You don't have to sound like the rest to make it in the music industry today. That much is clear from the continued success of Aaron Bruno and his band AWOLNATION.
Bruno learned this for a fact in 2010, when after years of plugging away in music, he found his first hit with "Sail." Since then, Bruno has followed his muse over three full-length albums with AWOLNATION, arriving this year with Here Come the Runts.
Bruno tells Q104.3's "Out of the Box" with Jonathan Clarke that he was determined to make a guitar-forward album that was just as diverse as anything else in his discography.
"I just feel like that was such a great time, you know, in the '80s and the '90s," Bruno says. "They were great times to listen to popular music because that was an era where music that had guitars and had a little risk and danger was still being played on popular radio as well. Times have changed."
AWOLNATION has always gone its own way. Vocally, Bruno employs almost every technique in the book, whether it's his spacey falsetto, his gravely scream or full-voice belting, everything is in play if it's in service of the song.
Bruno's dedication to song craft earned him the respect and the friendship of superstar producer/record executive Rick Rubin.
"We have this really cool relationship I feel really honored to have," Bruno says. "It's kind of this little ritual we do. Before Run came out—the last record—I played him like 25 songs. And then for Runts I came over and played him the record. I'm nervous the whole time, my armpits are sweating because I don't want him to turn to me a say, 'This relationship is over. This sucks.'"
But Rubin offered his seal of approval after all and the two are still friends. Rubin even appears in the music video for "Seven Sticks of Dynamite."
The album title, Here Come the Runts, was inspired by scenes from Bruno's own home in Malibu, where his wife fosters puppies.
"We always are drawn to the runt of the litter in a lot of ways," Bruno says. "They have to scrap a little bit more. They're overlooked in many cases, and they shouldn't be. A lot of people who are against all odds and are maybe unnoticed, I think, with all the obstacles end up being stronger and have to find a different way to stand out. That even goes in the music industry as well. It felt like that for me anyways."
Watch the full interview above!
Get all of AWOLNATION's tour dates here.
Here are AWOLNATION's music videos for "Passion," "Seven Sticks of Dynamite" and "Handyman":