Interview: Aaron Brooks / The Ghost Inside

15.08.2011

Interview was conducted in Germany before band’s performance at the With Full Force Festival (July 2011)

Aaron Brooks is one of the driving forces of metalcore beast called The Ghost Inside. He is the main songwriter, guitarist and former drummer of the band, but most of all very friendly and intelligent person. One should bear in mind, that he is also one of the most talented, yes, let us not fear to use this word – composer of the current core scene. I met him on his way to a signing session. Wearing grey jumper, the hood and glasses he looked very inconspicuous and I barely recognized him. In a brief chat we agreed to do the interview after the session and here is what arose from our interesting meeting:

RockOko: Hi Aaron. Thank you for the chance to talk to you. I’d like to start with your latest album – “Returners”. Musically it’s great piece of work and emotion wise to say it’s an angry record is not enough – it’s furious. Would you say that those two emotions are different?

Aaron: Yeah, absolutely. Anger to me is like aggression in itself, which can turn into a negative thing a lot of times. I guess they can both be negative and positive, but fury sounds like it’s a lot more passionate, than just being angry.  People who are angry don’t usually want to change that. They just walk life with that kind of mentality and that usually does not get them very far. I feel that fury is more like not a permanent thing. It’s a short-lived feeling, that you have and you might not be able to control, but it’s something you can come out of.

RockOko: You play a lot of shows now, how many a year is that, about 200 gigs?

Aaron: Yeah, probably even more. We’re on tour about 10 months of the year.

RockOko: While your band is becoming more known and growing bigger, with such an intense travel schedule and ever changing environment, when do you actually have time or chance for all the things, that are currently happening around, to actually get to you?

Aaron: It’s really tough, because when you’re on the go all the time it’s really easy to take advantage of a lot of the stuff. Even the other day when we were getting ready to go to Europe, where we’ve been already a few times and we always have a good time here, it’s really easy to go like “oh, I have to fly all the way to Europe and play shows”. Once we’re here it’s great, we enjoy it and we don’t take it for granted. It’s just really easy to forget, that we’re lucky to have an opportunity to do what we do. You just always have to either remind yourself or look around for things, that would remind you where you at, what you’re doing, what you could be doing without this. We always try to appreciate every moment we get to do with our band, appreciate people, who come to see us and like our band. That’s never ever going be something, which we ever will pass. It’s just human nature, that when you get used to doing something a lot, sometimes you tend to oversee it, when you shouldn’t. But we always come back and remember why it is we do what we’re doing.

RockOko: Was there any specific moment, in which you felt you have already made transition from being a fan into being musician?

Aaron: Absolutely. You know, we have toured with our favorite bands from the times we were growing up and we were hanging out with them. Going into it was very exciting and then by the end of the tour we were friends with them and it almost takes away from being a fan. It’s really cool, that you get to be personally friends with bands, that you looked up to when you were growing up, but when you go to one of their shows after playing many times with them, you’re not going there to the front row, you’re going there to hang out with your friends and watch them play. It can almost take away that special feeling of going to a show of your favorite band.

RockOko: Is it a bad feeling?

Aaron: It’s not a bad feeling, it’s just different outlook. The excitement, that the people in the crowd have when they watch us is because they rarely see us, they don’t see what it is to be on the other side or to be on the stage. But we’re almost the same, because they are excited to be there as much as we are excited to be on the stage to play. The fact, that we don’t get to go down there and be fans as often as we’d like to is almost like a trade-off. We get to have the excitement on the stage the fans don’t necessarily get to feel, but they get to always have that excitement to come and see their favorite band. If you go to see your favorite band you know that feeling. You go there to do that and you’re psyched no matter what, rain or shine, it doesn’t matter. But when music becomes more of your lifestyle and even like your job, sometimes it can change your outlook. It’s always positive, but just different. I know, that now 95% of the times I’m at the show it’s not as a fan, but as a musician. It’s really nice to go to the shows as a fan, but for me now it’s definitely different from when I was like fifteen. It’s just a growing thing, it’s inevitable and that’s what happens. It doesn’t take away the enjoyment, it’s just a different feeling.

RockOko: So what can you do to sustain that fire and passion?

Aaron: I feel, that if you’re true fan of music you’re always going to have it. If you have ever been to show and completely lost yourself to the band, that is playing, that means you’re true fan of music and you have that ability. If you let other things in your way, like thinking you’re too old and stuff, that’s your own problem. If you want to enjoy the music the way, that you know you can and you know you have the ability to do it, then there is nothing, that could stop you from doing it.

RockOko: Let me get back to touring. It always makes me wonder how bands solve this issue on tours. With so many shows, which make you change places day after day, where do you actually do your laundry?

Aaron: (laughs). Yeah, it’s tough. We usually bring about enough clothes to make it through tour.

RockOko: Even like on 2 month cycle?

Aaron: Well with me I haven’t really had a place to live for a long time, so all my belongings and my clothes are just with me all the time. I can go long without doing laundry, but we’ll stop off at like a laundry mat or sometimes we stay and people’s houses and they let us do the laundry. It’s not the same like when you’re at home. You do laundry once a month and hopefully you wash everything (laughs).

RockOko: Through your music and mostly lyrics people can know who you are and what do you stand for, but could you tell me what did you stand for? Any there any values, that used to important to you, but with time and growing process they faded away?

Aaron: Not necessarily. I can say, that the only thing that we as a band 100% stood for and will always stand for is to be yourself, be proud of who you are and don’t let anybody interfere with that. Ever. Our band is made up of people who are straightedge, people who drink, people who smoke, people, who believe in a higher power, people who don’t. We have the biggest variety in our band, so I think this gives us the ability to have that common respect, regardless of what walk of life you come from. So basically being an individual, being proud of who you are, always trying to be the best person – that’s something, that is always going to be important to us.

RockOko: What’s your ghost inside? What is it that you’re proud of and what would be within you,  that you’d like to change?

Aaron: Hm, I feel like I’m a friendly and caring person. I feel that the people around me see that and appreciate me for that. Everybody always feels they have some improvement they could make. I could probably be more patient, maybe also more understanding. That just comes along with that striving to be best person you can be. You’re not ever going to be perfect, you can only just try to be a good person. I believe I try every day to be that and I’ll continue to do that and hopefully it steers me into right direction.

RockOko: Let me ask you now about your videos. Of course you might disagree, but I have a feeling that the visual content of your videos can’t really keep up with the intensity and energy of your music. Do the ideas for your videos come from you, the label or from somewhere else? How does it look like?

Aaron: Most of them are our ideas, but it’s a mixture. We’re really passionate about our music and our singer is really passionate about his lyrics, but we also really, really like just to have a good time. Sometimes you want to portray more serious vibes, sometimes you want to just have fun. For us number one if you come to see us play is that we want you to have fun. That’s number one over anything. Contributing to that positive and fun vibe is what we like to do, so we did a video with our friends in backyard by the pool (video for “Unspoken” – can be watched below the interview). That song is about how much we appreciate the people, who come to our shows, how much that keeps us going, how much fun it is. So we just wanted to do fun video and have all our friends there. It’s always a loose portray to the song. There isn’t really anything that goes on with our band, that isn’t directly involved with our approval or without our idea. We don’t really like to let other people make those decisions, because we want it to be individual to us.

RockOko: Is it true, that you recorded “Returnes” as 3 piece and you made all the guitar tracks, including bass?

Aaron: Yes. When wrote and recorded “Returners” I was the only guitar player. We had a fill-in at the time, but he wasn’t an actual member of the band and the bass player at the time was brand new. So as I have written all the music on my own…

RockOko: You wrote all the music?

Aaron: Yes. I used to the drummer of our band and I play guitar, so I have good understanding of how to put everything together. With the last record I wrote and then put all the songs together on my computer and then me and our drummer just sat and practiced bass. We played it all out to check if it all made sense. Then came the time to record so the drummer just played his drums, I played all the strings and the singer sang.

RockOko: That’s impressive, so is the record. Well, that’s it from me. Thank you very much for the interview.

Aaron: Thank you.

Interviewer: Krzysztof (Chris) Bienkiewicz

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