Aan is one of our recent favorite bands from Portland, Oregon on the come up, whose Mystery Life 7″ has been getting some play around these parts. With an elusive full-length finished, and slated for release later this year, we caught up with Bud Wilson in between playing supporting gigs for the Smashing Pumpkins with the band.
So starting off, forgive these questions hurdled at you all while on the road, but let us begin with your choice of name. Which one of you all came up with it? Was it a development? Perhaps a keyboard typo that went viral between you guys?
I came up with it a long time ago. It was originally “Amor Ad Nauseum”, then an abbreviation. Now it's just the three consecutive letters. I'm sure it's bastardized Latin. The upcoming full length is titled “Amor Ad Nauseum”.
So the pronunciation if I am correct, the pronunciation of AAN is more like 'ah', as in awnings as opposed to 'aa', as in Ann Landers, right?
You are correct, “Ahn” or “On” is the phonetic pronunciation.
How did you all come together as a group/band?
I started recording sappy, spastic folk-tinged songs shortly after moving to Portland in 2005. I met Reese via classifieds in regards to a position as bass player in another band and from there convinced him to take part in my project as well. Jon joined us for a tour of the east coast a while later and introduced us to Jeff, who subsequently tracked and helped produce our debut full length, which is calmly waiting in the wings.
The popular “Mystery Life” single has some great chord shifts and arrangements and operates on both a spastic lyrical and compositional unpredictability. Bud, you've talked to us before about the song's “escapism and fantasy”, was wondering how the single came about? It's one hell of a multidimensional rocker, like a spaced out/pumped up power jam, 50 years ahead of its time.
I don't remember spending a lot of time on that song. It certainly started with the chord progression. The lyrics were informed by the mystery of the major 7th chord.
And the infectious b-side “Spiritual Provisions” exists between those states of life and death with “There's a part of me that dies when I know you've gone away…and the part of me that dies is the part I want to be”, and “the part of me that lives is the part I want to be”. What vision quest(s) lead to this song's development and discovery?
“Spiritual” is just a sardonic pisstake on co-dependence. Probably like most of the Aan catalogue when you really dig in. It does have some of my favorite lines though, “set your sights so you can see loneliness, apathy, on a wave of miscreant life”. What a bummer!
If “Spiritual Provisions” could relate to a corresponding food item or piece of retail product, what would it be and why?
I dunno, probably a giga-pet. Incidentally, is anyone still feeding those? That'd be an interesting documentary, I'm sure there's someone out there feeling all this guilt for killing their digital monkey or whatever.
Crazy that you guys have these slate of dates with Smashing Pumpkins. What have those massive gigs been like?
I thought it would be kind of nerve racking and in some ways it has been. It's amazing how many people it takes to coordinate these shows, like 30 engineers, techs and stage hands running around. Ridiculously long email chains. We have this puny pile of gear, tiny amps, iPads and bullshit like that. The Pumpkins have 2 semi's full of rad gear. It's awesome to see. I was told they tour with multiple mellotrons, I'm not sure how I could get used to an industry based on my art, at least at their level. As far as performing for their crowd though, it's been a real confidence builder, positive reactions for sure.
Any Billy Corgan and 'Pumpkins stories you all can relay?
Not really, we haven't met. I think he enjoys his privacy. I can respect that.
What are some of your guys' favorite songs from the Pumpkins?
I definitely love Mellon Collie. Probably the first two tracks on the 2nd disc are my favorite. Or “Through the Eyes of Ruby”. Jon's into some of their later material. When we found out these dates were for sure, we were already on tour,. We hot-boxed the van outside a Motel 6 and listened to that record front to back. There are some serious “whooaa!!” moments on that album. Would love to work with Flood someday too…
Which SP songs do you feel are the most over looked?
I don't really know. I'm sure there are some choice cuts in records after Adore but I’ve but barely dipped my toe into that stuff. I'll have to get back to you.
Any new songs that you can discuss that have been getting some road play?
We've been working on a cover of Roxy Music's “Take A Chance With Me.” That's one of my all-time favorite songs off one of their best records, Avalon. People seem to really dig our song “Daylight” too. We're playing about 2/3s the material off the new record on this tour.
What albums, songs, mixtape styles have you all been rocking while on tour?
Nasty by Janet Jackson is a hot number we keep returning to. As I write this, Jon is playing something akin to a dialing fax machine through the van's speakers. If I get to DJ, which is rare, I'll usually keep it specific to the region we're travelling through, maybe a little “Conga” as we approach the more southern parts of Florida. Otherwise I've been in the cans listening to wordless stuff and reading; Tarentel's “we move through weather” has been great for the thunderstorms throughout the south. Jon really likes the new Nicholas Jaar.
What albums, songs, or mixtapes are you all sick of hearing while on tour?
This is a point of contention. Let's just leave the new class of “overly soulful” R&B-ers out of the van.
Any 'power songs' that are you getting you all through?
Nasty. “Rump-shaker”. We got pumped on Dead Prez in Orlando. These dudes like that new Timberlake cut a lot.
Any tips on touring logistics, advice on practical pairing-down pragmatism?
Bring it, you'll need it. Soldering iron. Wet wipes. Clean your microphone.
Empty bottles for long drives, I know it's not fair for the ladies…