David von Mering and Carter Schultz grew up together in Wayland, Massachusetts, a suburb just west of Boston. Half way through their tenure at their local high school, the two formed the band that we now know as Aer. Heavily influenced by the likes of Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante, and Alex Turner, David and Carter carved out a musical niche that can be best described as a mix of pop, reggae, and hip-hop.
With a little bit of luck and an enormous amount of talent, the boys have continually moved forward in their career since starting out. In five short years they have managed to release three full length albums, including the recently released “One of a Kind,” and have toured the country playing for hordes of their fans. Not ones to remain complacent, David and Carter continue to work on new material and have hit the road once again for their Fresh Aer Movement Tour with the equally talented Cody Simpson.
Aer show no signs of slowing up and are a breath of fresh air in an ever-changing industry. Steve Johnson of Icon vs Icon recently sat down with Aer to discuss their influences, what keeps them inspired, their recently released third album “One of a Kind,” and what you can expect from their Fresh Aer Movement Tour.
What are your first memories of music and what drew you to it?
David: I remember that my grandmother had a James Blunt CD that she really liked and she sent it to me.
Carter: I used to play piano and I hated it. It took me six years to realize that it’s actually a good skill to have. I just remember being young and going to piano lessons after school all the time, but not practicing and all that stuff. You know, an interesting first encounter.
Was there a moment when you guys knew a career in music was something you had to pursue?
David: I remember being in high school and my mom was yelling at me in the car on the way to school. She was saying that I need to apply myself. I remember just saying, “School’s not for me. I’m going to do music.” I didn’t really think it through. I didn’t know I was going to tell her that, but it just came out of my mouth. My mom was just like, “Oh. OK.” So, I just really put my mind to it. When we starting making money off of it and were able to pay rent from it … that was definitely a reality check. It was like, “Oh, OK. It’s not just in my head. I can do it.”
Who or what had the biggest impact on you as an artist?
Carter: In general, Anthony Kiedis. He probably had the biggest impact on me.
David: Probably John Frusciante. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Arctic Monkeys. Alex Turner. I really like Jay-Z. You probably can’t tell in the music I make, but I really like him. I like his business mindset and the way he does things. HIs moves … he definitely influences me in how I decide things for my business.
Can you guys give us a little history about how you first met and how you became Aer?
Carter: Dave and I met in elementary school way back in the day. In middle school we were good friends and hung out. We had a band together in high school. In our junior year we formed what is now Aer. So it’s been about five years at this point.
What has kept you guys inspired since starting out?
David: We are definitely lucky to have things move continually forward. So, that’s inspiring. To be able to tour … we did a tour last summer with The Dirty Heads. We did big amphitheaters and that was definitely a big step for us relatively quickly. Now we are good friends with those guys. Now we have a tour with Cody Simpson, who is a pretty big celebrity. We just met him. He’s a great dude. We are really excited about that. We’ve had a lot of things happen to us and we feel really lucky. We work hard and we’re prepared. It just so happens that things move and we get lucky enough to have these opportunities present themselves. We’re lucky and it keeps inspiring itself.
For someone who hasn’t heard your music, how would you best describe it?
Carter: I usually say it’s pop, reggae, hip-hop kind of stuff. Colorful hip-hop. Who knows? It’s impossible. I ask myself every day. [laughs]
David: What I tell people … If you like all kinds of music then you might like this kind of music.
That’s an accurate description based off of what I heard. You hit the nail on the head with that one. [laughs]
Your third album, “One of a Kind,” hit stores last month. When did you begin working on that new material and what went into the process of putting that new album together?
David: We started in October. We went into the studio in Brooklyn. This time we were in the studio with engineers. We had never really worked with other people. We never let anyone else touch the songs we made. That definitely affected the album. We also worked with a lot of other producers for the first time. It was definitely a learning experience and I learned a lot from how they do things. It’s a different way of working when you have someone else … it’s more of an effort and a collaboration.
Did you guys have goals or expectations for the album?
Carter: We definitely want to continue building our story and our catalog. Show progression. We weren’t pushing too hard for radio this time around. We knew we wanted to put something out for the fans and kind of add some story.
David: We’ve never made an album that was not intended to shock. This was our first album where we were like, “Let’s just have a little fun. Kill some time. Do a tour.” We have talked to labels and stuff, but what they wanted was a little too fast paced. We wanted to do something that was a little bit slower. We wanted to make sure we were moving, but didn’t have to make any compromises for a label.
There are a lot of moving parts to bringing an album to life. Did you face any challenges while putting the material together?
David: Yeah! Definitely! The song, “The Rain,” which we have a video coming out for in a bit, we spent a lot of time on it. It was first a piece that I didn’t really believe in at all. My manager called me and we talked about it. He was like, “Everyone loves this song.” I didn’t even connect with it at all. I thought it was whatever. Then we had a bridge and added all of these things to it. Then we had a complete song. I’ve never really done that to a song. I was like, “I’m going to work toward it and see what happens.” It ended up being a good one. It wasn’t straightforward.
Speaking of your songwriting process. Has it changed since your previous albums?
Carter: In terms of writing the lyrics, no. It’s pretty much the same method that I have always used. Working with Printz Board and Andrew Watt, we learned a lot of things that we wouldn’t have learned without expanding. It affected the songwriting process for the better. We definitely learned a lot this time around.
You guys have come a long way since starting out. How have you evolved as musicians?
Carter: We’ve definitely gotten older right. [laughs]
Aren’t we all. [laughs]
David: I guess I’ve become more conscious of the fact that I’m a guitar player. My goal is to never be the guy who walks into Guitar Center and be the loudest and faster player. I want to know how little I can do, but still affect someone with the guitar. I think that working with other people on this album, they came up with some chord changes that I wouldn’t have thought of. Touring with these bands over the last year or two has been great for my playing, in terms of getting better and opening my mind to other things. I’ve definitely grown in that sense.
Carter: I’ve definitely tried to hone in on the craft at the end of the day. I’m keeping my ears open a lot more than I used to, which helps when you are writing lyrics. I hear cool sounding stuff all day. I’ll need to write it down in my notepad and stuff, next thing I know I’ll be in an elevator writing half a verse about sexy girls. [laughs] It’s just being more conscious and keeping my eyes open. So much inspiration comes in the weirdest forms at the most random times. So, it’s about being able to recognize that and pick it up.
You guys are starting your Fresh Aer Movement Tour. What can people expect from your live show and how does it differ from previous tours?
David: They can expect the craziest shit they’ve ever seen. [laughs] There’s going to be energy. You are going to move. You might catch Carter in the crowd. You might get some water on you. Your girlfriend might climb on stage. You never know what is going to happen.
Wow. I’ll be sure to keep my wife away from there. [laughs]
David: Yeah! [laughs]
What excites you most about the music industry right now?
Carter: It’s amazing, but scary and shitty at the same time. It’s weird. It’s like taking a bunch of chains off the music industry and changing everything. It’s exciting to see how the game will change around that.
It’s definitely evolving, I give you all of the credit in the world.
Carter: Thanks! [laughs]
What is the best lesson that can be taken from your journey in the music industry so far?
David: What I’ve learned the most over the past couple of years is basically to not limit yourself. Just because I got my foot in the door by doing things my own way, doesn’t mean that it’s going to work forever. I think it’s important, especially when you’re young, to let other people help you get better at your craft. Be patient. I definitely learned that.
Carter: I completely agree with everything Dave said. Keep moving and don’t stop. I know that sounds mad cliche. It sounds like a Gatorade commercial. [laughs] Don’t get too comfortable. Keep moving.
What else do you guys have coming up besides the tour? Any plans for another album?
David: Right now we’re hanging out. I definitely want to take my time with any next project. I want to be careful with our next move. It’s a very exciting time right now. It’s very important that the next move is right. I’m not really thinking about when that is happening. I definitely think about music every day but I’m not thinking about the next album. Right know I’m really focused on the shows and reminding people in every city that we’re a force to be reckoned with. That’s where I am right now. Just preparing my mind, body, and soul to do all of that.
You are very busy. When you’re not recording or performing live shows, where do you focus your energy? Are you involved in any charities we can help spread the word about?
Carter: We’re doing a ticket giveaway for our friend’s charity, which is the Pam Washek Charity. She was a friend we grew up with in Wayland. In general though, just trying to stay healthy and go out and drink and have fun. [laughs] It’s fun being 22 and living in New York City.
You guys are from the Boston area. How are you getting along in New York?
David: I’m fighting people every night. [laughs]
Carter: He has his own fight club. [laughs]
Well that’s all I have for you. I really appreciate you taking time to speak with me. Best of luck out there.
Carter: Thank you so much!
David: Thanks for your time!
For the latest news and tour dates for Are, visit their official site at www.freshaermovement.com.