Aaron Allen on "Highway Mile" and Upcoming Releases
London hometown hero, Aaron Allen, is back with the release of his new studio EP "Highway Mile". Following his first release to the radio in 2019, Allen has quickly gained over a million streams and the new release's title track, "Highway Mile", has attained almost 200,000 streams during its first month. The tattoo artist/country singer-songwriter has become one of Canada's most promising country stars, recently winning the Country Music Association of Ontario's "Rising Star" award. After Allen's live performance at the Social Bowl, I got the opportunity to interview him about his new album and upcoming releases.
How has life in the studio changed since the pandemic hit?
We're still doing the same thing. I did build a studio in my house, just in case everything closes right down then I'm still able to work so I kind of had to invest a little bit of money in doing that. But you know that's the only thing that kind of scared me--if I couldn't work, and I was shut right down and I couldn't get into a studio, then I couldn't really make any money. But luckily we're in the world today where we can do some of these things ourself. Not a great deal has changed other than the live playing, but I think I'm making more music than ever actually.
What song on your new EP, "Highway Mile", has the most sentimental value to you?
I would definitely say "Superman". That's a song I wrote about my kids and it's just kind of about how you know every human being is flawed, but when you're a kid, you think that your parents are superheroes, but they're not and then one day my daughters are going to find out that I'm not Superman. So right now I'm going to be that until I'm not anymore and they can figure it out on their own.
How does your new studio release differ from your previous studio releases?
I'm working with a new producer Jeff Dalziel and he's really specialized in country. He does rock, pop, and everything like that, but he's very well known for country. He won the CCMA and the CMAO for country producer of the year. So what's different is that I just really kind of tried to seek out a producer that would match me and try to bring me into the world of marketability and current music, and it's changed my world working with Jeff Dalziel.
Congratulations on winning the Country Music Association of Ontario's "Rising Star" Award. Can you walk us through what it meant to you winning the award in your hometown?
It was great! When I got up there and everybody was honking their horns, because it was at the Western Fairgrounds and everybody was in their cars, I didn't expect that kind of reception but it was really cool to win it in my own town--everybody was just going nuts and I felt the love. What could be more special than that? I mean, Covid or no Covid, that was pretty special.
If you could have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
That's pretty tough. I always think a lot about what I want to leave behind in my music and what I want to say and a lot of that goes with every time I put out a song, I think about my daughters and 'is this something I want my daughters to hear?' So I don't know--I try to convey messages in my songs and I'm really trying to do it in a positive way so hopefully, they just remember me for having that positive energy and maybe just uplifting somebody on a bad day. That's what I want to do now. I used to write songs that made everybody cry and then when I moved into a different realm, I decided I wanted to move on and I don't want to relive all these old scars right, but I still have stories to tell. So now I'm trying to do it in a really positive way, I think I'm trying to be the polar opposite of what I was. I just want a message to be left behind.
How has the music industry changed since you began performing?
It's changed a lot over the years. It's tough because I think when you first start out, a lot of the music business is hidden from you; now I've seen more music business than I've ever seen in my life and I can kind of tell how it all works. But before, it was almost like a secret that I didn't know so I'm not sure if it's changed in the last 20 years, or if I just know more now, or I'm just on the inside. One thing I do know is if you stick with it, it can happen. So no matter what happens in the music industry, my message is always if you stick with it, either way, it's going to happen. [You] hope you don't get worse, you only get better, right? Sometimes it takes 20 years to write a good song but we finally did it.
If you could open a show for any artist who would it be?
I really love Steve Earl and Lyle Lovett. Maybe we could do one together. I want to do a songwriters round with Steve Earl, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, and myself--and we'll just go around. I would love to do that, but if I had to pick one I think it would probably just be Lyle Lovett. That's tough, Bruce Springsteen, maybe we'd get him in there, but I guess Lyle.
What is your favourite song to perform?
I have a new single coming out called "A Good Place to Start", and that's really become my favourite song to play. I love playing it and it's a finger-picking song which I'm not very good at so it scares me but I love it--just the positive message. It'll be out soon, I'm not sure when, but that's probably my favourite these days.
Can you walk us through that positive message?
When we were writing it, I was thinking 'everybody's always one step ahead of themselves' and it's kind of a song about just taking a step back, taking a breath, and enjoying what you have. "A Good Place to Start" is just about waking up in the morning. That's kind of the whole message.
If you had one message to give to your fans, what would it be?
Just don't let them tell you that you can't do it. I remember my English teacher kicking me out of her class and basically writing me off. And that's okay, I totally deserved that--I deserved every second of that--but it's just funny that now I make my living by using the English language and writing songs. So no matter what they tell you, they can be wrong, you just got to prove them wrong.
You can listen to Aaron Allen's new EP "Highway Mile" wherever you stream your music!