Dangerous Idiots — FULL BIO
Aaron Sarlo was born in Chicago, Illinois. He migrated to Little Rock, Arkansas at the age of 11. When he was 14, he bought his first guitar, an acoustic, at a yard sale, and taught himself how to play with the help of a Beatles chord book. He wrote his first original songs on that guitar. When he was 16 years old, Sarlo recorded his first album, Phische, on a friend’s 4-track, and at 18, bought his own home recording equipment, tracking song after song. In his early twenties, with dozens of demos under his belt, Aaron Sarlo founded the seminal power pop band, Techno Squid Eats Parliament, with friend and musical collaborator, Clay Bell. Sarlo and Bell traded off songwriting roles and lead vocals in Techno Squid, with Mark Pearrow and Shayne Gray rounding out the fledgling band, on bass and drums, respectively.
Techno Squid Eats Parliament’s second ever show was as a contestant in the annual Spectrum Musicians Showcase, a prestigious regional artists showcase that featured celebrity judges, Jody Stephens of Big Star, John Fry, owner of Ardent Studios, legendary producer, Jim Dickinson, and Billboard Magazine writer, Rick Clark. Techno Squid won their night at the showcase, heavily impressing the judges. The band signed to Memphis’s legendary label, Ardent Records, and quickly began the work of transposing Sarlo’s 4-track recordings into full-band, album-ready songs. After many months of hard work, Techno Squid Eats Parliament put the finishing touches on their debut, self-titled record (with Grammy™ winning producer, John Hampton at the helm) and released it to rave reviews. Billboard Magazine praised the record for its “Anglo-smart, power pop with punk undertones,” and Mtv Canada featured Techno Squid Eats Parliament as “the most coveted show to see at NXNE” that year. Techno Squid and Sarlo toured North America, opened for Alex Chilton, Cracker, Bare Naked Ladies, appeared on MTV’s 120 Minutes, MTV.com, and have been cited as an influence for many musicians, including Lucero frontman, Ben Nichols, whom Sarlo has stated told himon numerous occasions, “You’re a hero of mine.”
After the breakup of Techno Squid Eats Parliament (due to drummer, Shayne Gray, accepting the starring role in Ira Sach’s The Delta), Aaron Sarlo relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, with friends, Chris Schuette, and Phillip Ouellette, and the trio formed the indie prog-rock band, Slept. Slept self-released an EP, Ick Tank, and a full length, Guy Trapped in a Situation, and toured New England in support. The accolades continued to roll in for Sarlo’s work, with Instant Magazine loving Ick Tank with an “intense compulsion,” The Big Takeover declaring, simply, that Slept is “Brilliant,” and industry mainstay, Tape-Op writing an entire spread on the recording process of Guy Trapped. Slept made waves in the Boston scene with their music, but also with their DIY music festival, La Fete dû Sisk, a music and arts pop-up festival held in an old church in Harvard Square. La Fete dû Sisk was pay-by-donation, featured paintings and graphic art by locally renowned artists, spoken word performers, poets, and live music by the best Boston bands. Overnight, Slept and La Fete dû Sisk became a hit with the Boston music scene.
After the disbanding of Slept, Aaron Sarlo moved home to Little Rock, and sold all of his musical equipment. To hear Sarlo recount it, he had grown “tired” of the songs he was writing, and wanted a drastic change. He bought a ukulele, and began re-learning the songwriting process from scratch. In 2007, after the death of his mother, Sarlo began writing songs again, penning the bulk of what would go on to become Dangerous Idiots, the 2011 juggernaut that took the British blogosphere by storm. Sarlo recorded these demos, and handed them off to former Techno Squid drummer, Shayne Gray, who shared them with Paul Bowling, the bassist for legendary punk band, Trusty. Bowling and Gray loved Sarlo’s bold new songs, and the three met up for rehearsals. The trio settled on the name, Dangerous Idiots, after a Freedom From Religion Foundation commercial Sarlo heard on Air America Radio in early 2009, and the name fit the band’s explosive sound (which Paul Bowling described as “gulch rock”) and Sarlo’s clever, acerbic words like a glove. Dangerous Idiots played their debut show at the legendary White Water Tavern on Sept. 4, 2009.
In 2010, the band tracked their self-titled, debut record, and in July, 2011, Aaron Sarlo signed Dangerous Idiots to independent U.K. label, Mostar Records. Mostar Records released DANGEROUS IDIOTS to across-the-board critical acclaim, with critics embracing the record’s “acid lyrics,” “buzz saw” guitars, and “super catchy” songwriting as “a great musical vision.” Others wrote of Sarlo’s songs, “My favourite track on the album has to be ‘Can I Get a Role Model,' with a rock chorus The Clash would be proud of,” and “With an opening line of ‘Are you tired of all the bullsh*t,’ it’s clear that this is no ordinary band, nor album… It’s more than lyrics. It’s a statement,” quickly solidifying Dangerous Idiots as a powerhouse indie rock band in the British press. The U.S. press agreed, with Sync Weekly declaring, “Dangerous Idiots is a blast of an album,” and The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writing, “The album has a rawness about it; a compelling, stripped-back sound that feels like you’re discovering a great, great band… lyrically and musically they’re as sharp as a button.” The fans agreed. One reviewer praised the record’s production, writing, “best guitar distortion since [Smashing Pumpkins] Siamese Dream,” and an iTunes listener who commented simply, “[DANGEROUS IDIOTS] is the best American rock record since Bleach.”
In 2013, the band released their sophomore record, Frankenbastard, again to critical acclaim, with The Arkansas Times calling the new songs “monstrously powerful.” Also, in 2013, Sarlo directed Dangerous Idiots in their first feature-length concert film, The Dangerous Idiots Live at the Legendary White Water Tavern, recorded as a live album and DVD on July 20th. In 2015, Mostar Records owners approached Sarlo about selling the label to Sarlo. They related to Sarlo that Dangerous Idiots had been the label’s top-selling artist, and that they were starting a new venture in advertising. In 2016, Aaron Sarlo bought Mostar Records and released Dangerous Idiots live concert album in a limited run, and to limited reviews. The Arkansas Times placed The Dangerous Idiots Live at The Legendary White Water Tavern on their 12 don't-miss Arkansas albums from 2016 list, and said of Sarlo’s songcraft, “Pop punk [that’s] swift and smart… Driven by front man Aaron Sarlo's eternally earnest vocals, the band has been lauded for philosophically savvy tunes like ‘He Who Has the Information Is the Leader,’ but can just as easily rip out a heartbreakingly sweet love song like "Wifi" (‘you will never need a home as long as there's the slightest spark in these old bones’) or ‘Sad,’ a two-minute jewel shrouded in ukulele and resignation (‘the only thing we control is how much to care, if at all’).”
Dangerous Idiots current lineup is Aaron Sarlo (lead vocals, guitar), Jake Rutherford (bass), and Greg Olmstead (drums). Aaron Sarlo is tracking and mixing the band’s third studio album, which is slated to be released in 2019 on Legitimate Businessman Entertainment.