Q&A with Aaron Howell of Forth Yeer Freshman
Speaking with Aaron Howell, the frontman of Forth Yeer Freshman, is a lot like listening to his band's music: the things he says are generally over the top and somewhat ludicrous, yet you get the sense that there's a certain amount of earnestness attached to his sentiments. In advance of Forth Yeer's CD release show this Saturday at the Bluebird, we printed an abbreviated version of our recent interview with Howell in the April 16 edition of the paper. As with most of our other Rough Mixes pieces, there was much more to our conversation than was printed. With that in mind, we posted full transcript of our recent exchange with Howell after the jump.
Westword (Dave Herrera): You guys did an excellent job of channeling the Sunset Strip circa 1989.
Aaron Howell: Thank you very much. That wasn't what we were going for, but I'm sure it will sell.
WW: It's just got this late-'80s glam-rock feel to it.
AH: Oh, very cool. We put so much fucking reverb on that thing. Bart from Frontside 5 recorded it, and he was like, "Are you guys sure you want this much reverb?" We're like, "Fuck, yeah! Haven't you ever heard Appetite for Destruction?" We cranked the reverb on it and did as much cheesy stuff and had as many wanking solos as we could. Except for, like, cover bands, nobody really does that stuff anymore.
WW: As ironic as your music seems, it also seems like there's a sense of reverence, like you guys really dig that kind of music.
AH: I mean, obviously, we love Guns N' Roses and Van Halen and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Honestly, more than the '80s, I'd say the '70s -- Ted Nugent, all the stuff where the lyrics are just fucking retarded but the guys are so serious about it. And now here we are, guys that were born twenty to thirty years too late, trying to pull off the same effect. When we hang out with bands in our own age group, they name the hot up-and-coming bands who they sound like, and I have no fucking idea who those bands are.
WW: Tell me how the band went from being a marginal punk band to where you're at now.
AH: Since I've been the only one that's been along for the entire ride, it's all been based on what the guys I was playing with could play. In the earliest days, I was playing with these guys who were into shit like the Nobodys and the Misfits and things like that, where it was really basic three-cord punk rock. So I kind of would get into whatever group of people I was hanging out were listening to, like, oh, here's a new experience of music, and I'd get into that.
And then, later on, when we got a new guitar player and there were some change outs - we got Logan and I took over on vocals. And then we were playing with this guy who was a godawful guitar player, who was really into S.O.D. and Gwar and bands like that, so it was a lot more crunchy, hardcore-ish, wanting-to-be-metal-but-you-really-don't-know-how-to-play-guitar type of thing. Our guitar player we had before Tay and Jerry and Tony joined the band - not to talk shit on him - went an entire year without his high E string. That's just how devoted this guy was to guitar.
So then when he quit, we got Tay and Jerry, and they had their different interest. Tay was actually just supposed to be a fill-in guitar player until we found someone permanent. We were like, "Well, he's more of a blues, you know, classic rock type player, but I'm sure he can pull it off." And then we ended up writing songs together, and the song's just changed. The stuff we were writing was more interesting and more fun and more technically proficient. All and all, at least for me, I've always had a good time entertaining people and singing songs, and it just kind of depended on what I was into at the time.
WW: So you're the only original member?
AH: Yeah. I was, actually, when the band first started out - and this is kind of a bummer, but at the same time, it's too late to change it - I was just the bass player, and our original singer came up with the name. Our first show was at this youth group that we went to - which, actually, coincidently, at our first show, Eric Harris was there, which I found out later and I thought was pretty eery. Yeah, yeah, he was at our first show, which was incredibly eery to find out down the road. But we used to play at this youth group. None of us we're Christians, but we still went to the bible study and stuff to argue with the Christians, who still treated us really nicely. It was a really open environment for teenagers to go to and shit. Fuck! What were talking about again? I'm sorry.
WW: Oh, no, we were just talking about you being the original member...
AH: Oh yeah, and so we kind of got stuck with the name, because it was acceptable to use at a youth group. We had all sorts of names with fuck and piss in it and everything, but we kept playing gigs and just kind of got stuck with the name. So it's like looking back, having the name and being there from the get go and not even being a mere shadow of what we used to be, it's kind of interesting to have that background.
WW: It's light years from where it started.
AH: It's the journey that creates the present, I guess. I don't regret it at all. But looking back, I kind of wish I had known a little bit more about music and hooked up with some better players way back then. We'd probably be way ahead of where we're at now.
WW: Which, were are you now?
AH: Uh, well, I mean right now, we're on the up and up. The band is basically my full-time job. No, it doesn't pay dick - my girlfriend pays all the rent and feeds me - but I don't have time for a real job. We get up at the crack of noon every day and get out there and take care of merchandise and take care of the website. I book all the shows, and I'm busy booking all the shows until the end of the year. And right now, I'm working with a couple of booking agencies planning out a ninety-day US tour and a month in Europe in 2010. So really it's just staying busy and going out on tour as much as possible, and then finding time to practice and play shows and get laid in the meantime and get drunk, you know?
WW: So even though you guys are a bunch of goofballs, you take this stuff dead serious, huh?
AH: Oh, dead serious. We're all into that whole think and grow rich attitude. You know, the millionaire mindset, like this is happening; it's already happened, in the future, which, according to Einstein is happening right now. As far as we're concerned, we already possess fame and success, and we don't have a doubt in our mind that we're going to make our living doing this.
WW: So, Regulators: What's the significance of the name of the new album?
AH: Uh, we're huge fans of Young Guns...
WW: What's that? You're huge fans of Warren G?
AH: Heh-heh. Actually, we're huge fans of Warren G and Young Guns. We listen to Warren G a lot... and generally when it's time to leave a town, when we're done drinking for the night, whoever's in charge of rustling everybody up will yell out the obligatory, "Regulators, mount up!" And that's also where "Mount Up" came from. We thought, what the hell -- we couldn't agree on anything else for a record name, and it's easy to remember.
WW: I couldn't help but notice that there's less songs about being "hungry for your butt."
AH: Well, we've grown as artists. You know, everybody's got to grow up sometime.
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