Chilean progressive rock band Aisles has been hard at work for the last few years. After nearly 20 years, four critically acclaimed studio albums, and a number of high profile performances, Aisles has enjoyed an upward trajectory. But with the recent addition of singer Israel Gil, and a series of song releases that signal some major stylistic changes, Aisles is ready to take the world by storm.
We had a great chat with German Vergara (guitarist, songwriter) about Aisles’s new direction, their new singer, some of their imagery and stylistic choices, and more. Be sure to check out their latest singles and videos, and stay tuned for a brand new single, titled “Thanks to Kafka”, which will be out on October 29th. Click on the image below to pre-save on Spotify.
You’ve been hard at work on a new album. What can you tell us about the new record?
It’s an album with a more direct approach, in a way it’s more connected with current events. It’s an album inspired in crisis, it’s loaded with strong emotions, things we have lived through as a band and things I personally had to go through influenced the creation of this album. The album was made during the pandemic and I finished most of the lyrics after a break up from the woman I had been with for more than 17 years.
Musically, it’s heavier than our previous records. It’s the first time we incorporate 8 string guitars to our sound, and at the same time, we’re borrowing some elements from hip hop, electronic music, and some other sounds that today might be considered “urban”.
Tell us about your new singer, Israel Gil. What dynamic do you feel like he brings to the group?
He brings so much energy to the band, perhaps because he is so young or perhaps because he joined a band with a career and a 5th album in the process (which is something for which to be hyper motivated). Being young is a good attribute when a band is reinventing itself one more time. As a person he is very friendly, open and really talented. He even plays the violin. So we couldn’t be happier with the selection we made.
What is your compositional process as a band?
We don’t only have one way of working. Hawaii was a very collective process. Most of the music in that album was created during practice with the whole band in the same room. The music we started releasing this year comes from individual ideas that were later arranged by the whole band. We also worked in pairs or small groups. I write the lyrics once there is a music structure over which I can start trying ideas.
You’ve also released a set of singles: “Fast”, “Disobedience”, and the most recent single, “Megalomania”. Tell us about each of these songs and the themes that they take on.
“Fast” is a song that represents all the contained desire to come back as a band after having changed our lead vocalist. It’s also the reflection of the times of change we’re living and the pressure of time we feel because of the time we’ve been a band. “Fast” is a consequence of the feeling that we’re actually running out of time. I say this as a metaphor of the band’s biography and as a metaphor for life.
“Disobedience” is about the attitude of being a rebel when it comes to following values imposed by others that don’t necessarily serve your identity or your authenticity. It has the tone of protest against figures of authority, against cults, religion, society, the opinion of others etc…
The statement with the song is: Be yourself and don’t feel guilty for that.
“Megalomania” is about the costs one might have to pay when pursuing very personal goals to the point of obsession. On a different level it’s a song inspired by my break up. I was writing the lyrics in the days I knew that my relationship with my partner of 17 years was coming to an end. I kept hearing in my head the line “in all the lovers I kiss, I will always see your face…” It was my way of saying that I would never forget her or that in a way I would never stop loving her.
Tell us about Medu1a and how you worked with them to design the accompanying art for each of the singles.
We sent them our music and iterated some ideas with the whole band and the Chilean artist Jean-Pierre Cabañas until we reached a concept that made sense for all of us. He is very talented and wanted to take the covers of Aisles to a different world and he totally accomplished that. He is very recognized in Chile and has won awards for his art.
The tracks we heard show a stylistic shift from previous works from Aisles- more heavy, more synthesizers, etc. What would you say were your biggest influences musically and artistically on this new record?
We were influenced by so many bands and artists, some of us started listening to Animals as Leaders, Leprous, Riverside and Muse to name a few.
I took some of the urban feel of The Weeknd, Post Malone, and the use of synthesizers comes from the influence from the music of video games, a cyberpunk atmosphere and our intention to convey a hyper-modern aesthetic.
Pop music has been an influence too. The classic prog influences are deeply ingrained in our blood so we made a conscious effort to distance ourselves from that.
Apart from singles, you’ve also released some really high quality videos, such as the animated “Fast” and the very cinematic “Megalomania”. Tell us about how these videos came to be.
From the early days of Aisles we dreamt of complementing our music with high quality videos and a very visual live show. I’m very happy that now we are able to produce that content.
The video for “Fast” was co-written by Francisco Ortega, who is a very well known writer, and I, and It’s about a society governed by a totalitarian order which is also an Artificial Intelligence. He is an amazing storyteller and also a fan of the band, so when I reached out to him to ask him if he would be interested in writing the script with me he agreed immediately.
“Megalomania” is a video about a polyamorous relationship that comes to an end and the dark places that are visited by these characters after the break up. The video is about an alternative form of love and about loneliness after love ends. It’s also about intolerance and violence against minorities.
Any streams or live performances on the horizon?
We hope to start touring in 2022, we hope we can come back to places like Europe, the US and Mexico.
Who are some Chilean and South American bands you feel like don’t get enough credit?
I think a Chilean band that deserves more international recognition is Los Jaivas. Also, the Argentinian Serú Girán.
What are some bands that you all can agree on as a group?
Rush, and Yes are probably our stronger influences but we listen to so much music and not only in the progressive rock genre.
Jean Luc Ponty, Allan Holdsworth, Genesis, King Crimson, Iron Maiden, Queen, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Marillion, Porcupine Tree, Pat Metheny Group, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, are some others that come to mind but who doesn’t like those bands.