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A Dirty Dozen with AARON WILKINSON from HONEY ISLAND SWAMP BAND – December 2023

| 5 December 2023 | Reply

Photo credit: Jake Rosenberg

According to a recent press release: “Acclaimed New Orleans-based blues-roots-rock quintet Honey Island Swamp Band has released their new studio album Custom Deluxe. Since forming in 2005 in San Francisco after their displacement from New Orleans via Katrina, and subsequently relocating back home, Honey Island Swamp Band has evolved to embody contemporary roots music. The fivesome — bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Wilkinson, guitarist and vocalist Lee Yankee, bassist Sam Price, keyboardist Chris Spies, and drummer and vocalist Garland Paul — is a thrilling, eclectic band that defies genre conventions, renders song structures elastic, and wholeheartedly stresses that the song reigns supreme.” We get frontman Aaron to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Our latest album is Custom Deluxe. Listen closely to “Second Son” and “Dark Days.”  Also “Boneshaker.”  Read the liner notes.  Some heavy hitters are playing on those tracks!

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Well, it was probably my dad’s 1959 Gibson E-330 that he kept under the bed.  Still the coolest guitar I’ve ever played.  I was probably about ten when I discovered that and I’ve been at it ever since.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

There’s been way too many to list.  But the first concert my dad ever took me to was Little Feat in probably 1985, so that was a hell of a start.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Probably either Stevie Wonder or Bob Marley.  They are two of my musical heroes.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I’m a diehard fisherman.  I go every chance I can.  Louisiana has the best fishing in the world!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I would say it’s roots rock, with a little funk, a little reggae, a lot of blues, a lot of soul, and a pinch of country thrown in. Can’t think of too many cringey comparisons, although I’m sure there have been plenty.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

All three of those would fall under my purview lol.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Probably when I met Drew Brees backstage.  I’m a rabid Saints fan.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I think the best part is getting to meet so many cool people and play in so many different places.  The travel is tiring but also a lot of fun.  If I couldn’t play music?  Fisherman!  See question 5.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I like it when people ask us about stuff other than music, to be honest lol.  I get a lot of the same questions but I don’t mind.  If people stop asking you about your music, that’s when you’re in trouble.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Before we started Honey Island Swamp Band, I played in lots of different bands.  I was fired from one of those because I didn’t study the music well enough.  I wish that wouldn’t have happened, but I was young and I learned a valuable lesson so I wouldn’t change it if I could.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Wow, that’s a tough one.  I’m gonna say Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder.  That’s my one if I was on a deserted island and only had one record the rest of my life.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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