Bane's Aaron Bedard: "We're Probably Past the Expiration Date of Hardcore Bands . . . We Still Just Love It So Much"

Bane hasn't issued a full-length album since 2005, but that doesn't keep the band from hitting the road. The latter comes natural, but regarding the former? "We have to be under insane pressure to get a song done, and if we're under that pressure, we get it done," says frontman Aaron Bedard. This seminal Massachusetts hardcore group hasn't noticed too many changes during its 16-year career -- even the fans roughly stay the same age.

"As they get deeper and deeper in their 20s, this life and this music and spending time at shows with a bunch of kids becomes less urgent," says Bedard, "We completely understand that kids grow up and move on. Once you get into your 30s, it gets a little harder to take a Wednesday night to go see a hardcore band."

Bane returns to The Underground on Sunday, October 30 with Defeater, Miles Away, and Dead End Path. We spoke to Bedard while he was loading gear for the band's first American tour in about a year. He discussed the band's longevity, what attracts youth to hardcore culture, and the possibility of recording new Bane songs.

Up on the Sun: What do you like about playing in Phoenix?

Aaron Bedard: It's a place where there seems to be a lot of kids that get us, and the shows are always fun there. Definitely one of the spots, any time we travel across the U.S., we try not to miss. Sometimes we play Mesa, sometimes we play Tucson, but we always seem to be somewhere right there, and that's always been good. Actually, it hasn't always been good, but the last five or six years has been very consistently good for us. It's one of our favorite spots to go on the U.S. tour, for sure.

What were some of the not so good times?

There's nothing that sticks out, in particular. I just feel like there was some places, when we first started touring a lot, we had to struggle a little more than others to win people over. I feel like in the earlier days, Phoenix was a little more standoffish, and we didn't quite know what to expect, and I feel like we had to work really hard to win them over. But we were definitely able to do that, and I don't think we've had a below-average show there in years, I can't remember the last time, to be honest.

Just some places are harder than others. There's some places we still haven't cracked. We've been going there consistently year after year and still don't know how the show's gonna be. There's other places where it's always good.

Are you guys working on any new material?

It's funny, we just did actually write and record a song in the two weeks we've been home since the European tour, and we kinda had to rush it out. Our friend runs a record label called Triple-B Records, and he's putting out a compilation that he wants to get out for next year. So, if we were gonna be on it, we had to do the song in the little window that we had between the Europe tour we just did and this tour. We did write and record a song in a week and that felt really good, but beyond that, there isn't any actual plans to do anything after this tour.

We're home for the whole winter, so I'd like to think we're gonna get motivated and maybe write three new songs and try to put out an EP or something, but sometimes that's not an easy thing to do after a long, five-week tour. When we get home, we kinda just want to be home for a while and not think about Bane stuff.

The way we've been working is we have to be under insane pressure to get a song done, and if we're under that pressure, we get it done. Right now, there's not a huge motivation to write new songs, but I would love to write a seven-inch while we're home in the winter.

That way you'll be well rested and you can come up with some good ideas.

Now we have enough weird songs kicking around where we could have Equal Vision Records put out a collection of all the little odds and ends and EPs that we've put out in the last few years.

Yeah, I saw that you guys covered Lifetime's "The Truth About Lars" and I looked around . . .

How did you find that? That's crazy.

It's on your Wikipedia page.

That's so funny. That song never came out -- it isn't on anything. I literally just got a hold of it this year. I recorded that, I think, four years ago, three years ago. That is a true rarity. It was gonna be a tribute album that our friend was going to put out, but the band got back together, so the whole idea just got shelved.

I'm a huge Lifetime fan, so I was pretty excited to hear the cover, but then I couldn't find it.

Yeah, you're not gonna find it -- it's not on anything. Literally, I didn't have it for years. Maybe that's something we could slip through as a bonus track on some sort of collection. It would be cool to get it out there because it's such a weird band for us to cover.

A couple of my friends from Pittsburgh went to This Is Hardcore this year, and they said the singer from Down to Nothing cited you guys as the most influential hardcore band of this generation. What do you think about that?

That's very high praise. I think that's amazing, but it's not something that we spend time thinking about or striving for or anything like that. It was really cool. I love to know that they hold Bane in very high regard, it was a super-nice thing to say, and it's a good feeling. Maybe to some degree there's some truth to that. Like I said, that was never the point, never anything that we set out to do or to be, but if we manage to do that, that's really nice. You guys have been around for a good 16 years. How do you make it work, and what motivates you to keep going on tour?

I guess one of the things that kinda gave us some longevity is we never had this be our job, or never had it be the one focus of all of our lives. Home lives were as important as road lives. When we're on the road, we're looking forward to getting home and being with our friends and family and doing stuff that we do away from the road. When we're in the middle of that, we have the road to look forward to, so we kept the dichotomy of those two completely separate worlds and kept this from ever feeling like a job, like something that you start to resent or really need a break from.

Other than that, I just feel like there's something somewhat universally stunted in all of us that even though we're getting older and probably past the expiration date of hardcore bands or hardcore kids, we still just love it so much. We still get excited about young bands, still love playing shows.

I was so hyped this morning to get up and crawl in this van, where I'm now going to be living for the next five and a half weeks. No one in Bane ever got so sick of that that we decided to hang it up, to call it quits. That's probably the only that I can attribute to the longevity. We have a really good time doing it. We still really love hardcore.

I'm sure there's no way you could do that without a positive attitude. I've heard way too many horror stories about touring.

It can try your very last nerve, it can test your patience. Practice makes perfect. We've been doing it for a long time and through the years, we figured out how to compromise, and sacrifice, and give each other the space that they need and pick and choose our battles wisely. We're not fighting about stupid shit that maybe we would have gotten into arguments about on the first couple of tours. You just gotta learn each others' personalities, and hopefully everyone's willing to go the extra mile to try to help the person next to you have a good experience and not have it be all about yourself or your selfish needs. I feel like we're a band that has a very good sense of family.

You guys have been around for a decade and a half . . .

It's crazy, it's so ridiculous to hear, that still blows my mind. It's been awhile.

I've seen so many bands give it a try for a few years, and that's it. Over that span of time, what changes have you noticed in the hardcore scene from when Bane first began?

Oh, man. There's so many small ones that you can concentrate on, and then if you really step a little further outside of it and look at it, not a whole hell of a lot has really changed as far as the core methods, and the sound, and the attitude that bands carry.

Obviously, things are a little bit easier to do nowadays with the Internet and modern technology, and being able to tour now is much more comfortable experience than it was before a lot of the tools that we have existed. That would be the biggest change.

Bane started touring pre-cell phone, pre-GPS. The first bunch of tours we never even recognized it as an option to stay in a Motel 6. Now with things like Priceline, we can do that for $30. It's become easier to tour a little bit more comfortably, and I feel like, overall, more kids are coming to shows and buying T-shirts. It's a little bit easier to sustain yourself as a band on the road, financially just based on how many kids are just really excited about hardcore. If you put the right package together, kids are gonna come out and they're gonna buy T-shirts. It's not the struggle that it was in the beginning. That would be one thing that I'd definitely say has changed.

There's so many little, small things -- the way kids dance or the way that they dress or blah, blah, blah, but really if you really look at it, what makes a hardcore band a hardcore band and what they want to accomplish, and what drives them, remains largely the same, I would believe, as it was in the '80s.

When I saw you guys three or four years ago, I would say most of the crowd was pretty young, mostly in the late teens/early-20s range. Would you say your fanbase is pretty diverse? Do you have a lot of diehards that go to every show year after year?

There's definitely a lot of people that used to come real heavily, that maybe there was a period for Bane where they were really into us and coming to shows. We do see less and less of them. And then there's the odd weirdo that still loves it every bit as much as we do and that we'll see that we know, okay, when we get to San Francisco, we know our friend Jeff Johnson is going to be there, and he was there in 1998 on our first tour. There's those guys, but they are farther and few between.

Your average punk rock/hardcore kid is going to be young. He's gonna be around 20, and as they get deeper and deeper in their 20s, this life and this music and spending time at shows with a bunch of kids becomes less urgent. We've gotten used to the turnover rate and, obviously, get very excited when we find people that are older, that are our age and our peers that have experienced the history of this band and still get psyched to come out.

But at the same time, we completely understand that kids grow up and move on. Once you get into your 30s, it gets a little harder to take a Wednesday night to go see a hardcore band.

What is it about hardcore that speaks to younger people?

I think when you're young, you're super-fired up. You're looking for the things that you're gonna believe in through your life. When you're young, there's still so many mysteries and so much to be riled up about.

There's things that affect you, there's things that you feel enraged about, and hardcore gives you this way of confronting that and relating to that and face this big, confusing world when you're 18, 19, 20. And you're not quite sure what to make of it yet and start to put it into at least some sort of a manageable perspective, if that makes sense. When you're young, you're just looking for ways to fit in and what you're going to believe and what you don't want to stand for.

As you get older, now, that stuff isn't as amazing to me and you start to realize, wow, life is pretty hard and filled with a lot of compromises and a lot of disappointments and it's not going to stop. And there's really not a lot that I can do to make a difference other than on a small, personal scale.

But when you're young, you get that feeling that you can take on the world, and that music can drive a revolution. Not in anyway do I want to disagree with that, but I just feel like when you're 19 years old, you feel that fire burning so, so deeply, and hardcore's the perfect soundtrack for that. It's aggressive, it's angry, it's outspoken, it's got ideas, it's real easy to cling to that when you're young. It's a great thing to get you through those difficult, confusing years, I think.

What do you think you'd be doing if Bane didn't work out?

Oh, man. I don't think I'd be doing anything as interesting as this. I wasn't very good with school. I had no motivation as far as a career. The jobs I worked I was miserable [from] beginning to end and even before Bane was a band, I would drag myself to this job and just be fucking not happy. I didn't see a lot of options for me as I was starting to get through my 20s. I really had no idea what I was going to do. I don't know if I would have gambled more, if I would have ended up taking poker more seriously and ended up being some sort of bum really ingrained in casino life.

I'd like to think that I would figure something out with music, because I love music more than anything else. I'd like to think that even if Bane didn't work out, I wouldn't have let go and would have found some other way to be involved in this life. I don't know what would have happened, sometimes I think about it, it wouldn't have been good, no matter what it was. I would have made some bad compromises, I think.

What have you been listening to lately?

The new Blink-182, I was surprisingly into. I didn't think I was going to like it [after] the first few listens, but after I got home from Europe, I listened to it a lot. I like that a lot. I love the new Trapped Under Ice record. I like the new Dead End Path, The Blind Faith LP is really cool. I listen to a lot of hip-hop mixtapes, a lot of real ignorant singles that I download off the internet from like Lil Wayne, Juicy J, or Cam'ron, I listen to a lot of that stuff. You guys have a five-and-a-half-week tour coming up. Other than that, what are your future plans and goals?

There is nothing on the horizon for after this. We'll do some shows throughout the winter and some weekends and stuff. Like I said earlier, hopefully we'll write some songs. I'd love to put out another seven-inch next year. I know kids would rather have us do an LP, but I just don't think that's very realistic for us right now. Other than that, we're talking about doing some international places next year that we didn't do this year. Top of the list would be Australia, where we haven't been in like four years. I'm dying to get back there. Some places that we went to last year feels like it could be the right time to go back to next year. Maybe South Asia places or maybe go to Hawaii for the first time. Some places we'd like to hit and hopefully we will.

I think that if we write songs and get an EP out, it will just motivate us all just a little bit more to get out there and play some shows. You're catching us at a time, which is very common for the end of the year, where we're about to do the last thing that we have on the list of things to do. Once this is crossed off, we'll take the winter, spend time back home with our families and recuperate. Things have been busy for the last five months for us. We'll walk away from the band and then we'll assess and we'll lay out some goals for next year.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum