Veteran Chesterfield singer emerges from ‘dark time’ with debut solo album

A Chesterfield singer who found himself considering suicide after his industry closed almost overnight is hoping something good will come out of his “dark time” with the release of his first solo album.

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 7:56 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 7:17 am

Aaron Brown, frontman of funk/rock/indie/party band The WonderWhys, said he was forced onto Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance when potential earnings of £50,000 fell by the wayside as live music was ended almost overnight by the spread of coronavirus and associated lockdown rules a year ago.

Furthermore, the suicide of a close friend around the time of the first lockdown sent Aaron, formerly of 1990s’ indie band The Dazy Age and Derbyshire Times’ 2002 band of the year winners The Chasers, into a downward spiral.

“It’s been a very dark time,” says Aaron. “I literally had no money. Everything ground to a halt and it felt like an existential threat to my very being was questioned, with those in the entertainment and hospitality sectors urged by the Government to retrain in emerging technologies instead.

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“I’ve lived and breathed music and to be left like this, after dedicating my life to it, was a huge smack in the face.

A direct appeal to the Government resulted in a response from culture minister Caroline Dinenage, outlining the Government’s £1.57 billion support package for the industry, although Aaron feels many musicians, like himself, have “fallen through the cracks”, financially and mentally, and are struggling to adapt to this new way of life.

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Looking towards a brighter future

However, thanks to the support of his girlfriend, Post Office worker Polly Clements, and love for his pet cat Ness, who he sadly lost over new Year, and by focusing on two new projects, Aaron, who has a degree in music industry management, pulled through and is looking towards a brighter future.

The first, a new YouTube Channel called S40time, celebrates the music, arts and culture of Chesterfield and soon gained momentum thanks to a pilot episode featuring David McPhie, a promoter in Chesterfield in the 1960s and 1970s and co-author of the book Sounds in the Shadow of The Crooked Spire.

And the second is fulfilling a lifelong dream with a debut solo album at the “grand old age of 48”, working alongside local producer Danny Burton.

Aaron says: “I was just doing it for myself, so it was something I wouldn’t regret before it was too late, but Danny thought the songs were too good and I should give it a push.”

The WonderWhys - singer Aaron Brown, left, guitarist Adam Lowe, bassist Glen Chapman and drummer Haydn Lowe - prepare to join the Rock the Boat Cruise, where they performed.

Now Aaron is gearing up for the release of a debut single, Pure Water, on St George’s Day, ahead of the album’s launch in July – as well as documenting the whole process along the way.

"Pure Water is just about trying to give someone a pat on the back and some reassurance after everything we have been through,” he says. “It’s a very uplifting song.”

The album, Exennial – a mash-up of Generation X and Millennial – is described as a “commentary from the unique perspective of the generation with one foot either side of the Millennium, witnessing the accompanying advent of the internet and tech boom”.

Aaron says: “There are 12 killer songs on there I’ll be releasing in full in July, with a launch party on July 2, at Chesterfield’s Real Time Live.

The WonderWhys on stage at Alexandra Palace.

“Things are very different from when I studied music industry management in the ’90s – social media and engagement culture now play a huge part in whether you’ll be successful or not.

“Like many ‘Exennials’, I’m fairly tech-savvy, but the younger generation have really got a head start when it comes to social media.”

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When The WonderWhys supported the Happy Mondays, frontman Aaron Brown, left, offered Happy Monday Mark 'Bez' Berry a Chesterfield FC football shirt to wear. However, as a fan of red-wearing Manchester United FC, Bez refused to wear it, as blue isthe colour associated with United's cross-city rivals Manchester City FC.