Michigan Rock: The Aimcriers Talk New Album, Indie Music Trends and More


Album cover for the Aimcriers, "Maybe Everything." This interview with the Aimcriers is about indie music trends.

The Aimcriers, “Maybe Everything” album cover – Band talks indie music trends – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo

Johnny Aimcrier of the Aimcriers talks about the band’s new album and indie music trends in this Local Music Beat column

Local music is thriving right now. Sure, it’s still difficult to compete with big names and large labels. But, in a world where literally anyone can release music via streaming services, the creativity and breadth of independent music is strong. The Aimcriers have been making Michigan indie rock for decades. The band, which hails from Grand Ledge, just released a new studio album called “Maybe Everything.” The record brims with imaginative alternative country-inspired songs, such as “All Away,” “Half the Story,” “You Know It’s Real” and more.

Johnny Aimcrier checked in with Audio Ink Radio’s Local Music Beat column to discuss the new release, life as an indie artist, musical trends and more. For more on the independent music scene, check out our interview with Chicago and Detroit-based rock band Vandalay here.

Anne Erickson: Congratulations on your new album, “Maybe Everything.” I really enjoy your alternative country and folk rock sound. What draws you to that genre?

Johnny Aimcrier: Thanks, Anne. It’s been a long road to getting “Maybe Everything” completed. When I was growing up, I was heavily influenced by my parent’s vinyl collection. It had The Mamas & the Papas, The Clancy Brothers, The New Christy Minstrels, Simon & Garfunkel, Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell, Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers. So, the acoustic guitar timbres of folk, county and western were engrained in my psyche.

As I grew older and started playing guitar, I gravitated to more distorted guitar sounds represented in bands like AC/DC, Social Distortion, The Cult and ZZ Top. What The Aimcriers end up sounding like, from a guitar perspective, is a combo of those styles. It makes me feel comfortable in layering vocals on top, whether that’s a personal love song or a short-story song. I love the freedom of writing in first, second or third person points of view over that bedrock of noise.

What was the recording process for “Maybe Everything” like?

Recording “Maybe Everything” took years. We started on an old ProTools LE system using DigiDesign equipment getting drums, bass and rhythm guitars together. When we upgraded software and gear, we had difficulties transferring over tracks, so we started over. The last album had multiple different musicians playing drums and bass. But, “Maybe Everything” has all drums by Danny Aimcrier and all bass guitar by Andy Aimcrier. On some tunes, we recorded those parts separately. On others, we recorded bass and drums together. I layered guitar parts on top of those in separate sessions. Then, we went about recording keys with Billy Aimcrier. Finally, we added backing vocals, guitars and a bit of horns with talent from Arizona to the Lansing area.

What’s your favorite song to perform live off the set and why?

Performing live, The Aimcriers are typically playing as a three piece with guitar, bass and drums, with three vocals often happening in the choruses. So, a song like “All Away” is probably my favorite to perform live. It chugs like an ’80s rock tune, and Danny and Andy really bring the backing vocals.

Grammy Award-winning producer Glenn Brown mixed and mastered the set. He’s one of Michigan’s biggest musical names. What did he bring to the project?

Glenn really took us up a few notches. He mastered the last album, “Solid State World.” When we completed that project, he mentioned that if he had the opportunity to have mixed it as well, it would have sounded even better. We believed him, so for “Maybe Everything,” he was our first choice for mixing, as well as mastering. He has an incredible set of ears. Glenn really communicates what he’s hearing as possible improvements in levels, balances and effects without being overbearing or condescending. He spent a lot of time working with us at his studio on vocal mixes and effects, and we are really happy with each song’s treatment. Also, we genuinely enjoyed spending time with him and hearing his stories about working in the studio and mixing live presentations with real rock stars.

Do you feel that live music has returned to where it was before the pandemic yet?

I guess live music has returned to pre-pandemic levels for the most part. But, I still hear some people say they are reluctant to go to bars, clubs and breweries because they’re now used to staying in and consuming entertainment online. I live for the live show, both in performing and witnessing. But, I have even struggled with seeing friends’ bands due to volume levels that make me feel like I’m yelling at people to chat and years of standing in front of Marshall half stacks have made me a bit hard of hearing. So, I struggle with communicating with all of the wonderful people I see at shows. I almost long for watching, listening and dancing to hours of music and then going to a sexy coffee or tea shop to talk about what we saw and heard.

Do you think music fans are more appreciate of live shows now that they went through that drought during the pandemic?

I think many music fans are more appreciative of the return of live shows. I count myself as one of them. In the past, I wouldn’t gravitate to solo acoustic shows. But, I’m finding I enjoy those as much as loud rock shows . I’m intrigued when a person or group curates a list of interesting covers along with their originals and supplies simple histories on why they like a song they’re about to play’ and presents them in a stripped-down version. Bring back “MTV Unplugged.”

What do you think is the significance of supporting local music and acts at these shows?

I have to admit that I don’t get out as much as I should to live shows. I could make excuses up and down, but they’d be nothing but excuses. The significance of supporting local music can be accomplished in additional ways, though. You can support by buying their music, both online and at shows, as well as buying their swag and bragging them up in interviews. A few of those names are A Rueful Noise, From Big Sur, The Stick Arounds and Jen Sygit.

Why do you believe it’s important for the local community to keep supporting local music?

It’s important because it is such a wonderful way to express oneself. There are so many genres of music. There’s something for everyone’s taste, from classical to punk to electronic to country and beyond. It’s also important to support it at the middle school and high school level because of the empowerment it gives to young people. Grand Ledge High School, near to where I live, has outstanding choir, band and musical programs. It literally brings tears to my eyes when I experience their performances and see the auditoriums and concert halls absolutely packed with supporters. The icing on the cake is to see the faces of those students post-performance.

What are your thoughts on indie music trends and the state of independent music today?

My exposure to the big machine during the ’90s was tangential when the Tempe, Arizona, scene was blowing up. It may have soured my delusions of grandeur. I love making records, but I love playing live even more. I’m better than content that what I’m doing with people I like can continue until I physically can’t do it. We’re doing it at the independent level. With the internet, today’s affordable recording technologies and college radio, I think independent music is in a great place.

The Local Music Beat spotlights indie music of all genres. If you have an idea for an artist to spotlight, contact us at anne@audioinkradio.com.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Alternative, Local Music Beat, Music, Rock, Rock News