Audri & Aaron Earn the Approval of the Bangles and Chrissie Hynde -- And Win a National Band Search Contest
The Alton, Illinois, acoustic/folk duo Audri & Aaron recently won the "Small Town Sound" female-fronted-band search sponsored by the clothing store maurices. Over 500 acts entered the contest, which culminated in the pair's original song, "Home," beating out the tunes of nine other finalists. The prize is pretty sweet: At 2 p.m. tomorrow, February 12, the group will be performing at the Alton Square Mall alongside Minneapolis rockers Sick of Sarah. Audri & Aaron are also flying out to LA to shoot a music video and record "Home," and will be performing at SXSW alongside SoS and the Bangles. (Incidentally, the latter group will be releasing a new seven-inch single, "Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)," at maurices; the b-sides will be acoustic versions of "Hazy Shade of Winter" and "Let It Go" and Matthew Sweet covering "Anna Lee.")
The pair originally found out about the contest through vocalist/guitarist/pianist Aaron Kellim's girlfriend. A physical therapist, she was handed a flyer by a patient.
"I didn't realize how big [the contest] was, and I kept kind of pushing it off," he says. "The night that [our submission] was actually due, I finally turned everything in. We barely got entered in time."
Audri & Aaron faced other obstacles as the contest progressed. At first, the duo didn't realize it needed fan support (in the form of online votes) to move on to the next round; they started promoting the contest about halfway through and had to play catch-up. Moving to the next round after that was just as tough: High-profile judges, including Chrissie Hynde and the Bangles, hand-picked Audri & Aaron to be one of ten finalists.
"It was so weird that they all sat around and listened to our stuff - and enjoyed it enough to pick it," Kellim says.
The duo now had two weeks to write a song with a "small town" theme. True to form, creating the song itself ended up being the least of its concerns.
"We were actually more worried trying to figure out how to get it recorded than anything else, because the college we go to [Lewis & Clark Community College], we use their recording system and it wasn't available at the time because the college was on break," Kellim says. "It was a rush to try to get it all figured out."