A few weeks ago I got the chance to sit down for the fifth time with Aaron Nordstrom, lead singer of GEMINI SYNDROME, a few hours before they rocked the balls off the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA. With the new album Memento Mori (August 19, Another Century) less than a month away at the time, Aaron was excited to talk about not only that, but also changes within the band, and in life that have helped to shape their destiny. So come have a look:
Amps: Memento Mori and LUX…the two records are as different as night and day, but the sound is unmistakably GEMINI SYNDROME. Was that a conscious effort to do that or happy accident?
Aaron: I think a little bit of both. Through circumstance this band has evolved, and obviously there have been some member changes. And just as a band we’ve grown. We spent so many years touring on LUX, and a lot of life happened in that time. Things happened to all of us and I think a lot of our perspectives changed through experiences and we wanted to talk about some different stuff. LUX was obviously our birth record, and now memento Mori, meaning “Remember We Die’ is kind of getting in touch with your mortality and appreciating the moment that you have here. It’s a different kind of subject matter in a sense. More evolved, and kind of more experienced. I think that came through in the music, too.
Amps: But it’s still heavy where it needs to be.
Aaron: Yeah, and that was one of the things I really liked about this record. There are some people, not a ton mind you, who were like, “I hope there’s some really, really heavy tracks on this one.” And there are, there are some really heavy moments. But the really cool part to me, you’ll find those moments inside songs that are hook-y. I don’t know if accessible is the right word, or more melodic. For example, “Alive Inside” has one of the heaviest breakdowns we’ve ever done and it’s surrounded by this beautiful, soaring chorus. It’s got kind of a SEVENDUST, SLIPKNOT, STONE SOUR-type of verse. It’s very progressive in that sense. If you’re lookin’ for one song that’s four minutes of flying double bass and me screaming all the time, you’re probably not gonna find it here (laughs), but you’ll find there’s a moment in every song where it gets to a pinnacle that’s really in your face. We had A LOT of fun writing this record.
Amps: To me, one of the best songs on this album, and when I see people use the term on the internet it drives me fucking bananas, is “Sorry Not Sorry.” Tell me about that one.
Aaron: (Laughing) that’s kind of why we picked that title. It was a working title and we wrote that with Kevin (Churko, Dad and producer). We did most of the record with Kane (Churko, Son and producer), and a couple with Kevin. I was in L.A. and he was in Vegas and he sent me some rough stuff to start working on ideas and I saw that title and I was like, “That’s…Awesome!” It’s so sarcastic, and the subject matter is just a big middle finger to a lot of ideas.
Amps: Kane and Kevin are just incredible producers, aren’t they? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the drum sound they get is amazing!
Aaron: Yep. Yep. I think they get some of the best tones all around. And the thing with those dudes is that they’re so in sync with each other, obviously coming from the same DNA. But they have very different attitudes about how they do things. They go to the same place, but they take very different roads to get there. But their ears and comprehension of music composition and tonality, rhythms, and sonic qualities is just above and beyond. They listen to all kinds of stuff, too. And I think that brings something cool to the table. And this band is very much like that, too. We all listen to very different stuff, and I think that really helps.
Amps: How are Daniel Sahagún and Chuck Lee fitting in? The new blood inject something into the band?
Aaron: Oh yeah. We started working with them before we went in to do the record. We had most of it written, AP (Paveri, bass), Brian (Steele Medina, drums), and myself did 95% of it. But, we really like these guys, so we brought them in for a few days at the end, for guitar sessions, and they brought some cool ideas and interesting flair to the songs that they played on. They brought a totally different perspective. And as far as fitting into the mix as people, I don’t think we’ve ever had as much fun. Breaking each others’ balls constantly, nicknames for everyone, there’s a billion inside jokes. It’s touring, so that can get stressful at times, but stress only lasts for a half hour, then somebody cracks a joke and everybody’s back to having a good time. I’m very thankful for those guys. They have great personalities, and they’re loyal dudes.
Amps: So, you’re a married man since we last spoke. How’s that life treating you?
Aaron: It’s great. My wife’s awesome. We moved out to Vegas into a great house, and it’s way more affordable than L.A. But it’s also close enough that I can get back there when I need to. We went from a really tiny place to having a nice home with a yard that our dog can run in.
Amps: Your music touches people on an emotional level. So what do you hope they take away from Memento Mori?
Aaron: I want it to be, without sounding too preposterous, a wake-up call. I think it’s so easy for people, myself included, to get sidetracked. There’s a line in “Sorry Not Sorry” about chasing the dragon. And someone asked me what that’s about, and I think it can be assigned to drugs, sex, money, TV shows, or whatever. And I think people lose sight of the fact that you’re not here for that. I’ve experienced a lot of death around me since an early age. And I never had time to prepare, like if it was a terminal illness; no, it was always very sudden. I just think that’s really important to remember.
And I’ve had my own medical issues, made poor choices, car accidents, and things that could have left me dead, and it’s a miracle I’m still here, and I have an appreciation that I’ve gained over the last few years. I’m not 21 anymore, I’m in my mid-30’s. The longer you live, the higher your chances of dying are, and that’s a fact. I just think it’s incredibly important to have a vast appreciation for everything. I’ve met so many great people in my life, and made amazing relationships.
Amps: Crazy question…I know Memento Mori isn’t even out yet, the ink isn’t even dry yet, but this is Part Two of a trilogy. Have you given ANY thought as to Part Three?
Aaron: (Smirking confidently) oh yeah…we’ve got a couple of titles floating around. We were working on stuff for the third part while this one was being finished up. Musically, it’s not done, but we’ve got some pieces that didn’t make it onto this record that might show up on the next one. This was an album, and LUX was the same way, where it was really hard to decide what to put on, and what to leave off. We had more tunes than we knew what to do with. We’ve got enough songs to put on records for years and years to come. The first one was birth, this one is life and your acceptance of mortality, and the next one will be ascending, or something like that.
Amps: Overall, how is life for Aaron Nordstrom these days?
Aaron: I’m feeling good, man. I’ve got a good family here in the GEMINI SYNDROME camp, surrounded by great musicians, got a great wife, an awesome dog, and I get to do what I love. We pay the bills, barely, but we pay ‘em. I’ve never gone without, going back to that appreciation thing. We’ve struggled for sure, but somehow our needs have always been met. I’m very comfortable in my home in Vegas. An albino in the desert…that’s probably the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever done (laughing). What the hell was I thinking??? But the cool thing is that Vegas is a 24-hour town, and I’m a night owl. So I don’t HAVE to go do anything till after sundown.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the GEMINI SYNDROME fans worldwide?
Aaron: You know, it’s always “Thank you.” But I think especially now that we had such a hiatus and the fact that we were able to come right back out swingin’ and these shows have been great, man. The amount of people, the enthusiasm, it’s still there. And that’s baffling to me, because in this day and age you can just be gone in a second and forgotten. It seems like going away for a bit worked in our favor. There was more anticipation, I think. It’s humbling the amount of support we’ve gotten. That’s hugely rewarding, man.
Talking with Aaron Nordstrom is like sitting down for dinner or a drink with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Time may have passed, but you just feel so comfortable talking to one another that it feels like you just saw each other yesterday. GEMINI SYNDROME is a band that has touched so many people in so many ways with their emotional, thought-provoking music that they always feel like members of the family. And conversations like these make me so happy that I get to do what I do. Pick up Memento Mori on August 19, and be a Synner like the rest of us.
LIVE PHOTO: DARKHOUSE IMAGE