Exclusive Interview with Michael Aroian of Elsewhere (Band)
How would you classify your music?
Our music straddles different genres of rock. But the most accurate way to label what we do right now is that we are a progressive leaning alt/power-pop/new wave trio if that makes any sense!
Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?
In no necessary order that would be Rush, The Police, Genesis, early U2, and one hit wonder new wave from the early 80s. To me (Michael), Rush was my Led Zeppelin and The Police were my Beatles.
What do you want fans to take from your music?
I think that we want the people to listen to us to realize that we don’t write about trivial or superficial things. We attempt to delve deeper conceptually in that we tackle issues such as love addiction, codependency, genocide, and now the bugaboo of Alzheimer’s Disease…In many ways I think we address things that other artists choose not to.
How’s the music scene in your locale?
Boston has a rich cultural history with rock music. We had some of the pioneering radio stations of the day with WBCN, WFNX, and WAAF that are now of course sadly gone. And there’s obviously Berklee College of Music. In the 80’s and 90’s there was a lot of rabid local support, lots of clubs, and lot of competition. Sometimes it can be said that Boston is an incestuous town musically and one that at times enjoys cutting down up and coming bands. But fortunately there are many more positive personalities in the scene that ultimately help it thrive and while we are hurting now amidst COVID-19 with all the damage it is causing (club closures, the loss of radio stations, and no real shows), I firmly believe that we will be back better than ever and offer the rest of the World a host of new artists to discover!
When did you know you were destined for music?
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment, but in the 80’s when I was a young boy my cousins and the neighborhood kids exposed me to all of these different artists that mixed different flavors of music. To me, it was a particularly impressionable time and eventually I started to hear melodies in my head that I had to get out. Music has just always been a part of me and a part of my identity. Without it I am truly lost.
What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?
Such a hard thing to answer. It would be a tie between my first concert ever, which was Rush in the 90’s (I wish it was during the Moving Pictures tour but I was way too young) and seeing the Police during their reunion in 2007. I never thought I would get to see The Police live and it awesome to have that dream realized as well as see them play such a great live show!
For me playing live, I really enjoy feeding off of the energy of the crowd. I might have a bad day at work, but if there are a couple hundred people at a club that are “getting it”, you can really expand on that and it helps drive a better performance. There have been some shows where I just get this natural high after a good performance and enthused crowd. An audience can be a powerful drug.
Is there a song on your latest CD release here that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?
Right now we are in the midst of finishing off a new album that will be likely released later in ’21. Presently, we have a new single called “The Pledge” and we are focusing on promoting that as its subject matter is about Alzheimer’s Disease awareness and the research for a cure. We also had Grammy nominated producer Mark Needham mix the track and that was a particularly special and enlightening experience.
How have you evolved as an artist over the last year?
I think this year we have really espoused the notion of “being comfortable with being uncomfortable”. That includes what we’ve done in the middle of COVID as we’ve attempted to be opportunistic with writing this new album and trying new styles/sounds that we probably wouldn’t have tried if the earth hadn’t been put on pause. We’re excited to hear what people think of it next year.
If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, have a drink with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Again, that’s so tough to answer because I really hold the members of Rush in such high regard and I did meet Geddy Lee once which was a great experience. But I have also had a great affinity for the music of The Police and in fact our best known single is likely a re-make/resurrection of a lost Police demo from 1981 called “Don’t You Believe Me Baby”. A lot of Police fanatics have support our effort to revive that track and its driven both our YouTube views and Spotify streams. I just think it would be so cool if we redid that tune again and maybe had Sting do the vocals instead of me or at least add harmonies, haha!
What’s next for you?
We’re really trying to finish off this new album, which includes a 10 part, 30 plus minute quasi progressive rock concept piece. We kind of like to think of it as our “Hemispheres” or “2112”…It’s something we’ve never done before as we’ve always been a singles band, so we are anxious to hear what people think of it. As a “submerging artist” (haha) we are hopeful that some recent momentum gained via YouTube and Spotify exposure as well as bigger shows in the past will help us get to the next level in terms of proliferating our music and playing bigger shows once those eventually resurface. We are dying to play in front of people again and miss them dearly!
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