XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
AIDAN: We’ve got a new album coming out that we’re doing with Pavement Entertainment, it’s called “Something Wicked,” and it’s coming out April 10th, the first single is called “One More Shot!” That’s the big news right now, we’re really excited to get out and tour, but as I’m sure everyone knows, that’s probably going to need to wait.
XS ROCK: So how long has the band been together?
RILEY: Aidan and I were in a metal band prior to Conway called Face First. That was from 2015-2016, and after a short hiatus, Aidan was looking to record his poppier ideas that were a real left turn from the metal we were playing before. By 2017, Aidan and I were meeting up several times a week for a couple of months recording the first EP.
AIDAN: When we started recording I bounced all my ideas off of Riley, and once I saw how well the songs came out when we did that, I knew that I had a partner in crime. Everything we’ve written since has gone through the same process. Since then it’s been gigging around Chicago and other parts of the Midwest getting ourselves out there.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for originally starting or being in a band?
AIDAN: I wanted to write music that wasn’t chasing a genre I liked, which had been the case in previous bands. I took some time off after Face First to find something I didn’t already have a blueprint for, music that just came out without and end goal. I was at a point where I didn’t have a direction and was looking for one, and Conway became that.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
AIDAN: My main influence has always been punk rock, my mom was a huge fan of The Clash, she showed me their music when I was younger and I never looked back. I’ve stumbled into a lot of genres, mainly rock music from the past few decades. Green Day, Arctic Monkeys, and My Chemical Romance are a few bands I’ve listened to a lot over the years. Recently it’s been The Copyrights and Rob Zombie, among others.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
AIDAN: It’s nihilistic but in a nice way. When I wrote the lyrics for Something Wicked there was a lot of uncertainty and reflection going on, and I expressed that in a lot of ways with this record. It’s a lot of fun in a cynical way, like grinning through the pain or something like that.
XS ROCK: What are your current music career goals?
AIDAN: World domination. In the short term, though term I’d like to get on tour once we’re allowed out, until then we’ll be getting the word out on Spotify and everywhere else I can to spread the good word.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
AIDAN: Live audience right now, for sure. We were writing this album on and off for over a year, so we want to show people exactly what we’re about live and playing as many shows as we can.
RILEY: They flex very different muscles, and I find them hard to compare, but both incredibly exhilarating. Playing live is something I’ve been doing for over a decade, and it always feels like I’ve run a marathon, both in the adrenaline and the sweat. Writing allows me to research new ideas and practice and find excitement from climbing musical mountains, even if it’s slow going and difficult.
XS ROCK: What are your songs’ lyrics about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
AIDAN: It’s a lot of trying to deal with uncertainty and anxiety in a lot of different ways that are not going to help to varying degrees. Songs like “Too Dead To Care,” and “One More Shot” are about the more fun side of self-medicating, whereas “High Tide,” and “Six Feet of Dirt Would Look Great On You, Love” explore the less fun parts. We tried to have some real fun with “Varsity Ruse,” and “Missed Me,” but even those are still dealing with uncertainty, just in less negative ways.
XS ROCK: What is the single most important thing to you as a musician?
AIDAN: Writing music that can both make someone think about the lyrics and instrumentation and allow them to identify with it themselves, while also writing songs that get stuck in everyones heads.
RILEY: You have to keep pushing yourself forward. Even if you feel plateaued. If you don’t practice regularly, your playing suffers and as an artist it can make getting your ideas across a more difficult practice, and that can make writing frustrating. Keep pushing yourself forward, and you will find there’s always more to learn.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
AIDAN: As a group, we haven’t had a chance to go out on the road properly, but we did play a music fest in Wisconsin called MOMFest. We had loaded up on beer and I ended up getting a greyhound back cause I had work the next day having drank an entire bottle of red wine. It was an interesting trip home, to say the least.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
AIDAN: I had someone approach us after a show and ask if we wanted to play in a Halloween show they were putting on later that year. We ended up playing a set as The Misfits in his basement.
XS ROCK: Are your friends and family supportive of your choice to play in a rock band?
AIDAN: Oh yeah! My parents have always had my back through the years I’ve been doing music, as well as the rest of my family. I’ve been an artsy kid all my life, so anyone who wasn’t cool with me being a musician probably didn’t stick around very long.
XS ROCK: What advice do you have for new bands trying to get started?
AIDAN: Start writing and never stop. Gigs will always be there, opportunities will always be there, but you need the music to get you there first. Write every day, force it out and keep everything, you have to come up with a bunch of crap to stumble your way into a good song. Quantity can equal quality if you can train your brain the right way.
RILEY: Imitate, Emulate, Innovate. Those are the three steps of becoming a musician who composes their own material. You start out imitating your idols, learning their techniques. As you begin to write more, you will emulate your idols sound, but you are beginning to use your own approach as you learn your art form. And finally, innovate. Using the entirety of your tool belt to approach writing music, in a way that only you can.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
AIDAN: Honestly Missed Me is just too much fun, an awesome chorus that everyone can sing, and the riff is way too much fun to play.
RILEY: Missed Me, it really allows me to play several roles in the band, bouncing back in forth from rhythm to lead. But any of our high paced songs, really.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
AIDAN: Green Day and other similar bands talking about their earliest days playing shows in houses and kitchens and all the local stuff gave me the first window into how electric any performance can be. I found so many other bands that I had never heard of from that. Once I started going to local shows in basements and garages and stuff I knew it was what I wanted to do forever.
RILEY: Initially, R.E.M. was my driver in music. Their approach to writing, PR and their overall work ethic was inspiring. Their one defining word was “integrity” through and through, and as a musician and as a person, I’ve tried to keep that in mind. At the moment, I’m trying to push myself musically, so lots of funk, jazz, math rock. That stuff has been making me more excited to play.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
AIDAN: Right now it’d probably be us, another band from Chicago called Blaqrock, they fuse hip hop and rock, super kick-ass live.
RILEY: In terms of the genre we occupy, I’m a little out of the loop, but Blaqrock is some Chicagoans I love to play with. Oh, and King of Mars, the writing and arranging in that band are always top-notch. And, of course, Overclocked. Mitch plays bass in both Conway and Overclocked, and it’s a band I play in and write a lot for, so it’s always fun to play live with Conway.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
AIDAN: Getting a partnership with Pavement, it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t asked our media manager Coren for Scott Willson’s email. He produced a couple of songs and gave Pavement a call for us, without his help, it wouldn’t have happened.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
AIDAN: Not sure, I was an athlete when I was younger but I doubt that would have been a viable career path. I don’t know much besides music, I’d have probably gone to a trade school and got a job that’s in big demand, get a nice house out in the suburbs, then thrown myself off a bridge somewhere in my forties.
RILEY: Something musical related. I’d keep up writing music for podcasts, commercials, and films. Oh, and teach music. Always fun to work with the next generation of music.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
AIDAN: I have a Gibson Les Paul Jr. with an extra pickup near the neck, it’s the Johnny Thunder model in TV yellow. I also have an Orange RT35, a Boss tuner, and a Behringer boost pedal. I’m a simple guy, a child of punk rock.
RILEY: I come from a punk background in terms of live playing, so I keep it simple; Rickenbacker 360 guitar, Snark tuner, Blues Driver, I sometimes borrow a Dookie drive or a Bad Cat, into an MXR reverb and finish it off with a Sonic Stomp Compressor into a Vox AC15.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
RILEY: It’s hard for me to say. I’ve always considered myself lucky that I am surrounded by amazing music and friends, but rarely do I find myself in a scene. Or rather, rarely do I find myself versed enough in a scene to speak about it with any authority. I just try to listen to what excites me, and at the moment, it’s King of Mars, Blaqrock and very much so SHIDI MIDI who are the Chicago artists I find myself lucky to be surrounded by.
AIDAN: On a larger level, I think there does need to be a new alternative rock surge on a national scale. There hasn’t been anything for newer fans of rock music that to latch onto in the last decade. The mid-2000s was a great time for the kind of rock that could be both authentic and popular, but there hasn’t been much to straddle the line since. Hopefully, we can change that.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
AIDAN: I’m half British, my mom grew up there. I got two passports and everything to prove it.
RILEY: I’m a big fan of Formula 1. The only sport I watch, don’t really know why.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
AIDAN: Go check out the album! Right now! It’s on Spotify! Something Wicked!!
RILEY: Album is out on April 10th! Overclocked is in works for the long-awaited 2nd album, so once everyone can leave their houses again, we’re ready to finish it!
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS ROCK!
AIDAN: Thanks for having us!
RILEY: Thank you for the questions, all the best.
Aidan Hargis – Vocals, guitar
Jake Dillon – Guitar, Keys, Vocals
Riley Allen – Guitar
Mitch De Biase – Bass, Vocals
Austin Van Johnson – Drums