Aaron Scott is probably best known as the front man of the New York punk band Marathon. However, since that bands break up Aaron has kept his hands full traveling the country, relocating to Portland, Oregon and recording and releasing his debut Dead Skin/Dried Blood under the moniker Attica! Attica!. In the midst of all that Scott took a moment to sit down and talk about music, community involvement and dental health.
So we are hanging out with Aaron Scott of Attica! Attica!.
This is your first time back in California in like five years you were saying.
Yeah, I think the last time I was here was with Marathon. Actually, we never made it out here after our first California run.
Because weâre so awesome?
We were like, "We never really need to come back to California." (laughs) No, it was good. We got a chance to play Gilman and some sort of art gallery in San Francisco, but then, I think we just got really practical about it. Which is less fun, obviously. We just kept touring more regionallyâ¦because we lost so much money on that first tour. (laughs) We toured for seven weeks with a band called Nakatomi Plaza and we went all over Canada and everything. I mean it was totally great but it was just so long and so draining and being that early in the band it sort of set us back financially. We just sort of went, "Okay, weâre not doing that again, unless the right thing comes along," and we just kept finding more and more regional stuff to do.
Kept finding better reasons not to come back to California?
Well, Iâve been out here a bunch. My sister used to live in San Francisco. I really like it our here and now I live on the west coast but I havenât put it together until now.
So this will be your first time out here playing Attica! Attica! stuff?
Yeah, I played in Portland a bunch. I have kind of aâ¦itâs cool, weâre building aâ¦I donât know what the heck youâd call it, and alternative folk or a folk punk thing there. But itâs my first time playing outside of Portland on the west coast.
Your current project Attica! Attica! is really different than what youâve done before musically. What inspired you to go in that direction?
During the whole tenure of Marathon, I would bring in songs and a vast majorityâ¦I mean, I wrote all the lyrics and melodies but a vast majority of the music I brought in they were like, "Thatâs not a Marathon song and itâs not a punk song and it doesnât sound good with drums". Well, because almost every song I was writing, I was writing the melody first and then I was trying to craft the music to meet it and I donât necessarily hear drums in my head the way, you know, better musicians do. (laughs) Well, everyone else in the band basically. So most of my songs were getting discarded, as far as my full songs that I brought in and they were right, they werenât a good fit. So I started banking them and working on them a little bit. When [Marathon] decided to break up I went, "well, I have all these songs anyway, why not just finish the record." Almost all of my friends moved out of Ithaca around that time, which is where I was living. I had a buddy who has a home studio and was like, "Hey letâs do this." It took like six months to record the whole thing. Not because were the Mars Volta or whatever but we decided letâs just make it nice and easy, so we did a few hours a couple afternoons every week and it just came out so different than how I thought it would be at the beginning. I thought it would be really rough demos, just me and a guitar and some of it came out pretty epic. A friend of mine, an old roommate, happened to have a celloâ¦Sheâs a concert cellist, she didnât just happen to own a cello. So she came it. All these things came together that we werenât even planning. The way the timing worked out it was like, "Well, he quit Marathon to do his all this solo stuff" and I didnât then and I donât really even now have aspirations, like, "These are the things Iâm gonna do with this." Itâs been really awesome to justâ¦ Like my friend Jim from Rejouissance, who Iâm on tour with, them and Red Tag Rummage Sale, both of them are from New York State. Jim called me up and was like, "Hey, Iâm touring up the West Coast, do you want to come for a few days?" I said, "Totally" and because I donât haveâ¦(huge group of motorcycles ride by).
Holy crap, itâs like a cavalcade of really loud bikes.
Yeah, Iâm not a big fan of flames on bikes but that black one with neon flames was pretty cool. Whatever I was saying. Itâs nice, because I can just show up somewhere, but I can also call up friends. Like the last couple of summers Iâve gone along the East Coast and I had a couple of friends who came along with me. One of whom is Chris Antal, who recorded the [Attica! Attica! full length] with me. Iâve toured with other bands and theyâve joined up for a few songs. I donât want to go so far as to say itâs a collective, or what not, but I did want to name it Attica! Attica!, well a band name instead of my name, because I felt like it would feel better if other people were playing with me.
So it wouldnât be like, "Hey itâs meâ¦.and thereâs these guys".
(Laughs) Well, I think thereâs a certain arroganceâ¦Well, I donât want to indirectly call out all the people who do that. I think itâd be a little arrogant of me if I was like, "hey Iâm Aaron Scott" and meanwhile, thereâs three other people on stage. You donât need to know these guys. Like, "I pay these guys out of pocket"â¦Actually, in a lot of those situations the back up guys probably make out better than the artist, unless youâre likeâ¦.Jason Mraz. Is that his name? I was just trying to think of a successful singer/songwriter.
Dave Matthews, but he has the whole band with him. Sound Guy Nariman: The Aaron Scott Experience.
An "experience" is good. Youâd need laser shows.
Well a friend of mine, I think it was Matt from Red Leader, said I need to be called Aaron Scott and the Astronaut. (Laugh) But I donât think something rhyming is justification.
I think that might be the greatest justification for a reason to do anything. Weâll cut that out so you can unveil it later.
Right, the grand unveiling in my marketing push. "Well, have you heard about this new guy and all his astronauts? Yeah, letâs listen to that." (laughs)
So your full length under the Attica! Attica! moniker, Dead Skin/Dried Blood, is very thematic, particularly the first and last song "Motion Sickness" and "Flamethrower." Was that something you planned when writing or was it just how the songs fell while arranging the order?
When I used to write songs, I used to try and put the whole arch for whatever theme in that song. Then I realizedâ¦I was doing a lot of traveling at the time and really not sure what I was going to do next and what to do with myself. I realized that so many of the songs were coming out the same. One of my biggest problems with being in bands and touring a lot, prior to slowing down and doing some solo stuff, was that a lot of themes were about making your world better or building your community or whatnot and meanwhile we were just constantly traveling. When I wasnât traveling I was booking shows, or just doing dumb web promotion or whatever. So, Iâd go there and people who really liked Marathon would be like, "So what are you guys involved with at home?" Like theyâre really into the activist lyrics and Iâd be like, "I donât know, uhâ¦." And Iâd look over and my band-mates are debating who farted. Iâd be like, "I donât know what they doâ¦.and I book shows. Like thatâs all I have time to do". It just seemed like there was a huge disconnect between what I was singing about and what I was actually doing and I was getting really bummed out that I had never really tried to invest in my community in any way because I was just singing about how great it would be for everyone to invest in their community. (Laughs) I think itâs sort of likeâ¦ Iâm not really into people who say, "Oh yeah, my music is my activism." Okay, I can appreciate that people get inspired by music and they go do stuff. But, I donât think itâs right to be like, "Weâll, I donât need to do anything else."
Did you hear the song I wrote about doing community service?
(Laughs) Exactly. Yeah, I spent a lot of time on that and I got my graffiti ordinance violation cleared up because of that. You know, all that community service I did writing that song.
On the album thereâs some songs that are very narrative, such as "Tires and Mint" and "Blackout." I was curious if those are based on real incidents in your life.
Well, everything is based on life experience to a point. I mean, "Tires and Mint" is all based on my dental experience which has been nothing short of a horror movie. All my teeth are fake, because I had some sort of, I donât know, family diseases where so many of my permanent teeth were never there, like the genetic information wasnât there. So the insurance company paid for them to straighten all my teeth and then pull a ton of them out and then shave them down to fangs and take what was left and put these caps on. It was this four year process.
The sounds horrible.
Yeah, it was real bad. So now, I needed to talk about it. I dream about my teeth falling out all the time. Itâs really terrifying.
Thatâs actually a really common dream.
But itâs really specific. Itâs like the caps falling off and if that happens like, I donât have the money to deal with that. I donât have insurance.
Can I see them? (Aaron bares his teeth) Oh wow, those are really nice, straight teeth though.
Well yeah. Itâd be really messed up if they werenât straight. (Laughs) We gave you these really messed up not straight teeth. So thatâs a part of my life.
Yeah it sounds terrible, not to mock your dental experience.
It is intended to be a slightly humorous song. "Blackout," is more based on [that] Iâve been through a few blackouts that have lasted an indefinite amount of time, at the beginning. At the beginning youâre like, "Oh, the lights arenât going to be coming back on." It just changed everything. Restaurants started giving away food, people came outside and I met people I had never met before who lived right next to me. So, I was already writing all these songs about traveling and that was actually the last song I wrote for the record. I felt like I needed on that was a little bit different than the other stuff. So I just took this idea of, "Okay, well what if you intentionally created that [atmosphere]." Now, if you shut down a power station, if you could even figure out how to do that, youâd probably be put in jail for terrorism in our current climate. So, itâs not based on my life in that way, but itâs that fantasy of, "how do we create community and how do we cut through." The idea, is how can we change that on a grand scale. Theoretically, each of us knows what we can change on our own. I wanted to justâ¦I feel like Iâve covered a lot of the topics in a lot of uninteresting ways in other songs Iâve written over my life. Part of this record was taking another look at some of that stuff.