The first time I met The Americas‘ Aaron Whittaker was outside Birthdays in London’s trendy Dalston after he and fellow bandmate Harry Pane had blown my socks off while performing as part of another band. What drew me to Aaron was his ridiculously fluffy jacket that looked straight out of the Pat Butcher collection. Years later, and in a VERY different incarnation – with drummer Alex Bradshaw completing the new lineup – our paths crossed again and one thing led to another (and so on…) resulting in The Americas being named as headliners for We Close Tonight’s solitary gig of 2017 at The Finsbury on 26th October as part of Blogtober Festival. Ahead of the gig, I spent a morning going back and forth via a text-based chat with Aaron to delve into the band’s world…
Why are you called The Americas because you’re obviously from The Midlands?
America is a crazy place… Wild and mighty both in the north and the south. It’s not about politics. It’s probably not the America that most people think of.
Where does the whole Americana edge come from? Is it music you grew up with or just the sort of vibe you’re feeling now?
We’ve all grown up listening to American music. I guess it’s almost impossible not to hear it in the 21st century. Songs that tell stories have always grabbed me you know? Songs that try to really communicate with you. I’m not sure why we’re called The Americas and where the Americana edge comes from right now. We kind of did the whole Americana imagery as a bit of a joke. I think as we go on as a band people will start to see the irony of the whole thing a little more.
But yeah some of our favourite artists are American or at least from somewhere in The Americas. Canada especially.
Sorry for the scattiness… I’m in my underwear trying to caramelise onions as I write this.
So I think the first time you emailed me about The Americas, you said it was ‘music to ride motorcycles to’. Can any of you actually ride a motorcycle?
Yeah, me and Harry both have bikes. It was kind of a daft tag line that I think we regret a little now. Didn’t expect everyone to grab hold of it in the way they did, ha. The motorbike is a great tool for creativity. If you’ve got a block, go out for a ride. If you don’t know if an idea is working or not, go out for a ride. It clears all the crap out of your head (and fills it mainly with concentrating on not dying).
I always saw you as more of a run-down Mini Cooper kind of guy. Is it all about feeling the wind in your hair?
I like run-down Mini Coopers too, don’t worry. It’s pretty indescribable if you’ve never riden a bike before. It just feels like there is no way it should be legal. It’s way too freeing and way too much fun to be legal
Is Alex letting the side down by not having a bike?
He’s letting the side down by not driving anything at all for sure. Mainly because he can’t share the van duties when we’re out on the road. He talked about getting a moped once I think.
You guys have spent quite a bit of this year out on the road, how are you finding the van life? Is the touring side of things a big part of why you love being in the band?
Just like everything else that comes with being in a band it’s a love hate relationship. But on the whole we love it and that’s why we do it so much. Even when it gets hard there’s no question of us ever stopping or doing anything else. It’s the only thing that we all do naturally you know. If we’d never met each other we’d still all be out on the road somewhere with someone making sounds. Music should be heard live. It should be shared. It’s personal and different every time. If I have my way we’ll be playing until we keel over just like the old blues men.
Are there any spots you’ve absolutely loved visiting and are planning on going back to?
Loads of places. The Isle of Wight needs to happen again – That was a beautiful place… London is always fun. The Northern cities like Liverpool/Manchester/Sheffield. But, without sounding cheesy, the best places are the ones you’ve never been before. It’s just the way it is.
Who are the bands around at the moment that you’re really digging?
The War on Drugs are putting out some cool music. Courtney Barnett is pretty much unstoppable. I saw The National recently and am still getting into their latest offering. If we go a little more under the radar, we’ve met a few bands out on the road this year who are doing interesting things. The Surrenders have got it. The Cosmics have got it. Tangerines have certainly got it. Oh, also Zuzu and The Big Moon are fantastic.
What’s happened to Zuzu anyway? Those two singles were amazing, then she just disappeared.
She’s no doubt been snapped right up. we’ll see her in a year and she’ll be massive.
Yeah, that’s exactly what happened with Black Honey.
I was aboute to make the exact same comparison. Great minds.
What’s next on the agenda for The Americas? (Bearing in mind I’ve already written in loads of plugs for the gig)
We’ve recorded new music. We’re still writing new music. We’re nearly there. I guess the next thing on the agenda is NEW STUFF in every sense of the word. We’ve had a gas this summer. We’ve found our feet.
We’ll be playing a few sporadic shows before the year is out no doubt and new music will start to trickle out. We’ve got a few cool things in the pipeline that aren’t that far off.
Keep watching this space.
Catch The Americas headlining The Finsbury as part of #Blogtober on 26th October, with support from Johnny Kills and BOYS. Reserve your spot.