Teenage guitar sensation Aaron Keylock will release his highly anticipated debut album Cut Against The Grain on 20th January 2017 via Provogue/Mascot Label Group (Black Stone Cherry, Monster Truck, Big Jesus, Vola, Joe Bonamassa)
Before releasing an official single he has already been highly touted as one of the UKs hottest acts to watch out for; Kerrang! declared him the “New Solo Superstar” in the 2015 Fresh Blood List (Alongside PVRIS, Slaves, SHVPES, Qween Kwong & Knucklepuck); at Bloodstock 2014 Metal Hammer wrote “It’s ludicrous that someone as talented as Aaron Keylock is a mere 16 years old but if anyone can shred like Gary Moore, this young buck can.” Total Guitar called him one of 2016s ‘Ones to Watch’ after seeing him at Dot to Dot saying “TG caught his set and we walked away with our brain thoroughly melted”, Classic Rock included him in the Sounds of and Class of 2015 and have called him “blistering” and a “precocious talent”.
He picked up the guitar aged 8 and by the age of 11 he was rocking the clubs in his hometown, Oxford. Already a young road rock warrior with hundreds of shows under his belt; at age 12 he was arguing with club doormen who wouldn’t let him into venues he was booked to play, he performed at the historic Jazz Café and Alexandra Palace in London as well as the Ace Café. He’s played Biker rallies across the UK where Harley Davidsons would screech on the stage around him, filling the room with smoke during the gigs.
You sure started early playing guitar, starting at 8. Can you tell us if there was a moment of clarity that you had such a gift and that you had the passion to become a guitar legend?
There wasn’t a moment I knew I had a gift or anything like that, but there was a moment I knew I wanted to make records and play shows and that was a couple of years after starting to play I went to see the Black Crowes in London with my dad and it was a completely new experience. The crowd, the energy, the attitude of the band and just the pure excitement and adrenalin of a show, that was the catalyst for me to go out and play live.
I love the story about not being let into clubs that you were booked to play at the age of 12 can you tell us about those experiences?
To be fair most places were pretty cool but obviously turning up to a night club at 12 with a guitar in your hand saying you there to play can cause some dilemmas! The one that always stands out was when we were playing in hipster Shoreditch in London and we loaded in and sound checked then we went out for a pizza and the security wouldn’t let us back in. All our gear was in there and we were meant to start in 5 minutes! It got sorted it turned out to be a great show!
Your presser says that you played at biker Rallies and Harley Davidsons would ride on the stage with you. Can you tell us about that? Sounds like a blast!
Well I was taking every gig I could at that age and we got offered a Bike show in Kent which lead to many other bike rally shows. At one of them we got there and they said we’re going to do some burn outs in between your two sets and I said that’s fine but it ended up being in the middle of the first set, not quite the pyrotechnics I was expecting..
When you were on tour with Blackberry Smoke you had to sleep in a room with snakes? If that was me I would freak out and not sleep! Tell us about the night and why you had to sleep in the same room as snakes!
Well that was our first experience of being on the road and playing every night. We had a friend who lived near one of the shows and he asked us back and said we could stay there so we went back and it was in an old church with bikes in there, snakes, guns, strip poles, it was an interesting night! We always try to catch up when we’re near him on tour.
I do like that you have artists that have inspired you but you know that you have to be inventive and see what comes out. Is this how your unique sound came about? I like it that I can hear your own sound coming through you songs but also a hint of artists that have inspired you.
Yeah! That’s always been really important to me. I always loved the musicians where as soon as they play a note or sing a line you know who it is straight away, but from a young age I was always trying to find my inspiration and sound, so I guess that’s what it’s all about just being honest with what you do and who you are and getting your personality across in your music.
Your sound is so honest and your lyrics so relatable. For example I am listening to ‘All the Right Moves’ right now and I feel that song could have been written for me. ‘ I say that I am in control but I lie to myself’
This sums me up perfectly! I really do feel that I am in control but then something happens and I realise that I am wrong. How does it feel that people connect to your songs so well? I have read comments on facebook that say the same thing.
When you see people out there hands together for a song you wrote in your house it’s pretty incredible. But when the song means something to you it’s a great feeling just to sing it every night so that’s why I love writing so much! I think it was Leon Russell who said a poem is a naked person and that’s kind of what I like to remember!
Can you tell us the inspiration behind the song for you?
“All the right moves” is just really about following a dream and the ups and downs that go with that. Lyrically it comes across as a male/female relationship song but I was really trying to find an analogy about the knock backs you get and just believing in what you do and who you are I guess.
Your music video for ‘All the Right Moves’ is in a live setting with a full band. Do you have the same band that tours with you? Can you introduce them to us?
Yeah the guys in the video I’ve been with for a couple of years now so we’ve been playing shows together for a long time! I had some cool guys out in LA for the album so it was cool to have a different vibe and a new fresh take on the songs and then also to bring them back to England to my guys over here with a fresh sound too! But yeah it’s Jordan Maycock on bass and Sonny Greaves on drums.
How was your experience with Pledge Music? It is a great way to raise some funds and connect with fans.
Pledge were really helpful and we made some video content specifically for them. We haven’t used their site to raise funds for recording on this album, more to increase awareness and create an easy method for everyone looking to pre-order the album.
Can you tell me 5 songs that you will never play and the reason why?
This is a hard one as there are so many! I agree with the Tom Petty quote where he described modern country as bad rock with a fiddle so there are a lot of songs right there.
Yes, great answer!
How are you feeling in the lead up to you release date for you album in January? There are loads of fans counting the days according to facebook!
It’s great I just want to get it out there! It’s a new experience so I’m looking forward to it! I’ve been sat on the songs so long it’ll feel good just to get them out for people to hear!
Thanks Aaron, I wish you all the best for your album release.
By the time he was 13 years old he was playing every night of the week and met modern guitar icon Joe Bonamassa who gave the young Aaron advice from his time as a young guitar hero; aged 14 he was bundled out of the backdoor of the Camden Blues Kitchen as the London Riots raged across the city; at 16 he supported US rockers Blackberry Smoke on their ‘Leave A Scar’ UK tour, bedding down in shops after each show with one night sleeping in a workshop surrounded by motorbikes, rifles, snakes and a 9 foot python.
The Bloodstock Festival crowd head-banged to Against The Grain in 2014 and at Download 2015 he played to a squeezed to capacity tent. Since then, he has gone back on tour with Blackberry Smoke for the 2016 ’Like An Arrow’ tour, been on the road with The Answer, The Cadillac Three, The Graveltones, Wilko Johnson, Joanne Shaw-Taylor and Dan Patlansky as well as blistering sets on the 2015 festival circuit at Dot to Dot and Ramblin’ Man.
The young gunslinger headed to LA to record Cut Against The Grain in 2016 with producer Fabrizio Grossi who has previously worked with Alice Cooper, Dave Navarro, Slash, Ice-T, George Clinton and Zakk Wylde. The album highlights a prodigious young British rock talent completely at one with his guitar, blasting out his first songs with a raw and powerful attitude. He showcases Americana tinged slide rock guitar in tracks such as Against The Grain, Down and Sun’s Gonna Shine whilst flashes of Gary Moore haunt the epic Just One Question and All The Right Moves.
Talking about the album Aaron reflects; “Just One Question was probably the first song I ever wrote when I was 13. Musically and lyrically it was just a blues song and it’s funny to think it’s still with me and that I’ve been playing it for almost 5 years!” Continuing he adds “Against the Grain was penned about 3 years ago now and has grown on the road; I had a Led Zeppelin style riff, mixed it with some Johnny Winter vibe and stamped my own style on it.” Crowd favourite Medicine Man was the first song he ever demo-ed whilst the hints of Rory Gallagher on All The Right Moves is a lightning rocker that’s fast becoming a live favourite.
Down has 3 different time signatures and oozes positivity about keeping strong and believing in yourself, That’s Not Me was inspired by The Faces and No Matter What The Cost is an expressive nod towards the Allman Brothers. “I guess what I’ve always loved about Rock n’ Roll is that you’re free to express yourself in many ways and to use many guitar techniques to convey different emotions…My influences really vary!” he adds.
“Falling Again was a song I wrote about trying to find my way through rock n roll as a 16 year old kid and Try is about feeling lost and trying to find somewhere that felt like home. I guess growing up in a small village in Oxfordshire and being the one 70’s inspired long haired hippie kid kind of influenced me as songwriter trying to find something to say.”
Things have been building momentum and in Cut Against The Grain, Aaron Keylock is set to launch himself on the world full throttle