Fans of troubadours such as Elliott Smith and The Lilac Time will surely want to experience the wonder and emotion to be found within an Aaron Shanley composition. The Ireland based singer / songwriter has traveled around the world performing shows, and has garnered a good amount of fans along the way. From his early days being known as The Drama Escort to his own dazzling solo work and beyond, the ubiquitous Mr. Shanley displays a sense of imagination and intrigue within his striking compositions. His latest release is entitled Bedroom Tapes: Swiss Cottage Teal Roses, a vibrant self-produced effort that Aaron is offering up as a Name Your Price option on Bandcamp. We recently caught up with Aaron Shanley to find out more about his brilliant songs, an accidental touring experience, the music scene in Ireland, early music adventures as The Drama Escort. and other worldly topics. And at the conclusion of the interview, be sure to check out just released video for the song 5th Ave...
What was the name of the first song you wrote, how old were you, and what was the song about?
The first song I remember writing was called ‘I Fall To Pieces’, when I was 12. It was based on an episode of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off series Angel with the same title. It’s about a guy called Ronald who can detach his limbs and uses this to stalk someone. Pretty heavy stuff! I also wrote a song that same week about my P.E. teacher and my unwillingness to participate…both songs were dreadfully terrible.
How did the Bedroom Tapes: Swiss Cottage Teal Roses come about and what made you decide to give it away for free?
Some of the songs were around about a year ago and I had started demoing them for a record I was going to make. Lots of stuff happened and I ended up leaving my label and took a break from recording for 10 months or so and worked on projects for other artists. I kept writing and recording at home though and ended up with over 100 demos on my phone and iPad. I sent them to close friends and stuff and was encouraged to put them out at some point in some way, so I chose 9 of the songs that summed up the story I was trying to tell. Because none of the album was recorded in a studio I didn’t have any costs, so I figured I’d give people the option to download it for free if they wanted to. I’m really enjoying myself at the moment and it feels great. Right now sharing my music with whoever is interested in hearing it is really my only intention.
Is there any story behind the title Swiss Cottage Teal Roses?
A lot of the stories in the songs were based on a time I was staying in the Swiss Cottage area of London, England and the teal rose is a kind of time capsule item. The phrase is a lyric in the song ‘Until The Truth Falls Out’.
Select two songs from Bedroom Tapes: Swiss Cottage Teal Roses and what inspired the lyrics.
‘Skyline of Matchsticks’ is a song about how things aren’t always perfect, even the things you think are. Whether it’s the relationship between a person and someone they love, or a person and their addictions, whatever it is. The things that make you happier than anything are also the things that can fuck you up more than anything else. It’s the realization of that and written during one of the darker moments, but still holding on regardless because the good times are worth it, even if it’s not always easy.
‘5th Ave’ is a letter home. For me it was to my mum from New York. I had been touring a lot and was there and I was having a rough couple of days, getting up to no good and being a bit of a mess to be honest. I was thinking of and missing home.
How close are you to writing and releasing all new material?
I have some new songs that I’m feeling really good about. I’ve been recording some stuff here in a studio in Ireland with my friend Mike . I plan to release something in the first few months of the New Year. I’m really excited about it, it’s pretty different.
Any strange or scary stories while touring or playing shows here in the States?
There are certainly a few…one of the most memorable ones was going to this pool party in this big house in Hollywood. I ended up there kind of by accident and on my own. I drank a bunch of cocktails and did some other stupid shit and woke up the next morning on a couch and looked out the window and had absolutely no idea where I was, so I lay back down until someone showed up. Eventually the girl who lived there did and was really kind and cooked eggs for me.
Where are you based out of and what is your music scene like there?
I’m kind of between places at the moment, based mainly in Northern Ireland, but my manager is in London and my girlfriend lives in Phoenix so I spend time between all three. The scene here in Belfast is cool though. It’s strong and the bands around at the minute are really tight and are doing interesting things. The singer-songwriter scene is definitely not supported enough at all unless the artist uses a project name, I don’t know why and it’s kind of a shame because there are some fucking killer songwriters around who just don’t get the attention they deserve, and seemingly because they perform under their name and not, like, Marshmallow Eagle Android Wrecker or something.
Tell me about your project The Drama Escort and how it differs to what you are doing now.
I guess I started that when I was about 15. I was in a sort of post-hardcore band at the time too but was writing acoustic songs and electro-pop stuff that just couldn’t fit in with what the band was doing, so it started as a side project to release that stuff. Eventually I signed a publishing deal when I was 18 and had to decide whether to use my name or to keep doing stuff under that pseudonym, and chose my name because the stuff was changing direction and I felt like The Drama Escort era was just over. Around that time I was getting into kinds of music that I didn’t get or understand before that, and started really paying attention to songwriting. Whatever happens when I sit at the piano or pick up my guitar becomes what I do, so it’s a kind of mixed bag. I still have little side projects I do for fun from time to time so I can just be ridiculous. I have a punk song about trying to buy chocolate milk on a Sunday morning…I just love jamming.
What was your favorite CD of 2013 and why?
Mojo Fury’s second album ‘The Difference Between’ just came out recently and melted my face and blew my brains out! It’s so fucking good, and so different from their first album. I totally recommend checking that out.
If you could tour with any band or artist either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Korn. It’d be worth having bottles thrown at me by angry fans because I’d get to watch them play live every night. And Head’s back in the band, who saw that coming?! That’d be a dream come true.
What’s up next in the New Year for you?
I’m going to release new music in the first couple of months and play some shows, do a couple of short tours in Ireland and the UK. I’ll continue writing for other artists too, I really enjoy that. The second half of the year is a bit of a mystery right now but I’m pretty happy about that. I definitely plan to be touring in the states, it’s been a little while and I’m looking forward to doing that again.
Any final words of wisdom?
Love and be kind!
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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