Creativity’s as much about luck as it is about planning — sometimes you simply walk into the perfect situation. That’s how it was for Nathan Alvarado, lead singer of Aperture. The San Antonio native and Taft High graduate found a quartet of Austin cats via a Craigslist ad, and six months later they’ve released the exciting six-song EP Now That You’re Awake.
Straddling the line between chunky, breakdown-laden post-grunge and atmospheric, post-metal art rock, Aperture embraces melody with textured swirls of guitar while retaining a churning bottom-end balancing malevolence and beauty. Given the billowing prog-metal arrangements, it’s not surprising to discover they’re fans of Dredg and Karnivool, or that Alvarado fronted a Tool cover band (Third Eye) before taking the plunge into original music several years ago.
“I was a late bloomer. I was in my 30s and people kept telling me I should try writing original music,” says Alvarado, recounting his cover band exploits with Papa Wood, Light Grenades, and Piranha. When the latter packed it in, he started looking for a new project. Meanwhile, unable to find a singer in Austin, the musical core of Aperture took an ad out in San Antonio, where Alvarado discovered it. “It was pretty much exactly the sound I was hoping to kind of grow into. I felt like I was taking a step up from my previous work. I feel like it’s modern, it sounds contemporary.”
Aperture’s core trio of drummer Justin Frary, bassist John Thevenot, and guitarist Jared Mears had already been playing together for a couple years when, in October, they found Alvarado. By their second practice together, Alvarado was asked to join and it’s been a commuting life for him ever since. After being tapped, Alvarado quickly got to work fashioning lyrics and vocal melodies for the wealth of material the band had been amassing.
In February they pooled their money, selected their best six songs, and booked a long weekend in an Austin studio to cut Now That You’re Awake. As soon as they got it back in the beginning of April (SXSW pushed mixing back a couple weeks), they posted it as free download from their website, aperturesounds.com. “Even then, with so many great bands out there it’s hard to get people to actually click on it,” laments Alvarado.
But it’s worth investigating. Alvarado possesses a rafter-rattling voice, and guitarists Mears and Michael Proctor follow him into the stratosphere with some intricate guitar runs before sinking back into the viscous earthy throb. Alvarado’s lyrics are as expansive as the music, touching on themes of isolation, self-doubt, and spiritual searching. These coalesce in “Reign in Me,” which rides a gritty riff reminiscent of Alice In Chains as Alvarado questions religious dogmatism.
“I think we’re all born inherently with this inner voice that knows what’s good and what’s bad or what we can do to help others,” he says. “We don’t need a particular book or someone talking down to us telling us what we should or shouldn’t do.”
This is only the band’s sixth show, so they’re obviously just getting started, but the EP suggests plenty of promise. With a backlog of material, it’s full-steam ahead at this point. “We’re already thinking about the next album. They have a lot of stuff already down, and it’s all very interesting. So I have to get working on my vocal parts.”
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