Aaron Fink, formerly of Breaking Benjamin, released his third solo album, Galaxies, on January 20th. It’s a CD that you can play at work without bothering the guy in the cubicle next to you. It’s not going to melt your face off, but will put you in a more relaxed state of mind and at the end will put a smile on your face as it brings on the unexpected. Fink took on the roles of producer, drummer, guitarist, and singer/songwriter, demonstrating he is a multi-faceted musician able to take on whatever he needs to, to have his voice and ideas heard. With the assistance of guest performers, such as The Badlees, Patrick Flynn, and even his dog Lola, Fink produces an album that showcases not only his talents, but his ability to carry his own weight in the music world. He took a few minutes of his day to discuss the special guests, but also the advantages of a local club as opposed to an arena.
Shockwave: Your 3rd solo album, Galaxies, dropped January 20th. Can you tell us a little about it? What listeners should expect from it?
Fink: A collection of classic, raw, roots-rock sounding tunes with interesting guitar work and contemplative lyrics.
Where did you get your musical influence? Did you have someone in your family that influenced you?
No. I mean my dad had a great record collection, but I am the only musician in my whole family, so I kind of had to fend for myself in that regard. That being said, my family is very artistic. My dad is a writer. My sister is a painter. The arts were always encouraged in my household. It wasn’t like “Turn that damn guitar down.” It was more like “Cool. Crank it up. Sounds good.” I am blessed in that I was always encouraged to pursue the arts, which I think a lot of people are told, “No, that’s a dream. That’s stupid. Go get a real job.” I never had that, so I am thankful for that.
I did read that you had some guest performers on this album.
Yeah, a couple of guys. I played mostly everything. A couple of songs I had guys come in just to add a little bit of flavor so it wasn’t so much me…me…me. I had some local guys. I don’t know if you know who they are down in North Carolina, but they are some local Pennsylvania guys in a band called The Badlees. Mostly the main guest I have on the record is Patrick Flynn. He plays guitar with me when I play the songs live as well. I play drums, piano, guitar, bass and sing, so it was a lot of work.
You had one quest performer at the end of Lady Peace. I was just sitting back, chilling, just recollecting my thoughts and all of a sudden there’s this guest performer.
Was that dog a little bit of a diva?
I don’t know you can talk to her. That’s my buddy, Lola. That’s funny that you caught that. (laughter)
I did, because it drove my dog, Lula, absolutely bonkers trying to find her.
Your dog thought my dog was outside the door or something.
Yeah, I was like what the hell? Where did that come from? It comes out of left field and it makes me smile every time I hear it.
Good that was the point of it. Lola came to the studio with me just about every day so I figured I had to put her on there somehow.
You gave her credit?
I did. In the liner of the cd, she got credit.
Very good, because I can see some real legal ramifications if you don’t give her the credit she deserves. If you don’t pay her in kibble, I can see some really bad things in your future.
I’m glad you liked it. (laughter)
You touched on the fact that you pretty much did everything.
I did too much. It was a pain in the ass.
Are you gonna take a break from that?
Well, I just kind of…I don’t do that out of ego, selfishness. I do it because I can, basically. When I write, I think of myself a little bit like an architect. I say, “Okay I want to build this building. What do I need to do to create this song in my head?” I can hear the drum parts and I can hear the bass, kind of like if I was into classical music and I studied classical music like a composer. He’ll write the piano and the bass and the cellos and he’ll make it all work with one stroke of a pen. I kind of view music like that. It fills up my head real quick. I hear it like that and I happen to be able to play all those instruments so I figure, well shit I can play that so why don’t I just play it. It’s not about ego or anything. It’s more about the ideas I get in my head and putting them on the page so to speak.
What kind of festivals do you have lined up? How do you tour doing all the instruments like that?
Obviously, I have other guys playing. My live band is called The Furies. When I play live it’s called Aaron Fink and The Furies. There’s some shows in the works this summer. I’m just getting this project off the ground locally, stir the pot and then spread the wings out nationally and where ever overseas. I’m starting small and playing around in Pennsylvania and as soon as a touring opportunity and other stuff comes to fruition, we’ll put it down.
That’s neat when an artist can basically pay their dues again. You go from one large project and start fresh.
It’s an interesting ride. I feel like if my solo work takes off I will feel I earned it because a couple of years ago, when I was with Breaking Benjamin I could have just as easily auditioned and put myself out there as a hard rock guitar player for hire and just did the same thing that I was doing. That’s all well and good. I like hard rock music and I can play it pretty well, but in my heart I felt a different calling so right now I am pursuing what I need to do as opposed to slipping in somewhere to pay the bills. Yeah, I am back to basics. Square one. Out there slugging it out. Humping my own equipment. Making phone calls and back to where I was when I was 20. It’s kind of an interesting twist of fate. But I’m enjoying it. I’m a hard worker. I’m not a couch potato by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t shy away from getting down in the dirt there.
I would imagine you would have to be a hard worker. It’s not something that, regardless of how well you play, is going to come easy.
I’m back to proving myself to people. Over the years, I proved myself as a great rock guitar player because I was up there doing it and playing arenas every night and on TV and radio. Now I’m, “Hey I’m also a song writer. Here’s my new stuff. Check it out.” I found out I have to reprove myself to the world, which is a slow process. As far as your ego goes, it’s interesting that a couple of years ago, I was playing the arena every night and now I’m playing bars and small clubs. But I’m not in it for it for the money, especially this solo stuff. I’m doing it from a pure true honest place. I know it’s not bestselling stuff at this moment, but I’m doing it anyway because it’s coming from a real place. That’s what drives me and that’s what is making it work.
To be honest though as a fan I prefer the smaller venue because the artist can get closer to the crowd and the fans and they can connect more.
You can see the beads of sweat on their foreheads.
Yeah, you know they’re actually working for their money.
I prefer smaller venues as well. There were so many people at our shows it didn’t feel intimate at all. There are so many people it almost looks like wall paper, meaning you’re not close to any of them and you can’t see anyone’s face. I also don’t like the sound of an arena. It’s always to echoey. Clubs are always more fun and little more intimate. They sound better. You can go out in the crowd and hang with people after the show. Have a beer with some people. Whereas with an arena you’re just whisked in, play the show and then you’re whisked back out. You never really get to hang.
I appreciate you taking the time. I know you’re busy getting everything squared away.
I appreciate the interest in the work and I’m glad you listened to the whole record and you heard Lola.
You can follow Aaron, where he’s performing and his music at his website aaronfink.net, and on Instagram and FaceBook @AaronFinkMusic.