EMPTY STREETS, the brooding musical project from songwriter/actor Aaron Thompson, has revealed a new video for “Pleaser,” the second single and opening track from the forthcoming Age of Regret EP, scheduled for release on August 6 via Cleopatra Records.
Equal parts contemplative, melancholic and angry, “Pleaser” gives voice to deep-seated emotions regarding disloyalty, from the earthly to the divine. “‘Pleaser is a conversation with God and simultaneously a conversation with a lover,” says Thompson. “It’s an angry realization that you’ve done your part and in return you’ve received betrayal.”
Shot in Downtown Los Angeles, the video – directed by Mike Quasar and edited by Thompson – features Thompson front and center at a church pulpit, flanked by adult film stars Jessie Lee and Kira Noir.
“Being the son of a preacher, I loved creating a bastardized church setting for this video,” Thompson says. “It’s a slick middle finger to the upbringing of my youth and at the same time a moment of self-realization – for all that I try to escape it, in many ways I’m just another lunatic on a soapbox screaming like my father.”
Age of Regret boasts a keyboard-based modern darkwave sound reminiscent of the best of late ‘80s/early ‘90s dark synth pop. The six-song EP represents a catharsis for Thompson, confronting many of his demons and struggles, from growing up the son of a preacher, to living with Tourette’s and mental health issues and the isolation and pressure that comes with being an award-winning adult film star – all the while on a bitter quest to find beauty and redemption.
Age of Regret was mixed and mastered by Jaime Preciado (Pierce The Veil), with whom Thompson worked virtually throughout the entire process. Additional production was provided by The Dillinger Escape Plans’ Ben Weinman (“All You Deserve”) and goth/synth artist Ophelia, with additional mixing and mastering by Shawn McGhee.
“Aaron is a surprisingly prolific and mesmerizing songwriter,” Weinman notes. “It’s so great to see him exercising his musical abilities and showing people what he’s made of!”
Age of Regret also features a guest appearance by Faster Pussycat guitarist Ace Von Johnson on the track “Was That Not Enough.” “(EMPTY STREETS is) leaps and bounds beyond what many are currently doing,” Von Johnson says. “His brooding lyrics and swagger are not only captivating to the ear, but a much-needed breath of fresh air.”
Though EMPTY STREETS may be new to many listeners, Thompson has a long musical history, in addition to his successful foray into the adult industry under the alter-ego Small Hands. But before he ever stepped in front of the camera to film his first hardcore sex scene, Thompson was setting stages ablaze around the globe with his hardcore rock shows. EMPTY STREETS represents a return to form for this multi-talented artist.
Thompson grew up the son of a preacher in San Diego, California. From the moment he was gifted his first guitar, he turned from humming church hymns to playing the devil’s music on his six-string. In 2003 Thompson stormed the San Diego music scene when he founded the band The Stranger’s Six, for which he was the frontman and songwriter. The band’s infectious live performance sold out notable venues like The Casbah, SOMA and House of Blues, and landed the group shared billing with the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars, TSOL, Panic at the Disco, Dashboard Confessional, The Misfits and The Cult. They were regularly nominated for “Best Punk Band” at the San Diego music awards alongside other local legends Pierce the Veil, Blink 182, and The Locust. In 2007 The Stanger’s Six signed to Koch Records, and went on several US tours, including the Warped Tour.
In 2012 Thompson joined the band Fenix TX on their headlining European Tour, which covered over 20 countries. That year, Aaron also became romantically engaged with adult film legend Joanna Angel. Thompson first dabbled in the adult industry by writing original scores for her Burning Angel films. But as the pair’s lives became more entwined, he took on more and more roles in Angel’s production team until he eventually stepping in front of the camera as “Small Hands.” Within a few years, Small Hands went from co-staring alongside Angel to winning “Male Performer of the Year” awards from every single adult trade association: AVN, Xbiz, XRCO, Adult DVD Talk, The Alt Awards and The Inked Awards.
In 2020 Thompson returned to music with his solo project EMPTY STREETS, which infuses his hardcore rock and roll roots with a darker, sexier edge. The brooding musical project released a debut EP, Demons
, released last summer, which pulled from a variety of heavier influences, including Nick Cave, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, VNV Nation, while also introducing a number of surprises. Thompson’s talents were soon recognized by Dillinger Escape Plan’s Benjamin Weinman, who collaborated on EMPTY STREETS for the track “Fracas” on Weinman’s Patreon page. While working the follow-up to Demons, EMPTY STREETS released a teaser of “Age of Regret,” piquing the interest of Cleopatra Records.
EMPTY STREETS online: