“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since we started the group is that you should never limit yourself, so we don’t and we are not afraid chances,” explains David von Mering, one-half of the hip-hop, pop, rock and reggae duo Aer, about the music on he and fellow band mate Carter Schultz’s third album, One Of A Kind. “With this record, we went in with the attitude of ‘Let’s just make a record that is fun for us and our fans.’ At the same time, we wanted to show musical progression and growth. We are always trying to keep pushing ahead with new ideas and sounds. And, we never want to compromise our ideals. This is the music we want and love to do.”
One of a Kind perfectly exhibits Aer’s remarkable ability to seamlessly blend elements of hip-hop, reggae, rock and pop to create a sound that makes it impossible for listeners not to smile from ear to ear. The album’s first single, “I Can’t Help It,” is an accurate representation of Aer’s feel-good sound, one that has grown alongside the duo. The second release from the album, the title track, (“One of a Kind”), became one of Summer 2015’s most popular musical anthems.
Their latest single, “The Rain” (a break-up song with a groovy, healthy dose of optimism), — featuring such lyrics as, “Here’s comes the rain, to wash away the thought of you yeah, there’s go the pain, and all the shit you put me through, was such a fool for you, I don’t know what to do, here comes the rain, help me forget your name…” — aptly demonstrates their unquestionable lyrical and musical maturity.
“Before we started the album, we had just moved to New York City (from their hometown of Wayland, Massachusetts), which was a major change for us,” Carter Shultz explains. “We essentially wanted to write an album that reflected that transition in our lives, which I think we did. The album feels older, more mature. We also did work with some third party producers, which was a learning experience as well.”
Aer sprung to life in 2010 (as Fresh Air Movement), when Carter Schultz and David von Mering, two longtime friends from Wayland, decided to form a band that combined all of their musical interests. In 2011, Schultz and von Mering released their debut EP, What You Need, which reached #1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop Chart. In 2012, Aer hit even greater heights with the release of their first full-length album, The Bright Side, which featured the hit “Floats My Boat. The Bright Side would hit the Number One spot on the iTunes Albums Chart and a spot on the Billboard Top 200. The music on the record was so infectious that songs from The Bright Side were featured during NFL broadcasts, an Etnies commercial and three episodes of MTV’s The Real World.
Following the success of The Bright Side, the duo began working on their self-titled sophomore effort in late 2012. Their hard work paid off, and their self-titled second album was released in 2014. Debuting at Number 26 on the Billboard Top 200, the album’s single, “Says She Loves Me” rose to #1 on Sirius XM’s Alt Nation, propelling the unsigned duo to headlining status.
Having just wrapped up their massive The Fresh Aer Movement Fall Tour (with Cody Simpson and Chef Special supporting), the 22-year-olds are taking a short break before beginning work on their next album. “Chilling out” for the moment, David and Carter sat down to talk about their past, their musical influences, good luck charms, which of the two of them has a crush on Emma Watson and what their Plan Bs would have been if they were not one of the hottest bands on the planet not signed to a major label.
When the two of you first met each other did you immediately feel that musical/creative connection or did it take being a band together for awhile for it to all click?
David: “We we’re friends in middle school but I started a band first. Then after a year or so Carter became our singer. I played drums. Then as we got older our tastes started changing slowly and we got into different styles. That’s when we knew we needed to work together.”
What was the first album or CD you ever bought or downloaded David? What was it about the artist’s music that made it a must?
David: “Californication (by The Red Hot Chili Peppers) was the first CD I ever bought with my own money. I was 13. The instrumentation was unreal. I just remember listening to songs over and over and being so excited to buy every other album by Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
Let’s pretend I’m from Mars. I land on Earth and I’m introduced to you. You tell me that you have a group called AER. As any good Martian would, I’d ask, “Well, what kind of music do you make? What do you call it? The style?” What would your reply be David?
David: “I’d tell you it’s an agreeable vibe that will become your best friend. Trust me, aliens, this is what you should be listening to.” (laughs)
David, which artists initially inspired you to become a musician yourself? Is there a very early memory of hearing a particular group and going, “I want to do that!”
David: “I always loved Arctic Monkeys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, anything fun and funky. I just always loved the idea of having a band and taking over the world with it.” (laughs)
Carter, do you have a good luck charm that you always carry with you? If so, what it is and how did you get it?
Carter: “I always carry this little stone turtle around with me that my dad gave me at a young age. I’m not much into superstition but it’s nice to have.”
Okay Carter, let’s be honest, which of the two of you gets “luckiest” on the road? And, you know what I mean….
Carter: (Laughs) “It’s gonna have to be our band. They’re the real superstars.”
Who is your biggest celebrity crush on Carter? And, when did you realize you were into them – in a film, TV show or at a concert? Finally, where and how would like to meet them?
Carter: “Definitely Emma Watson. I realized this somewhere along the Harry Potter series. I’d love to randomly meet her while doing charity work in Southeast Asia.” (laughs)
If producers from Hollywood wanted to do a movie about your life David, what actor would you like to play you?
David: “Zac Efron. (laughs) Just kidding. Honestly, I’d rather have someone random crush it in the audition instead of someone well-known. Some up-and-comer.”
Carter, if you had the chance to collaborate with any musician, alive or dead, who would it be?
Carter: “Amy Winehouse, without a doubt. She’s unbelievable. I’d love to do some sort of jazz standard.”
David, has there even been a point in your career, where you thought about hanging it all up and doing something else? If so, what convinced you to keep moving forward?
David: “Definitely. Every so often the job gets a little stressful, as any job does. There are plenty of people and opinions involved. Meeting the fans always gets you back on track though. There’s no better feeling than making people feel good with music.”
When you were growing up, was music always going to be your career, or did both of you have a Plan B? Becoming a lawyer, doctor or circus performer?
David: “I never had a Plan B. I always made music. I didn’t have a doubt that no matter what I needed to express myself.”
Carter: “First it was pro surfer, then I set my sights lower to a biologist, then AER started making moves…so neither!” (laughs)
What is the coolest talent you have that isn’t music related, Carter?
Carter: “I love to surf. Getting out to the ocean is the best way to relax after being on a long tour. I don’t often get to showcase it. One day, pro surfing here I come.”
Would you consider yourself a hopeless romantic or just hopeless at romance Carter?
Carter: “Gotta say a hopeless romantic. Being on the road isn’t very relationship conducive, but I try to make it work.”
We all know that President Obama can sing. If he asked you to do some kind of musical duet or cover with him, Aer-style, of course, what song would you suggest doing with him David?
David: “‘Me & U’ by Cassie. We would crush that one!”
David, what is the one song you always sing at karaoke?
David: “I am deathly afraid of karaoke. Never done it in my life. I get extra nervous singing in front of people when I’m not on stage. If I HAD to, though, I would do some ‘Since U Been Gone’ by Kelly Clarkson though. Or some Bon Jovi.”
If there is one album you wish you could have written, David, which one would it be?
David: “I wish I wrote the new Arctic Monkeys album (AM). I haven’t put it down in two years. You just put it on first song and end on the last song and you don’t skip! ‘Fireside’ is amazing. I like the way to lyrics roll off your tongue and the chord changes. It’s fun to sing.”
What’s next? Is there a five-year plan or do you take it day-by-day?
Carter: “A little bit of both. We’ve a general outline on where we need to be, but if you focus too much on the future you’ll forget to enjoy the present.”