Im Interview: Aaron Dalbec

Foto: Michelle Mennona

Als ich immer mal in der ersten, etwas abgespeckten Variante des The Weight and The Cost Buches blätterte, fühlte es sich nie „komplett“ an. Wisst ihr was ich meine? Versteht mich nicht falsch: in dieser ersten Ausgabe waren so viele tolle Menschen wie Nathan Gray, Mike McTernan & Amber Lombardo, Minu Aghevli, Gene Priest, Chris Wollard, Michelle Mennona, Becky Fontaine und so viele mehr vertreten, dass ich heute noch breit grinse und so dankbar über all diese wundervollen Menschen bin, wenn ich dieses Buch in den Händen halte. Aber als ich damals mit diesem Projekt anfing, war für mich klar, dass ich gerne alle Bandmitglieder von Be Well mit drin haben möchte und deswegen fühlte es sich erst nicht als Ganzes an, weil noch einer von ihnen fehlte: Aaron Dalbec.

Timing war wahrscheinlich noch nie meine allergrößte Stärke, denn als ich an diesem Projekt arbeitete und mich im Zuge dessen ab und an mit Aaron in Verbindung setzte, war es diese unfassbar traurige, herzzerreißende Zeit, in der Brendan „Stu“ Maguire langsam aber sicher den Kampf gegen den Krebs verlor und er die noch verbleibende Zeit mit all den Menschen verbrachte, die er abgöttisch liebte.

Ein unfassbarer Verlust für die eingeschworene Fangemeinde von Bane, für die Bandmitglieder, die definitiv mehr Familie als nur Band waren, für Weggefährten, Freunde, Familie und für die gesamte Musikwelt. In all seiner tiefen Trauer, inmitten des schwierigen Weges, diesen schmerzhaften Verlust akzeptieren und verarbeiten zu lernen und nicht komplett daran zu zerbrechen, nahm sich Aaron die Zeit, einige Fragen über seine Zeit nach Bane, über End Hits Records Labelboss Oise Ronsberger und welches Lied von der EP Hello Sun ihn am meisten ans Herz geht zu beantworten und dafür werde ich Aaron immer dankbar sein.

Bevor es zum Interview geht, gibt es vorher noch ein paar Worte von der großartigen Tanner, die ihr zum Beispiel immer hinter’m Merchtisch bei Nathan Gray antrefft. Vielen Dank an Tanner!

I’ve known Aaron Dalbec for over 20 years now.  Before he even knew who I was, he was a player in some of my most cherished memories.

There was the time some friends and I drove down to Minneapolis from Winnipeg to see The Hope Conspiracy and Converge play, or the time I was still in High School and I skipped classes on the Monday to drive with a couple cars of friends to Regina to see Bane and Grade.  We drove through the night after that show to get back to Winnipeg in time for school and work Tuesday morning.  The guys in the other car fell asleep at the wheel and drove into the ditch.  Fortunately no one was hurt, but I’ll never forget that morning.  I still managed to make it back in time for my French class at 1:00pm.

Then there was the European tour with Bane and Comeback Kid in 2009 that was the catalyst to me dropping out of University to pursue touring full-time.  I studied for my Chemistry exam that whole tour, knowing full well I was done with school. Being surrounded by my friends and at shows was where I felt most myself and at home.

The last time I saw Aaron will always be one of my fondest memories: Bane’s last shows in Worcester in 2016.  The end of a chapter of life representing our youth and simpler times for everyone all around.

As life becomes more complicated and distance and time grows between some of these relationships, especially over this past year, I find comfort in those memories and at the thought of creating new ones.  I’m pleased to know that Aaron has started a new project and I look forward to the day I can see Be Well play live.

Dan Elswick: „A little known fact, when bane broke up, he was the one I was most worried about. He just was having such a hard time with the band ending, and not really knowing what he was gonna do with his life post bane.“ What goes through your mind when you read this statement from Dan? How did you experience the time between the end of Bane and the new beginning with Be Well? Is there anything that particularly worried you during this period? When did you feel things were starting to pick up again?

I mean.. to be honest I thought it would be easier than it has been. I have my family, so I figured I would be good but what I didn’t realize is that with Bane and stuff before Bane… I was on the road for way over half my life so I really didn’t know much without being in a band touring. It was really hard. I honestly dont really want to think about what life would have been like without Be Well coming into my life. Bane has always been my baby and will always be, but I am so thankful and grateful for Be Well.

Be Well is still relatively young – how important has the band become in your life?

It has become very important. Till we started playing I really didn’t realize how much I needed to be playing must for my own mental health. Its become a very important part of my life. Unfortunately with Covid things have been pretty slow, but we still play, write, and get together.

What went through your mind when you first had the lyrics in front of your eyes? What hit you the most? What were you able to pull out for yourself from Brian’s story?

I connected. I really am thankful to be in a band with a very open minded singer. I love how honest and raw his lyrics are. The specific lines may not be 100% accurate to everyone, but everyone can relate in one way or another. I think that is what makes Be Well connect with so many people.

Have you ever had to deal with anxiety and/or depression yourself?

I really had never dealt with depression before Bane ended. I had been playing music really my whole life, and had been touring for over half my life so I never realized all the energy and emotions that I got out while playing.. so it was just a given.. but, when I stopped with Bane things got really heavy and dark all at the same time.

Even with Be Well. When Stu from Bane got diagnosed with cancer, I held it together as much as I could for him, but I had a extremely hard time and still do… dealing with all of it. Stu was one of my best friends and I just couldn’t comprehend how he could be taken away and that kinda put me into a dark place for awhile.

I have really not dealt with too much anxiety though.. thankfully. I do sometimes, but not really too much.

How would you describe the atmosphere between you when you were in the studio together the first few times? When did that feeling come up that this new project was going to be something really big and special?

It just felt completely natural. It felt like we were meant to all be there. Before Be Well I didn’t know Shane or Peter. But, after literally 10 minutes it felt like we had been friends for a long time. When Brian sent me his first demos I let him know right away that I was in. I knew that I wanted to be part of this journey for sure!

What is it like for you to be on stage with Be Well? What exactly makes this band stand out when it comes to the live experience? What would you say?

I think all the energy that we have in the music translates almost more live. We all put our emotions and all our energy into to when we play. I think that makes us stand out when we play live. Its not fake or contrived.. and we all love it.

What similarities do you see between Bane and Be Well?

Honestly, I have been lucky.. with both Bane and Be Well I have been surrounded with great, honest band mates. I have had singers in both bands that are very open and will write whatever they feel like they need to write, and its always something people can relate to and I absolutely love that.

What was going through your mind just before the release of The Weight and The Cost? Were there any particular expectations you had? How did you feel when the record hit everywhere like a bomb?

I honestly had no idea what people would think. I knew that when Brian sent me his initial demos I fell in love right away, but honestly.. we had no expectations. We were all blown away at the response.

The Weight and The Cost was highly praised everywhere: in what way does it increase the pressure regarding your next releases?

We are just playing music because we want to play with our friends and enjoy ourselves. I think people will love the new record, but we just want to play honestly and I think that translates in the songs, and in turn.. what makes people connect to us.

From which people in your personal environment do you particularly care about the opinions? For example, which people were the very first to hear about the new band and listen to the first songs? What opinions did you get from them?

Not many people close to me had heard Be Well till the record was done. The people that I did finally play it for first loved it.

As a musician, when one of your favorite bands releases a new album, can you listen to them as a fan or does that bring out the musician in you? What do you pay attention to first? What is important to you?

I honestly listen to 99% of my music as a fan first. But I do take some deep dives into them later. But I have always kinda looked at it as a fan first!

How would you describe your band mates to someone who doesn`t know them yet?

Brian: Very open. Quiet for the most part till you get to know him. I have been lucky enough to know Brian for over 25 years and he is one of the best.

Peter: Just loves playing, hanging out and being with friends!

Mike: I mean… what can said about Mike.. he is a rocker through and through!

Shane: One of the kindest people. I dont think I have ever seen Shane mad and how can he be so good at drums????

Oise: „But then Aaron sent me the rough mixes of the album and i KNEW I had to get involved. This was a END HITS RECORDS release way before i knew it was. I am glad Aaron was so persistent, i really am.“ Why did you have Oise directly in mind when it came to releasing in Europe? What do you appreciate about his work? 

On the last Bane record he approached us to do it and we had nothing but a great experience with him. He is honest, fair, and only has the bands best intentions in mind. I knew when Be Well recorded we needed him to do it in Europe.

When and how did you first meet Oise and how would you describe your friendship?

I honestly cant remember the first time I actually met him. I think it was on the first Converge tour in Europe?? 1999?98? But we got to really know each other on a Only Crime/No Use For A Name tour over in Europe. He is just such a great guy. I dont see him that ofter, but when I do It feels like I saw him the week before. Such a solid human!

Let‘s talk briefly about your new EP Hello Sun that will finally be released this year: What can you tell us about it? What can people expect? If you had to choose one song that is particularly close to your heart, which one would it be and for what reason?

I feel like the new record is kinda condensed but has all the same raw emotion of TWaTC. I am so excited for people to hear it and REALLY hope we can get out and play a lot of shows.

I have to say “I’ll Leave You With This” really hits me hard. I got a mix from Brian of the EP right when Stu passed away. I was literally driving up there to his services when I listened and it just hit me really hard. After we are all gone.. leaving these pieces of ourselves in the form of music.. will always be here, and I am so honored and happy that I will always be able to go listen to music I made with my best friends.

If you were writing a book about Be Well and The Weight and The Cost, what would the blurb say?

The Weight and The Cost is a journey to discover all those feelings and emotions you didn’t know or think you had.

Anything else you wanna add?

I think I am good. Thank you so much for doing this for us and thank you for anyone that has listened to Be Well. We are beyond thankful