Villains and Heroes was a major step forward for Aldo Leopardi, both musically and personally. The lyrical and sonic texture of the record touch thematically on a number of universal concepts and personal experiences, from love and relationships to coming of age and hard won wisdom. Each song on Villains and Heroes carries layers of meaning for Aldo and in many ways, it was a record that was begging to be produced.
“This was an important record for me. It was a reflection of some things that were going on in my life and I needed to write it to get it out of my system,” says Aldo.
Many of the songs that Aldo writes are deeply personal, such as the title track from Villains and Heroes, which plumbs the emotional complexities of an ill-fated relationship. But Aldo also hoped to articulate the songs in a way that others could appreciate. “My Parade” is inspired by Aldo’s own story of coming of age and finding his own way, but the themes of the song are easily relatable to anyone who has struggled for independence and identity.
Given the importance of the record’s substance, Aldo spent an immense amount of time and effort vetting producers to bring the EP to life. “I was looking for someone to modernize my sound without getting lost within it,” says Aldo.
For Villains and Heroes, Aldo chose to work with Lee Miles. Lee is best known as the frontman for Oh My Stars, but he’s also done production work for Rise Against, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Puddle of Mudd, Tickle Me Pink and Darling Thieves. Introduced by a mutual friend, Lee first gained respect for Aldo after seeing his video for “Always Be.”
“As a producer and musician, I trust Lee 100%. But it took a while to build up that trust,” explains Aldo. “We spent four solid days exploring each other’s music and songwriting, getting to know each other, drinking a lot and developing a bond. After that, I learned that he was the right guy to trust.”
Aldo hopes to work with Lee again to release a second EP next year. One of the songs to appear on the next record has already been written. The content and concepts explored in the remaining tracks will depend on how the songwriting process unfolds. Although Aldo’s songs are often directly inspired by his real life experiences and observations, the sound and mood of a song typically precede the actual lyrics. In fact, the title track “The Villain and The Hero,” which serves as the conceptual focal point of the record, began as a melody and took form once Aldo explored the meaning behind its sound.
“I have to pick up a guitar or it’s not going to happen. It begins with a guitar riff and then I break that into chords and melody and think about how that sound makes me feel,” says Aldo. “This record was very personal and introspective. The next one could be more social, more political—I’m just disgusted with what’s been going on in Washington lately. Or, it may be personal again. It depends on what’s going on in and around my life.”
No matter what happens in the studio, Aldo Leopardi fans have plenty to look forward to. After the second EP, Aldo Leopardi is planning to begin work on his next full length. But for now, enjoy Villains and Heroes and keep an eye out for the official music video, made for the fans by the fans.