BANE's Aaron Bedard on reuniting, 'Give Blood' at 20, therapy, new music | Revolver

BANE's Aaron Bedard on reuniting, 'Give Blood' at 20, therapy, new music

Hardcore stalwarts have returned for another backward glance
Bane This is Hardcore 2023 live 1600x900, Serious Cinema
Bane at This Is Hardcore 2023
photograph by Serious Cinema

Revolver has teamed with Bane for an exclusive "coke bottle clear" vinyl variant of Give Blood's 20-year anniversary re-press. Only 300 copies, so get yours from our shop!

Bane have started again.

In 2016, the Worcester, Massachusetts, hardcore mainstays tearfully bid adieu to their adoring fans at the end of a drawn-out farewell, which included one last album (2014's phenomenal Don't Wait Up), two years of touring the world, and a blowout, two-hour-long goodbye show at Worcester's historic Palladium venue.

The band — who formed in 1995, released several albums and EPs that rank among their era's best, and cultivated a remarkably devoted fanbase — were very adamant that those final Bane shows were truly their last. But things change.

In their absence, the core members of Bane — singer Aaron Bedard, guitarists Aaron Dalbec and Zach Jordan, and drummer Bob Mahoney — both privately and publicly expressed their regret that the band didn't keep going, but restarting the engine just wasn't a conversation that Bedard, who admits he spearheaded their breakup, would humor. 

Then, in 2021, their longtime friend and former bassist (from 2008-2012) Brendan "Stu" Maguire was enduring a nasty battle with cancer. As Bedard tells Revolver, eventually his treatment stopped working, and he was told by doctors to create bucket list of experiences he wanted to fulfill before he passed. Seeing his buddies in Bane play another show made the list, but sadly, that didn't end up happening until a few days after he passed, when Bane took the stage once again in July 2021 to play a benefit show for Maguire's family.

For Bedard, who stubbornly comitted himself to Bane's storybook ending, and refused to turn back on those words for years even though he and his bandmates missed playing in Bane dearly, that first show back made him see the bigger picture. 

"Seeing Stu have to face death, having to say goodbye to this world, to his daughters, to the things that meant more to him than anything in the world is really what did it," Bedard says during a Zoom call in early August. "To confirm to me that life is fucking short and there's nothing more important than to do the things that make you happy. That make you feel alive."

In early 2023, Bane announced that they were officially reuniting to play two back-to-back shows at Boston's 3,500-capacity Roadrunner venue in June. Both nights sold out. A few days later, the band traveled to the U.K. to perform to 5,000 hardcore die-hards at England's Outbreak Festival, and then they headlined day three of the annual This Is Hardcore festival in Philadelphia on August 6th. 

A few days after that latter show, Bedard spoke with Revolver about the dark aftermath of their breakup, the whirlwind emotions surrounding their reunion, the 20-year anniversary of their 2001 classic, Give Blood, and the prospect of new music. 

Bane live 2023 full crowd UNCROPPED , Serious Cinema
photograph by Serious Cinema

Well, at first I just sort of tried to understand what it was going to feel like. I was sort of deep into therapy. I was deep into my first few years of therapy of really figuring my shit out, being able to link a lot of connections to who I was now with the things I went through as a kid. A lot of those early days were kind of just filtered through me just trying to process it, trying to work my way through my relationship with loss and with change and with a lot of the things that were suddenly thrust upon me.

It wasn't easy. It was harder and probably sadder than I had even prepared myself for. If you sort of saw us in those last couple years, or you saw the documentary [2020's Bane: Holding These Moments], we were prepared for sadness. We were already sad that this was ending.Having it be a reality that's just in your room with you every day was fucking tough. Tougher than I had anticipated.

So, I started trying to find a new band ... Then my very good friend, Sam from Triple B Records, he sort of got the pieces together and we started a band called Antagonize that put out a record and played some shows for about a year. In the beginning,  it helped a lot because it was something, and I was feeling creative and I was feeling sort of plugged back into this community that I love, [that I was having a hard time not being very active in.

Then as it went along, it sort of served just as kind of a constant reminder of how different it was than Bane, and how you only get a Bane once. You only get that sort of connection with guys and everyone on the same page [once]. You don't just start a new band and have that again. Antagonize had a lot of other things going on, and there wasn't a lot of forward momentum that I had felt in the early days of Bane, where we were hungry and we wanted to struggle and kind of wanted to get our fucking name out there and to play to as many kids as possible. Towards the tail-end of Antag, I just kind of felt like, "God, do I miss being in Bane."

[It] was the classic, "You don't know what you have until it's gone" sort of thing. Then COVID happens, and that just was fucked for everyone. That was just kind of crazy for everyone having to process not only that regret in your life, but sort of all of your regrets, all of your decisions that led you here. This idea that things are temporary and they can be taken away from you very, very quickly and savagely. Then that was coupled with our buddy, Stu, who was really struggling with pancreatic cancer, and that also just put things in a real perspective.

There was no discussion of, "Maybe we should do this again." There was a sort of quiet understanding that if Stu needed us to do this again, we would do this again. My thing for the first three years after Bane had broken up … I was missing it, wishing that I had done things differently, sort of looking at my role in the breakup of the band and wishing I could go back and fix that and make different decisions and be less stubborn.

[But] I wasn't able to even recognize it as a possibility because I'm such a guy who, if I say I'm going to do something, then I do [it]. Honor means a lot to me, and Bane had said goodbye, and to me there was no way back from that. It wasn't like, "Oh, we can just change our mind." People came from all over the world to say goodbye to us. We poured so much emotion into this grand farewell. We can't turn our backs on that.

Then Stu gets sick, and then there's this idea that, "Well, if Stu needs us to play a show, all that fucking shit goes out the window." That really helped me to be able to look inside and start to be like, "Well, there are other options. There is an audible that you can call. I will not feel guilty. I will not feel like I'm a dishonorable person if Stu needs us to play a show to help raise money for him and his family." I knew that we were going to do it. Then, even my willingness to look at that as a possibility started to change my thinking [about reuniting the band].

Suddenly I started to be like, "Maybe it isn't black or white." For me, before Stu was sick it was just "no," there would be no way we could do it. We had said our goodbyes. Suddenly things start to change a little bit, and this is coupled with the sort of work that I'm doing on myself and starting to realize that sometimes you say things that were wrong or that you didn't understand, or that life has changed.

What happened is that the doctors told Stu the treatments weren't working and he needed to get out there and do the things that he really wants to do, and that he didn't have a lot of time left. He did actually make a list of things to do, places to go, experiences he wanted to have, and he wanted to book a show with his favorite bands. He wanted to be able to see his favorite bands play one more time. And it was his wife who called Zach [Jordan], our guitarist, and said, "I just want you to know you're on that list. Stu is just afraid to ask you guys. He doesn't want to put you in an awkward situation."

It was like, "If Stu wants us to play, we're fucking playing. It's as simple as that." Then it was like ripping the bandaid off. All of a sudden, all of that fear and anxiety of having said something and not wanting to turn my back on it was gone. In my mind, if we play one show, then we can play a thousand shows, you know?

It wasn't as sort of overpowering as I would've expected it to be. Somebody had a talk with me in 2020, the singer of the band Be Well, Brian McTernan. I went to see Be Well play and Bane's guitar player, Aaron Dalbec, plays bass in Be Well. I went down there, was talking to Brian, who's not only a good friend of the band, but he's the guy who recorded our demo, our seven-inches, Give Blood. He's not a member of this band, but he's as close as a friend can be.

He and I are talking and I'm saying how great it was to see Dalbec back on stage. Brian says, "It's great having him, but you know who he really wants to be on stage with." Dalbec has always been very open about how much he missed being in Bane and how he was ready a year after the breakup to jump back into the van if we said "go." I said, "Yeah, I know, but we said what we said, and it's really hard for me to go back on that."

He gave me a reality smack where he was like, "For every one kid that's going to talk shit on the internet or roll their eyes or be disappointed, there are 100 that are going to be so fucking stoked." As naive as this may sound to you, I had never thought of that. I had never really done the measurements. [Brian] changed my thinking on that.

Stu also. We were around him constantly throughout the first half of COVID, and he would say the same thing. He'd be like, "Who gives a fuck? Who fucking cares what somebody's going to say?" You look at him and you realize how short life is and how fleeting all of this is. Yeah, maybe it's crazy to be sitting around worrying about what Johnny on the internet has to say about Bane wanting to play shows again. 

When it finally came around this year, I was ready for there to be some severe backlash and have to have these conversations with strangers that I'm having with you … Yeah, [I've seen] a few quips and remarks about the "final" Bane show, but for the most part, people seemed thankful and they seemed understanding that this was something that we decided we needed to do.

We weren't doing this for any other reason other than that we desperately needed to be back onstage playing these songs with each other again. Anyone who had spent any significant amount of time with us in the seven years that Bane was away, if the subject of Bane came up, I think it was clear that we really missed it and that we had a hard time not playing with each other.

I have a real sort of fight or flight thing that comes with trust issues that I have going back to having a father who was very intermittent, in and out of my life, and was not a consistent role model. I grew up with just a real fear of change and a real need to be chosen. I had a hard time when people didn't pick me, and Bane was the most defining thing I'd ever done. It was the only thing that I felt I ever did well or that I could clearly see my efforts [pay off].

I loved it and I loved the road, and I love hardcore and I loved meeting new kids, so we were not ever able to reach that point of, like, "Well, we're getting to a certain age now. Maybe we should walk away from this." It kind of had to be ripped from me. "My fucking claws" is an analogy I use often. They were so deep in this, I didn't know how to let go, and then suddenly some of the guys started having families, started having kids, and their lives were changing. They needed to kind of reshape the way we toured or the intensity of the band, which was something that I was not able to see.

I could not see a way to compromise, to sit and sort of have a mature discussion about, "Okay, how do we do this so that it works for everyone?" For me, it was either we do it the whole way or we don't do it at all, which is fucking crazy to think about it now. I look back at that person who went through his whole life where [every] decision, relationship, romantic relationship was always put to this ultimate test: either we do this or I run away.

I needed to be chased, because I needed that feeling of needing to be chosen, and I never knew any of this. I had to get deep into the fucking weeds of therapy to see this, to see where it came from, for [my therapist] to help me root it back to things I went through as a kid. Then I could just see how it affected all of my relationships, including the band.

I told the band, "If we are not going to tour the way we've always toured, let's just put a bullet in this," and none of them stepped up and fought back. I think I just presented it in such a way of, "This is the decision." I think Bobby and Aaron, the guys who had started families, probably weren't going to be able to compromise. Their families were everything. They had fucking children at home. I don't know what that's like. I'll never know what that's like, and I put them through a terrible decision. I mean, it wasn't even a decision. I just threw this at them, "And this is what we'll do. We'll put out one more record, we'll tour on it for two years. We'll say goodbye, and that'll be that."

Then, a year after I'm sitting around looking at bands like H2O or Gorilla Biscuits, who very much have found a way to not have to do the extreme breakup or walk away. They just kind of do what makes sense, go off and play a show, play a fest, and I was so mad at myself, 'cause now I could see it. I wished so much that I could scramble back and be at that meeting and be like, "Well, let's try to find a way to compromise here." It seems so obvious and so simple to me now, but I was a savage back then. I was just a maniac with almost all of my relationships.

When I really sat down and saw this problem in me and then looked at different relationships, I saw that I do it all the time, even in just subtle little ways, even in just the way that I argue. It's just … it's nasty. Yeah, I got the help that I needed. I'm able to sit and breathe more now and to see, "Oh, this isn't about this person. This is about something that you went through as a child. Do not punish them for that."

Bane Bedard 2023 live uncropped, Serious Cinema
photograph by Serious Cinema

The first one was almost indescribable. The nerves and sort of just the overwhelming feeling that was in the room. We knew it was going to be good. We knew it was going to be special, but it was turned up several notches where it just was very emotionally overwhelming for me. There was no feeling at all of, like, "Oh, this is riding a bike," which I was telling myself. We worked really hard. We practiced hard. I did a lot to get myself back into shape to get ready for how physically taxing this is going to be. We knew it was going to be a long set. We knew it was in a very big venue that somehow we had managed to sell out, which still, I can barely wrap my head around.

I remember sort of pacing around at the side of the stage right before we went on, and I'd never felt that sort of a feeling before where I was excited and nervous, felt like I could cry and scream 'cause I was so happy. I mean it [had been] more than seven years. We were regretting this decision during the last two years of Bane. I mean, this was nine years of having to let go of something and then the door was reopening, so it felt crazy. It felt very, very insane.

That's my favorite. too. It's the one that I'm most proud of. I love that record because it really confirms that hard work pays off. We fucking busted our ass to make that record. We'd already made an LP that we were not thrilled with. We knew that we had to do better, to work harder. Brian was very, very much a part of that process. We saw what it meant to be kicked in the ass as an artist. To be pushed further than you wanted to be pushed.He had a real vision there.

We had worked hard to write those songs, so I still love it. If you're in a band, you're lucky to make one record that would be considered a classic hardcore record. I feel like we did it and that's great. I'll always have that.

The one that comes to mind often is that we were at Equal Vision Records, who put that record out. Steve [Reddy], who runs the label, is an old hardcore kid who used to tour with Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits back in the day. We always loved that the guy that put out the Bane records was a guy who very much came from that world. Particularly for me, as someone where Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Side By Side, those were my favorite bands as a kid.

He has us come down to the barn and we are going to play him [Give Blood] and we're going to talk about what is going to happen as far as touring and how hard we're going to go. We're up in this barn where he would hold the meetings at his house, and John Porcelly, the guitar player to Youth of Today and Judge, at that time was living on the farm with the EVR crew and working for the label. And I'm very aware that he's kind of kicking around in the barn, doing whatever.

Now, as we start to play the record, "Speechless" kicks in and he's moving across the barn and he stops dead 'cause we're playing it loud and the record just sounds so good and the snare is just so popping. He stops dead in his tracks. He turns to us. He's like, "Is this you guys?"

I remember I could just feel all of my pores just like open, holy shit. I'm like, "Yeah, it's our new record." "Well, it sounds sick." 15-year-old me [would've been] just losing his  mind. That's my favorite one, and anytime I hear "Speechless," I'm brought back to that particular memory. I'm very happy with how that record sounds sonically. It's the only vocal performance that I can say I feel actually proud of still. And the snare. I love the way drums sound and recordings, and I just feel like the drum tones on that record are so good.

It is certainly fascinating to be even just a spectator. As someone who's loved hardcore since I was 14 years old, to see the moment that it's in and the many different faces it is taking on right now, and I'm trying to wrangle all that, and trying to sort of determine what is good for this, what is bad for this, what I'm hoping will come of all this. There's just so much and there's so many voices and everyone is so good at promoting their shit and everyone is so out there and it's just like you almost can't keep up with it.

The thing that I hope for is that we don't lose track of the idea that hardcore is about who you are inside, the values that you hold and the way that you look at the world. And that it does not become overwhelmed with the idea of "units bought and sold," and how many people are viewing your shit and coming to the shows. That's all well and good and it will always be an ingredient. Even in the earliest days when my shittiest first band played, we still would discuss, "Oh, there were 40 people at the show. There were 15." I get that it's always going to be a component.

You do not want it [to become about] how many famous people you can take a photo with, or these sort of weird things that are starting to happen more and more as hardcore becomes more popular. They can't become the definition of it. We still have to be defiant that this is music that is ideal-driven. That has something to say and that is fed up with the world that has been given to us. We just can't lose track of that. That's my worry. Is that everyone just becomes too comfortable, too concerned with the fluffy part of it, the bullshit of it.

It scares me that [hardcore] can become just another genre of music that people buy into and buy the T-shirts and go and dance and post it on their social media and that's it. All of the fire that has always been baked into this gets blown out. That's what fucking scares me. But also, I'm so happy I heard that band Sunami from San Jose just self-booked their own tour. No booking agent, just went out and did it themselves, did a full U.S. tour and sold out every single night. That shit makes me so happy. I'm not some gatekeeping old-timer who's like, "Who are all these young kids?" I just want them to be able to understand how special, how life-changing this can really be if you fucking give yourself to it a little bit. You can participate in this in a very real way and it can change your life.

It's an incredible time and what I think about it does not matter. That's what I keep reminding myself when I do have these cranky little moments. Even if one out of 10 kids, if they find this and it changes their lives in a profound way and sets them on a path that maybe they wouldn't have gone on had they not found hardcore, had not found ways to really open your mind to become a critical thinker, to become someone who challenges the status quo. Even if a fraction gets to have that experience, then I say bring them all in. Bring as many as you can.

Bane live tihc 2023 2 UNCROPPED , Serious Cinema
photograph by Serious Cinema

Yeah, for sure. I mean, for me that's when it'll feel the most real. All this stuff is easy. [Playing live] is the stuff that would leap to mind immediately when I was thinking about what I missed, the explosiveness of being onstage and kids all around you. When I wanted Bane back, that's the easy thing, but really, I'm a creative person. The idea of a blank page is fucking thrilling to me, and it was something that I also had taken away. I wasn't able to make music with those guys anymore.

Our last experience of making a record together, Don't Wait Up, was a very fulfilling experience. I was able to make it at a time in my life where I could appreciate what was going on … I think having Bane back will not feel real until we at least write a song. I don't know if we can do another record. I don't know if we're ever going to tour or if we'll ever get in there and write another 10 songs, but I would be psyched to write two and see how that feels.

I'm so endlessly curious to know what we would come up with. We've kicked the idea around a lot and [Zach[ keeps saying things that make me nervous. That if we're going to write, they have to be the best songs we've ever written. I'm just like, "No, that's too much. Your head is going to explode. That's too much pressure. Let's just try to write the most honest song that we can and not worry about what we did on any of the past records. Not worry about what any Bane fan would expect from us. Just write what's in that fucking heart of yours and I'll write the lyrics and we'll see if it's good or not."

There is a challenge here where I feel that a lot of bands who were around, put out some good records, broke up and came back years later. There are not a lot of those bands that came back with good music, with records that stand up. Maybe Lifetime, their self-titled record is pretty fucking amazing. I think when it'll feel the most real to me is when I'm hovered over a blank page writing lyrics or in the rehearsal space, working really hard to try to write new music. But nothing has been planned yet.

We're still kind of just taking everything one slow step at a time. We got Furnace Fest next month and then there's some buzz about some stuff happening next year. I am hoping that soon enough we will be like, "Let's write a song." I don't want to keep putting out reissues. I want to put out something new.