“We just practiced for the first time a couple weeks ago and before that I hadn’t seen anyone for a year and a half.”
Live music is returning to the Boston area and folks are anticipating their favorite venues to finally reopen after being closed since the dawn of COVID-19.
On Saturday (July 10), the Sinclair in Cambridge will have music on its stage for the first time in nearly 16 months. It’ll be an all-local show with indie rock icons The Sheila Divine headlining and post-punk partystarters House Of Harm and alt-rock dynamos Eldridge Rodriguez rounding out the bill.
It seems fitting that a reopening will be kicked off by a few of the bands that call the venue’s city home. It’s also going to be a history-making evening.
I recently spoke with Sheila Divine vocalist and guitarist Aaron Perrino about recording a bunch of music at home, working with local contemporaries on a solo album, his feelings on live streaming, and being a mix of nervous and excited ahead of the show.
You’ve had a prolific calendar year by releasing Dystopian Demos last August followed up by The Sheila Divine putting out two volumes of Cabin Fever Chronicles during the following month. How did the process of recording go about while making these albums? Were they all done remotely?
I made them all myself, just me. No one else was involved.
Do you have a room in your house which is pretty much your home recording studio where you have a bunch of instruments at your disposal?
I literally did it with GarageBand or Logic Pro on a laptop and a guitar. That’s how I made them, it’s all fake.
Well, I think the records sound great, so you fooled me. You also followed that up with the release of 23 singles. What do you consider to be the main catalyst for this musical output? Was it simply having a lot more time because of the pandemic or was it something else?
Honestly, I had the time because I was not really working. I wanted to learn more about recording because I never was really good at it, so that was the initial thing with me learning how to record. Then I decided to write a song every day during the week and the more I kept at it, it kind of spiraled into how long I could keep this going. I was thinking of getting to 75 singles at one point while writing and recording them.
With live music returning, do you plan on continuing this single series in the future? Or do you think 23 is the number you’re going to stop at?
I’ll definitely continue writing things, but I’ve actually been working on a solo record. I’ve been spending more time on that so I got distracted from the high output of writing a song, recording it, mixing it and then putting it out every day. It was a challenge for me to create something new and fresh in a six-hour period of time on a daily basis but then I just started working on a new record which I’ve spent a lot of time on. I’ve been working with Tanya Donelly, Mike Bethmann from one of my favorite Boston bands, Tugboat Annie, and Steven Lord, who was a part of the Cambridge band Dirty Bangs.
Very cool, that’s a trio of local heavy hitters to have on an album. This past February you also did a live stream on Facebook Live titled “Live From The Living Room.” How was the experience of performing for a virtual audience?
I’ve actually done a bunch of virtual streams during the COVID-19 pandemic, probably five or six of them. Some of them I would just do randomly and not tell anyone and some I promoted. It was just boredom and it’s especially a weird experience to just play to nobody, but it was also nice to have the chat feature to talk to people I know or people who are friends of the band. That was kind of fun with them making requests, I would initially plan on playing three songs but I would end up playing for an hour and a half. It was fun.
I’ve heard from a lot of other musicians who have done the live streams that they really enjoy the interaction they have and see comments on their video feed while being able to interact with people who know their band and/or know their music. Do you feel that live streaming is a good way to work out the kinks of new material you’re working on?
Yeah, I think it’s good for anything you want to do as an artist. Sometimes it would be crazy to think of playing on a Tuesday and at the highest point there’s 160 people watching. That would be a really good normal show on a weeknight. The fact that you can just turn on your computer, press record, and have that many people watching you is pretty awesome. Also, not having an audience there to feed off of in person is a little weird when you’re streaming in your living room by yourself.
I can totally tell that.
There’s pluses and minuses, but I love that you can simply decide to do it and you can still reach and be connected to a bunch of people, even if they’re not really there. There can be people from Belgium, people from California, and you have a big chat between everyone else having conversations.
The Sheila Divine is going to be making a bit of history on July 10 because you’ll be headlining the first show to happen at The Sinclair since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down last year. What are your feelings going into the show with this knowledge in mind?
I’m pretty nervous just because it’s funny—we just practiced for the first time a couple weeks ago and before that I hadn’t seen anyone for a year and a half. I’m also excited, I hope we remember how to play some songs but I’m sure we’ll be fine. It’ll be great. I think people are so excited to just be at a full capacity, real rock show that I think everybody is gonna be ready to rage.
I have a feeling that’ll be a common trend during the summer. You mentioned that you’ve been working on a solo record, so do you have a targeted release date set yet? Are you still working on the mixing and mastering? What can we expect from it when it comes out?
It’ll be out sometime in the fall. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it or how I’m going to promote it. I’m still going to do Sheila Divine stuff as well, this is just something I started working on when I was by myself and I figured that I could collaborate with some people I love on it. I reached out to Tanya and then I wanted to see how far I could take this. I guess it’s my version of The Postal Service where I’d write a song, send it to someone to sing on it, and so on.
The Sheila Divine plays with House of Harm and Eldridge Rodriguez at The Sinclair on Sat., July 10 at 8pm. Tickets at sinclaircambridge.com.
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.