This Wednesday, AWOLNATION — the band that took alt-rock airwaves by storm with tracks like “Sail” and “Run" — will take over the Agora in Cleveland with support from openers the Mysterines and Badflower.
The tour follows an unconventional release for the group: an album of covers called My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me, featuring the likes of Beck, Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and more.
Ahead of the band's stop in The Land, we caught up with singer and founder Aaron Bruno about the choice to release a collection of covers, upcoming AWOLNATION projects and Bruno’s appreciation for the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland Magazine: Your most recent release was purely covers, how did it all come together?
Aaron Bruno: It wasn't deeply thought out. It was more flying by the seat of my pants as far as the selection. I didn't overthink and they felt like they all worked together nicely for what it was. And again, it was a different kind of weight to do something like that, rather than a new AWOL record, which I'm close to finishing right now. That's a different thing, because you're writing the songs from the heart and soul and all that — it was extremely easy and comforting to do it. Not to say that it wasn't a challenge to have the songs even somewhat hold up to the originals. But, you know, the hardest part about making music is writing the song.
CM: Out of curiosity, did you have a personal relationship with any of the artists you covered?
AB: It's a good question. Well, funny story, I actually did a Beck song for a Jewel fundraising event. I did a song from Sea Change and he heard it and reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, that was really pretty.’ I just did it with an acoustic guitar. So, he reached out and then I was like, ‘Oh, maybe he'll return the favor and jump on my cover record.' He did and we became friends.
CM: Coming off the heels of a new album, and with a sizable discography to choose from, how do you balance a setlist on tours like the one you’re on now?
AB: Here's the honest answer: I don't know. I've never had four full albums out with a fifth on the way and then the covers one, which I don't count as an album. It’s kind of like an in-betweener; I don't know if we should do all covers or whatever. I mean, you know, you don't want to leave off a song. But … we just did like, sort of a question on our social media, where we asked ‘What songs do you want to hear?’ I think it'll be an experiment. But also, I don't take myself that seriously.
CM: You’ve come through Cleveland before; what ties you to the city?
AB: I've always appreciated the underdog mentality of the Cleveland Browns, so I'm always rooting for them if it's a game that doesn't affect my division. You know, in that way, although we're both in the AFC, I'm always rooting for the Brownies. I have deep, deep family from Cleveland or Ohio, like many generations ago, and so I kind of always have the Browns’ back.
Tickets are still available for the show tonight, but going fast. Stream My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me on all major platforms.
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