Originally published online at BLUNT Magazine.
After 20 years of recording and performing, hardcore punk veterans Bane have decided to call it quits. With their final Australian tour on the horizon, we caught up with founding member and vocalist Aaron Bedard to discuss the band’s history, longevity and how hard it was to finally pull the trigger.
You’ve no doubt heard this question a thousand times at this point, but after roughly 20 years of activity, why stop now? What was the beginning of the end of Bane?
The beginning of the end was just real life. A lot of adult responsibilities began to cast their shadow more and more over our ability to stay an active band. Once people started dropping kids and buying houses, they needed a real income to sustain that stuff. It meant that touring the way we had became difficult. The years started to pile up; physically, things became more taxing. For me it became harder and harder to go out on a five-week tour and maintain the energy that’s expected of us. Once I broke that 40 mark, my knees sort of gave up on me. I don’t want to be the old man band that was once Bane. I don’t want kids looking at us thinking, “Oh, I remember when these guys used to be cool”. It scares me. It really scared me, enough to have the conversation that this band really needs to end. That was two years ago. We’re dragging our feet, trying to convince ourselves that we’re still supposed to be doing this. Time is getting short.
Bane started as a side-project for you from the band Converge – do you remember what it was like forming Bane and those first years of being in the band? Did you ever think that it’d evolve into its own entire thing? And now that it’s over, is it hard to let go of something that’s been such a big part of your life?
Never. This is beyond any of our wildest imaginations by far. Even when we did our first tour and made it to California – a place I’d never been in my entire life – and had a record on a record label, that was beyond anything that I’d ever believed could be done. Everything that came after that has been extra credit. We’ve been able to go everywhere. We’ve been so fucking lucky; we’ve made so many great friends. None of it was expected. If you had told me we were going to be a band for twenty years I would have laughed in your face.
You guys exist within a scene where bands finish almost as quickly as they start, in a very much twice as bright, twice as fast way – but you’ve been together for roughly two decades. Why do you think you’ve persisted for so long? What kept you motivated and inspired?
I’ve never landed on a definitive answer there. I’ve always suspected it was a few different things at play simultaneously. I think the chief amongst them is that we always stayed excited. We didn’t get jaded; we never did this so intensely that it began to lose its shine for us. If we have anything common amongst us, it’s that we’ve always had this wide-eyed excited view about the power music holds. We still get psyched to see band; we still get fucking giddy when we get to go onstage. Whenever we play a festival we’re always so excited to run around and see all these different bands. If we have anything in common, it’s that we stayed excited about music and being able to make music. Being in a band together always stayed cool for us. It never became a job, it never became something that was like: “Oh this is cool, but what’s next? How do we get paid, how do we get famous?” None of that shit ever played into it. We just stayed psyched about being kids in a band. I think that is probably the most important thing. We learned the fine art of compromise, sacrifice, coexisting in small spaces and respecting each other’s bullshit. That gave us some real longevity as well.
You’re straight-edge, and, correct me if I’m wrong, have been since before Bane even formed. Regularly you hear about people breaking edge, but you’ve stayed the course. Is this strict confidence in your beliefs something that allowed you and the band to continue moving forward throughout all these years?
I don’t think I’d blame straight-edge, but I’d blame a stubbornness that exist inside of me. When I find something that makes sense or when I find something I think it worthy I really cling to it. I wouldn’t say those two things have much to do with each other, but they’re both still a part of my life still speaks for the same personality trait, that I’m very loyal. If something fits and makes sense, then I’ll hold onto it. I’ll hold onto it for a good-fucking-long time. Straight-edge for me never wavered, I never felt tempted. The older I got the more I saw what it does to the people around me. The drugs, the alcohol and, fucking, people’s hair smelling like cigarettes – all that bullshit, led to stronger convictions. I didn’t need strong convictions to stay in Bane, but I did need to focus on the good than focus on what can be difficult about being in a touring band. It really depends on how you choose to look at it. You’re broke all the time, you’re away from your loved ones, it’s hard for you to maintain relationships – there’s a lot of reason to not want to do it, and if you concentrate on those chiefly then it’s easy to have your band break up. If you look at things from the other side of the coin, you can really concentrate on the beautiful things, the things that are rare that some people will never get to do and places people will never get to visit. If you concentrate on that, it makes it very easy to understand why I’ve been in this band for as long as I have.
Was the decision to break-up made before you started writing your final album Don’t Wait Up? Was it harder writing the lyrics, knowing this was the last thing you’d release and the last time you’d be in the studio with the band?
Yes, absolutely. It was the hardest lyrical task I’d been faced with, by far. It came with a great deal of pressure, a lot of which I put on myself to make sure that everything that needed to be said was said. There was the real feeling that this may be the last time that I’ll have this many people interested in what I have to say. That came with a lot of different emotions. There’s a song on there called “Park St.” which is about how blocked up I was, how I really did wrestle with actual writer’s block and actually not knowing how to do this; how to proceed with writing these final songs and put all of things I needed to put in there in there.
Do you think this album is your final definite statement of “We were Bane”? Do you think it captures that statement; is it the perfect exit music for the band as a whole?
I do. As cocky as that sounds, I think that it did. I think if you can say anything about Don’t Wait Up it’s that it’s a cohesive farewell record. It’s the work of five dudes who are very ware that this is it, and that we’re being forced to say goodbye to something that we love very much. I feel like, as the guy who wrote the lyrics, that I accomplished that.
The reviews and response to that record have all been immensely favourable – does seeing a positive reaction like that make for any feelings of “what if…?” Could you ever see yourselves returning to the studio as Bane?
Oh man, this year been fucked since the record came out because the response has been so overwhelmingly positive. There’s been so many times where we had to stop and pinch yourselves, and be like why are we stopping this? We love it so much, and people love it as well. There have been a lot of daydreams of mine where I try to find some loophole where we could write an seven-inch or get back to creating together, because it just feels so good to do it and it feels really good to do it with people all around you telling you that you did it well. That’s a real addictive thing for an artist to be able to achieve. It’s weird, but at the same time we don’t want to turn our backs on what brought us to this decision. The reason Don’t Wait Up exists is because we attacked it knowing that this is it. We wouldn’t be able to duplicate that emotion for a second time. It’d feel like it was bullshit. It’s tricky – I don’t believe we’d ever be in the studio together again, but I have spent a lot of time this year daydreaming about it and wondering if this was the smartest decision. I don’t know the answer.
It’s a weird catch-22. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
What’s the one moment from your career that your particularly proud of, the one moment that made you think, “Fuck yeah, Bane!”
No, I can’t pick one, you know? When you ask that questions there’s a lot of different stuff that flashes through my head. Some of it is real selfish; some of it is real intimate like when a single kid tells you that the song “Superhero” helped them get past some obstacle in their life, and just being to provide that for one person, to be in a band that literally inspired one kid to make his life better is more than anything I could’ve asked of my entire life. It vindicates everything for me. Then you think of times where you played to a thousand kids and you have them all in the palm of your hand, and everyone is singing and going buck-wild, that feels pretty definitive too. There’s been a lot of those moments and I can’t pinpoint just one. There have been times where me and another member have squashed a fight and just hugged it out, realizing how frivolous we were being. Those are impactful moments for me to look back. I can’t possibly pick just one.
Bane may be over, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done with music. Will we still be seeing you and other members of the band around?
Absolutely! Zach Jordan [Guitarist] will segue from bane right into another band. I don’t know what band that’ll be but that kid is literally built for this life, to be in a band, to be on the road. There’s no way he’s not going to continue to be on stage and make people happy. Same goes for our bass player James Siboni, whose sort of the newest member of Bane; he’s the youngest kid, he’s only been in the band for a little over a year but he’s in other bands called Loma Prieta and Asid Bateri. The kid loves hardcore. There’s no way he’s going to stop when Bane ends. He’s going to take what he’s learnt hear and continue to move, for sure. I like to think that I’m not going to be able to stay away from it forever, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to find some local guys who want to do a demo or maybe I’ll do more DJing. I know I’ll have to do something, because I love creating music.
You’re a big comic-book fan, any chance of you turning towards that medium like Corey Taylor or Gerard Way have?
It’s funny that you ask that because I do think about it from time to time. That might be a medium that I might enjoy messing around in because it feels like you get to direct a movie without having any of the technical skills or any of the equipment or any of the crew. You just get to tell us a story in a very visual way, just by using a pen and a page. Someone else can draw the art for you, and help create a world. That is something I’ve been thinking about because I read a lot of comicbooks that I think aren’t particularly well written and aren’t particularly well paced. If these fucking hacks can get paid for this, maybe I can sit down and try to tell a story using this format.