As lip’s very own lit writer, Freya Dumas, found out, Aa is a band that’s rather difficult to categorise. Although they’ve been around (in various forms) since 2002, Australia is now enjoying their ‘official’ introduction to the band pronounced ‘Big A, Little A’.
Combining various songs from their debut album, gAame, their Glossy EP and two previously unreleased live tracks, Aa has finally release an Australian LP through Sensory Projects and is about to embark on their first trip to our sunburnt country.
In the lead-up to their appearance at the very first Sugar Mountain Festival, taking place in Melbourne on Saturday, April 30, Josh Bonati had a chat to lip about the Midwest, Brooklyn and crossing the Mexican border.
Which bands did you like when you were growing up? Do you think they’ve influenced the kind of music you’re making now?
I think so, I grew up in the Midwest in the United States, so a lot of the underground stuff like [from] Touch and Go Records. Shellac was a big one. That stuff definitely did influence the music, the stuff that I make. The rest of the band wasn’t quite as influenced by that as I am, but we all bring our own influences to the table.
So what is your songwriting process like then?
It’s pretty democratic. There’s no real frontperson for the band and someone just presents an idea and we work on it and it gets twisted around until it works and then we keep tacking things on to that idea and it becomes a song eventually. The songs we pretty much determine experimentally.
That experimental sound has become quite popular now, but how were you first received when you started playing music with Aa?
I wasn’t really there much in the very beginning but they were received very well. The guys all lived in a house together and they had a basement in this house, which is very rare in New York City. So they put on shows in this tiny basement for their friends, just like most people did – you play for your friends first and it gets bigger from there hopefully. All their friends liked it then [it] just went on from there naturally.
There’s a lot of music coming out of Brooklyn, do you feel like it’s a good place to be cultivating your sound?
Yeah, definitely. There’s definitely a density of bands, a lot of people doing lots of different kinds of bands, lots of places to play so yeah, it’s a really good scene right now.
What’s the music community like there?
The music community is super broad in New York, currently you have a ton of different kind of music going on but I guess the underground independent scene that we’re involved in, I feel like it’s really friendly. Bands are competitive internally, but we’re certainly not having any beefs with any other bands. I’m not really aware of that kind of stuff going on, so I think there’s a lot of camaraderie.
Tell me about one of your touring experiences.
This one experience could’ve turned out really bad but we got very lucky. The band’s only been to Europe once and we hired a van and a driver, a hardcore kid from the Czech Republic, and we were driving to a show in Northern Italy. This was the only time we had van trouble on the entire tour, luckily. We got to the club and then the van died, right in front of the club, so we actually got to the show but the next day was kind of hell because we had to hoof all our gear onto a train to the next town and then lug it to the show and the band gets tired of having to lug drums all the time. In a similar thing, we played the SXSW festival last year, we did the show in Mexico that this promoter put on, way down in Monterrey, Mexico and of course we had to cross the border from the United States into Mexico. You have to walk over this big pedestrian bridge then get on the motorbus and we’re the only band that’s taking all this extra crap with us. Hauling a lot of extra drums is kind of a common experience in this band, but it’s not a bad experience, it’s a good experience.
Be sure to check out Aa at Sugar Mountain Festival; other headliners include Virgo Four, No Kids and Yellowfever!