Rearview Mirror – Aaron Distler

Rearview Mirror is our annual look back at the year in music from our friends in and around the business.  Musicians, managers, roadies, superfans, bloggers etc..

This recap comes from Aaron Distler, drummer for Heypenny, Kyle Andrews and Madi Diaz and details a year where he stopped caring about the hottest new music because he was too busy making his own.

2011 was a weird year for me. I recall in my early 20s watching older friends lose touch with new music. These were friends I’ve been playing music with most of my life, or working in music with them in some form or fashion. People who turned me on to bands like the Cure, Spacemen 3, Velvet Underground, et. al. They inspired me and I was consuming new music like Cookie Monster, churning through Wilco B-Sides from the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sessions, trading hard to find songs, albums or bootlegs with friends and discovering random bands and telling all my friends about them. As I saw my older friends buy homes, have kids, get married and settle down I thought to myself, I can stay on top of this and do all these things! A brief stint at marriage and being a homeowner with two cats and a dog led me to believe that I could still be a tastemaker and be domesticated. Well… then your 30s come and 2 years into it I can safely say that I don’t get as excited about discovering music anymore. Sure things still hit my ear and make me want to listen to them over and over, but I always find myself going back to familiar songs from 2000 or 2004, and so on. I don’t really know when it happened. It’s as if I woke up one morning and stopped caring.

There is one thing that is for certain and that is I’ve become much more excited about playing music. 2011 was a busy year for me as a musician. Heypenny released A Jillion Kicks and we toured heavier than I ever have. For most of my life as a musician, I was nothing more than a weekend warrior, heading out on short runs every other weekend if not every weekend, hitting a 2-8 hour radius of where I lived. I can count the amount of 2 week tours I’d done on one hand. In 2011, I traversed the country for weeks at a time with Heypenny, only to get home and have 2 days to do laundry and hang out with my girlfriend before leaving for another 2 weeks with Kyle Andrews. As a teen and even into my early 20s, I dreamt of playing in NYC. I did it once in 1999 and fell in love with the city and did it again in 2002 and throughout the years with Heypenny I got that same feeling when we would go up to do a show with Jupiter One on a small run. And in 2011, It seemed as though I was in NYC every 2 months or so getting to do what I’d always dreamt about. In August, we played to over 140 people at Bowery Electric. A monumental thing for us. In November, I got to knock another thing off the bucket list. At the age of 30, I had never been to the west coast, let alone toured. Luckily my job afforded me the opportunity to visit LA in 2010 and May of 2011 but this November, I got to travel the country, traversing through time zones and playing music with Kyle Andrews and Madi Diaz. I played in Los Angeles, San Francisco and drove up the coast into Oregon where DJ (Heypenny’s bass player) used to live while he was getting his Masters in Philosophy. I was lucky enough to see things I’d never thought I would see. The redwoods. The cliffs at Haceta Head where moss grew on the sides of larger than life rocks and waves crashed, spraying water 30 feet into the air as I stood 10 feet away from it on a rock off the coast. We drove over mountain passes covered in snow where trees stretched into the azure blue sky. We drove to Cougar Dam and hiked to some natural hot springs and soaked in 107 degree water on the side of a snow covered mountain.

So, while I might not be hip to Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games” or Youth Lagoon or Toro Y Moi or whatever the kids are listening to these days, I can honestly say that music is still making me feel alive. More so than I think I ever did in my teens or 20s. And while my beard is turning grey and I get excited about Fleetwood Mac songs as opposed to OFWGKTA, I’m feeling more youthful than I ever did as a 21 year old, perhaps because I’ve finally crossed that threshold I’d envisioned as a 15 year old, that is, going to cities, familiar or new, playing music with my best friends and being able to support myself in doing so. And while I might not have the nicer car or biggest TV, I’m doing all of those things listed above and they are certainly the finest things in life. Cheers 2011.

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