THE AARON CLIFT EXPERIMENT: Keepers of Progressive Music

The Aaron Clift Experiment

Austin, Texas based progressive rock band, The Aaron Clift Experiment, led by always enthusiastic Aaron Clift have recently started a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to raise funds for recording and releasing a follow-up to their 2012′s debut Lonely Hills. The main man promises a progressive rock masterpiece, but in order to reach the goal and fulfil their dream, they ask for the support of the community. You can be a part of it.

Prog Sphere has recently talked with Aaron about this, the music direction they take with the new material and many other topics. Read the interview below.

Prog Sphere: For the purpose of recording and releasing your second studio album, you decided to start a Kickstarter campaign. Why a crowd-funding platform?

Aaron: When my band mates and I set out to make a second album, we knew that we wanted to not only top the songwriting of our debut album (Lonely Hills) but also take our sound to the next level and bring in a whole new audience to The Aaron Clift Experiment. We decided to bring back the same winning team that did any amazing job producing our debut (Blue October bassist, Matt Noveskey as producer and Kevin Butler as sound engineer and mixer), only this time around, we’ll be recording at a larger place (Noveskey’s brand new facility, Orb Recording Studios), which will open up a lot of sonic possibilities when we record.

We decided that in order to bring our grand vision to life, we would double our production budget and recording time.  Since we’re an independent band that pays for everything out of pocket (no record labels backing us), we’ve turning to Kickstarter in order to cover the costs of the recording.  As a thank you to our fans for helping bring us closer to our vision, we’re offering a lot of rewards with this campaign that won’t be available anywhere else (such as autographed albums, limited edition album art, and handwritten lyrics to our new songs).

We’re very appreciative of the support that our fans have shown us so far and are hoping that many more will continue to contribute. The link to our campaign is www.aaronclift.com/kickstarter, and in the campaign video, you’ll get a tour of Orb Recording studios and a preview of Kissed by the Sun, one of the new songs that will appear on our second album.

Aaron Clift

Prog Sphere: Your Kickstarter campaign is now in its final week. What can people do to help your campaign succeed?

Aaron: Please check out our campaign at www.aaronclift.com/kickstarter, and contribute whatever you can. We have rewards for all contribution levels, and no contribution amount is too large or small. You can also help us out by sharing the campaign link with your friends and loved ones and encourage them to contribute. By contributing to the campaign, you’ll not only get some really cool exclusive rewards, but you’ll also be sending a message that you support independent music and want us to produce a high-quality, classic progressive rock album.

Prog Sphere: What can we expect from the second Aaron Clift Experiment album? How is the creative process going so far?

Aaron:  In 2008, I started writing the songs that would make their way onto Lonely Hills. At that time and through the recording of the Lonely Hills in early 2012, I conceived of The Aaron Clift Experiment as a solo project. That vibe is definitely reflected in the sound of that album. However, in the last two years, we played a lot of live shows together and our lineup changed (current guitarist, Eric Gutierrez, joined the band in late 2013), and the end result was that we became a full-fledged band. I think that the high energy of our live shows is definitely going to come across in the second album.

Eric also brings a lot of excellent song ideas and a heavier edge to our sound (he’s influenced a lot by bands like Dream Theater and King’s X). Where the songs The Aaron Clift Experiment’s debut album were all written and arranged by me, this time around, Eric and I are co-writing and arranging all of the material. I’m really enjoying the collaborative process, and I think that the differences in our approach to songwriting mean that we each bring a unique perspective to the table.

Prog Sphere: How do the new songs compare to those on your debut album, Lonely Hills?

Aaron:  The songs on our second album are both heavier and more diverse than those on our first album. By “heavier,” I don’t just mean that the songs rock harder (although a lot of the songs certainly fit this description), but also that they hit harder emotionally than anything we’ve written before. The diversity comes from the collaborative songwriting approach we took this time around. Since I’m a vocalist and a writer (I used to write poetry and short stories before I played any instruments), I tend to write songs from a lyrical and thematic perspective, while Eric, as a guitarist, tends to think more in terms of instrumental parts. I think our fans are going to be really happy with the end results.

Prog Sphere: How does the new music reflect your journey as a musician to date? 

Aaron: My experiences playing live shows over the last few years along with the time I’ve spent rehearsing with my band mates have opened me up to taking a lot more risks with The Aaron Clift Experiment’s music. I’m very grateful that my band mates have pushed me to try different approaches to playing the keyboard and to songwriting.

Prog Sphere: How do you plan to promote the new music live?

Aaron: Over the next two years, we plan to play at higher profile shows in Austin and elsewhere. One of our top goals for 2015 is to do a tour of Europe.  I know that a very large number of our fans are there and want to see us (several have written me personally asking for the band to come to their cities!).

Prog Sphere: What non musical entities and ideas have had an impact on your music?

Aaron: I’ve always said that if I weren’t doing music, I would probably have a career that involved some sort of travel or work with different cultures. I started college as an international relations major before switching to majoring in music and Spanish, but I continue to be extremely interested in history, politics, and cultural studies. A lot of current events give me different ideas that have found their way into the lyrics I’ve written for our new songs.

Over the past two years, I’ve also become a huge fan of a few TV shows that have had an enormous impact on my writing, namely: Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Following, and The Walking Dead. All of these shows are quite violent and intense, but are also full of excellent characters and plots. I guess these shows just appeal to the darker side of my creative nature! A couple scenes from Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead wound up directly inspiring the stories in the lyrics of a few of the songs that will be our The Aaron Clift Experiment’s second album.

Prog Sphere: What advice or philosophy might you impart to other musicians, be it in terms of creativity, technical stuff, the business side of it?

Aaron: If I met someone who was considering a career in music, I would tell that person: “More than anything else, make sure you love what you’re doing because a music career is very challenging.  There are going to be times that will test your patience and make you wonder why you even bothered with a career in music, but if you truly love music above all, that love will carry you through the toughest times.

I also urge all musicians to learn as much as they can about the business side of music. The best ways to do this are to read books and online resources about the music industry, study with a mentor who is further along in his/her music career than you are, network with other musicians in your community, and teach other musicians what you’ve learned. Above all, be open-minded and willing to put in a lot of hard work.

Prog Sphere: What do you hope lies in the future of The Aaron Clift Experiment?

Aaron: I would love for The Aaron Clift Experiment to continue to grow our fan base around the world and have the opportunity to play wherever we’re in demand. But more than anything else, I want us to continue to top ourselves musically with each release.

Prog Sphere: Do you think that progressive rock as a genre that emerged in 1970’s has good prospects for the future?

Aaron: I definitely think so. It seems like now, more than any other time in history, is a great time to be in a progressive rock band. With the spread of social networking, the progressive rock community has grown closer together and has allowed many bands to flourish. I’ve also noticed that in the last 10 years, it’s become a lot more socially-acceptable to like progressive rock. I remember back when I was in high school in the late 1990’s how progressive rock was kind of this “dirty secret” that only music nerds talked about. Not that I care if progressive rock is trendy or not, but in the last few years, I’ve noticed that the success of bands like Radiohead, Tool, Mastodon, Opeth, and The Mars Volta has made it “cool” to like progressive rock again.

On a more local level, I’m happy to report that the progressive rock scene is growing in Austin. In the last few years, The Aaron Clift Experiment has shared the stage with a lot of really cool local bands like Opposite Day, Blue Cartoon, Transit Method, ArcDream, and House of Never (to name just a few). It’s very exciting to see that a whole new generation of bands is keeping this style of music alive and “progressing.”

Help The Aaron Clift Experiment to raise funds for recording and releasing their sophomore studio album by making a donation. Note that the band will receive funds only if the goal is met.

Visit The Aaron Clift Experiment online:

http://aaronclift.com

https://www.facebook.com/AaronCliftMusic

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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