Aaron Perrino has always been one of my favorite people to interview. I first met Aaron when he was fronting The Sheila Divine, a Boston-based indie band that somehow ended up on a primarily metal label (Roadrunner). The band made a few stops in Columbus in the late ’90s as both headliners and as support on tours with bands like Our Lady Peace.
As was par for the course for many of the bands that formed during that time period, the economics of a rock n’ roll lifestyle didn’t work out and The Sheila Divine quietly disbanded (at least I think it was quietly). Perrino formed Dear Leader which has been pumping out new music on a pretty regular basis and that band’s music is very much in the same vein as The Sheila Divine’s stuff.
Well, here we are 8 years after The Sheila Divine last recorded new material and they’ve made the announcement that they are getting back together (Perrino on vocals and guitar, Jim Gilbert on bass, and Shawn Sears on drums) to record a new album. That’s where you (and I) can help out. Here’s an excerpt from the band:
“Since the age of record labels is over we are looking to our fans and friends to help us fund this exciting new project. In return for your participation and generosity we want to offer many unique experiences, opportunities, and gifts.
Whether you donate a dollar or many more we are excited to share the making of this album with you. We want to stream live feeds, have conversations, and collaborate with the Internet to make something extra special.”
Want more info? Want to help finance the new record? Here are all the details.
Interview that I did with the band (for Swizzle-Stick) from 1999 after the jump.
For most bands that sign to a major label, one of the greatest perks is being able to raid the supply closet when they visit the label headquarters. For the romantic pop trio The Sheila Divine, the take home perks aren’t all that appealing; they are labelmates at Roadrunner Records with Type O Negative, Coal Chamber, and Soulfly among others. As it turns out, the Boston-based band signed with the primarily metal label after their original label, Cherry Disc, was bought out by Roadrunner. Being on a label with some pretty heavy hitters doesn’t really bother Aaron Perrino (vocals/guitar), Shawn Sears (drums), or Jim Gilbert (bass), it’s actually a good thing because they stand out as the ‘different’ band on the label.
In the time since their formation, The Sheila Divine has had the great fortune of hooking up on some great tours and playing with some great bands. Most recently they did a short stint with the Manic Street Preachers and are preparing to hit the road with Sloan in late November (after doing a one-off radio show in Florida with, of all people, Kid Rock). To fill the time between tours, the band recently swung through Columbus, Ohio, which is where we caught up with them. Rather than dig deep into their musical career, we asked some questions that we thought might be fun.
Who is your favorite Ohio performer?
Shawn: I only know a couple. Afghan Whigs. Aren’t Guided By Voices from Ohio? And the Deal sisters?
Aaron: Afghan Whigs. They are one of my favorite bands. They are one of the best live bands I’ve seen.
The other bands from Ohio are Devo, the Pretenders . . .
Shawn: I just got the Pretender’s Greatest Hits record. I didn’t like them when I was a kid. At my last job, this guy that I worked with, he was a Pretenders fan.
Aaron: Trent Reznor? He grew up in Pennsylvania but he lived in Cleveland for a while.
The one description that you hate to hear about your band is?
Shawn: That we suck.
Aaron: No, “emo-rock.”
Shawn: That’s a term that a lot of bands got tagged with just because they are a little more dynamic than most. Some friends of ours in Boston got tagged with that and they hate it. It’s a stupid term. It’s an easy way to categorize things. I don’t even know who started the term or who got tagged with it first.
What description of The Sheila Divine is the best that you’ve heard?
Shawn: There was one in the Boston . . . something about making Morrissey’s pussy meow.
Shawn: Anything that doesn’t say “emo” I guess. Getting compared to U2 is pretty cool.
What band or actors do you want to play you in The Sheila Divine made-for-TV movie?
Shawn: Oh no. Aaron’s going to cast Gene Hackman as me. How crappy is that?
Aaron: Later in life, Gene Hackman is Shawn. Jim is going to be that ATT, 1-800-ATT guy, David Arquette.
Shawn: And Aaron’s got to be a looker like Leonardo DiCaprio or something – something really cheesy to bring the chicks in.
Aaron: Leo with a little bit of a weight problem, like me.
Shawn: He’s got a little paunch on him, but he’s still kinda cute. And then there is me, Gene Hackman. It will just be Gene Hackman through the whole thing. They’ll just give him a really good make-up job.
What band would you want to play in a made-for-TV movie?
Aaron: Um, the Cure.
Shawn: So he could be mopey. “I’m so sad.”
Aaron: Or the Smiths, Joy Division, something like that.
Shawn: Aaron could hang himself.
If you could only perform cover songs, what artist/band would you want to write your songs?
Shawn: Just one person? That’s a really good question.
Aaron: I’d want to be the Pixies. I’d get to scream and sing.
Shawn: Okay, I can deal with that. That would be fun. I’d have to learn to play drums better though.
Aaron: Then I could gain a bunch of weight.
Have you perfected any dance steps on stage yet?
Shawn: Jim has.
Do you have a name for it?
Aaron: The “Gilby.” That’s going to be on the second album. (Singing) “Do the, do the, do the Gilby.”
Aaron, who did you write your first love song about?
Aaron: That’s got to be Nancy, one of my first girlfriends.
Does she know about it?
Aaron: Probably. I don’t think I have very many positive love songs.
Who did you write your first break-up song about?
Aaron: Probably that. I can’t talk about that.
Shawn: There is definitely somebody that he wrote it about. We just won’t discuss it.
Aaron: There is someone that every negative song is 2% about.
Shawn: Maybe 98%.
Did you ever get any kind of reaction out of this person?
Shawn: We haven’t seen her in years.
Compare your love life to a movie, or a relationship in a movie.
Shawn: Compare my love life? Less Than Zero. I’m getting none.
Aaron: Sid & Nancy. Actually, mine’s Plane, Trains, and Automobiles.
Shawn: Yeah. It’s like being on the road. You’re never home and all you do is hear your girlfriend complain that you’re never around. “Wouldn’t it be easier if we weren’t dating?” You’re like, “NO!” Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is good.
Which John Hughes-film soundtrack do you wish the Sheila Divine had been on?
Shawn: Breakfast Club. That was a good one. Pretty in Pink was a good one.
Aaron: Say Anything? Was that a John Hughes film?
No, it was a Cameron Crowe movie.
Aaron: That’s my favorite movie. I’ll have to say that, even though I like those other ones. That’s my main one.
Shawn: I’ll say Breakfast Club.
In my review of the Sheila Divine CD, I said that you were a band that wished John Hughes would make teen movies again.
Aaron: You know, I just did an interview yesterday with a radio station in Chicago and they said “You write John Hughes music.” I take that as a compliment.
Shawn: There were always great songs coming out of those movies.
You write very romantic pop songs.
Shawn: A backhanded romantic pop song. “I love you baby.” Smack.
Why do you think there aren’t any good John Hughes type movies out there any more?
Aaron: Because of Jennifer Love Hewitt. She’s annoying.
Shawn: People just like blowing things up too much nowadays. And then John Hughes did Home Alone and crappy movies.
Aaron: Yeah, but why aren’t there any of that type of movie anymore? I think because the people aren’t weird anymore. They are all Hollywood-made people. It’s like, “Look, it’s Brandy and Jennifer Love Hewitt and all pretty boys. I’m playing the dork.” Whereas before I think they actually were kind of dorky. Look at Molly Ringwald, she was pretty, but . . .
Shawn: Pretty dorky.
What is the motto you live by?
Shawn: My high school yearbook quote was “Look for the ridiculous in anything and you will find it.” That’s what I do. I get overwhelmed because I’m a control freak, but if something’s going really wrong, I always try to look at it in a light-hearted way. If somebody gets hit by a train and I see it, I try to find a way to make it funny.
Aaron: Like that commercial? “I’m the new disabled Miss America. And now that I’ve found God . . .”
Shawn: You use humor to get out of uncomfortable situations. So that’s what I think I do. I look for something funny and it glosses over the bad stuff to make stuff more bearable.
Aaron: Mine is . . .
Shawn: “Get depressed.”
Aaron: No. “Do what you want because you are going to die.”
Shawn: Ewwwwwwwwww. God! And this is our songwriter!
Aaron: “Screw paying bills. You’re gonna die.”
Jim (joining late): Is the interview over?
Shawn: Yup. What motto do you live by? We’ll give you that one.
Aaron: “If there’s grass on the field, I’m playing ball.”
Jim: What’s my life motto? Shit. “Love yourself like no one else.”
Shawn: Yo, because this is the ‘90s and you gotta respect yourself.
Jim: Oh no, I’m sorry, it’s “Get the hell out of the hotel room, a Matt Dillon movie is on.”