Interview with Aaron Nordstrom of Gemini Syndrome
Rocklahoma 2014 Sunday May 25, 2014
Shockwave Magazine (SM): I think Gemini Syndrome is one of the best bands to come out in years. I want to deconstruct what you’re doing. You use a lot of visuals, from your graphics to your stage set to your clothing. How important do you think it is for a band to present themselves in that way?
Aaron Nordstrom (AN): Symbolism is the oldest form of communication for humans, going back to hieroglyphics. So pictures and words kind of evolved that way. We write songs with poems in them that have meaning, and we try to attach a recognizable symbol to that, so we can connect on a different part of the brain.
SM: Your live show is very dynamic. There is a lot of interaction with the crowd. Most drummers are hard to see, yet your drummer is very visible and interacting with the fans. Is there a conscious effort with the band to really connect while performing?
AN: As far as Brian goes, he came from a marching band place, and that is part of his flat, level kit. Certainly allowing him to be visible to the crowd, that matters. I know this whole band is about connecting with the audience and making a community. That’s kind of the point – bringing us together. It’s one thing if we’re just on stage performing and there’s a crowd or there’s nobody. What we are trying to stress to the crowd is that we’re all still here. “We are only one in the same, in pleasure and pain.” We are all elements of the world.
SM: There is something I’ve heard you say to the crowd about embracing your uniqueness. For those who don’t get to see you live, can you share that?
AN: “I’d be willing to bet that everyone in this fucking room right now has something about themselves that they either don’t like, are embarrassed about, or wish they could change. Let me be the first motherfucker to assure you it is that thing that makes you special and makes you unique. Embrace it in yourself. Embrace it in the people around you. Look around right now. You are not alone.”
I grew up with albinism. I’m 1 in a 100,000. I grew up ridiculed, made fun of and ostracized. Ultimately those experiences led me to be here, so I could tell other people “Hey man, you’re not fucking horrible. You’re not.”
SM: Your lyrics touch on a lot of important subjects like this. They are really important for people to hear. Sometimes in the power of your music and the fury, the lyrics can get lost. I’ve heard an unplugged version of “Stardust”. Have you considered recording the entire album that way, because I think it’s important for people to hear what you have to say.
AN: I don’t know if we’ll do the whole record that way. We’ve certainly talked about doing an acoustic thing. I think that would be cool. I think those songs transfer well acoustically, the ones we chose. Songs like “Pleasure and Pain” might be more difficult because they’re really in your face heavy. Maybe we could make it work. I think showing the diversity of our music is important. To have a song like “Stardust” in your face and then have it stripped down and more emotional is very cool.
SM: The final piece is your music. You are a five piece band. You are doing what everyone else is doing. Yet, somehow, you’re not. Somehow what you’ve got is different. Is that from the members bringing in different elements to create something better?
AN: I would say there are two things. One, we all listen to an eclectic group of music. It’s all over the board. We listen to hip hop. We listen to rock. We listen to metal. We listen to folk. We listen to everything. Then on top of that, the thing that stands out the most is there’s emotion behind what we’re doing. Like, for real. We don’t have party songs. I’m not dissing on anyone that has a party song, everybody likes to party, I like to party too. But when you’re making music in the sense that we are, there’s emotion driven behind everything. There’s been so many shows where I’ve gotten emotional and cried on stage because of the response from the crowd about that particular song and I can see somebody in the audience that really identifies with it. That comes back and it feeds itself. So between all those elements I guess that’s what makes it different.
SM: Thank you for making it and keep doing it.
AN: I’m so excited that people are gravitating towards it and giving a shit about what we do, and really caring. That is the whole point. I’ve been doing this my whole life. For anybody to respond to it in a positive way, and to come up to me later and say “Man, this song did this for me.”, it’s indescribable how much that means.
SM: You’ve had one of the slowest building #1 hits in Stardust. I feel like it’s been out for a long time and it’s hitting #1 now on Octane. The more you hear it, it gets better and better and more people want to hear it. That is a true sign of art right there. I’m honored to meet an artist who creates something that keeps building on itself.
AN: It’s my pleasure. To hear that and see that coming back to me, that’s the reward. People are recognizing it and identifying with it. What else can you say? You create something and if somebody embraces it, that’s it.