Video Premier: Aaron Skiles’ Personal Song “Before You Go” Highlights The Need For Empathy And Mental Health Support In The Military

Singer/songwriter Aaron Skiles, formerly of the Bay-Area band Bourbon Therapy, recently released his debut album, Wreckage from the Fire, which was co-written and Produced by Matt Patton of Drive-By Truckers and recorded at his Dial Back Sound Studio in Mississippi. Patton also contributes bass on the record. For Skiles, one of the songs from the album, “Before You Go”, has particularly emotional resonance, since it is based on a personal experience of losing a friend to suicide. Both writing and recording the song were difficult for him, but shared an enduring message of empathy.

We’re honored to debut Aaron Skiles’ video for “Before You Go” here on Wildfire today, not only because he has shared such a significant experience through his music, but because it highlights the need for mental health support for all, and in particular, those who serve our country in the military.

However, we would like to provide *a sensitivity warning* not to continue reading for to those who might find Skiles’ video, and his statements about the song, triggering on the subject of suicide. For those in need of resources, you can seek out the National Hotline for Suicide Prevention.

Skiles shares this in-depth story of writing and recording the song today:

This one…it’s got the most powerful story of the group. As a senior at West Point (The United States Military Academy), I had a friend who killed himself by jumping off our dorm shortly after Spring Break, and just 10 weeks before graduation. And the part that’s eaten me up all these years is that I heard he was thinking about it and I didn’t do anything to stop him. I was 21, young and dumb. And it’s eaten at me for years. I’ve actually tried to write a song about it for probably 10+ years but never got anywhere until during the pandemic.

So, I told the story of this song in the studio, which helped us get to the right sound. But when I went to track vocals, on about the second take, suddenly I broke down crying. Hearing myself in high fidelity with the cans on my ears was embarrassing so I dropped to the floor, sobbing on my hands and knees with my face in the carpet. Matt Patton ran into the recording room and I apologized for the breakdown. He told me to take my time. Then he said (paraphrasing), “If this didn’t happen to you, I’d have thought this song wasn’t authentic. But the thing is, now you have the chance to use the perspective of 20+ years to say to your friend what you’d say to him now. You’re a man now and you’ve gained the wisdom of years of experience. Sing this song with that wisdom and experience in your voice.”

And to me, this song has the most authentic, emotion-laden vocals of the album. You can hear me sniffle and almost whimper in the very beginning, right before the vocals start. And on the last chorus, when I sing “That you’re crying out for something” I can hear my voice almost start to break. I still get chills listening to this song (and that’s happening to me right now as I write this to you, listening to it).

The song’s video was written and directed by Claire Kennedy and Produced by Dalton Pate.

Aaron Skiles shares regarding the video:

“This was my first truly professionally produced video. I learned so much about the process. When I received a “Call Sheet” from Producer Dalton Pate, I knew I was in for a different experience. All my previous videos had been much more DIY. For this one we hired a professional staff, rented locations, even had catering for the crew! My favorite scenes are the ones where I’m playing guitar in a blue-shaded setting with smoke around me. That was shot on the stage at Silver Lake Lounge in LA, with lots of lighting and fog and special effects. But to me, that vibe and energy is exactly what I’m going for when I play live. It was also great working with my friends Claire Kennedy (Writer & Director) and her husband Jack Kennedy (brief acting appearance)–more on them below.

At one point we needed to shoot a scene with Jack and Dalton, but not me. However there was a problem…Jack and Claire have 3 kids under the age of 5, and so if both Jack and Claire were involved in a shot, who is going to watch the kids? Well, the answer was me! I went out back to the Silver Lake Lounge patio with the three kids and I entertained/babysat them for about an hour. That included some improvised hide-and-seek, some singing of nursery rhymes and lots of cookies for everyone! Uncle Aaron isn’t very strict :)”

Aaron Skiles will also be touring his record on the “Wreckage Tour 2022,” which begins on October 14th, 2022, and will cover stops on the West Coast from Seattle to San Diego.

Tour Dates:

Fri, 10/14, On The Y, Sacramento

Sat, 10/15, No Fun Bar, Portland

Sun, 10/16, The Factory Luxe, Seattle

Thur, 10/20, Bottom Of The Hill, SF

Fri, 10/21, Gena’s Sierra Inn, Dunlap (Fresno)

Sat, 10/22, Five Suits Brewing, Vista (SD)

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