New York’s Aux Era are a band that staunchly defy easy categorization as they effortlessly saunter between post-metal, post-rock, psychedelic experimentation and emotionally heavy ambience. Comprised of members from Hull, On the Might of Princes and Lost Coves, to name a few, this trio put their heads together on their self-titled debut and came up with five tracks of extremely powerful yet avant garde..ish tracks that ooze through the speakers ever so gently. Yes I am aware of that sounding like a mouthful of what?! But seriously, one listen to this massive roller coaster and you’ll be hooked. The album was released back in February and we recently had the chance to sit down with the band to ask them our set of Profile questions. They were extremely gracious with their answers and offered a ton of insight in regards to their headspace on Aux Era. Head inside to see what they had to say and get wrapped around the stream contained within.
How did each of you first get into playing music?
Dylan Ricard: My dad. He wasn’t a professional player, he was a landscape architect, but he was always in bands. I always thought it was cool and never thought otherwise about playing guitar. Around 8th grade I got my first guitar and became obsessed with music. This was 92-93, a wonderful time to become obsessed.
Tommy Orza: I got into music at an early age from listening to movie scores (mainly Star Wars and The Dark Crystal!). I used to put my tape recorder up to the T.V. and record the songs and listen to them over and over. The first time hearing actual rock music though was Van Halen’s “Jump” at a Long Island diner when I was about 8 years old, and I was HOOKED! They just sounded so fun, alive, and huge. But fast forward to 1991 (which was a hot spot year in music history), I was in my teens and Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins started to hit big, and being the weird and emotional kid I was, I just gravitated toward the energy and catharsis of that sound and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Around that time, I went to go hang out at a friend’s house (who was a drummer) one night, and he was jamming with a guitarist doing metal covers. It was the first time I had ever seen anyone play loud rock music right in front of me. I was just mesmerized by everything… the vibrations, the amps, the crashing cymbals, and thought, “I can actually do this,too!”. They picked up on my quiet enthusiasm quickly and said that if I were to get a bass, I could be in their band (that was only requirement). I soon became the only bass player in my high school, so I had my hands quite full!
Jeff Stieber: Way long ago before drums existed. I was in the 5th grade and had the instinct to check out the brass family. Since I am no sheep I went with the trombone since that is obviously the dopest of brass instruments. I was actually pretty damn good at it. Boy did I fuck up as eventually I became a teenager and frolicked into the world of Rock n’ Roll trying out numerous friends guitars and basses but finally settled on the drums having been such a modern instrument and well, I am a modern man.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
DR: Honestly, I was never really an outright metalhead growing up. I adored GnR and Motley Crue when I was young, but, like, Metallica was never really my passion. In high school I was way into alt nation stuff and hip hop (again, 1993 was a wonderful year to come of age). I’m like the poster child for those early Lollopalooza festivals. I’ve always loved bands like the Beastie Boys and Faith No More, bands that take whatever they are vibing to and throwing it in the pot. My interests in metal were definitely later era stuff like Tool, Deftones, Neurosis, bands that had the volume and mood of some metal but were bringing in these ambient textures and creating real moods. My parents were always cool with whatever I listened to, whether it was Pantera or NWA. I remember taking my dad to an early Deftones show and he really appreciated the energy. I have mostly found myself on metal bills because the music I like to play is loud, dramatic and intense but I am in no way a riff master. We are usually the softest band on a metal bill and the heaviest band on an indie bill.
TO: The two buddies I mentioned above got me into metal (Slayer, Sepultura, etc.). My parents were actually very cool about it! They were more freaked out about my Perry Farrell poster, really.
JS: We are not a metal band as far as I’m aware. Maybe some sort of post-metal thingy, some psuedo metal from the future, I don’t know. But having played in a few metal bands in my day I was originally introduced to it back in me teen years, after my grunge stage, probably from my initial love of The Melvins or as some say, Melvins. It only got heavier from there. I’m not sure how my family took it. I’m sure they were concerned at first but luckily I had an older brother who followed more of a straight path so they probably just gave up on me. I would have done the same. I still turned out just swell and my parents and I have a great relationship if you were wondering. Love ya mom and dad!
What’s the most you’ve ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, tell us any funny/embarrassing story about the band.)
DR: Aux Era is pretty new and we are all seasoned in the band/touring thing. It’s one of the things I really appreciate about us is that we know what’s up, know what we want and aren’t in a rush to do anything less than our very best. That being said, I wholeheartedly believe Jeff’s theory about Tommy being an axe murderer.
TO: As far as the social and business part of music, I’ve spent most of the time in prior bands being more of a quiet observer to that stuff. I’ve seen people do things to get “ahead” that obviously made them or people around them uncomfortable, but I’ve been very careful to do things on my own terms, and I think the other two guys are coming from the same stance. Now that I’m older and have taken the wheel more on the promotional side of things, I plan on keeping the same trajectory. The peak of social media that we’re in right now has given bands like us so much opportunity to share our music with people who genuinely get something out of what we’re doing, so I have no interest in being anything other than ourselves. One caveat: I’ve recently sold all of my axes, and have since resorted to spoons.
JS: This band is pretty new so we haven’t had to go too low yet and we probably don’t plan on doing so. I guess it depends on the offer and how much I/we’ve had to drink. Funny story about the band…? I have suspicion that Tommy is an ax murderer.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal right now? What are some of the worst?
DR: I am in no way an authority on what’s happening in the metal world but there are many metal bands that I look forward to hearing from. Wolves in The Throne Room is a band I am always excited to hear from, same with Neurosis and Deftones, and I will wait till the end of time for the next Tool record. But these are all crossover bands. I go to a lot of local shows in Brooklyn and that is the majority of my exposure to the scene. Somnuri, Krallice, Godmaker are just a few of the local bands I enjoy catching. In terms of what’s bad in the scene, all I can say is I can’t really get behind anything racist and bigoted, which there is a rich history of in metal. I don’t see much of it in my community and in newer bands but a lot of legacy and older bands have a lot to contest to. Metal is funny, it attracts both the most academic and enlightened music fans as well as the lowest common denominator. Maybe that is a testament to it’s endurance and attraction.
TO: I actually don’t listen to much metal these days, but I really dig Meshuggah! As far as local bands, Somnuri and River Cult kill!
JS: This is kinda tricky as I have become less and less involved in the metal scene, same goes with listening to metal. And when I do listen to metal it’s generally something from my past, some band I’ve toured with, shared beers with or Slayer. Best things about metal is the metal from my youth. The worst part of metal are the things that I’m not aware of and in my older more jaded/shitheaded brain I’m too much of an asshole to really even try and understand. I would also say that this modern “gent” I think it’s called is kinda outplayed. So much of this uber-technical metal, groovy metal. It’s all too similar. Don’t get me wrong, the musicianship of these bands is phenomenal but I just don’t see any sort of artistry. Cookie cutter tech metal.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
DR: While I love a lot of protest music, I try not to get on a pedestal too much with my own. I think it’s mostly self consciousness, but if it comes out on its own and feels right, it will stay. This album may actually be the most political writing I’ve done. “Flagburner” is about being inspired by someone with complete conviction to stand for what they believe. “Shine On,” the first song on the record, is basically about Trump being a puppet and all his supporters who look the other way of his fallacies. We are in a time of reparation and reconciliation, it’s only natural music follows suit.
TO: I don’t write any of the lyrics for this band, but we’re all on the same wavelength as far as our disgust for the current administration and the Neanderthals that have crawled out of the woodwork as of late. That anger and sadness definitely seeps into the music for sure.
JS: This seems like a loaded question. I will say that everyone in the band would like to say Fuck Trump and I’ll leave it at that. But music is a great way to express any and all important issues one has. Isn’t that what art is? Self-expression.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
DR: Art is subjective and not all art is for everyone. But just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you have to be an ass about it. A well rounded argument is much more respectable than a hot take tweet. Just look at our president for an example on that.
TO: Just be open minded and maybe don’t read any other reviews of a particular album before you write your own?
JS: It’s hard to say. I think just about any criticism is good for a band. You can’t make something better if you don’t understand its faults. And I feel that most all critics understand that this is normally a side gig for just about all musicians as it is almost impossible to support one’s self off of just music. We’re all just playing music and if you or any outlet review it, either good or bad it gets us the band some notice, spreading us in some way. Not everyone is going to agree with everything so a bad review to one could equate to someone listening and thinking it’s the greatest shit since sliced bread. So just review it, put your opinion out there whatever it is. Just don’t be too harsh since us musicians are fragile beings.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Saving a continent, or maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Tell us what you’re aiming for with this band.
DR: This record is very much what I intended to do with Tommy and Jeff. From the first practice to now I think it’s the most realized project I’ve ever done. I’d like to continue working in this fashion, not necessarily with a concept in mind, but an aesthetic, mood, ambiance, incorporating where we all are individually as musicians into a cohesive whole. There’s no blueprint we are following but there is a clear direction we are moving and it’s very exciting.
TO: The three of us couldn’t successfully overthrow a Brooklyn deli. But as far as this band, it took me a while to find people that inspired me again. Dylan and Jeff both have such a unique and open way of playing that really resonates with me, and I’m grateful to have met them. The right chemistry is such an important but often overlooked aspect of being in a band, and I really think it’s our biggest strength. We just vibe so easily and don’t over think anything that we do, and in that sense, it’s the easiest band I’ve ever been in. We just want to keep writing music that we would like to hear ourselves, and the three of us are big believers in writing albums. There’s something about this band that feels like it exists outside all current genres, and I’d like to think we’re an alternative for people who want to hear something different, that they’re not getting from other bands right now. I’d love to do some short or long term touring eventually.
JS: I can’t speak for everyone but I just like the idea of writing music, playing shows, and recording, maybe some short or extended tours. Some of us in this band have kids, not sure how much world dominating is possible. I’m not ruling it out but music is a young man’s game for sure, at least to start out.
Day jobs or hobbies you want to share?
DR: I am a newly minted father and currently my mother’s primary caretaker, which means I spend a lot of time at the house during the day. I actually get to jam and write a lot while caring for my son, he loves it, it’s a great way to spend time with a child. We mess with lots of drum machines and synths, it may very well end up coloring the tone of our next songs!
TO: I actually teach music in a NYC public high school and I absolutely love it! I follow a curriculum called “Modern Band” through the Amp Up NYC/Little Kids Rock organization, (which is kind of like a “School of Rock” thing) so I’m surrounded by music most of my time, which is great. I’m big into films as well, and love to one day do film scoring. I too am a father, so most of my home hobbies involve cartoons, legos, and the like.
JS: We are all avid stamp collectors. I constantly look out the window at birds and wonder what it’s like to fly. Beer is cool.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
DR: I feel like the older I get the less I feel in touch with what’s cutting edge. I love crooners and sad stuff. I love bands like Autolux, Suuns, Deerhoof, Radiohead, bands that work in a pop form but flip it in creative ways. Ben Frost, Swans, Chelsea Wolfe.
TO: The new Suuns is really great. Grouper is probably my favorite musician right now and is on constant rotation. I have a big soft spot for 4AD shoegaze stuff that I grew up with like Lush, Cocteaus, etc. I’m also big into film scores (Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti and much older scores). As for heavier stuff, Failure, Young Widows, and King Crimson are huge influences.
JS: Again I can’t speak for the band but I’m really into Pile, also digging into some of that airy dream pop of Beach House. What else…Dylan showed us this band called Suuns, they have a new album called Felt which is god damn awesome. RIP Craig Mack!
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
DR: Gonna write as much as possible, record and tour. I’d love to do a split 7″ series as well (do people even listen to 7″‘s anymore?) Then do it again!
TO: We’re looking to start writing for our next record this summer and hopefully do some short tours in the Northeast.
JS: Geez, I really don’t know. I’m just the god damn drummer man. Nothing I’m aware of as of right now but I’m sure we’ll have a handful of shows to announce in the near future as we get closer to the summer months.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
TO: Post-Everything works just fine!
JS: Someone wrote a review calling us “Post-Everything” so I’ll go with that.
Many thanks to Aux Era for their time!