At this past January’s NAMM Show in Anaheim, California, Rock Cellar Magazine was fortunate enough to catch up with Aaron ‘P-Nut’ Wills, bassist for the alternative/rock band 311.
He was posted up at the Warwick & Framus booth as usual, and took a few minutes to discuss David Bowie, who was tragically lost a few weeks earlier at the age of 69.
Aaron ‘P-Nut’ Wills: One of the things about David Bowie…is that he made it cool to be ‘weird’. You hear that a lot…and I’ve heard it sometimes about my own band, 311. Oh, and that he mixed different styles together. He was kind of fearless like that. Even playing with Nine Inch Nails at the height of their career while he was doing something super strange and out there…what a total badass.
I love that. When you’re the lead singer and you’re that smart you can kind of take chances, give the middle finger to the audience here and there. And they’ll come along – if not immediately, but eventually – and that’s one of the signs of a genius. “No, I know what I’m doing, I know you’re not going to like it at first, but take it or leave it. It’s pretty cool.”
Q: He basically changed music every time he released an album just because he could.
P-Nut: Yeah, he was Miles Davis like that, for pop and rock. From image to ideas. He’s talking about the ‘Golden Dawn’ in the ‘70s. Just ‘out there’ in general…’I’m Afraid of Americans’…his thought process was just so much wider than you’d think most songsmiths are. It’s mind-blowing that he gave us so much, and left around the release of another new album.
Q: That timing was surreal, too: for the last decade or fifteen years or so he basically did whatever he wanted and didn’t do what he didn’t want to do. He didn’t seem to want to have his health issue in the limelight, he wanted to deal with that on his own terms.
P-Nut: Yeah, let the album be a piece of art that lets him say goodbye rather than a spectacle.
Q: The lyrics of the song Lazarus begin with, ‘Look at me…I’m in heaven’.
P-Nut: Yeah. I saw the video a month or so ago, and…I was just blown away. What a visionary.