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CHROME CRANKS: Interview with Peter Aaron

  • Originally published on  (Italian version) 

    Interview with Peter Aaron, Chrome Cranks - English Version:


    Hello Peter, how are you? “AIN'T NO LIES IN BLOOD”  is really great stuff! Are Lover of the Bayou (Roger McGuin/Byrds) and Black Garage Door  (The Libertines) the only two covers of the new album? Why did you choose to record them? Dig you record them alone or with Jerry, Bob and William? It’ s strange this choice of Byrds!

    Actually, there are three covers: those two and  50s French Movie,  which was written by Chip Taylor (composer of  Wild Thing, Angel of the Morning,  and many others), first recorded by Carrie Rodriguez. They’re not strange choices to us. We all love the Byrds (one of my favorite bands), so when I asked the others if they’d like to  Lover of the Bayou  they were really into it. The Libertines who did  Black Garage Door  is NOT the British band (Pete Doherty, etc.), but, rather, a US band from my and William’s hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio. A great “paisley underground” band from the 1980s that meant a lot to both of us. Actually, the Libertines bassist, Randy Cheek, played on some of the early Chrome Cranks tracks ( Come in and Come on, Some Kinda Crime,  etc.), so it’s all sort of full circle. The idea to do these songs came from me, but a big part of why I wanted to do them was because I knew they’d fit us well, that the other guys would also like the songs and do a great job playing them—which they certainly did!


    What do you think has changed in the way you compose and record in these fifteen years, from “Love In Exile” to  “Aint’ No Lies in Blood”?

    I’ve always been very interested in music, and over the last 15 years I’ve become much more of a student of music. I continue to absorb and be inspired by a lot of great music that I might not have heard if the Cranks hadn’t broken up in 1998, and I had remained in the niche music-scene bubble we were associated with. So the time away has been good in that way, I feel. Although “Love in Exile “had some of our (haha) “hits” on it— Hot Blonde Cocktail, Lost Time Blues —I know that much of it was perhaps a bit too experimental for some of our fans, who wanted us to repeat what we did on our earlier albums. Looking back, there are things I would do differently (mostly with the recording process), but I’m still very glad we challenged ourselves on that record. With  “Ain’t No Lies in Blood”, I felt like it was important for us to make a hard-hitting, stripped-down, no-bullshit record—partially to show that we could still do it, but mostly because I really don’t hear anyone else doing it these days. There are exceptions, of course, but all-out rocking seems to be a forgotten art.


    Are you still a journalist, as you were last time we spoke in 2007, at the time of  “Diabolical Boogie” release? 

    Yes, I’m the music editor from 2006 of an arts and culture magazine in Upstate New York, Chronogram. I write for other publications and private clients as well. For me writing is the equivalent of music, another way to express many of the same things.


    I remember that  you are fond of free jazz? What are you listening nowadays? Have your musical taste influenced  the songs of  “Ain’t No Lies In Blood”?

    Yes, I am indeed a major free jazz head. But I wouldn’t say that free jazz was really a direct influence on  “Ain’t No Lies in Blood”—perhaps the uncompromising spirit of the music is in there somewhere, but certainly not the style. My roots are in hardcore punk, and when I was writing some of the songs on the new album I was going through a period of reconnecting with that music: Black Flag, Minor Threat, Negative Approach, Bad Brains, etc. So to me that influence is very much there.


    What do you think of the American rock scene today? Which bands do you like?

    They’re not all “rock”,  per se, but some other US acts I admire include the Black Angels, Eilen Jewell, Wooden Shjips, Thee Oh Sees, Crystal Stilts, Tin Hat Trio, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Clockwork Mercury, Dead Meadow, WovenHand, Alexander Turnquist, and the Stumblebum Brass Band. I recently discovered the Coathangers, a very cool, No Wave-inspired group from Atlanta—great! And the re-emergence of Swans has both awesome and inspiring; last year’s album, “Your Father Will Guide You up a Rope to the Sky”, is incredible. Michael Gira has played me some rough mixes of the next album, which sounds even greater. Also, I have a newer project called Avondale Airforce (debut album out on Beast and Thick Syrup labels in March) with Stanton Warren of Venture Lift, another excellent band people should check out.


    What is going on with your side project: Avondal Aiforce Peter?

    -Avondale Airforce is a duo I formed with Stanton Warren (of the band Venture Lift) in 2009. There are some common things about my style of playing, but it's very different than the Chrome Cranks. The music of Avondale Airforce is very much a psychedelic/experimental style. We have looser songs that we jam a lot on, and we use a drum machine, sample loops, lots of spacy guitar effects, etc. I really enjoy it, because I get to do something new to me and I get to "stretch out" in ways that are very different than the Cranks. Stanton and I work very well together, we play off each other in very interesting and surprising ways. It's the kind of band that works well at rock shows and at experimental shows as well


    How did you work with Michael Gira for the cover of the new album?

    Michael and I live close to each other and have gotten to be very good friends in the last few years. Of course I've been a big fan of Michael's music with Swans and Angels of Light for a long time, but I hadn't known about his other talent as a an artist until I saw "I Am Not Insane," the limited-edition portfolio of prints of drawings he is offering through his Young God Records website. The drawings really blew me away, so visceral and, yes, I'm afraid I must say, wonderfully INSANE. Right away, I felt that his drawing style was a perfect match for the music on the new album. I asked if he would like to do the cover art, and he said yes. The band is really overjoyed with the results, we totally love it... 


    What the lyrics of Ain’t No Lies Blood are about?

    I generally prefer not to discuss my lyrics. But I’ll say that some of them are directly inspired from personal experiences, and some are more impressionistic, more about the imagery of the words.


    What could you tell me about the new Chrome Cranks tribute?

    That’s something that was started by Sebastien Beub, a French fan. It’s very surreal and a big honor that Sebastien was so motivated to undertake this project, and that so many bands want to be involved. I shouldn’t say who until things are finalized, but there are some big names on board. Our hope is that bands will try to do the songs differently and add their own twist, rather than just trying to sound like the Chrome Cranks. The title of the tribute album is “Collision Blues” (there is aFacebook page), and the aim is to compile everything and then shop it to labels. Bands interested in contributing should contact Sebastien on Facebook.


    Do you feel a rock survivors of   the ’90s  American noise-blues wave?

    Ha ha, I guess so. I’m still here, making music, which I wasn’t sure I’d ever do again after the band broke up in 1998. But we’re certainly not survivors in the financial success: I hate to crush anyone’s dreams, but there’s very little money to be made in noise-blues, as you call it.


    Which song of  A.N.L.I.B  do you think is more achieved?

    Do you mean which one song I’m most happy with? If so, it’s hard to say. Unlike with the first album or “Dead Cool”, I see this album is one complete work, which is kind of how I see  “Love in Exil”e.  I will say, however, that so far the “big hit” for me and the other guys is Rubber Rat. We’re really happy with that one.


    How look the future of Chrome Cranks?

    Also hard to say, since we live far apart and some of us have families, etc. But we’re hoping to do some festival shows in Europe this year (interested promoters should contact our booking agency, IBD). Also, I have some new songs kicking around. So who knows, maybe we’ll even make another record at some point. At this point in my life and musical career I’ve learned at least one thing: I can’t say what the future will bring.


    (Italian and English  translation  di  lady Rossana Morriello e  lady Myriam Bardino)


    Pasquale Wally Boffoli