INTERVIEW WITH AARON MacDONALD
By ABEL FUENTES
Posted on THE LOGICAL WEB (www.thelogicalweb.com)
QUESTION: According to my notes, you were born in London, Ontario... Is it right? What date were you born on?
AARON: Yes. I was born May 12th 1971 in London and celebrated my 40th on a plane to Frankfurt, Germany, for the next leg of our tour. As it should be I guess!
QUESTION: How did you start to play music?
AARON: I started playing piano when I was 5 years old, and took lessons up till high school where I first started playing the sax. As a young boy I loved playing the music of John Williams, Edward Grieg and Mozart. But I also enjoyed teaching myself music by ear, and playing my own dramatic little compositions.
QUESTION: Did you study something related to music during your early years?
AARON: I took a few scattered saxophone lessons, and taught myself a lot as well. Then after high school I took a year of performance at Humber College in Toronto. Making music always came easy to me and still does.
QUESTION: What were your main musical influences during your childhood?
AARON: I would have to say that my awareness of how incredible music was, was brought about by film scores. Particularly John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and James Horner. Then, in my early teens I started to discover all of the music of the 80s. I loved Sting, Duran Duran, Howard Jones, The Thompson Twins, Def Leppard and, of course, Depeche Mode. That music really played an integral role in my taste and love of music.
QUESTION: What bands or orchestras were you playing in by then?
AARON: I was only really involved in my high school jazz band and concert bands at that time, I had also started to write and record my own music.
QUESTION: When did you meet Roger Hodgson?
AARON: My first show with Roger was in London, Ontario, in 2004. I had been doing shows with Orchestra London, and the Jeans'n'Classics band, and was asked if I would like to play the upcoming Roger Hodgson show. I said "Who's Roger Hodgson?". Then my friend told me who he was and I went "Ooohhh! That's Roger Hodgson!".
QUESTION: So you didn't know Roger before playing with him...
AARON: No, I didn't even know who Roger Hodgson was! I knew who Supertramp was, and liked the band very much. My mom is a big fan, and their music was a constant soundtrack in our house... Many happy memories! A few weeks later I met Roger, and we played our first show together with Orchestra London and Jeans'n'Classics, and my fate was sealed!
QUESTION: What did you think when Roger asked you to join him?
AARON: The first time Roger asked me to play with him "solo" I absolutely flipped out! The funny thing is I was never asked to "join him" permanently. For the first little while it was always kind of "gig to gig", so when ever they called me, I would "flip out" again.
QUESTION: Did you think by then that you still would be playing with him 6 years later?
AARON: I guess at that point I was still kind of "auditioning" for the role. I never really knew where this gig would go, I still don't! And that's what's so great about it! Even though I play 60-70 plus shows with him every year, only God knows what's in store for us, and that's kind of comforting.
QUESTION: Do you remember what your first "solo" concert with Roger was?
AARON: I do remember the first "solo" show I played with Roger. It was in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I was terrified! Just him and I with no band! Stripped down with nowhere to hide! It was a very tempering experience to me as a player, and forced me to "up-level" all of what I knew as a musician and a performer.
QUESTION: What show with him do you keep the best memory of?
AARON: The most memorable show would have to be on the Faroe Islands. The weather made it difficult for us to land, so the pilot kept having to abort the attempt, and refuel many times in Iceland, only to end up spending the night in Stavanger, Norway. The next day after many more attempts and more refueling in Iceland we finally landed. But it was 2:00 in the morning, and we were exhausted from having spent about 30 hours on a cramped airplane.
QUESTION: What did happen then?
AARON: The promoter was ecstatic to see us, as many of the other artists for his festival were still trying to land and simply couldn't get on the ground. Then he told us that there were some 10,000 fans waiting in the rain because they heard that Roger's plane was now safe on the ground. That was all the inspiration we needed to play! So they flew us in a helicopter to the back of the stage, and we performed the most memorable show to an adoring audience while the sun came up behind the hills revealing the staggering beautiful landscape that is the Faroe Islands. God it was incredible!
QUESTION: What can you tell me about the "Concert for Diana" show you played with Roger at Wembley in London four years ago?
AARON: Wow! What a memory! That day was so crazy! I remember being so amazed at how big Wembley Stadium was, and then realizing I was looking at about 60-65 thousand people! I had never played for that many people in one place ever before. Let alone the fact that every where I turned there was someone famous!
QUESTION: What celebrities did you meet there?
AARON: I remember seeing Dennis Hopper dodging his way through the green room. I got his attention then asked him if I could take a picture of us together. He was so nice! The whole celebrity thing was really weird. It's one thing to see people on TV and Newsstands, but it's just bizarre and grounding seeing them in flesh and blood, just like me.
QUESTION: What do you remember from your performance at that show?
AARON: I remember my whole performance was over so quickly, I got up and blew the sax solo for "Give a little bit", and at one point turning around and seeing myself on the massive video monitors, and thinking "After this, I'll never have stage fright again".
QUESTION: What other instruments do you play, besides saxophones and keyboards?
AARON: I'll try to play any instrument I can get my hands on! But I only really play saxophones, keys and sing. Roger and I both love the sounds and qualities that a multitude of instruments have to offer, ranging from Celtic pipes and woodwinds to Latin percussion and even Aboriginal yedaki's or didgeridoo. I have been working at learning the Uilleann pipes for a few years now, and really want to try and get that happening, I love the pipes!
QUESTION: Have you ever played clarinet with Roger?
AARON: I have been working at that as well, and time permitting, may have my debut on it this year. I need more practice time!
QUESTION: On stage you seem to have a very special complicity with Roger... Do you see him as a friend instead of as a chief?
AARON: Our unique relationship is the same on and off the stage. We are friends and comrades! And even though he is my boss, I have never felt like an employee. Our musical paths and desires compliment each other in such a way that sometimes I forget this is my job. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.
QUESTION: Everybody knows Roger as a very talented musician... What do you think of him as a person, after having worked so many years with him?
AARON: Roger is easily one of the most beautiful souls in my life right now! I am very fortunate that our paths have been alongside one another for so long.
QUESTION: Do you prefer to play alone with Roger or with a whole band?
AARON: I actually enjoy both shows. They are totally different from one another, and have their own unique appeal. There is something very intimate and special about the solo shows, the music all "stripped down" to its bare essentials, with only Roger and I on stage.
QUESTION: This must be a very special feeling...
AARON: Yes, and it forces people to really listen, thus extracting something unexpected and beautiful from the experience. I know what's gonna happen but the audience doesn't, and it's so wonderful when they get it. That's what's special.
QUESTION: And what about the shows with a band?
AARON: The band shows are a complete blast! There is a lot of more sound on stage, and longer sound checks, and generally a bigger party to travel with. But the outcome is spectacular.
QUESTION: What member of the current band you get on well the most with?
AARON: It's such a joy to be a part of. Ian Stewart (bass), Bryan Head (drums) and Kevin Adamson (keyboards and vocals) are consummate professionals and great guys to be cooped up with in a bus.
QUESTION: How much has changed your life since you work with Roger?
AARON: The past several years have seen a lot of changes in my life. Some brought about by my involvement with Roger, and others just simply because a lot has happened to me over this span. Everyone has experiences and relationships in their lives that change them, and alter their perception of things.
QUESTION: What main things you have learnt from him?
AARON: Roger has been and still is a major influence in my life, and I consider myself a better man for it. I can not pinpoint any one ideal or life changing Mantra that Roger has given me that would fit in to a neat little answer. But I have learned much from him and from my family as well, and by the grace of God hope to continue to become a better person.
QUESTION: What is your main occupation when you are not touring with Roger?
AARON: My main occupation at home would have to be a husband and father. I need to make all my time at home count as much as possible being that I spend so much time away. I am also a house painter, and enjoy renovating and woodworking, plus playing music with other bands. I would like to make a living out of fly fishing! Though I don't think it pays as much.
QUESTION: What recordings have you worked on?
AARON: I recently did some work on the upcoming "Classics Live" album with Roger, but have not really tapped into the recording industry, I would love to though!
QUESTION: What are your plans for the near future?
AARON: Writing and completing my own album would be first on my list! Also learning to play pipes and clarinet.
QUESTION: So you are planning to record your own album... Do you have a deadline for it?
AARON: I used to write all the time, and still have a small body of music that is in progress. My biggest difficulty is that the music in my head is without a genre, so I need to figure out what it is I want to do with my music first, then just do it! So yes I am planning to record an album, but I don't know when yet.
QUESTION: Don't you think that Roger should tour with Supertramp for a last time, although it could mean that you'd go "on holidays" in the meantime?
AARON: Good God! I don't know! Putting my own needs and wishes aside, I would have to defer to whatever the fans would want. That's most important. That's why Roger offered to play with them last year. As for my own fate... I love this gig, but everything changes eventually and should I suddenly find myself out of a gig with Roger, I'll continue playing and looking for good musicians to play with. Maybe I could get a gig with The Logical Group? Although their sax player is much prettier than me! Oh well.
QUESTION: Do you like to play in Spain? What do you think about Spanish audiences?
AARON: I love Spain! I love Spanish audiences! I wish I was Spanish! There is something so beautifully passionate and raw about playing for a Spanish audience. There is no fear or inhibition in expressing your emotions, and never is that more clear to me than during a performance. I have only ever felt love when playing in Spain (mostly due to Roger), and that in turn transforms my own performance and experience into something beautiful. It doesn't get much better.
QUESTION: You don't have your own website and are not on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter... Don't you like new technologies?
AARON: I am very impressed with today's technology. Never have we lived in a more exciting time. However, as far as a busy and private family man is considered, Facebook, Twitter, and the likes are extremely taxing, high maintenance and very un-private and not to mention potentially dangerous. They are very well developed networking systems and social networks and work well for those who use them. I don't use them. I don't want them, or need them at this time of my life. Maybe later... Maybe never! As for my own website, that'll be for the next chapter in my life.
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Date d'inscription : 17/03/2010
Age : 41
Localisation : Angoulême
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Date d'inscription : 16/03/2010
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