Hello world, and a good morning to all! Many of you do not know but I have an undergraduate music industry degree from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Getting that education was crucial for me to learn about the business away from the music. Well, the Henley Business School will officially launch it’s new MBA in the Music Industry program in Hollywood at the Musexpo global music event, May 5-8, 2013. As musicians can now control their careers, this education can only help. This week I am talking with a band that I am just loving right now. Hellbranch Run out of Columbus, OH play rock music that is authentic, catchy, & real. The boys are promoting their album ‘Us Against The World’ and with songs like “Good Day To Be Alive” and “When It Rains” it’s a winner! Join me today as Aaron Whitlock talks to us about getting the band going, the Ohio music scene, juggling music & life, and so much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and are you ready for spring?
We are coming to you from the Southwest side of Columbus, Ohio and the weather here is crazy. We just had another snow storm earlier this week and it’s still in the 30s and 40s so we are definitely ready for warmer weather!
Stoli: You guys have been together for 5+ years. How did you all come together and what does Hellbranch Run mean?
We all went to school together growing up and played music in several different projects before starting Hellbranch Run. Not to mention Zach and Chad are brothers. While we were in college we started getting more serious and decided we needed a new name and Hellbranch Run happens to be a creek that ran by all of our houses. I suppose it signifies where we come from.
Stoli: I really like your album, ‘Us Against The World.’ Is that title how you feel in the music industry or in life in general?
It definitely has more to do with the music industry and just how hard it is to trust other people. We had some pretty negative experience while writing for this album and it all seemed to come out in the music.
Stoli: Where did you record/master the album and how long were you writing the 11 songs?
We did both the recording and mastering in Columbus at Sonic Lounge with our good friend Joe Viers. The album itself had been a few years in the making and the actual tracking lasted for about 5 or 6 sessions over 8 months. We were really excited to get it out there for everyone you hear.
Stoli: Would you say that you have sold more albums online or physical copies at shows & such?
Probably at shows because we are fortunate to have played for some great crowds since we released album. Its much easier to sell yourself when people see you in person but we also love when people find us online and pick up the album. Our goal is just to get the music out there anyway we can.
Stoli: Offer some insight into your writing process and what comes first, lyrics or instrumentals?
For the most part it is instrumentals first. We like to just try different riffs and things out as a band and see how they feel. Once we have a basic structure we record some demos and then I usually sit down and finish the lyrics last.
Stoli: What is something about the Ohio music scene that people might not know and what is a cool venue to check out?
People might not know how many great local bands there are around the state, especially here in Columbus. Obviously The Newport Music hall is a great place to see any band, but if you want more of a local scene Victory’s is a good spot. We have done some really fun shows there and you can always catch original music there every weekend.
Stoli: If you were to do a music video for 1 track from the album what would it be?
Well it’s funny you mention that because are in the planning phase for a music video right now for the song Never Again. Cats outta the bag now!
Stoli: I love the song “Never Again.” What is that song about and who wrote it?
When I (Aaron) wrote the lyrics I wanted portray a sort of ambiguous meaning so that it didn’t have to be about one specific event. Personally its more of a battle between good and evil within myself. Feeling self destructive and one day deciding not to give into your darker side and abandon many of your old ways that were bringing you down before. Another theme I wanted to portray is when someone has family or friends with something like addiction you can only help them so much and if they don’t help themselves sometimes you have to make the hard decision of letting go.
Stoli: Do you guys have families, jobs, school, etc and how do you juggle life & music?
We do a lot of juggling between jobs, school, and family. Our bass player Chad also currently lives in Cleveland so we have to be pretty creative with our practicing. We record a lot of demos and share them with each other when we can’t get together as a group.
Stoli: If your music does not make you rich & famous will you still do it?
Well we have been playing for most of our lives and for 5 years as Hellbranch Run and we are neither yet haha! If that was our main focus we would probably have stopped a long time ago.
Stoli: Not to get too political, but do you feel Obama Care will benefit or hurt the middle class worker and small business?
Although lyrically we don’t really convey a very political message, I know we all are very concerned with those types of things. As far as Obama Care specifically, I hope it doesn’t hurt either one since these are same types of people and businesses we rely on for our band to do its job effectively as well!
Stoli: What is coming up for Hellbranch Run and where can we follow you online?
We have been writing for our next album and are about 8 or 9 songs deep already so we are looking forward to start the recording for that. Hopefully also a music video soon and stay as busy as possible playing shows around Ohio this summer! http://Hellbranchrun.com is our official site and from there you can find links to our Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, YouTube, and iTunes.