I talked to Aaron Behrens, the singer of GLO, who gyrates like Elvis and fires off vocals like Freddie Mercury, as they were on their way to Reno from Santa Cruz, where they had played for the first time.
“The show went well. Really, really well,” said Behrens. His slightly drawling Texan accent and friendly surfer dialect are a stark contradiction to the sharp, shrill, vocals he delivers on stage. In fact, seeing two the costumed guys on stage (last tour Aaron dressed as Pocahontas and drummer/keyboardist Thomas Turner wore a wizard cape), surrounded by lasers in all directions, turning the show into a giant disco; you’d never think the guys were from the south, except for the fact that “Thomas is sporting his Texas flag cape now.”
The two just released their fourth album, Codename: Rondo, on October 28th through their own label, Trashy Moped Recordings. They always knew they’d have to take that independent route though. “Honestly, dude, we knew the major labels wanted nothing to do with us,” Aaron laughed, obviously not bitter about the path taken.
Codename: Rondo is more stripped down and basic than your other albums, what inspired that?
Ya know, man. No one likes doing the same thing twice, Thomas started pushing in a different direction. And it was honestly at the moment just how we felt. Ya know, we wanted to create a little bit more space, let the beats breathe a little bit, make it a little funky. Ya know, less movement inside the beat and more concentrated on the beat. And lyric wise, we’re just having fun. It was just fun writing outside of my normal context.
Do you think even with these stripped down, more basic beats that you can still create that same live energy during your shows that you guys are famous for?
They do man, ya know, you should see ’em when they put ’em on the street ya know. When you play ’em live it, it’s funny. They transforms themselves ya know. And that song, Freeze. off the new album, that song just blasts live. That “dana naaaaa nanana” just BUMPIN, just bumpin’ dude. It transforms, it’s just fun.
What about the title track, “Codename: Rondo?” It’s not really a song format that most people are used to. Do they get thrown off? How are people’s reactions to that one?
It’s really good man, I see a lot of smiling. A lot of people really listening and they start smiling and laugh, and that’s what you wanna see you know. In a good way you know, like, ‘Ohhhh I can’t believe they’re fucking doing this!’ you know? Like, ‘what the fuck is going on?! This is crazy!’ And I wanna see that, I love seeing that. (laughs)
One song off their new album, called “Gimme the Beat,” has even managed to reach number three on the iTunes charts. Which, according to Aaron, “is blowing my mind because we’ve never had a song that high on the iTunes charts and it’s been the number one song off the whole album.”
Aside from all this positive response from fans, there have been a couple negative reviews from critics including one from your hometown paper the Austin Chronicle, who said something needed to be added to the song “otherwise, the party is just about over.”
It kinda seems like he’s missing the whole point of the album, that’s not what you guys were going for at all. As an artist how do you respond to something like that?
Oh man, you know those guys, dude. (laughs) Critics, critics, critics. I think every major critic, when people have given these people a voice to speak for everyone else, they pretty much have knocked us. Pitchfork knocked us, the Austin American Statesmen knocked us, the [Austin] Chronicle knocked us. And it’s funny they did features and we were on the cover of the American Statesmen and we were on the cover of the Chronicle. (laughs) And they’re making us this huge thing and then they give our album like, one star. You know, use it as a fuckin’ soda coaster.
As an artist of course they try to get under your skin, and it’s hard. You don’t want someone talking bad about your children, you know what I’m sayin’? But in the same context, if you put yourself out there, ultimately there’s gonna be people who aren’t gonna like you.
And I’m just the type of person I just want to please everyone so much; I try to real hard. And it drives me, I just wanna win the whole world over. But then reality sets in and I’m like you know what, ‘C’est la vie’. And it makes for good entertainment because, boy it really gives the fans who love us, it really lights a fire under their ass and they get all defensive about it for us.
And there are a lot of those fans. In fact, someone wrote an angry letter back to that critic. Just skimming through GLO’s forum section, there are countless praises from fans who claim those critics just don’t get it. These things don’t go unnoticed though, Aaron’s fully aware of GLO’s support.
Why do you think you have such a loyal group of fans?
I think because we’ve truly come from the ground up. We haven’t been spoon-fed. We weren’t born with silver spoons in our mouths. We’ve truly worked for everything we’ve done, man. I mean we’ve played some of the smallest places to two people, you know what I’m sayin’?
And I mean we’ve brought our own fierceness, we do everything ourselves. We have a great crew working with us on the road, and we’re all tight and we all work our asses off. And we put on the best show possible for these people. We’re not trying to pull some wool over someone’s eyes and get some money. We’re trying to put on a show! We put out 150,000% each night and I get out there and freaking sweat my ass off and put on a show. And I think people respond to that, they respect that. It’s their money, you know!
GLO’s plans for the future?
Probably just get in some good quality time with our families. And then just get ready for spring and summer, get ready to attack festivals and play a lot of nice, hot shows on the weekends. You never really know, it’s wherever the wind blows really.