Before the formation of the band Awolnation, lead singer and frontman, Aaron Bruno was financially strapped, trying to figure out how he could make a living making music. His previous group Under the Influence of Giants had broken up, and to make ends meet, Aaron became a ‘writer for hire’, helping aspiring musicians with their material. The musical projects that Aaron worked on for others were remedial for him. Aaron has a natural ability to write catchy lyrics, that he likens to writing “nursery rhymes.” Although he was able to make some much-needed cash with these simple writing jobs, it was a period of his professional life when he felt unfulfilled, artistically.
Not only was Aaron uninspired with the work he was doing for other artists, he was also bored with the general musical landscape, however, since he wasn’t affiliated with a band, he was free to experiment, and virtually do whatever he wanted to do in the studio. That freedom was exactly what Aaron needed to re-ignite his creativity.
“Sail”: Aaron Bruno’s Diversion Turned Statement Piece
Aaron began experimenting in the studio, and once he got in the zone, he started crafting what became “Sail”. At first, he thought of his project as being merely a demo, but the more he worked on it, the more he loved it. Aaron came up with the string section for the beginning of the song, and when he started putting in the beats, the melody “just came out of thin air.” That is surprising since the song’s melody is so infectious. What started out as a diversion, turned into what Aaron believes will be his quintessential composition.
Aaron drew heavily from his personal experiences, and even used entries from his own journal to write the lyrics for “Sail”. The line “blame it on my A-D-D, baby” is based on his battles with Attention Deficit Disorder. Aaron made it an important part of the song because he wanted others who are struggling with ADD to know that they are not alone; there are people who understand what they are going through.
There is a similar purpose in the lyric:
“Maybe I should cry for help.
Maybe I should kill myself.”
Obviously, Aaron doesn’t encourage suicide, no matter how painful life can be. However, he believes there is a large percentage of the population that has thought about taking their own life, and hopes “Sail” is cathartic, and will give comfort to those that have felt that emotion.
“Sail” leads AWOLNation’s Debut Album Megalithic Symphony
The creation of “Sail” led to the emergence of Awolnation. The song was first found on the band’s EP Back from Earth, and later included as a track on their debut studio album Megalithic Symphony released in 2011.
Aaron’s nickname in high school was “AWOL” as in ‘absence without leave’, because he would leave school without saying goodbye to his friends. He decided to incorporate the nickname into the name of his new group.
“Sail” rose to #5 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2011, despite an inauspicious start at the Alternative Rock radio format. Programmers were reluctant to play the tune. The consensus was that it was too dark & esoteric. Toby Ryan, a popular DJ at KROX in Austin felt otherwise and started to play the song in the summer of 2010. “Sail” became one of the most requested songs with KROX listeners. The story of the song’s success in Austin slowly spread across the U.S.
The tune actually charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100. The first time it peaked at #89 in September 2011, after being on the chart for 20 weeks, and then re-charted a year later- ascending to #17. “Sail” spent a remarkable 79 total weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, the 2nd longest time that a song has lived on the Billboard Hot 100, surpassed only by the song “Radioactive” by the Las Vegas-based group Imagine Dragons.
“Sail” Charted Worldwide
Aaron Bruno’s “quirky diversion”, became an international sensation selling more than 10 million copies worldwide, and more than 6 million copies in the U.S.
In addition to the crossover pop success in America, “Sail” went to #2 in Portugal
#10 in Poland
#15 in Canada
#17 on the UK Singles chart
#4 in Austria
#27 in Australia
#33 in New Zealand
Aaron’s friend and collaborator, Cameron Duddy, created the ‘close encounters like’ treatment for the music video. Cameron has since become an award-winning director, making videos for many artists, including the music video for Bruno Mars mega-smash “24K Magic.” Cameron is also the bass guitarist for the hot new country band Midland.
Although it may be fitting to call “Sail” Aaron Bruno’s opus, that may be a hasty proclamation. With Aaron’s immense talent, and unquenchable desire to create timeless music, there is a lot more exciting music to come. We look forward to what Aaron & Awolnation come up with in the future.