time with friends, he had no deep memories of high school. Cody admitted to following similar behavior. He said, “I started smoking weed when I was like 12…it wasn’t until I was about 18 or 19 when I realized I didn’t want to live this way.” He realized his behavior changed due to his exposure and internalization of the principles of straight edge, but it was very counterintuitive for him to make that change. “My dad was an alcoholic and stuff,” Cody explained, “so I was out doing whatever I wanted. I never went to prom either and dropped out my Junior year.” He eventually acquired his GED and went to college for a semester. However, his bad habits hindered him from being invested in school. “It wasn’t until a few months later when I asked myself, ‘what am I doing?'” This represents a significant shift in Cody’s life. He attributed this mental metamorphosis to the Bane song, “Wasted on The Young,” which describes how young people should grab life by the reigns and take it where they want to go. Cody has used his change of mind to try to open the eyes of his peers. Caleb recently stopped partaking in profligate pursuits due to Cody’s influence, a change that the two hope to continue in each other’s lives.

Aaron describes the emotional “aggressive music is played more loudly…what hardcore does is…gives all that anger a focus.” “If you have a big heart and a lot of passion, kids will accept you.” “I have something to say. I’m not happy with the way things are, and things can be better.” “This is anger personified” I explained that many of my friends about it, but they don’t get it. “Yeah, I’m angry. There’s a lot to be angry about.” “If i didn’t have this as an outlet, to talk about things I care about, scream and stomp around on stage…If i had all this pent up inside of me, i don’t know what I’d do…This allows that.” “I also like to listen to really sad music. [i like to be sad] because it’s an emotion and I’m not afraid.” I’m not afraid of emotions, but emotional music helps me bring it out.”I don’t like stuff that makes me feel happy.” He prefers heavy or sad.

Outside of touring, Aaron tends to listen to emotional music outside of hardcore. He mentioned a slew of melodic bands like Title Fight, Tigers Jaw, Balance and Composure, as well as household favorites like Deftones and Radiohead. Black metal and Drum and Bass music sit among his favorite styles as well. Desiring that emotional intensity, Aaron maintains that he “want[s] [his] black metal to be two steps away from jumping off a cliff.” Cody was curious about the new Tigers Jaw record, to which Aaron replied “Soooo good.” He believes that the band came a long way from almost breaking up to converging to create a great album. Cody also expressed interest in Balance and Composure; Aaron preferred Separation to The Things We Think We’re Missing, but now he enjoys the differences between the two records, while Cody prefers I Just Want to Be Pure. Aaron also heavily emphasized his love for Title Fight: “If I had to name three of my favorite bands, I’d probably name them.” We all dove into discussion about Title Fight’s progression as a band, from a very melodic hardcore band to a hardcore band with extremely shoegazy tendencies. Cody remembers the first time he heard “Head in the Ceiling Fan,” how it took him some time to get acclimated to the band’s deviation from their old sound. Aaron went on to cosign a female-fronted shoegaze group called No Joy, and reminded me to actually take the time to listen to My Bloody Valentine.

The conversation then took a turn for the juicy after I inquired about Bane’s relationship with scenecore heartthrobs I See Stars.
Recently, the latter group uploaded a controversial cover to one of Bane’s most popular song, “Can We Start Again.” “This band that id neve heard of wanted to use a couple of lines from a bane song on a song they were doing…i just assumed it was a hardcore band using a couple of lines…Bane has borrowed lines from American Nightmare, Nick Drake, etc. Far be it for me to say they can’t use a couple of lines. And that was it…I had no idea…I never even told anyone in the band.” “I would of assumed that someone would’ve said ‘by the way this isn’t a hardcore band.”” phone blowing up. “I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.” “The nerve of them to not get at me…they’re are some rock star guest vocalist.” “I dont have any ground to stand on because I told them that they could use a couple lines for a song.” It doesn’t have anything to do with the world they come from. After finally watching the video, he got “douche chills.” “that was really classless…to not contact me and say ‘this is turning into something more.”” “we’re not credited in this video,” even though he wrote every single word. The first bane song I ever heard was that song, so it kind of peeved me that they turned it into something it’s not supposed to be. Cody explained that Shreveport has a love for bands similar to I See Stars. He recounted his frustration while he said, “I was like, ‘I’m going to see Aaron Bedard,’ and no one knew what I was talking about.'” (28:12) “Take something that I would die for and is sacred to me and give it to these guys that are worried about their fancy haircuts and belts that they bought at Hot Topic. I don’t like the thought of those two worlds converging…it makes me feel enraged. What they do is fine…it’s just not hardcore, and the lyrics I wrote were about hardcore. It’s like they’re lying to kids.”

[After the show I asked him another question about authenticity in hardcore:
Me: Awhile ago, Scott from Terror berated The Ghost Inside for not being a hardcore band. What defines a hardcore band to you? Do you agree with Scott about TGI?
Aaron: I def[initely] agree that they are not a hardcore band. Hardcore bands are made up of HC kids who play HC music and is pretty much a cut and dry as that and while there is a lot of space with that definition TGI are a modern metal band who aren’t… of this world whatsoever…]

Staying along the lines of appropriating others’ materials, Cody mentioned a video of Bane playing at Hellfest that helped spark his interest in the band. Aaron said “That video got more people into Bane than any other single thing.” Although grateful for the amount of exposure that the band subsequently got, the events surrounding the video are disheartening for Aaron. “That dude that put out the video, he f**ked us over. He sold tons of videos and didn’t pay us. He ran a record label called Trustkill Records.” For those who don’t know, Trustkill records was considered a metalcore and hardcore powerhouse at the turn of the millennium. However, most of the label’s most popular bands including Poison The Well, Hopesfall and Bleeding Through have had issues with the former owner of the now defunct label. These transgressions against Bane are congruous with the man’s reputation. However, “part of the reason ‘Can We Start Again’ is such a banger is because of that video,” according to Aaron.

However, through all of the drama, Bane still troops on. Originally, Bane was planning on breaking up at the end of 2014 without a bang. However, while on tour with Boysetsfire in Europe in 2013, Bane played a festival in Germany where Aaron was given some of the best advice during Bane’s two-decade existence. While lounging around in the Artists’ area after the band’s set, Aaron was approached by a man who had heard the band was calling it quits. The man said “you’ll die. I saw how psyched you were to perform. You’re not ready to stop this.” It turns out that the man was the lead singer of Napalm Death, one of the most well-respected bands in heavy metal and grindcore. Hearing this from someone who’s been involved in music for as long as he has, Aaron decided to “not put a hard stop to the band.” This prompted the band to record Don’t Wait Up, the officially final Bane record. Without that conversation, Bane would not have been inspired to bid the world a proper goodbye. It’s the ultimate testimony to staying true to what you love.

Aaron talked about a man named Calvin who worked at the oil rigs, but decided to drop that to be more emotionally invested in hardcore. He decided to leave the rigs and follow Bane in a van all over the country for this tour. Cody understood his dramatic decision: “I’m not gonna feel this way when I’m 28… not even a year or two from now,” meaning that he understands why he has to be proactive in his life and take a risk to achieve his dreams. Aaron made Cody’s night by saying, “That’s really wise that you know that…it’s really special that you know that.” Cody hopes to make it up to Boston to integrate himself into one of the most vibrant scenes in the country, a move that he hopes to make by next January. Aaron then assures Cody that when he makes it up to Boston, he will have friends in many places. “We love hanging with hardcore kids. Me, Sam from Triple B [records], Sweet Pete [of In My Eyes], Pat from Have Heart…We play board games, watch movies, go out to eat.”

Speaking of fun, Aaron then talked about his love of terrible rap music. “2 Chainz, Lil B…I love all of them! I don’t agree with anything of what they’re saying. It reflects where I come from and the taste my friends and I have…There’s something about hearing about dudes that come from that [decrepit] world…”

I saw another glimpse of Aaron’s goofier side during Bane’s electrifying set. Club Dada has a very well-done portrait of Charli XCX hanging on its wall which Aaron pointed out mid-set. “That’s my boo,” he assured us, as to warn us not to interject ourselves between him and bae. I definitely agree with him on her attractiveness, but I will respect his wishes for me to not interfere (I’m giggling while typing this). He later admitted to having a similar fondness for Emma Stone.

Thank you to Aaron, Cody, Caleb, Gabe and Natalie (for settting up this interview). I hope everyone reading this finds that spark…