When I first moved to Grand Rapids, I found a six-person house on Craigslist. Four guys and a girl were looking for a roommate – that roommate would be me. Aaron (now a good buddy of mine) happened to be one of those roommates. That first spring and summer were whiskey filled nights on the porch. Over the years, it’s been guitars around the campfire at the cottage, making up silly songs. Impromptu gatherings and holidays. So many raw, fun times.
Aaron allowed me to record an interview with him on Thursday night – including him playing and singing an original song. One of my favorite things about music IS the people who love music so much. My friend Aaron is not a career-oriented musician – he plays music because he loves the process. Read the interview below or listen to the full interview all the way at the end of this post.
When and why did you start making music?
Oh, wow. I started in fourth grade. I don’t really know why. I think because my older brother was playing the guitar […] and I thought everything my older brother did was really cool so I wanted to do it. And I just kept playing.
What keeps you playing?
I just love it. It’s something great to do when I’m relaxing or tired. I just pick it up and keep playing. And I just loved new instruments as well.
What new instruments have you picked up?
Violin, […] mandolin. I started playing [the violin] freshman year [of college]. You’ve heard me play before. It’s pretty bad! It’s not an awesome sound but I really wanna learn bluegrass fiddle. Something about bluegrass and the mandolin, the violin… it just really gets me.
When did you start playing guitar? Fourth grade?
Yeah. Then I got really into it and I started taking lessons in middle school. Then through highschool is when I paid for my own lessons, which made a huge difference. When you pay for your own lesson, […] you’re invested in it. It’s not just like you show up because your parents want you to. It’s like I wanna do this enough to put my effort and money into it. I feel like lessons is a really important drive. If you really wanna get better, it’s not like the lesson itself is gonna make you better, it’s the act of committing to the lesson and now that you’ve paid for it, you wanna practice more. I’d like to take lessons again.
More guitar lessons?
Piano. It’d be nice to actually get some basis on theory of music behind the stuff I just play by ear.
What inspires you to create music?
I don’t really know. Maybe it’s not what inspires me but one of my favorite [things] about playing music is the atmosphere around a campfire. There was one time when we were up in California… […] someone brought a guitar and there were maybe, like, twenty people around the fire. I only knew Dan, Nick and Ben [Aaron’s best friends from childhood]. We were all sitting around this fire and there was a guitar […] and I was like, “oh, I’ll play a song.” We ended up playing for an hour and a half and everyone was singing. It just made a really cool environment and it was really exciting to be able to contribute to that.
It’s comfortable for me. And […] you’re not on a stage. You’re behind everyone. You’re in a corner but you’re bringing this atmosphere that wasn’t there before and that everyone can contribute to and be a part of. Why do I pick up my guitar when I go home? It’s more because I just enjoy it.
Listen below for tidbits on original songs, a special mention of the terrible song I wrote in highschool, and my nervous cackling. Also, a recording of the awesome original song (skip to 9:30 for just the song) my dear friend Aaron wrote most recently.