Born in Minneapolis, raised on Bob Dylan and Prince, Aron Van Alstine is a long way from home. As idyllic childhood gave way to teen angst, he traded piano lessons for the electric guitar. Disillusioned by musical academia, he became a poet in college. His travels began at a protest in Washington D.C. and ended three years later on the beach in Brazil. Along the way he’s played everywhere from backyards to concert halls. His journey led him to a counter-cultural town on the outskirts of L.A. where he currently teaches, performs, and surfs.
The Guildsmen joined Aron in 2010 following the release of “Here Comes a Train,” Aron’s self-produced debut for Pure Fun Records. Dave Anter (bass) hails from the hardcore punk scene in Oxnard, California. Tommy Johnson (drums) started playing jazz gigs at age 8 alongside his father in Ohio. Rory Anton studied audio engineering at UCLA and led the LA rock-star life in the 90’s. All are multi-instrumentalists and songwriters in their own right, and they’ve helped Aron to hone his style.
The sound of “Still Life” is straight forward, natural, and organic. Aron favors performance over processing, and he doesn’t use loops, samples, or synths. The songs were essentially recorded live without editing, and overdubs were minimal. Aron respects creative uses of music technology (ala Radiohead), but he also feels that a lot of current pop music lacks soul. “Too much ear candy, not enough grease,” he complains.
"Still Life" is a surreal song about songwriting. Shifting chord changes and a lilting melody create a sense of anticipation. The lyrics inspire the listener to wonder about the fuzzy line between imagination and reality.
"Go There With You" begins with a slow funk and the search for truth. It’s a magical journey through the mundane, like Jimi Hendrix meets Haruki Murakami. The darkly melodic chorus transforms into an uplifting message of brotherhood.
"We're Here Now" is whimsical look back at the trials of youth. “Is this the real world? When did I grow up?” Aron asks. The song begins with a rousing organ solo from David Gorospe before settling into a laid-back groove. Nostalgia is mixed with self-consciousness, and the song celebrates the present and all its complications.
"Do What Dreams Come True" contrasts the busy-ness of modern life with the timelessness of true love. A dreamy half-time chorus with a soaring vocal line punctuates a frenetic up-tempo beat. The momentum builds gradually from understated intro to thrilling finish. Aron dedicates this song to his beautiful wife, Meghan.
In addition to working full-time and supporting their families, Aron Van Alstine & The Guildsmen are currently booking shows and developing new material. They plan to record and release a companion to “Still Life” in 2012. Please support them by buying a record, following them online, or attending a show.