Unique Brand of Americana Returns to San Diego

Monday, May 7, 2012 13:23

An Interview with Aaron Redner of Hot Buttered Rum

By Casey Pukl

The Hot Buttered Rum String Band is one of the most energetic and eclectic bands I’ve heard in a while. A fusion of Americana, bluegrass, rock, jazz, and more, these guys sure know how to make a girl dance.

I had the chance to catch up with fiddle master, Aaron Redner, last week, and got the scoop on what the band has been up to! Read on to find out what their “new sound” is all about, what the guys are listening to lately, and just why they take their trips to San Diego so seriously!

CP: Tell me what you guys have been up to lately!

AR: We’re going through a renaissance. We’ve had our new drummer in the band for over a year now, and he’s really clicking. People like our new sound a lot. A lot of our older fans are really coming back around, and we’re playing shows to great crowds all over the country. We just got back from two weeks in the North East and the Midwest where we had some really great shows.

And then, Steve Berlin from Los Lobos produced our new album.

CP: You’re kidding! You must be the other unnamed project Steve mentioned when I interviewed him last month! 

AR: (Laughs) That’s funny! Yeah, he did a great job with us. We’re getting a very positive response from what we recorded, and it’ll be out late summer I’d say.

We’re also hitting a lot of festivals this summer, which is great. I think our music is very cross-generational. We consider ourselves a west coast Americana rock band. We encompass so many styles of American music, rock, bluegrass, jazz, and singer/songwriter. Our sets tend to be geared toward the venue we’re in so we can play a jam band outdoor festival, an indoor seated art center, or a standing room rock show and still have the repertoire that’s appropriate for any of those spaces. That’s my baseline pitch (laughs).

CP: It’s always to cool different styles of music that you don’t expect to hear with different instrumentation.

AR: Yeah, that’s what we do. We take more of a traditional bluegrass lineup with drums and try to get lots of kinds of music expressed in a genuine way.

CP: Do you guys write most of the songs together?

AR: There are three songwriters in Hot Buttered Rum. There’s no bandleader. All 5 of us have equal input on things. What will happen usually is that one of us will bring a song into rehearsal, play it for everyone, and then we can all make comments and tweaks lyrically, harmonically, and the final product usually ends up having input from all of us.

CP: Are you one of the three main writers? 

AR: Yeah. I think it’s pretty evenly spread throughout the 12 songs on this album though.

CP: What’s your writing process like generally?

AR: I’d say I tend to come up with a melody and a chorus and I look at songwriting as detective work almost. You start off with a clue, and then you have to follow it. Sometimes it leads to dead ends, and sometimes it leads to something unexpected. Myself, I try to listen to a lot of music and then stop thinking and start writing. Usually, once I’ve established a groove and form, I’ll bring in the lyrics. A lot of times I’ll ask myself, especially when I’m thinking of songs for the band, I’ll ask myself, “What are we missing from our set? Do we need a ballad? Do we need something fast? Bluegrassy? Rock?” Then I let that reality affect my song choice, and that will dictate what I spend my time on.

I myself am a classical writer. I started playing classical violin, and I still practice a lot of instrumental music as well. A lot of times that will influence melodies and songs that I’ll bring to the band. I’d say our music is influenced by jazz and rock just as much as bluegrass. We were sort of known as a bluegrass band before, but we now have a lot more influences. The final product after going through the “butter” filter (laughs), when it comes out the other side, it has a lot of new things passed through it.

CP: What have you been listening to lately?

AR: A lot of traditional Irish music, actually. Old time fiddle tunes and Irish fiddle tunes are often a part of our set. I’m sure we’ll play some down there. I’ve also been listening to the Punch Brothers, and I also listen to a lot of radio. When I’m in the car, I like to channel surf, and keep my ears on their toes (laughs).

I like to have a real sense of what is popular on the radio, so I listen to it a lot. I’ve been listening to Bon Iver recently, then I always like classic rock like the Grateful Dead, Edgar Meyer.

CP: Sounds like you’ve got a good mix.

AR: But of course my mainstay is Britney Spear (laughs). That’s my main intake.

CP: Hey, I don’t know! After Tony Lucca’s performance of “Hit Me Baby One More Time” on The Voice last week, she might be worth taking another look (laughs).

AR: That show is good!

CP: I know— I’m addicted. I dig that it doesn’t have American Idol’s “let’s just make you feel terrible about yourself in front of all of America” attitude.

AR: Totally.

CP: What are you guys most looking forward to about coming out to Anthology?

AR: It’s great to see a new venue. We’ve played Winston’s and The Belly Up, so it’ll be great to try something new. We also have some very loyal fans in San Diego, so we’re looking forward to bringing some new songs down there for them. San Diego has a really great live music scene; there’s a lot of great music that comes through there. We take it really seriously coming down there. We plan on bringing what’s unique to us down to the venue.

Special thanks to Aaron for his time! Make sure you  come on down to Anthology Wednesday night and dance your tail off!
Hot Buttered Rum on Spotify

WHAT: Hot Buttered Rum
WHEN: Wednesday, May 9, 7:00pm
TICKETS: $10-$26 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile