After their 2011 single “Sail” spent 79 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, many thought it would be tough for rock band AWOLNATION to follow up the song’s success. But four years later, the band released their second album, “Run,” and went to No. 17 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album’s single, “Run,” found its own life on social media where it became the soundtrack to a new Vine meme that featured people running for their lives. The album’s success, mixed with the viral success of the single “Run” has proven the band is here to stay.
Five years after releasing their debut album, AWOLNATION have now found themselves on tour with rock’s newest supergroup, Prophets of Rage (Chuck D, B-Real, Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk and Tom Morello). International Business Times got to speak with AWOLNATION’s frontman, Aaron Bruno, about the “Make America Rage Again” tour, as well as “Run’s” success on Vine and what’s next for the band. Bruno also spoke about another project the band has coming out on Sept. 9, “Run (Remixes),” an EP featuring remixes from Steve Aoki, Mike D, Dan the Automator and more.
International Business Times: How’s the tour been going?
Aaron Bruno: It's been an incredible experience so far. Just kind of getting our feet wet at first and how we feel, kind of got the swing of things. The general vibe of the tour and energy is one of family. It definitely feels like a lot of love in the air. From seeing Chuck D everyday and hanging with him and hearing his beautiful, low voice which feels like almost a father figure walking by. Members of my favorite band in Rage Against the Machine, seeing B-Real, seeing these various guests that have been coming and showing up at the shows, it’s been pretty crazy.
IBT: I know you were a Rage Against The Machine Fan growing up. Were you also a fan of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill?
Bruno: Public Enemy was a big, big deal to me growing up. I remember discovering them when I was probably in third grade, somewhere in the ‘80s when “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” came out and “Night of the Living Basehead” I think was the single at the time — at least that was the video I saw on “Yo! MTV Raps” when MTV still had that.
As a kid growing up in the boring suburbs around that time, discovering rap music was probably very similar to when people discovered punk rock prior to that. Punk rock had become big, everybody knew about that, but by the time I started listening to music, not everybody knew about rap music. So from N.W.A to Sir Mix-a-Lot to Biz Markie, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, Beastie Boys and of course Public Enemy that’s a big, big deal for me.
IBT: Why did you choose to go on tour with Prophets Of Rage?
Bruno: I think for AWOLNATION it's been really nice for us to kind of roll up our sleeves and compete with such a heavy band cause usually when we play shows — from the various radio festivals we do, all the way to our own headlining shows — we’re always the heaviest band in the room, so it's cool to compete with basically the Black Sabbath of our generation and try to find a way to gain new fans and sort of say, “Hey, all you Rage fans that missed that, you can join AWOLNATION and be part of this too.”
IBT: Do you consider yourself a political person?
Bruno: Not so much with politics. My general stance is I don’t believe the hype. One way or another, I tend to not follow the news because I don’t subscribe to the left or the right, I kind of walk my own path. So, maybe that’s political in it’s own way, you know, but I certainly don’t like to talk about it much. I talk about other life issues and sort of the way the world works and all that kind of stuff more so than I do about actual politics.
IBT: What do you think about “Run’s” viral success?
Bruno: Great. It kind of has its own life, much like “Sail” did on the first record where it's not something we were expecting. And definitely stranger, more out there song and a darker, heavier song than a lot of the others on the record, so you know, that’s usually what I like most and gravitate towards. It’s really nice to to be able to be sort of the outlier song and take that much of a life.
IBT: Do you have a favorite “Run” Vine?
Bruno: The first one that I loved it was like a girl and her dad, and dad took her Barbie doll or some sort of doll and she went crazy.
IBT: What led to creating a new version of “Run”?
Bruno: Well, I had naturally started singing it that way at a certain point. And at the time when I wrote it, just a way of saying something that everyone thinks, I guess. Admitting that I made a lot of mistakes in my life. Speaking of maybe hurting feelings of different people that mattered a lot to me, or I cared for a great deal. After a while I realized that the world had become so dark, I figured I would change the lyrics just naturally live because I figured the song sounds dark anyway, so with sort of a positive twist on that it kind of has a nice balance I think.
Then once all these Vines started to take off, we realized we had a good opportunity to possibly get it played on the radio, so I made a radio edit to make it shorter so it had a chance. I wanted to re-sing it having lived with it for a year, and that was the way I been playing it live anyway, so I just thought of it as good opportunity and something different. I always like when bands and different artist I like a lot growing up would switch stuff up and not really even know why necessarily.
IBT: Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
Bruno: I don’t know. I would say probably “Drinking Lightening” and “Run.” I love “Run” so much. I always have. I always wanted to make an opening song like that, and I think it's pretty shocking once the riff kicks in. I’m very proud of the production, I haven’t heard anything quite like it. I really like “Headrest for My Soul.” Of course, I usually like the album tracks. I like the songs that aren’t singles and they end up becoming singles accidentally.
IBT: What’s it like to have some of music’s biggest names remixing your songs?
Bruno: It’s unbelievable, man. Even crazier to have Del Tha Funkee Homosapien — one of the best rappers that ever lived, probably top three best tones, vocally — to throw down a verse like that is unbelievable to me. And everything [Dan the Automator] has done, from Deltron to the first Gorillaz album to Handsome Boy Modeling School, all of these things have been highly influential on my music.
Some of the main, main heroes of mine have ended up being fans of my music and that is kind of more incredible than any sort of record sales or any sort of critic’s review or anything like that. It’s just been really, really unbelievable to be accepted and kind of let into the clubs of some of these guys and gals that I look up to so much.
IBT: What’s next for the band?
Bruno: We’re gonna be doing a bunch of shows for the rest of the year, then come Christmas time I’m sure we’ll be doing a lot of the radio Christmas shows. Then eventually I’ll start making the next record but in the meantime, I just finished up this record for a band called Irontom and the record is called “Partners.” That’s gonna come out either at the end of the year or early next year.
I produced that and co-wrote all the songs with the guys and I’m very, very proud of that. I can’t wait to see their careers take off and it’s been nice to be a mentor for them the same way so many people have helped me along the way in my journey. I think they have a great chance, and it’s a great record.