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MF Ruckus Vocalist Aaron Howell Interview

13 May 2019 No Comment
May 2019 MFRMF Ruckus have a stadium sized power rock sound that absolutely needs to be heard by the masses of unknowing listeners.  The dynamic four piece bring the party, the energy and most importantly the fun to any crowd lucky enough to catch one of their shows.  MFR’s long awaited new album The Front Lines of Good Times is about to drop and it is going to be a monster. Here is vocalist Aaron Howell on all things TFLoGT.
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What kind of mf ruckus happened for MF Ruckus to be born?
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Just your typical garden variety Ruckus (original name was, in fact GV Ruckus, but there was already an extreme gardening magazine by the same name). I dunno…basement shows, drugs, explosions, 9/11, a handful of wars, astronomical amounts of booze, death, gas fumes, skateboards, green chile, jail, slum lords, sewage, violence, really funny jokes, cheeseburgers, fire, punching, bums, high altitude, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama, Trump, vomit, diarrhea, smelly vans and BBQ….that’s most of the ingredients, but there’s at lease a thousand other herbs and spices in there we keep pretty close to the vest.
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Who are the band members and what are their roles?
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Tyrell Blosser – Drums, “Hulk” Logan O’Connor – Bass/Vocals, Tony Lee aka “The Windy City Madman – Guitar/Vocals, Aaron “Howellenwulf” Howell – Voice/Harmonica/Band Dad.
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What sort of musical training have the members of MF Ruckus taken part in?
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Most of it has just been scooped up as we went along, but Tony comes from a classic blues background, Logan and myself both played in the school Jazz band, I have a background in theater and music…for the most part though, our training comes from micro-studies on the road with unlikely masters, usually at late-night, after hour jam sessions across the globe.
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Who does what in the song writing and assembly?
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IMG_2114We all write, but for the most part, I write the lyrics and Tony write the licks. We make an effort to encourage everyone in the band to bring their ideas to the table. Sometimes I’ll write a song all the way through and then turn it over to the guys for re-tooling, most of of the time though, Tony starts ripping on some guitar thing pulled from his ass and then we build something around that. We like to keep a multitude of approaches in our tool box.
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What are some things about the MF Ruckus’s’s style that shows off your uniqueness and individuality?
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We generally make an effort not to get married to any specific genre. If it’s fun and it rocks it’s alright by us. Hell, sometimes it can outright suck, but we’ll still let it see the light of day and let the listener decide. Also, our friendship really projects on stage. We genuinely love playing together and it’s glaringly apparent when you see us perform together. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Having fun with our friends is our number one priority and everything else is a distant runner-up in terms of our values.
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The new album The Front Lines of Good Times is about to drop.  How do the songs represent your view of the world?
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I feel that in the handful of songs on this first volume, we offer a pretty varied but far from exhaustive sample of our worldview. You have “Acropolis Now” which is just a fist-pumping little jammer about a strip-club/steakhouse we love; “Be Cool” which summarizes our #1 rule for life and our contrary position to modern authoritarianism, outrage and tribalism; “Making a Killing” is from the perspective of an evil antagonist which seeks to enslave the consumerist status quo; “You Only Live Forever” is an optimistic stream of consciousness, very much with a PMA posi-core vibe; “Equilibrium” is a silly, theatrical sci-fi fantasy; “The Front Lines of Good Times” is a monosyllabic, hyperbolic, chest-thumping party anthem a-la Tenacious D meets Accept; “Polly Ann Marie” is a corny, tongue and cheek, sloppy Glam number about polyamory (get it?) and “Someday I’ll be Better than You” is a story song about smug self righteousness and the never ending quest of one-upmanship….oh…and there’s a bonus track about our buddy Fonz who let us stay at his house when we were on tour. The whole thing is about how big his penis is.
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What was the most difficult part of recording The Front Lines of Good Times? What was the funnest?
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Time….the god damn time and lack of resources. Because we chose to work with an incredible studio like Evergroove and Brad has been kind enough to lend us time largely on credit, it can take a long time between sessions. Plus, we used a lot of extra people on this recording. It has just taken so long to write, record, mix and master these songs because we have such limited financial means at the time being. Most fun for sure has been spending time up at the studio. It’s a beautiful place up in the Black Mountain region of Evergreen, CO. It’s surrounded by trees and snowcapped peaks. We take hikes, smoke weed, eat food, tell jokes, invite friends up to participate in the process. Evergroove is the greatest studio there is. Period. We will never work with another studio again if we have a say.
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Please describe what The Front Lines of Good Times sounds like as a whole and any specific songs you think that stand out among the rest at this point?
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As a whole, it sounds like a mix-tape I might have made in high school: loud, fast, weird, soft, funny, goofy, tough, country, metal, punk, rock n roll….it’s designed to be music from the world of our comic…some might even be from fictional bands in the story…who can say? The song that really stands out to me is the two-song-in-one “Making a Killing/You Only Live Forever”. It’s dark, foreboding, evil and heavy and then boom…fast, upbeat, hopeful….I’m very proud of that one.
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Lyrically what are some of the most personal moments that are discussed in the songs?
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IMG_1882Although “Someday” is about a fictional character and comes from a very satirical perspective, it is very much a self-reflexive narrative. It’s based on the levels of neurological development posited in the study of spiral dynamics. I was acting out a very hamartic, chaotic and destructive script when I was young and in my pursuit of a more righteous path, I found myself having a tendency to be a little smug and sanctimonious. Fortunately, I had a lot of help and good friends who were patient with me as I worked through my shit. I began to recognize this tendency in myself and in others to pursue self-improvement as a covert means of polar opposing insecurity compensation. I was a know-it-all because I was afraid that I didn’t know shit. I make fun of this several times in the song, but my favorite is probably “Someday I’ll be happy, Someday I’ll find god and when I do the rest of you can suck my holy rod. Someday, I’ll be a righteous, sanctimonious sonofabitch. Someday I’ll see the way, the light and I’ll leave you in the pitch…”
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Musically how did you challenge yourselves to create the best songs you could?
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Write, write, write, write, write, write, write, re-write, record, hate it, re-write, record, hate it, decide to let it exist anyway, trust the process, allow the song to exist, move on.
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Why do you feel that people really need to hear this album?
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Best case scenario, I hope it inspires, excites and entertains, but worst case, I think it’s a lot of fun and definitely stands in contrast to anything we’ve ever done before.
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What was MF Ruckus’s biggest highlight of last year?
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I would just say our overall output. We wrote and released a new comic, did 50 episodes of our podcast, played a bunch of killer gigs, wrote a ton of songs, put the finishing touches on our record, dropped 32 episodes of our web series….we really hustled our asses off and we’re all mighty proud of it.
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What are some pet peeves? What stupidity of the world causes your brain lock up? And what brings you joy?
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Pet peeves from a band perspective: Drummers who set up and break-down their kit on stage. That is THE worst. Pull your shit off dude! Personal Pet Peeve: internet pile-ons and callout cowboys, recreational meanness…just meanness in general. All of that is pretty stupid and makes my brain lock-up. But as far as what brings me joy, spending time with my wife and newborn son, jamming with my friends and traveling the world. I’m something of an optimistic nihilist. Nothing means anything so we’re free to do anything.
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What are your band goals  for 2019?
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Release the album, put out 6 comics/motion comics, get back to Europe, play some rad gigs, see some rad bands, start the new record, write a shitload of songs, pass 100 podcast episodes, record and release another couple seasons of MF Monday and enjoy hangin’ with my dudes.
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Anything else you would like to add?
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We sustain ourselves largely thanks to a small monthly contribution from our Patreon subscribers. In return for their generosity, we basically give them access to stuff only the band sees when we see it. It’s keeping us alive and allowing us to do what we do. We also redistribute 10% of our Patreon earnings to other creators on the platform. We consider it paying tithing to the church of creativity. If you’d like to help us make cool shit, please visit patreon.com/mfruckus and become a patron. Thank you so much for the interview!
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