The Prog Report: USA

Austin, Texas is known for its great local music scene, as well as, the week long music conference South by Southwest (SXSW), where many indie bands get their chance to showcase to record labels and new fans…

Having attending on a few occasion I never had to fortune of discovering a great new Prog band as most of the bands that you might find in Austin and SXSW are alternative, metal or just plain weird. But many would be surprised to discover that now Austin has a growing prog scene. One of the bands finding success there is the Aaron Clift Experiment. The band are preparing to release their second album called Outer Light, Inner Darkness on September 15th.

Aaron, who grew up exposed to music at a young age describes a fateful day at a music store when he was 15 as the turning point in his life. “I had recently discovered the term “progressive rock” with a search on All Music Guide. The music sounded like it was right up my alley: a fusion of classical and rock music – 2 genres I loved. At the music store, I found used copies of 3 album recommended by AMG: Genesis’ Selling England by the Pound, The Moody Blues’ Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Dream Theater’s Images in Words. After my first listen to all of these albums, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in music and someday start a band that played similar music.”

The Aaron Clift Experiment formed in 2011 after Aaron felt he needed a full band to realize the music he had been writing. Following a few lineup changes, the band settled with the current lineup of Aaron on keys and vocals, Joe Resnick on drums, Eric Gutierrez on guitar, and Devin North on bass.

A huge Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones fan, Aaron says his girlfriend pushing him to get a TV is what led him to discover those shows and inspired the album.

Outer Light, Inner Darkness is an album about conflict, and I’d say that a lot of the influence for that concept came from a lot of TV shows and movies I watched in 2013 and 2014 that inspired me as well as global events and some personal moments in my life. In 2013, my girlfriend finally begged me to get a TV so she could watch shows and movies with me, so I obliged. Around that time, she introduced me to 2 shows that I immediately fell in love with: Game Of Thrones and The Walking Dead. The dark vibe and conflict in these shows inspired several songs from the album (“Locked” is a retelling of The Walking Dead episode, The Suicide King from Rick’s perspective, and Your Arms Hold Them to the Dark is an homage to the nastier characters from Game of Thrones like Joffrey and Ramsey). “

The band went to Kickstarter to fund the album and raised over $15,000. “It was quite an intense process! The campaign required months of preparation and months of follow up. But, I’m very pleased by the end result and overwhelmed by the generosity of the fans.“

As far as the progressive music scene growing in his town, Aaron says. “I am very excited to see how prog music has gotten a huge second wind in the last few years. If I had formed ACE 15 years ago, we probably would’ve had very few peers in Austin, but now, we’ve found a very exciting burgeoning scene in our hometown. The strong sense of community that’s developed in the Prog scene is one of the things I love the most about the genre.” The group have a release party in Austin on August 27th, are recording a Live EP and planning a video for the first single Kissed by the Sun. They plan to play some prog festivals in Europe next year.

Roie Avin is the Editor of The Prog Report website.