They say it all the time when a young singer-songwriter talks about experiences beyond his years: You have to have loved to write a love song; experience loss to write its bitter foil.
But for Kennewick singer-songwriter Aaron Schroeder, the songs he writes reflect what he reads. At 24, he does have a wealth of life experience, but when you're trying to write 10 songs a month and put out your third album in three years, what you've gone through only goes so far.
"I'm always stealing lines from books I'm reading," he said. "Writing songs can be so draining if you don't have something to reload the thought process."
The Los Angeles native has done a lot of bouncing around this decade. After graduating from high school he took off on a Hemingway-esque jaunt to Greece to fulfill dreams of working in vineyards and befriending a stray dog to tie a red bandanna around. The dream quickly soured when he ran out of money and ended up sleeping on the streets of an Athens ghetto.
But that experience probably led to one of his songs, Real World, which he wrote a couple of years later while living with a friend who was attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
From there, Schroeder left to repair his relationship with his longtime on-again, off-again girlfriend Rachel who was moving back to the Tri-Cities from Portland. And he's been here since. The girlfriend is on-again permanently, as they got married a few weeks ago in Las Vegas.
He also has put out two albums while living here that are available on iTunes titled Southern Heart in Western Skin and Black and Gold. He's working on his third now and after listening to a demo disc, it seems like a logical progression in his repertoire. Southern Heart was indie-folk fried in a light country coating, while Black and Gold was an expansion on the indie folk, layered with great instrumentation rather than just jangly guitars.
But Schroeder is quick to point this out as well.
"I used to believe that content, not delivery, was the key to a good song." he said. "But after listening to bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, I noticed that it wasn't so much the content but the way the lyrics were delivered."
He's right, in part. And while he didn't say it, he struck that balance well on Black and Gold. Where he is on the demo disc is a little hard to say because he does it all himself on synthesizers and his computer, which give a sound like that of Dan Bejar's Destroyer. This leaves the songs sounding a little hollow without a full band to flush them out. But he'll be having Mark Watrous and Isaac Carpenter of Gosling provide a lot of the piano and drums over the next few months.
"It's going to be my best record ... but I think I'm supposed to say that," Schroeder said.
He says his forthcoming album also was heavily influenced by David Bowie, which still is not as heavy an inspiration as literature is.
To get a sense of Schroeder's lit addiction, listen to this: His current goal is to read every Nobel Prize-winning work of literature. Aiding his habit is the fact that he works at Barnes & Noble.
"If you're gonna work retail, it's far more rewarding pushing books rather than sub sandwiches," he said. It also gives him the chance to turn customers onto some of his favorite authors like Bernard Malamud, Don DeLillo and Henry Miller.
If you were to see Schroeder, you might pick up on the bookworm vibe.
He wears thick-rimmed glasses with a foppish haircut. But if you experience his music, you'll be opened up to a whole lot more than just one guy's take on love, loss and one big world.
*Jeremy Dutton: 582-1525; firstname.lastname@example.org