Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with Aaron Zimmer

A singer-songwriter with an unsurpassed command of melody and mood, Aaron Zimmer burst onto the Ripple scene with his dynamite new disc, Live Wires. Already a Ripple favorite, we caught up with the busy Aaron in-between Cd release gigs and headlining shows, and asked him to set a spell on the red leather Ripple interview couch and share some thoughts.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

I grew up listening to about everything except rock music. My dad listened to tons of vocal music, lots of brass ensemble type stuff, and some jazz. My earliest musical epiphanies came from those types of music groups. I loved how chords sounded when they were made by voice alone. Manhattan Transfer, The Carpenters, Singers Unlimited...the way they could build those beds of dense, rhythmic chords blew me away.

I sorta stuck with that type of music until I heard Alice in biggest musical epiphany. Staley could build those same beautifully dense chords, but did it in front of the meanest rock sound I'd ever heard. For me, it was heavier, meaner, darker than anything. Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Kiss didn't impact me the way the Facelift and Dirt Records did.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

I almost always come up with a chord progression first. I like to get the song structured; verse, chorus, bridge before I work on a melody. Lyrics always come last and always take the longest for me.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

I write a lot about frustrations and failures and mistakes. By and large, I'm a pretty happy dude, but music is the way I like to complain. For me, it allows me to get things off my chest without a direct confrontation.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

I know that I'm not re-inventing the wheel here....I know I write pop/rock tunes. I'd call it honest, catchy pop/rock that any music lover can take something from.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

Every person has things they would change about themselves and their lives. Understanding the lows in life, makes the highs seem even higher.

In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

Its all about making something memorable....something myself or others can take with them, even when the stereo is off. Simple or complex, fast or slow, meter & tempo changes....whatever it takes for me to feel like I'm making something interesting.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

One new face at a time. I enjoy the marketing aspect of being in a band almost as much as I do performing. I love meeting new people. There IS a ton of bad stuff out there these days. In lots of people's book, my music is bad. Its all relative, and all about finding people that you can relate to on a personal level. The days of the "Rock Star" are long gone. These days its about making and maintaining friendships with people who will support you and your music.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

I have never done anything stupid or embarrassing in my entire life. Haha!

Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?

I'll always be a writer, and a performer on some level. If I can make a living at it, that'd be great.

What makes a great song?

Something people will remember. An idea or thought that is timeless.

We're sure that you'll be creating your own brand of timeless music. Good luck with the new album. We can't stop spinning it here at the Ripple.

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