NadaMucho.com Interview – The Wasted Years
Q&A with Aaron Semer
Interview by Matt Ashworth
Full disclosure: Aaron Semer is my friend.
We met in about 2003 after his band’s record label, Global Seepej, sent me their excellent album On Earth as it is in Heaven. I soon interviewed him for the site and booked The Plains to play the first of what would be many NadaMucho.com bills, culminating in their farewell performance at the Mars Bar in June 2008. Aaron was also part of the all-star Indie rock cover band at our wedding reception, the Holy Matrimonies, with whom I sang one of Aaron’s songs with on stage. Somewhere along the way I talked him in to writing for NadaMucho.com too.
With that preamble out of the way, I can focus on the matter at hand: Aaron’s latest project, a podcast series with touring musicians called The Wasted Years. Like everything Aaron does, the show is smart, thoughtful and entertaining. I chatted with him about it earlier this month.
NadaMucho.com: What in the hell is The Wasted Years?
Aaron Semer: It’s a podcast in which I sit down with musicians, drink some beers, and laugh while they tell crazy stories about life on the road. This is pretty much what I enjoy doing with a lot of my friends anyway, so I figured other people might too. Touring is an endless mine of amazing stories, weird experiences, life changing events, and hilarious encounters.
NM: How’s the reaction been?
AS: I’ve been getting a really great response so far, but I want to keep expanding the audience. I think it can also be a cool promotional tool for bands, because I mix their music in between the stories. I guess it could also make people hate a band, depending on the stories they tell. But that’s part of the fun…. I’m not going to sensor anybody.
NM: How do you select your guests?
AS: So far, it’s just been people I know, people who know people I know, and in a couple instances, people who reached out to me because they liked the podcast. I hope that as this grows, more people come to me, because that’s easier. (Anyone reading this who’s interested should send Aaron an email.) At the same time, I do want to keep it exclusively to bands that I like. Maybe the All-Tambourine-Freak-Out-Goat-Voiced-Band has some great stories, but I don’t really want to put more of that music out into the world, you know?
NM: Which bands have you featured so far?
AS: I’ve featured a lot of people who’ve played in multiple bands. Some of those are SunnO))), Botch, Low Hums, Russian Circles, Goatsnake, Earth, These Arms Are Snakes, Helms Alee, Smooth Sailing, Asva, Burning Witch, He Whose Ox is Gored, and Solyoni.
NM: Are you still playing music?
AS: Oh yea. I’m what I like to call a “weekend warrior” now. I’ve been doing the Neil Young tribute band for a few years now with Mike Spine – The My My Hey Heys. We play out of Seattle quite a bit. We just played a prison in Umatilla, Oregon, and it was amazing. The coolest thing about that band is that we get to play places that I never got to play before as an indie-rocker, or whatever you want to call me. So it’s always an adventure. We hope to break into the casino circuit too. We’re a really good band, actually. It’s kind of a shame that the best band I’ve ever played in is a tribute band. But it’s a lot of fun. I also play guitar in a band called Marmot vs. Mammoth. That’s with my old bandmate Jon from The Plains. But the dudes in that band keep having babies, so we keep having to go on hiatus. It’s pretty dark and experimental. All of us listen mostly to heavy stuff. It’s not metal, but definitely in the heavy vein. Maybe if I teach them the rhythm method, we can have a show soon.
NM: Any chance of a Plains reunion show?
AS: It’s not in the forefront of my mind, that’s for sure. I did a podcast with Ben Verellen, who had recently come off a reunion tour with his old band Harkonen. He said they realized the best way to make anyone actually give a shit about your band is to break up and reform. Harkonen used to play to empty rooms, and he said they expected the same thing this time around, but the shows were packed. He was pretty mystified by the whole thing.