Former Day Creeper strives for “acceptable” in his solo guise
Recording solo has allowed singer and guitarist Aaron Troyer unparalleled creative freedom, while also holding him captive in the basement of his Clintonville home for indeterminate stretches of time.
Troyer, who fronted now-defunct Day Creeper and continues to moonlight in the sporadically active Outer Spacist, said he allows his more obsessive qualities space to flourish in his solo guise, which can result in long hours spent working in isolation. According to the musician, he recorded many of the songs for his most recent album, Lone Offender, as often as eight or nine times in search of an “acceptable” version.
“I get kind of obsessive about these things somethings,” said Troyer, who recorded the album analog to tape, pressing 100 copies to vinyl LP that will be available when he headlines a record release show at Dirty Dungarees on Saturday, June 30. “It's hard to describe. … I can't really determine if something's right, but I can pinpoint all the things that are wrong and then try to fix them to where finally it's acceptable. It's never perfect, but I'm striving for acceptable.”
Writing for Day Creeper, Troyer at times felt hemmed in by the garage-punk label affixed to the band — “I didn't want to tell anyone how to play, so that's how we played and that's what we did,” he said — so his solo music walks a less predictable path, ranging from sneering, synth-spiked rumblers (“Safe, White, Clean”) to strutting slices of unrushed, vintage rock 'n' roll (“Sensational Deal”).
“Toward the end of Day Creeper, it was just two loud-ass guitars going full throttle and I'm just yelling over them, and I don't want to do that anymore,” said Troyer, who will be backed for the solo show by drummer Elijah Vazquez, bassist Chris Palcsak and keyboardist Jesse Baker. “With this album, I wanted a little more negative space and a little more attention to structure and hooks, and not just, ‘Chug, chug, chug.' I've been taking music somewhat seriously for 20 years now, and it's taken nearly that long to not need to be the loudest and fastest thing.”
Lyrically, however, common themes surface throughout, whether Troyer is lamenting the rampant materialism at the heart of capitalist culture on “Store” (“Deliver me to a place to buy/Possessions I'll despise,” he spits) or briefly touching on the disparate responses to the 1980s crack epidemic and the current opioid crisis on the racially charged “Safe, White, Clean.”
“No one really gave a shit about the crack epidemic, but when [opioids] started affecting white peoples' kids it became a national concern,” Troyer said. “It's a double-standard.”
At the same time, Troyer is aware of his privileged lot in life, and he proceeds with a degree of caution when writing about social ills.
“[The new album] is one of the more political things I've done, but I try to tread lightly with that stuff because I recognize my privilege as a white man,” he said. “I live in Clintonville, and it's all very nice and safe, but I teach in an inner-city school and I see the struggles of poverty. I see how society mishandles these things, and it can be frustrating. I see that, and I think it comes through in my writing. It's something I care about.”