Checking In: A. Sinclair (& Family) Rises Into the Eye of the Tiger

ATX indie trueheart sings “time to find out what really matters”

“Risin’ up, back on the street/ Did my time, took my chances/ Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet/ Just a man and his will to survive.” A. Sinclair’s recent In the Middle of the Night sounds nothing like Survivor’s 1982 Rocky III theme, but the local Nine Mile Records EP peaks sugary, survivalist post-punk in lit family paean “A Hundred Million Thousand.”

A. Sinclair (c) and company at Cheer Up Charlies during Free Week 2019 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?

Aaron Sinclair: We are sheltering at home. My wife Tara and our two daughters, Sadie (5) and AnnMarie (3), are all here. Sadie actually had her fifth birthday on March 26 over a Zoom meeting with our close family. She was trooper.

Everyone is holding up pretty well, [but] I feel bad for the girls as this must be fairly confusing for them. Honestly, it is starting to become a little confusing for us as well. Keeping them busy and happy, our tricks are starting to wear thin.

This is not an isolated instance for families, I'm sure!

“Oh, and also ‘She’s a Maniac’ is a big hit in here.”

AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?

AS: My last day of work was March 14. I work at a mom-and-pop Italian restaurant called Botticelli’s on S. Congress. Great group of people and we all enjoy being around each other. Definitely a family atmosphere at work.

Figuring out unemployment benefits is still an ongoing process. My online application didn’t work right, not sure why, and it seems impossible to get through on the phone right now. They are struggling very hard to keep up with the overwhelming demand they are facing.

Being a fairly busy local musician, I am missing the creative outlet pretty hard. I have my band that I write and play guitar for, but also am lucky to play drums in two other bands with insanely talented and creative people. I'm pretty sure this is what keeps me relatively sane in life and I feel the reserve drying up a bit. Garageband has been my happy place.

AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person – at a show, at Central Market, at SXSW?

AS: I really miss my friends.

“Figuring out unemployment benefits is still an ongoing process. My online application didn’t work right, not sure why, and it seems impossible to get through on the phone right now. They are struggling very hard to keep up with the overwhelming demand they are facing.”

AC: Everyone is having to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?

AS: I am hopeful that the Botticelli family is able to keep the restaurant open through this crisis. If not, I will have to figure something out. I’ve been working in restaurants to support my music habit since moving here in 2007. I do feel a bit ill-equipped to step out of that zone, but we’ll just have to see what happens. Our family is lucky in the fact that my wife still has her job and is able to work from home.

AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?

AS: My girls and I listen to “Eye of the Tiger” a lot and do jumping jacks. They are also into “Crazy Train” pretty big right now. And of course all of the Frozen II songs are coming on a lot. They know how to work Alexa, so they can call out their songs.

Oh, and also “She’s a Maniac” is a big hit in here.

Personally, I have dug back into Ill Communication and have been pretty mesmerized. Broncho’s last record Bad Behavior has been on repeat. Probably my favorite record from last year.

Have y'all ever heard of Mike & the Moonpies? They made a pretty fuckin’ alright record last year, too. I don’t know that I could ever consider myself a scholar. I’ve always been a do/learn-enough-to-get-by kinda person, but music keeps my brain happy and I’ve always left it at that.

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A. Sinclair, Aaron Sinclair, In the Middle of the Night EP, Nine Mine Records, Survivor, Ozzy Osbourne, Michael Sembello, Frozen II, Botticelli’s, Checking In 2020

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