The Milk Lounge

Aaron Schroeder: Black & Gold

A while ago, I had the priviledge to interview pop folkist Aaron Schroeder on his new album, "Black & Gold". Due to the hectic nature of moving back to the dorms and adjusting back to the chaos of college life, it took me an unforgivable amount of time to transcribe it, but here it is in all its glory:


The Milk Lounge- "Interview: Aaron Schroeder" [Removed]

TakeoffZebra: Alright, first of all, is there an official release date for the new album, "Black & Gold"?

Aaron Schroeder: Well, I'm gonna be getting them back from the pressing plant Wednesday, so that's as good as any official date. So what is Wednesday? The 22nd? I guess it'll be Wednesday, August 22nd then.

ToZ: Alright, and was there a goal from the new album that you were looking to achieve?

AS: I suppose that the main goal of the record was to take a style, you know, pop or country music, and stay in those same parameters where you have a verse and chorus and bridge, but do something a little different with it and a little exciting so it doesn't sound like it did 60 years ago. Also, I wanted to make a record where every song is really important, where there aren't any lazy sounding or throw-away sounding tracks.

ToZ: Do you think you achieved the goal?

AS: Yeah, I think we, and not just me, I mean I'm speaking for the whole band as well, that I think that with their help we totally achieved that goal. I'm actually really really excited about the record. I'll listen to it every now and then and there's always something new in there that I didn't even know that the guys were playing. We all kept ourselves very entertained and were able to make a record that's cohesive without being boring.

ToZ: You've lived in Los Angeles, California, Portland, Oregon, Boston, Massachusetts, and now Kennewick, Washington. Did your music differ between cities or at least, did the changing settings influence your music?

AS: Yes and no. It really depends not so much as the city I'm living in, but my living situation itself. Like when I was in Boston I was sharing a room with a buddy of mine and when I was living in Portland I had my own little tiny shithole apartment where the bathroom is down the hall and the hallways were just always filled with people and noise and drug dealers. But as far as the actual city itself, I'm not sure. It's more just my personal situation. When I was living in Portland, I felt like shit constantly because I was in kind of a bad situation, but in Kennewick I feel that everything has gone real well. The songs can take a storytelling aspect instead of being so centered around my journal, or some "poor me" type of shit.

ToZ: One of the more prominent styles on "Black & Gold" is folk. Your personal setting influenced your style more than where you lived, but did you study any of the local folk music in the places you've lived, or were there certain artists that influenced your folk styling?

AS: Not necessarily, I look at the record as a folk record primarily because its got acoustic guitars and I paid attention to my lyrics. I think pretty much the only thing that makes something a folk song really is the fact that its got some kind of lyrical aspect that is very different from a pop song. Generally, folk songs should tell a story, rather than communicate a mood, I guess. So the stuff that influences me is generally older stuff like Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash or something like that where the recordings are not so much what makes them special, but really the thing that makes those are the lyrics that they contain. But I would say in that aspect, Black & Gold is a folk record.

ToZ: What instruments did you play on the new album?

AS: I played guitar, piano, and the band did everything else. They did all the organs, glockenspiel, and violins and tubas, clarinet and mandolins.

ToZ: You have a lot of notable guest spots on "Black & Gold" including Ben Barnett from Kind Of Like Spitting, and Justin Meldal-Johnsen of Beck, Air, and Ladytron. Did these guests help you achieve the diverse sound on your album, because I noticed that every song is pretty different.

AS: That was definitely one of the goals with the album, I'm glad you picked up on that. I guess I wanted to kind of treat it like a hip-hop record, with lots of interesting people guesting on my music. I don't really care so much to showcase myself if I can bring in somebody else who can play something better than me, I suppose.

ToZ: Well, speaking of guest spots, what would your dream collaboration be, as far as artist and producer goes?

AS: Ah, didn't expect that one... guest producer would maybe be Trevor Horn, because I really, and I know that they get a lot of flac for this, but I really like what he did with "Dear Catastrophe Waitress", the Belle & Sebastian record.

ToZ: You've been around lots of different cities, so, East Coast or West Coast?

AS: Oh definitely the West Coast, definitely. I don't know where you guys are based out of, so I don't wanna talk too much shit about the East Coast, or say anything bad about it - but when I was in Boston, there's so much old money there, to the point where there are so many kids who go to high school, and then they don't have to get shitty jobs, they go straight to college and then straight from college they'll go to get a job where they'll get overpaid or whatever. I'm not used to that and it kinda freaked me out a little bit. I'm not used to being around people who have a shit ton of money without having to really have worked for it. So I'd say I prefer the West Coast, because people more have to make their own living I think a little more. A bit more DIY attitude, I suppose.

ToZ: You're what, 22, 23?

AS: 23

ToZ: Okay, how long have you been writing music?

AS: I've been writing music since I was like, 13 in various punk rock bands and all that. I grew up listening to stuff like Minor Threat, Fugazi, Bad Religion, and some of that NOFX stuff. I was always one of those kids that was in a bunch of different bands and had a bunch of different projects going on at all times. I didn't really start writing good music until a couple years ago.

ToZ: With such accessible song structures and pop stylings, do you have any plans to, you know, take over the world?

AS: Haha, I would have plans hopefully to have someone pay my rent long enough to go on tour. That's pretty much as big as my plans reach at this point. I would love to be able to go out on tour, I just don't have a label, so I don't have any funding to do that. But as far as taking over the world, no, I like all my buddies here and I like hanging out in Kennewick, so I feel pretty comfortable where I'm at right now.


I've been listening to "Black & Gold" for quite some time now, and it still impresses me everytime I hear it. It's calming, yet uppity, and it has such a positive feeling to it. I highly recommend buying a copy, and I think you'll agree after hearing "What We Don't Know", the 1st song on the record. Seriously, you must listen!

Aaron Schroeder- "What We Don't Know" [Removed]

Aaron was also kind enough to share an exclusive demo with us from his upcoming third album. The song is called "Platforms", and "will appear on the album in massively edited form".

Aaron Schroeder- "Platforms [Demo]" [Removed]

So a big thank you to Aaron Schroeder for giving us his time, his answers, and a Milk Lounge Exclusive demo track from his upcoming album. Enjoy!

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