AWOLNATION Aaron Bruno (photo by Harper Smith)
LA.COM interviewed Aaron Bruno of the electronic rock band AwolnationBruno, formerly of Under the Influence of Giants, Hometown Hero and Insurgence, came across as witty, focused, sharp and intelligent. The creative musician and successful songwriter has seen his music cross over to television and film.

He speaks thoughtfully of his creative process, and it's no wonder he has broken through in a big way after several attempts with different bands.

Awolnation is playing at the X Games and this week's Sunset Strip Music Festival.

AWOLNATION interview: Aaron Bruno

LA.COM: What's the most embarrassing moment you ever had on stage?
Aaron Bruno: I haven't really had any. You can't take yourself that seriously.

I mean, "I slipped that song"? I don't care about that. The PA system went completely off recently at the Milwakee Summer Fest. Now that could have been embarrassing, and I could have walked off stage. But I came back on and made a joke about it, and we pulled it off. We don't take ourselves too seriously.

The songs are dead serious, and we play them serious as far as who we are, (but) life is too short to get caught up in those type of things.

LA.COM: Are you excited about the Sunset Strip Music Fest?
Aaron Bruno: (Co-producer) Nic Adler has always been extremely supportive, so we go full circle. (In the beginning), we played there maybe in front of four people. But he always let us go back and play in a better environment and much better situation. He gave us the opportunity, and he gave to us -- and we can give back to him. I think the feeling is mutual. I'm looking forward to it.

LA.COM: You played at Coachella in 2012, how was that experience for you?
Aaron Bruno: Very special, extremely scary.

LA.COM: Scary?
Aaron Bruno: Well, yeah kind of. It was a hometown show for us. Being from Los Angeles, Coachella ... I must have known hundreds and hundreds of people that I met before in some point of my life, some closer than others of course. It was very nerve-racking.

I don't really like hometown shows that much because you have your family, your friends and everybody. You try to balance all that stuff and at the same try to put on the best show you possibly can. So it was a little nerve-racking. My voice was giving me trouble, the weather.

AWOLNATION Aaron Bruno (photo by Harper Smith)

It ended up great. To see our gear on stage next to Radiohead's gear was really special for me. I thought the lineup was really good. To be on the same flier, like I said, with (bands) like Radiohead and Refused (is) probably the coolest thing of all to me.

LA.COM: You have had success with the songs “Sail,” and "Some Kind of Joke," on radio, TV, movies and commercials. Do you really believe, like you've said, that it's accidental?
Aaron Bruno: No, I don't think it's accidental. I have said that in a few interviews. It's just that sometimes it feels that way because I have tried so hard in the past with other bands to have some sort of success and put out songs that some people can relate to.

And why did it happen this time around? I suppose it's because I have been through so many ups and downs, so many different, I guess, "failures," I am able to talk about stuff that people can relate to.

I sure have learned a lot in the last four years about the world, relationships, and finally I was able to focus lyrically and sonically and melodically on something I could really be 100 percent sure of and passionate about.

LA.COM: Have you always been a songwriter, and would you agree that songwriting is where the money is in the music business?
Aaron Bruno: I'd rather not talk about that -- where the money is at. There's money to be had in all different areas of music. It all depends on how much you care about that really. It's great to have money, of course, and for me it's always been -- and I'm sure a lot of songwriters say this, a lot of guys in bands say this: I just want to be able to continue to live this way, you know, and continue to create music, to make people's day better. Because that's what meant most to me growing up -- hearing music and how much it affected me and made my day better or worse.

And I know music is the universal language, so it's a really special thing. I'm grateful to be a part of it.

LA.COM: How hard is it to go from creating music in the studio to performing it live?
Aaron Bruno: It depends on the song. Sometimes it's challenging to figure how you're going to make something sound great live. But at the same time I don't think it has to sound the exact same.

There are a lot of bands that play, basically, to a CD live. I'd rather enhance some of the parts, extend them ... and really figure out what is best for the audience and ourselves at the same time -- an interaction that make sense, that's cohesive, and that's not so difficult necessarily (some parts are harder than others).

But as long as you just admit that there are certain parts that aren't necessary, and certain sounds and parts I play on the record that have no business being live anyway, so we just keep those out and use something else.

Or the listener doesn't even know. Of course I wouldn't even know: I never got to hear us live. I'd love to, though.

LA.COM: Do people recognize you on the street?
Aaron Bruno: Sometimes, I was just at Bed Bath and Beyond the other day, and a dad of a family recognized me, and it was really nice.

But no, it's It's not everywhere I go, or anything like that. It's pretty mellow, which I like. I never want to be recognized or noticed or anything necessarily. But if someone is really excited to meet me because my music has affected them in a positive way and they're excited and it enhanced their day and they feel good, then I'm happy to accommodate. Although, I hate taking photos. I don't know who does -- I'm just being real with you. But signing something? Or if I happen to have one of my guitar picks in my pocket and I see a kid and he gets stoked, then that's what its all about -- that's great.

LA.COM: Have you ever gotten any flack for your lyrics? I know that they come from your personal experience, but have you ever received any negative feedback?
Aaron Bruno: No I haven't, I don't even hear that. If someone were to give me flack it, would not even register as to what that means to me, you know.

Words were never meant to be taken literally. This isn't 1989, you know what I mean?

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