brendan hourican goes to the west side…
Since their formation in 2009, Westland has been all over the U.S., recorded with multi platinum producer Shep Goodman, and earned critical acclaim from some big names such as Alternative Press and Kings of A&R. The Boston pop rock band has secured their spot on tours such as The Glamour Kills Tour and The Vans Warped Tour. They aim to make some noise with a more alternative sound on their upcoming E.P., set to be released in the fall. I spoke with Westland’s singer Aaron Bonus about their new sound and their hopes for the future.
Pop-Break: How did you guys all meet and come to start the band?
Aarons Bonus: Well we have a few new members now because we dismembered around Christmas last year because we all wanted to do different things. Basically, a couple of us were childhood friends, and a couple of us met in Boston. John and Carlo were Berklee students. When we were looking for musicians we wanted the best and since Berklee is literally in our backyard we tried to get some members from there first and we found our original bass player on craigslist believe it or not.
PB: So how did you meet these new guys?
AB: We met the new guys through other musicians and friends we have made along the way. We came to separate the people who really want to be in a band seriously and the people who are into it more as just a hobby. Our original drummer got kicked out of the country because he was here on a student visa and he couldn’t work. That was a big bummer. On the application to get the proper visa, they compare you to the biggest musicians in the country, so they ask questions like “Have you ever won a VMA?”
PB: Wow, they’re serious.
AB: Yeah. We’re working hard but we haven’t gotten there yet! It’s kind of silly.
PB: That really sucks.
AB: But as of right now we’re going in a much more indie direction and I use the word “indie” because that’s the title that the scene has given it these days. But we’re just going back to the basics of music and playing real rock ‘n’ roll essentially.
PB: So you have an EP coming out this fall. Is there a release date?
AB: Well there isn’t an official date but we start recording it August 20th, which is actually my birthday, and were going to be recording for about two weeks in Nada studios which is in Newburgh N.Y. so I’m pretty stoked about that. We also have a really great producer, his name is Shep Goodman, he’s a great guy and talented to say the least.
PB: So that’s going to be more of a raw indie sound?
AB: Well I wouldn’t really say raw, it’s not going to be synth driven, but you can compare it somewhat to The Killers’ first record in that they’re really the only band who you could call indie alternative that isn’t doing it low-fi, and we’re not going to be doing it low-fi. The lyrical content will probably be the biggest thing that people will notice a difference in. It’s stepping away from the teen angst girl problems. This lyrical content is dealing with the more serious problems in the world. I have a stage and a microphone and most people don’t get that all their life, so why not talk about things that you believe in.
PB: Yeah definitely, so Alternative Press described your sound as if Claudio from Coheed and Cambria sang for All Time Low, and I see you have a Coheed and Cambira cover on your Facebook. Do you guys embrace that comparison?
AB: Yeah that’s basically what that was about. Since I was about fifteen Coheed and Cambira had the only high voice that was actually doing anything big at the time and it wasn’t cool to have a chick voice. And I got made fun of for it a lot. I had the nickname “Kid Coheed” growing up playing in that music scene, I figured I might as well have fun with it. Obviously when you watch the video we put up about it, I’m joking when I say I sound nothing like him, but when you really listen, it’s not exact. Everyone has their own unique nuances to their voice. But I do embrace it. I don’t know many people who can hit those notes, and those who do tend to be in really big bands, so God willing something might come from that.
PB: What song do you think best represents your sound and your band as a whole? It could be one that you already released or one that you are going to release.
AB: I think the song “we were” probably represents us the best which is funny because I wrote that song when I was sixteen years old. That’s probably the song on this record that’s the most true to what were going to be doing in the future. I also want to show more of my influences. I feel like on the first record I didn’t really show all my influences. If you love pop rock and that’s your thing, that’s great. Believe me I’m not knocking it at all. I think there are some really talented people out there doing it well. Go Radio is probably one of my favorite bands doing it right now. But for me it’s an age thing and I’m out of that sound now. And I feel like that’s a problem if you’re going to writing for the band.
PB: Yeah that makes sense. So what would you cite as your main influences for the upcoming EP?
AB: Well I love the Killers, I love Muse, David Bowie, Queen, The Pixies. Obviously I started with The Beatles like everyone else. And now we are in our experimentation phase. I really want to play with sounds just to see what you can do. I’m really in a pioneer phase of my life. I guess I want to just throw all sorts of things against the wall and not think of what people won’t accept because that’s not fair. I don’t think anybody is completely one way or another.
PB: So I see you guys have been on a couple big tours like Glamour Kills and Warped. What has been your favorite?
AB: Honestly I think my favorite tour has been independently touring, because you don’t have to deal with the everyday strain. I don’t really know anyone who says they have a good time on warped tour. It’s great exposure and Kevin does what he can but its hell out there with the heat and everything. We did that two years in a row. We just got off this year’s Warped last week. We were in the van again and it’s just very tough especially with sleeping arrangements.
PB: Yeah it seems like Warped would be exhausting.
AB: It is. Like I said we did it two years in a row and when you come home you just sleep like fifteen hours for a couple nights after just to recharge your body
PB: So what’s the plan for you guys after the EP comes out?
AB: Right now we’re planning on doing a couple tours with some bigger bands. We’re really looking forward to that. We really just want to get out there as much as possible and get our music to as many people as possible.