SH: I really like the name “Santa’s Boyfriend”. Have you ever been to SantaCon in NYC? It’s a bar crawl where everyone dresses up as Santa Claus. It’s tomorrow actually.
P: No I haven’t actually, that’s pretty great. Did you know there’s a Santa Claus, Indiana? It has lesser known Santa events.
SH: On the music circuit the band is classified as alternative pop/rock, but Left Side of the Brain (2008) and Sparks (2010) is more than that in my opinion. Much more because the sound is full and bodied like pop/rock but still raw. How would you describe the band’s sound?
P: The skeletal system of the music is based in rock. Mainly because of the instrumentation, using drums, base, and a guitar and one main vocals. We love a lot of rock-based bands like Rage Against the Machine, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and stuff like that. But we all do have many, many influences that especially in the last album Sparks has found a way to creep into the music. I mean I’m a big Jazz fan, studied it at University, so I can appreciate that sort of language from a drummer’s stand-point and every now and then it creeps into those sections when we let it become sort of a free section where it’s improvised in a way and is given a chance to become something great on the spot, in the moment. The music is definitely rock with maybe six other genres. Rock with a genre-of-the-day.
SH: Sparks (2010) sounds a little different than Left Side of the Brain (2008), more cohesive I think. How has your music-making process evolved?
P: You’re not the first person to say that. To be honest when I look at all the years we recorded and what ended up on Sparks, it doesn’t seem as cohesive as Left Side of the Brain to me. What I think it is, is being an actual trio for enough time where we’ve become the band we actually want to become in a sense. We’ve all gone through the same up’s and down’s together as a band, and as friends, and as brothers. We communicate more musically and in general, and that’s how we wrote the album and communicated through our instruments instead of talking things out. The music reflects that in some weird way. There is a cinematic feel to this album it has real energy; it has those up moments, and then those delicate moments and then those very real, really nasty moments.
SH: What are your musical influences?
P: There are only about 100,000. Our musical taste is all in stages of your life. What you’re into, specifically with your friends, might dictate what you listen to. I used to listen to The Beatles a lot. I was in a band when I was in fourth grade called "The Explosives" and we’d write Beatle-esque songs and sing with our little fourth-grade voices. When I got into drums I begin listening to different music because I was interested in a specific instrument. Sometimes I listen to specific singer/song-writers to see specifically how the drummer speaks that language and interacts in that genre. Everyone come from that perspective. Joe kinda hated music until he heard Nirvana and heard something fighting against the trendy-80’s type thing. We all absolutely fell in love with Rage Against the Machine. We all love Radiohead. Then you get your fill of Radiohead and then you switch to John Coltrane. Then I listen to Chopin for a week. Then Tchaikovsky for a week. Then Death Cab for Cutie. All the influences poke their head through, but it all comes back to rock.
SH: What are the long-term goals of the band? You already have quite a big following abroad, are you trying for the same in the U.S.?
P: We we’re always trying to do it. The state of the industry is one that is in flux. You have to use the tools that are available to every band but also make yourself stand above every band. We aren’t the world’s best internet promoters in a way. Where we excel is playing live. That’s where we really grab people. We’re always trying to get new fans. We’d love to succeed in the states. We’ve been concentrating the majority of the past two years in Europe, because there is a fire there for us. It’s about survival because you have to find a way to stay relevant, to keep up with technology and music. Everyone can get information on their phone. You don’t wait for that one band to come to your town, and that one record to be released. No it’s, “you want that music?” ”Give me a second and let me down-load it on my phone”. It’s a challenge. I definitely try to fight those urges to become more cynical about it. I just have to remember that more people than ever are listening to music and music is now more relevant in many ways. It’s still more powerful than any artistic form that I know of. It can dictate so much of our live. It seems like it’s harder than ever to bottle it and keep it something special.
SH: What you’re saying is so true, and what’s ironic is that live music is the most relevant, but people are a lot less willing to go to live shows.
P: It used to be just get signed to a label, get radio play, and then CD’s start selling. Now the majority of it is from touring, which means you have to be ready to put on your touring shoes.
SH: People want consistency on the tours also. I feel like live music shows should adapt to the venue and the city and the feel, but people want exactly what they hear on the album but live.
P: It’s because we have such a multimedia world. People can go home and in two-seconds watch the band live, and for some people that fulfill the curiosity. People don’t think, “Oh this band is coming through my town, I may not even get to see them live again, let me go”. They sit in their cubicles and watch videos and aren’t intrigued anymore. The one saving grace is that there is no substitute for an actual physical live show. A lot of bands never play the same show twice. It is a special thing. An intangible. That intangible used to be waiting, but now it’s different. Like seeing a music when it’s on the big-screen.
SH: Okay, this is my one tangent question just because I think the answers are so interesting, if you had to get a tattoo right this instant what would it be of?
P: Something a what a proud father would get; probably his son’s name tattooed on his body. He takes up a majority of my life, he’s two years old. I’d probably get his and my wife’s name.
SH: Is there anything you want people out there to know?
P: I just want people to know about the band. We’re a band that’s so close to breaking through, and reaching that critical mass where people just know about the band and can give you a chance. If you can come see us live please do, because that’s where we turn people into fans. We really step above the average band and can turn people’s head. I would say Sparks is not out in the U.S. and I really hope people get a chance to hear it. Our fans are out there. The things you find special about the record are what we think are special about the album. The band isn’t just three really good musicians, but three really good song-writers.