STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Aaron Bruno, the singer and songwriter of the electronic alternative rock band Awolnation, is eager to see what happens the next time they play Philadelphia.
“I know that we played there a couple years back, and a bride and groom rushed the stage while we were playing,” he said in a phone interview. “When we played there, it was for this radio block party. We went on at some weird time slot, and it was like 3:15 in the afternoon, and it was hot. (The audience) went ballistic from the first note.”
Recently getting back home to the U.S. after taking time off to marry his girlfriend of two and a half years and honeymoon, Bruno doesn’t have long to wait for the return to Philly. The band — whose sinister, self-loathing single, “Sail,” turns up in TV shows, promos, and even the occasional commercial — has a concert date booked at the Fillmore Philadelphia Nov. 10.
“It’s a lot more organic than people think,” Bruno said of the Awolnation sound, noting that some sounds that most mistake for synthesizers are really done with guitars.
They’re touring behind a new album, “Run,” which has received radio airplay with the songs “I Am” and “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf).”
When the 36-year-old Californian was asked if the band name was supposed to be a sociological commentary — AWOL being a military term meaning Absent Without (being granted) Leave — he responded: “It’s simply a metaphor. It’s a way to escape the day-to-day troubles of life and escape to a place we call music, and not having to explain yourself. This music is for everyone, in my humble opinion.”
Awolnation put their own spin on Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 hit “I’m on Fire” for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack, and Bruno said, “It was a big deal to be associated with the other artists on the soundtrack — Danny Elfman, The Rolling Stones (“Beast of Burden”). And to do a cover of The Boss, and he himself approved it — or at least having his people approve it … (is a big deal).”
Having previously performed in post-grunge and indie pop bands, Bruno said his musical influences include The Beatles, The Stones, punk and hardcore, pre-1990 rap and Nirvana. A life-changing moment came when he heard Kurt Cobain sing the Lead Belly traditional “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” on “MTV Unplugged in New York.” “It made me more comfortable picking up a guitar and singing songs by my lonesome,” Bruno said.
Awolnation records for Red Bull Records, as in the energy drink maker. “Everything they do, they do well. It’s like a family, and you’ve got cousins. They (sponsor) some of the best athletes,” said Bruno, an avid surfer. “How lucky I’ve been that I’ve been able to make the music that I want to make.”
As for “Sail” catching on, Bruno said that when he wrote it, he thought that only his friends would end up hearing it. “There’s no people and yes people,” he said, referring to his friends. “I thought the song was going to be enjoyed by some of the no people.”
Bruno said concert highlights for him will be the new songs “Jailbreak” and “Woman Woman,” and possibly introducing a song that hasn’t been recorded yet. “We’ve gotten a lot better, and the lineup’s the best it’s ever been. So I have a lot of confidence going on stage,” he said.