Pipe down and listen to The Honorary Title

By Collin Quick

he Honorary Title played The House Café, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, last night and Weekender caught up with multi-instrumentalist Aaron Kamstra before the show to talk about concert-going etiquette, the state of Indiana and the word “emo.”

Weekender: Where are you now and what can you see?

Aaron Kamstra: I’m in Iowa City and a whole lot of nothing. We’re at Gabe’s Oasis and it’s one of my least favorite places to play because it’s really dirty and you have to load all your equipment up a back staircase that resembles a fire escape. It’s pretty dangerous.

WE: Aside from that, how’s the tour going?

AK: It’s going good. It’s going better than I thought it would. We’re out with Cruiserweight, Nightmare of You and Waking Ashland.

WE: What’s it like touring with big name bands such as Taking Back Sunday and Straylight Run?

AK: It’s got its up and its downs. The upside is that there is always a lot of people there. The downside is that it’s harder to communicate to them. Smaller shows are fun to play because everyone is right there.

WE: Does it bother you when people talk at shows?

AK: It always gets to me. I’ll tell them to stop talking. If it’s in the middle of a song, I’ll do a “shhhh” over the microphone and it gets about half of them to shut up. But if there’s kids right in front of me who are just gabbing away, I’ll tell them to keep quiet. I personally feel that it’s very rude. As a kid, I learned that going to shows was much different. You learned a certain type of ethics when you’re an audience member and you have to follow them. I don’t think kids these days have those ethics because they watch too much TV. I feel responsible for teaching them things their parents never did.

WE: What are your concertgoing rules?

AK: Well, of course, always, just don’t talk. And if you talk, leave the room. Bigger than that is talking on your cell phone. I think that is the rudest thing in the world. I guess the other one would be don’t set your drinks where I can trip over them. But mainly it’s just talking because that’s just really rude. Another big one is flash photography. It’s very rude and very distracting. A lot of kids now have cell phones and just hold them up to your face and take your picture. I think that’s pretty rude. If you follow those rules, I’ll have a great time and so will everyone else around you.

WE: What was it like growing up in Indiana?

AK: I grew up in a farming community and I probably went to one of the worst schools in mankind. I got a terrible education and basically taught myself. I went insane and completely lost my mind and left when I was 20 years old. Other people had already escaped to New York so I went and joined them. Indiana’s not a bad place, it’s just that, where I was, it felt like 1945.

WE: What was it like opening for Dashboard Confessional and being hand-picked by Chris Carrabba?

AK: It was great for us. At the time, it was just [lead singer] Jarrod [Gorbel] and I, and we really didn’t know where we were going. Chris was really into our music so he put us on five shows and it was going from 50 to 100 people to playing for thousands. It was the first time we ever played for an audience that large.

WE: Relating to Dashboard Confessional, what’s your definition of the word “emo?”

AK: I don’t know if I want to answer that.

WE: It would be interesting to hear a musician’s point of view.

AK: I’ve always been confused. I didn’t grow up listening to punk or pop-punk music. I came from a totally different world. I would never consider us to be an emo band and when I think of emo bands, I immediately think of the bands I hate the most. If I had a little box that said “emo” on it, that would be the box I threw all the [crappiest] CDs in. So my definition is a little skewed. It was a label that was created by people that probably weren’t in the band. Kind of like grunge rock in the ’90s.

WE: What advice would you give to college students?

AK: Don’t worry about one particular thing. If you change your mind and want to go for something else in life, do it. Don’t hesitate. Just go for it.