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Aaron Bruno can normally be found behind a mic and immersed in a crowd of faithful followers. But for this summer afternoon the lead singer and creator of Awolnation can be found on a tour bus, graciously opening a few windows into the genius that is his music. The tour circuit can be a long and grueling time, however you wouldn't have any idea by this encounter.

With the vastness of cookie-cutter bands nowadays it's refreshing when someone takes the book of rock 'n roll and completely rewrites it; at least that's the feeling one gets with from sound of Awolnation. Sure, some familiar elements can be heard; there are stiff guitar riffs, smooth bass grooves and a lick of alternative angst, but there are also a pop beat and a set of synths that give the music that Jackson 5 sentiment.

But this music isn't planned, rather, it's inspired. Aaron states, "It really is much like a spark in the brain that comes to me. Or at least I find the best songs that I write come out of nowhere". While the thoughts may come out of nowhere, the inspiration itself seems to manifest more for the artist on that of a surf board. Once the idea begins to create itself, Aaron turns to his friends. Some of these friends may be electronic and some may be fellow bandmates. Hours and hours can go into the finessing of the next Awol masterpiece. But in the end, the singer still wants it to be just music. "I still think of these songs as almost nursery rhymes with a bunch of weird stuff around [them]. So I will always want [the songs] to be easy to digest or remember".

In addition to creative and inspired music, Aaron has paid special attention to the art that is Awolnation. His main goal behind the album art is fairly simple, "I want it to look and appear the way that the record feels and sounds to me." Simple to say, but not always simple to create, thus he calls on the help of a group of artists call The Uprising. This team has one main job - bring the music to life visually and make it one of a kind. They've done just that, over and over again.

While we talked through topics of who would be the better touring band, The Beatles or Stones, as well as how much Awolnation "spotifies", eventually we landed on a subject often hard for musicians to discuss. It's a difficult enough task for a fan to put the label of "favorite" on a song, but for the people who create the songs it's even harder. But I still asked. "My favorite song is the last song 'Knights Of Shame' because it's twelve minutes." At first the answer wasn't quite what I was going for, but then he elaborated, "I've always wanted to make a record that had sort of an epic, ambitious song that was longer than 6 minutes." 'Ambitious' is an encouraging and rare word to hear from an artist, but for Aaron ambition meant making a statement about himself. "That song is sort of a celebration of everything I've been through with my music in my life." Ambitious and even a little humble, Aaron showed me a few sides in that question.

The twenty minutes I spent with Aaron were pleasant to say the least. While the music of Awolnation is full of energy and dancing, the lead singer is quiet and soft spoken. But the most enjoyable part of all of it was his honesty and the fact that in the end he's simply grateful to be doing what he's doing. The hundreds of fans gathered for his set at Buzz Beach Ball 2011 were pretty grateful as well. And with just about 30 minutes to woo us, Aaron and his gang turned that festival into a dance party. Unfortunately, the 'epic masterpiece' didn't make it into this set, so that will just add to the many reasons to see Awolnation again.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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