As one of hardcore’s most celebrated and respected bands – with a career spanning twenty years – Bane are now in the process of saying goodbye to their fans. After releasing their fourth and final studio album, Don’t Wait Up, in 2014, the band has begun taking their high energy shows around the world. Kicking off in May, their upcoming Australian tour with fellow Boston band Defeater will mark Bane’s last visit to the country. Killyourstereo.com caught up with frontman Aaron Bedard to discuss his current mindset, what’s next, and that garbage I See Stars cover of ‘Can We Start Again’.
What sort of mindset are you and the band in at the moment, going out on this big tour?
We’re pretty excited, winter’s coming to an end here and things are about to get real busy for the band. We’re going to go to a lot of places this year and, you know, after three or four months of no real steady touring, I’m definitely excited to get back out there. But this is going to be busier than most years that we have, and I think that comes with some level of apprehension, and just not being sure how we’re going to be able to handle this much time away from home, away from family, loved ones, things like that. So, there’s definitely a little bit of a question mark to it, but I’d say overall we’re more excited than not. It’s going to be a good year; it’s going to be an emotional year. We have to say goodbye to a lot of places, we get to see a lot of friends that are going to be coming out and are maybe seeing Bane for the last time ever, and that’s going to come with some heaviness.
You’re obviously coming to Australia on the tour. What have your experiences been like here?
Oh god, so positive. We’ve only been twice, and both times were great. We’ve made a lot of friends there; I think the hardcore scene in the cities there are super, super strong. Kids really seem to feel passionately about that music, and we’ve been able to connect with some great bands – Miles Away, Break Even. Yeah, it’s certainly one of our favourite places, and when it was time to have the conversation of “What are the places we want to be sure we play one more time?” – I mean, Australia was really high on that list.
And you’re going to be here with Defeater, who you have a bit of history with.
Yeah, yep. We’ve toured with them in the US before. Their guitar player, Jay Maas, the guy who records our records these days – he recorded Don’t Wait Up, he recorded a bunch of 7-inches for us before, so we have a professional and a personal relationship with him. And yeah, we shared the road with Defeater a few years ago – maybe three, four years ago – and we had a really good time. And yeah, we know that they’re huge over there in Australia, so we’re going to be able to play to more kids than we’ve ever played to before, thanks to them. So yeah, we’re excited.
Now that Don’t Wait Up has been out for a while, upon reflection how do you feel about it being the final Bane record?
I feel good, I feel surprisingly good, because there are not a lot of records that I sort of look back on and don’t find fifty things that I wish I could change, or that we had done differently. This is a record that I feel real proud of, and it was clear that we all put everything that we had into it; that the fact that this was it wasn’t lost on any of us. Everyone brought their A-game. I don’t spend a lot of time listening to my band, and I don’t read reviews, and I don’t really care what people have to say about the band, as far as reviewers and things like that, because I’ve always sort of believed that if I had to believe all the good things people say, then I also need to believe all the bad. So I’ve just sort of not given much attention to any of it, and just tried to have my own bullshit detector be the thing that guides me. And yeah, I mean, I read back on the lyrics maybe a month ago, and I did, I felt proud of it, I felt we really did what we set out to do. I feel very happy with the record.
Yeah, I love it, and it seems like reviewers and fans feel the same way.
Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, I mean, one thing that I can’t ignore is that those songs are just going over incredibly live, that kids just seem to really like the new songs. The response to them has been great, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s been nice to talk to as many people as I have since the record’s come out, that have had really positive things to say. That has been really nice for me. I sort of feel like our hard work paid off.
Yeah, definitely. So the song ‘Calling Hours’, how did that all come together?
Yeah, that was a big one. It was an idea that Zachary, our guitar player and one of the primary songwriters, had, that we had never had a song with guest vocalists before. And we thought maybe it would be sort of fun to do that, but we wanted to do it a little bit different than the traditional hardcore song where a guy just kind of comes in and sings a verse and then leaves; we wanted it to be a little more sort of fluid than that. We wanted people to sort of be singing over each other, and more like, for lack of a better term, a conversation.
So we made a shortlist of people who we really would have liked to work with – one of them was Pat from Have Heart, who lived just a few blocks away from where we were writing the record, where the rehearsal space was. So we pulled him in and really allowed him to get involved creatively, not just be given a verse, like, “Hey, you sing this part.” But like, help us write the song, help us sort of flesh this out. It was really fun to work with him, because he’s somebody that we respect, that we look up to as an artist. And then yeah, from there, the shortlist of vocalists that we made, they all agreed to be a part of it, and we all just worked together to make the song. Zach had the music that was sort of an untraditional hardcore song; there’s no real fast part, there’s no real mosh part. And everyone was down, everyone was up for being a part of this song that was a little bit off the beaten path, and that was going to be heavily drenched in emotion.
And yeah, it came together, it came together real slow. It was the last song from the recording session to be completed, and there were a lot of nights where I was real nervous, where I wasn’t sure if it was going to come together, but it did, and now it’s probably my favourite song on the record.
Being an outspoken sort of band, did you approach this record in that way, especially considering it was the last one?
Yeah, I mean, I can’t not sort of attack it that way, you know? I have opinions and if Bane has allowed me anything, it’s to air those out; it’s to vent things that I’m upset about, it’s to talk about things that I think are cool, and that’s just an outlet that I was always going to have. And I do think that the intensity got ramped up a little bit, just based on the fact that this was it – like, this is the last fuckin’ scene in the movie, and I didn’t want to punk out, I wanted to just come with everything that there was inside of me. I wanted to just like spill it all out onto the page, for sure.
So do you feel like you’ve said everything you needed or wanted to say with Bane?
That’s a tough question. You know, it’s funny, I feel like I’ve had daydreams this past year, that if the band came up with a song and wanted to write another song, that I would definitely be psyched to write lyrics again. I don’t feel some great sense of relief, like, “Oh god, I never have to do that again.” I don’t have any sort of pressing thing on the back of my mind that I’m dying to write about, but the way that I’ve always sort of worked is that I don’t put that pressure on myself until the music is there. And I do feel like if I had to do it, I could find other things to sing about. I mean, you know, I’m a very opinionated person, it’s not hard for me to muster things that I want to rant and rave about. But as far as the really big stuff, the really important stuff, I do feel like I got it all down. I don’t have any sort of lingering regrets, wishing that I had said this, wishing I had written a song about this… you know, I really did, I left it all on the page.
What was it like writing a song like ‘Wrong Planet’, a song that’s so heavy?
Yeah, that was really tough. You know, I just wanted to push myself further than I’d ever pushed myself before, and I thought maybe by sort of explaining where I was coming from – as dark of a place as it was – I thought maybe it would fill in the blanks on maybe everything that I had been trying to say on all of the records, and anyone who knew me could sort of see how much I over-romanticise things like friendship and standing by your own and all of that stuff, that maybe this would shine some light on that. And also, I just thought it would be good for me to finally face this stuff. It was stuff that I’d never talked about with anyone in the band, you know, no one had any idea that that shit had happened to me when I was a kid, and I hadn’t done a very good job my whole life of facing it and sitting with it.
At first it was just a theory in my head, I thought maybe I would try to write a song, and I wasn’t sure I would really have the guts to go through with it and really have the guts to sort of put it out there. But yeah, it ended up being something that I couldn’t get out of the back of my head, and pretty early on in the writing process, I was feeling a little stunted, I was feeling a little writer’s block. And I thought maybe it would free me up to write about something that was actually horrifying for me to face. So I did it, and it did, it freed me up, and it helped me in a lot of ways – it literally helped to get by some serious demons that I’ve had my whole life. And I’m so proud of myself, and I’m so fucking glad that I did it.
Is there anything else that gives you the same kind of therapy?
Yeah, I mean, performing live for sure, getting to play the song even is better for me; you know, the physical interaction and having kids screaming and yelling all around you, like, that to me is the most powerful. But then, after that would be the writing, and yeah, I would say that there isn’t anything that gives me that same level of peace or of just actually feeling calm and at peace. There’s not a lot of time that I spend feeling real accomplished or real happy with the way things are going – not that I’m a depressed person, but I’m a person who’s sort of always inside of his own head, always worrying about what’s coming next or something that I wish I had done differently before. I spend a lot of time preoccupied with that shit, and when I’m playing with Bane or when we’re writing songs or when I’m writing lyrics, it takes all that shit away from me, and I can just concentrate on what I’m trying to do.
Yeah, with you saying that, and with the way you talk about music and the hardcore scene in general, it’s so hard to imagine you not being part of it in a big way… so what do you think is next for you?
Yeah, that’s a good question and a question I get asked a lot, and I’ve been pretty consistently able to cop out of any real answer, simply because I just don’t know. Like, I really don’t know what’s waiting for me. I’m not very good at planning ahead; I like to take things on as I get to them. I have a lot of faith in myself, I know that I do my best work when my ass is to the wall. And there’s no way I’m going to walk away from hardcore – Bane won’t be a band, but I’m still going to love hardcore music, I’m still going to love being around hardcore kids. I may start a local band and do a demo. I’m certainly going to go and support my friends’ bands – I might get lucky and be able to get into the van and sort of tour with the bands that I like a lot. I don’t look at my life as having hardcore not be a very big ingredient; it’s just been too good for me.
You’ve done some DJing over the years – is anything happening with that?
Oh, that’s cool that you knew that. Actually it’s been pretty slow in the last couple of years. You know, I did sort of integrate myself into that scene here in Boston a few years ago, and it was just pretty gross as far as the people… I mean, the people in that world are just so different to the people in the world that I come from. There wasn’t a lot about it that I felt good about – I really have to admit that the only pull was just a deep love for drum and bass music, which I can experience in my own room, you know, I can just spin the music here. I wasn’t trying to be some famous DJ, I was never going to transition into that and put my heart into it like I did Bane, because it pays you back in such a different way. You know, people are there for very different reasons than the kids who populate the hardcore world.
I know you’re also really into comics, so would you consider doing a book?
Yeah, I mean, I think I’m going to continue to write, and I would love to mess around in that format. The comic book format seems really interesting to me in that it’s sort of like you get to direct a movie but you don’t have to have any of the technical skills, you know, you can just sort of write frame by frame what you want people to see, what you want the characters to say… and that has been very interesting to me, and I think it’s something that I’m going to mess around with when this band is done. I mean, I’m always going to write for sure. It’s always going to be there, it’s one of the only things I’m any good at, so when Bane is done and I need to feel creative or need to feel like I can make some impact on the world, it’s definitely going to come down to writing.
You’ve spoken about age being one of the main reasons for ending Bane. Do you think if that wasn’t a factor at all you would just keep going?
Oh my god, yeah! I mean, if my knees could feel like they felt when I was 25, and if everyone didn’t have the responsibilities that do come with getting older, if we were all just ready to go, go, go, I would sign on for another twenty years in a heartbeat. There is no one big thing that is a problem in our band; we love life on the road and we love getting to play this music. The only thing is, is that when we get older we’re unable to do it with the intensity that we used to, and we don’t want to sort of become an embarrassment. We don’t want to go out just a shell of the band we used to be. That’s really the driving force behind this decision.
I wanted to ask about the cover that I See Stars did of ‘Can We Start Again’… people hated on it pretty bad, but what did you think?
I mean, it was pretty discouraging. It was largely my fault, I have to take the blame for this. It’s a long story, but what happened is that Equal Vision Records contacted me and said, “Some band wants to use a few lines from ‘Can We Start Again’”, and I’d never heard of the band before, and in my naïve mind I assumed it was just a small little hardcore band who was doing a demo and just sort of wanted to do the right thing and tried to go through the right channels. And you know, if they wanted to steal a couple of lines, I had no problem with that – I’ve taken lines from American Nightmare, I’ve taken lines from Nick Drake before, so I was honoured at the thought of that. And I really never thought about it again. I said, “That’s no problem,” assumed that it was some tiny little band.
And I don’t know, maybe six, nine months later, I wake up one morning to my phone and my Facebook feed just going crazy about somebody covering ‘Can We Start Again’… I don’t know what this is, I watch the video, it’s offending to me. They’ve just stolen the song, they’ve literally just covered our song and made a video for it and have a special guest on it from some other big name band. And no one ever came to us; no one ever came and said, “Hey look, this is turning into something bigger than the band expected. They made a video and basically covered your song, would you like to take a look at this? Would you like to take a listen at this?” – No one ever sort of allowed us to look at what was being created and put a stop to it. If we had, anyone in the band would have been like, “Fuck no, this cannot be, this is absolutely our song, you’re not a hardcore band, these lyrics have nothing to do with what your world is about. We cannot allow you to do this.”
That never happened, but what did happen is I did tell EVR that such and such a band who I’ve never heard of used a few lines and were able to take that permission to make the song, and then I had to fucking explain to a thousand kids who care about my band and care about the song and felt like it had been bastardised, you know? It was a very frustrating couple of weeks there for sure. I wanted to fucking kill someone.
Did any of them ever get in touch with you guys afterwards about it?
Never. No one on their end cared at all about how we would react to it. That’s the most insulting thing, you know, is that none of them cared about how we were going to feel about what they were doing with our song – that’s like the audacity. I don’t care who you are, if I’m going to cover another band’s song and then put it out so the general public can hear it, I would want the original band to at least see what I’ve done. Like, they made this video that just gives you fucking douche chills, it’s embarrassing to watch. None of them cared; none of them cared before, and none of them cared after. No one came to us.
Yeah, that sucks, but I think people knew you wouldn’t have give permission for that.
Yeah, who would want that to happen and be affiliated like that? It’s embarrassing.
In reference to being kind of outspoken, have you ever regretted anything you’ve said?
Yeah, absolutely. There’d be sort of no way for me to speak out as loudly as I do, for me not to every once in a while fuck up; overstep my bounds, say something that really hurt someone’s feelings… you know, there’s definitely been instances where I could have benefited from keeping my mouth shut for sure. And we’ve been pretty lucky that we haven’t crossed the wrong lines. You know, there are times when we’re very outspoken about things and we could rub some very bad people the wrong way and have to pay the price for it. We haven’t had to do that, but there’s been some close calls, there’s been some friends who I’ve disappointed by things I’ve had to say, either on stage or in interviews, and that’s just gonna come with the territory. That’s why a lot of people keep their mouths shut all the time, because they don’t want to be put into those ‘rock the boat’ type situations, and I made a choice early – it wasn’t even a choice, it’s just the way I’m hardwired – that I can’t do that. I’m going to ruffle people’s feathers every once in a while, it’s just the fucking punk rocker in me.
Just to wrap it up, do you feel like there are any bands in particular who will sort of carry on your legacy, and uphold the same values or opinions?
Yeah! I mean, I think that hardcore’s in a really, really cool place right now, and there are a lot of young bands who seem very concerned with caring about the state of hardcore – like, actively doing the work to make sure that this is looked out for, and that the kids can feel safe in being a part of it. You know, one band that leaps to mind is Rotting Out for sure; a band that gets on stage, that speaks their mind, that cares about people that care about them. It’s not just some sort of selfish take, take, take type thing. It’s not an ego thing, it’s not about looking cool and getting girls; it’s about really giving back to this community. They would be one. Code Orange are another band who I think just have a fierceness to them, they just do things their own way that I think is real refreshing, that has me excited about the state of modern hardcore.
Catch Bane touring Australia with Defeater this May/June.