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Aisles

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Germán Vergara of Aisles from 2017

MSJ: Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?

I was a ten-year-old boy and saw my older brother Luis taking piano lessons. I listened to him playing, and I liked the feeling. A couple of years later I took some piano lessons, too. Around that same age, one night I was lying in bed at night with the lights out, almost ready to sleep, and Luis got in my room and handed me a Walkman with a cassette tape. He told me "you have to listen to this." It was "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. I think at that very moment I decided I wanted to be a musician. When I was 13 one of my brother’s friends taught me my first guitar chords, and for my 14th birthday I got an electric guitar as a present. It was Luis’ idea too. I guess I have a lot to thank my older brother for my involvement in music.

The process of founding Aisles came many years later. Luis and I had different bands. He was playing with Rodrigo Sepúlveda and some other guys. One day we started playing together and there was a lot of chemistry. After a couple of rehearsals we decided to form a new band, and that was the beginning of Aisles. This must have been in 2001. By 2003 we had incorporated Alejandro Meléndez on keyboards and my younger brother Sebastian on vocals. That was Aisles first line up, and in 2005 we released our first record as a band. It was called "The Yearning."

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

I’d be a writer or a filmmaker. Both are probably the closest things there are to music. They are all different ways to tell stories, to express feelings. They all convey ideas and produce images and landscapes. I think that in the end that's my thing.

MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?

I came up with the idea one night and mentioned it to Luis and Sebastian, the two brothers that were in the band at that moment. We had been playing under the name "Presage" but weren't fully convinced with it. When I thought of the name "Aisles" I liked the sound of it, I was looking for a one syllable name. When I explained it to my brothers, the reason we liked it was the connection between the word and theatre - being an aisle, the space between seats that leads you to the stage. We suggested it to the others, and they all liked it.

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?

The list is very long. I will mention the ones I remember now; Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Iron Maiden when I was a kid. Later came Pink Floyd, Rush, Yes, Genesis, Marillion, Toto.

As a developing musician: Allan Holdsworth, Steve Howe, Steve Hackett, Pat Metheny Group, Mahavishnu Orchestra, UK, Egberto Gismonti, Jean Luc Ponty, Radiohead, Kate Bush, Miles Davis.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?

In October we will go on our first US tour, so that’s an important step. For the past year we’ve been promoting Hawaii and toured Europe and México. After the US tour we have some more live dates in Chile, and after that we will focus again on the writing of a new album.

MSJ:

I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

I would describe our music as eclectic, cinematic and very emotive. I like to think that it is open and unprejudiced. To give a more distinct description to our fans, it's a kind of prog rock with eclectic sounds, some fusion and a very emotive and conceptual approach.

MSJ:

Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?

I would love to play with Steven Wilson because he is doing really interesting stuff and also because he is actually appealing to new audiences. He is succeeding at attracting more people to progressive sounds. We just accomplished a long time goal of playing with Marillion on their Marillion Weekend here in Chile, so that's off the list now. I would also love to play with Yes or any of its members. That would be a dream come true.

Other young bands I would like to play with are Riverside and Gazpacho because they're making really nice music.

MSJ:

Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Of course it is a hindrance, but while we are in this state of the music industry it's convenient for the artists that their music is downloaded and shared. What we need to change now is the industry model, rather than discouraging downloads. There's a legal issue and the fact that the law cannot go up to speed with technological changes.

It also depends on the stage in your career you are as an artist. Perhaps for a known artist illegal downloading is more a hindrance than a help, and for new acts it can even be an opportunity for their music to be shared so that a fan base starts to build.

I think that fans of prog rock, alternative rock or people who like cult genres tend to be the ones that buy vinyl, T-shirts, CDs and go to see the artists play live.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?

To be honest, it doesn’t bug me. What bothers me more is what the paid streaming services pay. I also think that we need to keep encouraging the act of buying the music that artists create and not using it for free.

People should know that they're doing something illegal because they're using something that doesn't belong to them, but I guess it's also because there is a lot of ignorance on copyright. You don't walk on the street and grab a snack from a shop just because it is easy to take or nobody was watching. For some reason with music something different happened.

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

I don't think I have one music person as an arch nemesis, but I guess anyone who is doing music for the wrong reasons. If your key motivation is to get rich I would use my super powers to kick your a**. I don't think there's anything wrong with making a lot of money doing what you love, and I truly respect that, but it's something completely different to start your day thinking "what kind of music could I make so that I become a millionaire?" I think that is my arch nemesis because music and art cannot be that functional. They must come from within and have to be created because you like it love it or because it helps you to express something.

If someone had to embody that concept maybe I could say Enrique Iglesias.  I don't know. It feels like he's doing just whatever is profitable and trendy.

MSJ:

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

Steve Howe and Allan Holdsworth on guitars, Bill Buford on drums, Freddy Mercury on vocals, Chris Squire on bass and Lyle Mays on the keyboards. The reason I chose these musicians is because all of them are geniuses on their instruments, are very innovative and truly unique musicians.

MSJ:

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

A Genesis reunion, Pat Metheny Group, Radiohead, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Steven Wilson and Rush.

It's okay to dream, right?

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

The last CD I bought was Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool. I have been listening to them constantly since In Rainbows. Another one of the last CDs I've bought is Blackstar by David Bowie. That one really blew my mind! It has everything I like in music, passion, darkness, poetry, experimentation and a great performance.

I have also been listening to Steven Wilson's latest work and some Egberto Gismonti is coming back to me again.

MSJ:

Have you read any good books lately?

Yes I have. I just finished reading Charles Bukowski's Tales of Ordinary Madness, a compilation of short stories. For me he’s one of the best modern writers. I also recently read The Myth of Sisyphus by the French existentialist writer Albert Camus, It's a book about the absurdity of existence. I truly recommend it.

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

I went to see John McLaughlin and his band 4th dimension. It was amazing, I thoroughly enjoyed it. He even played some music by Mahavishnu Orchestra - what an amazing concert!

MSJ: Do you remember your first concert?

Let me try to remember, of course it was a bar, I'm not sure which one. I think it was a place called House of Rock in Santiago, Chile. We were promoting our first album The Yearning, and we had that gig. We were nervous but the band played very well, and the audience loved it.

MSJ:

Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?

Yes, I just bought a Kemper Profiler. It's an amazing gear and great to be on the road. In 2015 I bought a Mesa Boogie amp and a Gibson 335. I love all that new gear.

MSJ:

Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

I like a lot of music. If I like it I don't feel guilty anymore, but I know what you mean... something that goes far from what you’d normally like.

I like some of Rihanna's music. It is well produced, well recorded and she has some great compositions - the same with Daft Punk.

MSJ:

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

I have the closest Spinal Tap moment there can ever be after Spinal Tap itself. We were touring with Aisles in Europe last October. We pressed the Hawaii vinyl in Europe and the copies were supposed to arrive at the venue of our first show in the Netherlands. When we opened the boxes and took a vinyl to see the artwork we realized it was all upside down. You had to turn it 180 degrees to be able to understand it. I started arguing with the guy in charge of pressing the LPs, and I had to struggle to calm down and focus to relax and be able to play in front of an audience.

MSJ:

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Franz Kafka, David Lynch, Peter Gabriel

MSJ: What would be on the menu?
We would have an entree of Chilean oysters and white wine, the main dish would be a piece of red meat to suit the dark taste of both Kafka and Lynch, and for dessert something more optimistic - maybe a nice apple pie with cinnamon or a vanilla crème brûlée.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

I would like to remind people that they can find Aisles music almost anywhere. Please visit our official web site www.aislesproject.com and check our next tour dates in the USA.

I would also like to thank Music Street Journal for this opportunity to talk about Aisles' music.

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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