Aberdeen City doesn’t shy away from grandeur. With their almost orchestral rock sound, the band embraces a sense of drama. Lead singer and bassist Brad Parker calls the band’s music “big, dark and beautiful.” With songs about regret to explorations of alienation, the band’s first full-length CD, “The Freezing Atlantic” is the perfect album to fully indulge all of your angst. If you’re feeling like you haven’t been a particularly good person this year, this could be the pre-New Year’s catharsis you so desperately need.
Despite all that angst, Parker quickly replied “no” when I asked if he would call the band’s sound “emo.” We both laughed over the fact that it’s become a bit of a dirty word — and let’s face it, emo seems awfully hard to define at this point. When it comes down to it, Parker doesn’t really care if people think the band is emo. He called his music, “A wonderful way to express pain,” but went on to say, “Really I just want you to feel good when you finish listening.”
The boys of Aberdeen City came together at Boston College. Drummer Brad McCaffrey, guitarist Ryan Heller and Parker all grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood. They found each other again easily enough — Parker says there weren’t that many rock bands at BC. They went on to add guitarist Chris McLaughlin, and a band was born. Parker took over on bass when the old bassist left the band and “that’s been instrumental in revitalizing the band,” he said. He says now instead of writing in a compartmentalized fashion, where each member concentrates solely on what he does, the band is more collaborative.
Aberdeen City has been playing together for four years, but Parker admits he still hasn’t mastered the art of between-song banter. “I’ve got to work on my one-liners,” he said, going on to explain that when he starts talking to the audience it feels like he’s leaving a long awkward answering machine message. “But you know, it’s cool sometimes, listening to the crickets.”
When they play, though, Parker said, the band is “100 percent focused on playing the song,” which he hopes lends a sense of intensity to all of their performances.
It must be easy to get intense with songs like “God is Going to Get Sick of Me,” in which he sings, “A bible in one hand, he makes his decisions / The lease is up/ Ordered his gun and it’s done and it’s done.” Parker says the song is about misuse of power when it comes to religion. “God would probably be pretty pissed off at the way religion is used,” he said.
Though Parker says “politics definitely play a role” in the band’s songs, he likes that they can have different interpretations that are either romantic or personal as well. You can see that in the song “In Combat,” where he sings, “I lost them all in combat / I sold them out / I disappeared in combat / I sold them out.” While this could be a song about just a personal regret, it’s hard not to look at it in the context of our current political situation and see that it could also be a song about losing national identity.
A one-time classical violinist, Parker says he was a big fan of Led Zeppelin in his younger years because they had a “cinematic, orchestral” sound. And it’s easy to see their influence, if not in sound, than in scope. “Brighton” for example is more than seven minutes long — pretty bold for your first CD. They mix melody-laden songs like “Pretty Pet” with the more dirge-like “Brighton.” But if you’re in the right mood and have a glass of dark liquor, a nice somber tune might have just the right kick. And if it doesn’t, just wait for the next song, because these guys love to change it up.
Aberdeen City is currently touring the West Coast. For more information on the band visit: http://www.aberdeenmusic.com/.