Filed Under:

A.A. Bondy: Making His Own World

Play associated audio

One Friday night at The Waiting Room in Omaha, Neb., more than 150 people are milling around waiting for A.A. Bondy to take the stage. His new album, Believers, came out two months ago and caught fans like Andre Steinbergs by surprise.

"It really struck me as being very different from the first two because it didn't have the finger-style picking, but I do like that it's very atmospheric, that it's moody, that it's dark," says Steinbergs. "It's one of those records that I would listen to when the mood struck me."

It's taken Bondy more than a decade to create a world he can call his own.

"I wanted to make a world complete with typography, weather and night and day, all that stuff," says Bondy. "I just wanted it to spin on its own, as untethered as it could be to the things that informed it."

From Grunge To McCarthy

Bondy's career started when he was still in his early 20s, as the leader of Verbena. The band emerged from the ashes of the 1990s grunge movement and was signed to Capitol Records. Its major-label debut was produced by Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl.

The band ultimately flopped.

"We wanted to be like Led Zeppelin or something," says Bondy. "[We were] fooled by some shiny things left out in the dust and thought that we could just go out and collect them and we'd have our own plane," says Bondy. "It just went epically wrong."

After Verbena split up, Bondy quit music and fled to the Catskill Mountains in New York. He fixed well pumps, dog sat and read a lot — dark books by Cormac McCarthy, and classics like Moby Dick. And he continued to play music for himself.

"And that was also really good, because it was meditative just sitting there playing guitar for hours again," Bondy says.

Rebirth

It was then that he stumbled across records by acoustic guitar pioneer John Fahey, and was particularly entranced by a video of blues guitarist Mississippi John Hurt playing on the 1960s folk television show Rainbow Quest.

Three years after Verbena broke up, Bondy began writing his solo debut. He says it took him eight days.

"I couldn't shut it off," Bondy says. "It was almost uncomfortable. I had to go write another song. I'd be watching TV, and you're like, 'Here comes another one.' It was amazing, you know?"

Bondy was happy to be recording again, but he still didn't feel like he was offering anything original. With his new record, he does.

"Bjork probably started out completely original, but most people have to toil in the shadows as somebody else for a little while, and then they can eventually wean themselves off of that," says Bondy. "But it took me a really long time to do it."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Verdine White On 45 Years With Earth, Wind & Fire

Forty-five years ago, the band “Earth, Wind and Fire” introduced audiences to a new kind of funk--one that fused soul, jazz, Latin and pop. Bassist Verdine White talks to guest host Derek McGinty about breaking racial boundaries in music and how the band is still evolving.

NPR

The Case Against The Shirley Temple (The Drink)

Author and cocktail enthusiast Wayne Curtis wrote an article called "Shirley Temples Are Destroying America's Youth." He talks about why he hates Shirley Temples — the drink, not the person.
WAMU 88.5

What's Ahead At The Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention gets underway in Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton will accept the presidential nomination.

NPR

Experimental Plane Sets Off On Final Leg Of Its Round-The-World Journey

It's the first time for a solar-powered plane to circumnavigate the globe. Now it's en route to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — and you can watch the journey in a live video from the cockpit.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.