Aaron Keylock

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Listen to Aaron Keylock while you read.

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Despite being just nineteen years old British musician Aaron Keylock is no stranger to the scene. Keylock first picked up a guitar when he was eight years old and by the time he was thirteen he was playing every night of the week and was working with icon Joe Bonamassa.

 

Since then Keylock has caught the attention of music outlets right around the world including Kerrang! Including him on their Fresh Blood List. Now with his debut album “Cut Against The Grain” being released in Australia Heavy Mag’s Dave Griffiths sat down and had a chat with him.

 

When asked about what were his inspirations behind the album Keylock says, “With most of it I wrote the songs when I was still a child coming out of school and going into professional music. So I think a lot of it was simply that going against the grain and writing about life, going about things the way that you want to do them and not really worrying about what everybody else says. I was really just trying to find my way in and through rock ‘n’ roll and I think that is really what most of the album is about. The ups and downs and struggles of doing that. When it comes to the process of putting tracks together sometimes I might have the music bit first but I never really write to that. I’ll save it in my phone and that but I really need the inspiration of what I want to say with a lyric before I can write, and then it normally just seems to come out the way that I want it to come out and the way I want it to say. I think that is where it usually comes from though the lyric always has to be the kind of statement that I want to make at that time. I do piece a lot of different things together though as well. I mean Down was three songs pieced together.”

 

One of the things that first hits the listener with Cut Against The Grain is how many ghostly sounds from rock’s past come through on the album so it is not surprising when Keylock tells me that he was into music from a very early age. “I got into music at a very early age,” he explains. “All my earliest memories are around music. I think I really wanted to get it because of what I heard my Dad playing around the house, that was mainly 1970s rock ‘n’ roll, things like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Rolling Stones, that kind of thing, and then I discovered the blues when I started playing guitar around nine. I really appreciated that and got really addicted to it and I then I got into everything from Black Sabbath to Bob Dylan and everything in between, so there was a lot of different stuff there. As long as it is real and has honesty I will always try and take what I can from different forms of music so that’s where I’ve always come from – if you like the sound take something from it.

 

Having started playing live gigs at age thirteen Keylock has had many interesting things happen to over the years. He laughs when I ask him what it was like starting out at such an early age. “Most of it was really easy and fine,” he says. “But every now and then you would get a doorman who would say ‘hey you are not allowed in there’. If I did get kicked out though I’d just sneak around the back and go in one of the side doors though and then you’d get on stage and then you’d get thrown back out again, but that is just what you go through to do what you want to do. The biggest thing for me though was I never knew if people liked what I was doing because they liked what I was playing or whether they just liked me because I was a thirteen-year-old kid with a guitar. That was in my head for a lot of years.”

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As if dodging doormen wasn’t enough Keylock has also had the experience of playing at Biker rallies and being on stage during the London riots. “The biker rallies were cool,” he says laughing. “At that stage, I was taking every gig that I could get, and it was a pretty cool gig. They were always well put on and looking back at it now it prepared me for every situation possible because you are just background music for them. They are there to talk about their bikes and do whatever else and you are just the music in the corner, so there are different aspects to just playing a gig. It certainly shows you how to hold a show with stuff going on around you, things like having bikes on stage. I was told there was going to be bikes on stage, but I had no idea that they would be doing burn-outs behind us, so looking back I can’t imagine any stranger situation than that. That certainly prepared me for everything. With the London riots, I had no idea what was going on. I only got to play half a song, and suddenly they were ushering me out the back door. The riots hadn’t fully hit Camden yet, so I had no idea what was going on. I was too young to fully understand what was going on.”

 

One of the biggest things that Keylock has had to undertake in his career so far was leaving England to go to Los Angeles and work with producer Fabrizio Grossi who has worked with the likes of Alice Cooper, Dave Navarro, Slash and Zakk Wylde. “That was a great experience because it was an entirely different experience,” Keylock says. “I’d never done any recording before; I’d only done my live shows. It was a whole new world for me. I’d been playing live and playing music for so long but this a new experience. And I love new experiences. I mean when you are in a studio you are in the studio, so it doesn’t matter whether you are in L.A. or whatever, you’re just locked in a room for two weeks. I got into it, though, I liked it, and Fab was cool. He had lots of good ideas, but he also wanted to make my record so that’s how we looked at it and he didn’t make a record for himself. Everything worked for me, and we got the sound that I was going for so basically it came down to choosing what were the best tunes to go on the record and you know that is where the honesty on a record comes from. Rather than just having an artist do whatever the producer wants them to do to sell more records it was a more artist orientated album were there really is a statement on the record.”

 

Cut Against The Grain is out now through Mascot.

 

Written by David Griffiths

 

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TURN THE PAGE OF ISSUE #22

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Written by Dave Griffiths

Dave has worked as a music & film journalist for over 20 years now. Aside from Heavy he does radio and various podcasts as well. He is the proud owner of Metal Cat.

PROPER GANDER / Ezekiel Ox

Taking Back Sunday