AWOLNATION's Aaron Bruno wants little more than to be at home.
That fact is evident in a number of aspects of his band's new album, Here Come the Runts.
Runts was the first album Bruno recorded entirely in his home studio in Malibu, California. The photos on the album sleeve were all taken in Bruno's house. Even the stage setup on the band's current U.S. tour is meant to evoke his living room.
But it goes deeper than that.
The album title was inspired by scenes from Bruno's home, where he and his wife foster puppies, he recently told Q104.3 New York's "Out of the Box" with Jonathan Clarke.
"We always are drawn to the runt of the litter in a lot of ways," Bruno said. "They have to scrap a little bit more. They're overlooked in many cases, and they shouldn't be. A lot of people who are against all odds and are maybe unnoticed, I think, with all the obstacles end up being stronger and have to find a different way to stand out. That even goes in the music industry as well. It felt like that for me anyways."
Whether the theme of perseverance jumps out on the album or not, Bruno says his own status as a "runt" is simply part of his psyche.
"I had two record deals, both totally failed," Bruno recalls. "I was 'damaged goods' in the industry, so you know I became a runt by design—accidentally in a lot of ways."
Bruno's blissful Malibu escape, the sunlight, the beach and the waves, all represents the fruits of his years of struggle, the droughts and the rain season that followed when he got his first hit.
Malibu s a reminder of every time Bruno was told he wasn't ready; every time someone gave up on him; every time he didn't give up on his dreams, regardless of how small, ignored and underfed he might have been.
"The struggle is everything in life, I think," he says. "Especially with music. When there's some sort of element with an uphill battle to get to a point. You can appreciate the highs a lot more when you had to walk through the swamps of the lows."
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Photo: Getty Images