The seeds for The Aaron Clift Experiment started in 2007. Up until then, I had been composing classical music and preparing for would have likely been a career in academia. However, around that time, I had a change of heart and realized that I preferred writing and performing rock music (I had a rock band in college and had always been a fan of rock music).
In 2008, I started writing the first songs that would wind up on The Aaron Clift Experiment’s 2012 debut album, “Lonely Hills.” I met our drummer, Joe Resnick, in 2009, and we cut demo with just piano, drums, and vocals that year. At the time, I thought I would just release music under my name, but after hearing the demo, I realized that the songs needed more of a rock edge, so I decided that the final album would need guitar and bass as well. Since I had decided to work with a full band lineup, I decided to give my project a name, and thus The Aaron Clift Experiment was born.
Over the next few years, I wrote and arranged all the songs that would wind up on our debut album, and in early 2012, the full band lineup got together (with me on vocals and keys) and recorded “Lonely Hills.”
Two things that appeal to me about progressive rock are that the genre weds the dynamics and sophistication of classical music with the power and energy of rock and that it has incredible diversity and few sonic boundaries. I grew up playing and listening to classical and rock (my first instrument was viola), so I was attracted equally to both genres, so I think that’s a big reason why progressive rock appealed to me so much.
Besides the musical aspects of progressive rock, I think the lyrics were a big appeal to me as well. Before I was writing music, I used to write poems and short stories and read a lot of fantasy novels (“Lord of The Rings” is still my favorite book series), so I related a lot to the conceptual angle of a lot of the classic progressive rock songs.
Evolution of the initial musical and thematic elements:
I originally conceived of The Aaron Clift Experiment as a solo project, and that sound is definitely reflected in our debut album, “Lonely Hills.” (I had written most of the instrument parts for the album). However, since the release of “Lonely Hills,” The Aaron Clift Experiment has played many live shows and has grown into a much tighter until. We also had a few lineup changes that helped bring us to the full-fledged band we are today. I now co-write most of the songs with our current guitarist, Eric Gutierrez, and everyone in the band is contributing to the song arrangements. The end result is that our sound is a lot more focused, rocks harder, and is more diverse than even.
Ideas about the album:
I’m very proud of how “Lonely Hills” turned out. The production is great, and I think the songs hold up well. However, I’m never content to rest on my laurels – I’m always looking for a way to top my previous efforts.
When The Aaron Clift Experiment recorded “Lonely Hills,” we had only been together as a band for about a month, and only had 12 days to record the album. Considering those circumstances, I think the album turned out really well (special thanks to our producer, Matt Noveskey, and engineer/mixer, Kevin Butler, for pulling everything together), however, if we had more time with the material, I think the performances could have been even stronger.
So, if there’s one thing I know that all of us in the band want to top with our second album (which we’ll be recording and releasing in 2015), it’s the performances. We’ve been spending a lot more time writing and refining our new songs, and we’ll have a lot more time in the studio to record our second album. I think that extra work is going to translate into a second album that is going to rock a lot harder than our debut.
The tremendous positive response from the progressive rock community has been overwhelming! I’m honored that my band has been recognized by many prestigious publications, such as Prog Magazine and Lady Obscure. I’ve also noticed an increase in our show audiences over the last few years, so I believe we’re moving in the right direction.
We also just recently raised over $15,000 on Kickstarter for the recording of our second album, so, I’m more excited than ever for our fans to get to hear the music on our upcoming second album.
Next step; live or studio:
Our plan so far is to record our second album in early 2015 and release it in the summer of 2015. Beyond that, we’re hoping to do some touring in fall 2015 in support of the album. A very large portion of our fan base is in the UK, so we’re hoping to make it over there.
Lyrics, themes and concepts:
In the last 2 years, I became a really big fan of the TV shows, “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead,” and “The Following.” All of the shows are very dark and intense – full of lots of really good plots and characters – and they all seem to share a common thread of deconstructing the nature of violent conflict and the journey of hero to villain (and villain to hero in a few cases). All of those themes had a big impact on my lyric writing for The Aaron Clift Experiment’s second album, so while the song subjects on “Lonely Hills” are much more inwardly-focused, the subjects on the second album are going to be more oriented toward inter-personal conflicts.
My biggest musical influences in rock are Genesis, Marillion, Porcupine Tree, Rush, Kate Bush, Frank Zappa, and Soundgarden. Eric (our guitarist) is into King’s X and Dream Theater. Beyond that, I’m also influenced a lot by several classical composers, namely Ravel, Shostakovich, Bartok, Reich, Debussy, and Bach.
Answers by Aaron Clift