Awolnation gets real at the Starlite

There’s a lesson to be learned from Aaron Bruno’s success as Awolnation: stick with what you love, and eventually that passion will be rewarded.

Awolnation had a surprise hit this year with the dark song “Sail,” selling more than 80,000 downloads in Canada alone to date. But it came after a marked change in direction.

As a former member of Under The Influence Of Giants, he had moderate indie success. But it was propelled by ego. “My last band, we were like, ‘I want to take over the world, or play the biggest venues.’ But I don’t think that way anymore,” says Bruno, who plays the Starlite Room on Sunday night. The gig is sold out.

Instead, he penned an album that reflected his own interests, “stuff I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve just never had the freedom and courage, I suppose.

Sail was the start. “I had no hopes really at all,” he says. “I just wanted to make a song that I enjoyed listening to myself, in hopes that my friends and family would think it was cool too. I thought maybe I could put it out online for free.”

He’s backing it up with a visual arts onslaught via his website, including fake movie trailers and contests. “We want to make people think and challenge people. I want people to either hear the songs or see the artwork and just go, what the eff is this?

And if the next single, Not Your Fault, isn’t a hit?

“If the world blew up tomorrow I’d feel very satisfied with how far it’s come from a simple weird idea that was in my head,” he says.