Monday, April 4, 2011

The Parsons Red Heads Interview

Big Sur Folk Festival

The Parson Red Heads - "It Never Snows" LIVE [Mondays (in Spaceland) Vol. 6 - January 28th, 2008] by spacelandrecordings

The Parsons Red Head are a band based out of Portland, Or.  They play a very compelling brand of indie x pop x folk music that is extremely joyful and pleasing.  Their first record King Giraffe  was unfortunately slept on despite being a consistent and pleasurable record.  I can not wait to hear the new record.  Their song Punctual as Usual is currently sound tracking a Blue Moon commercialI spoke with Evan Way about the new record, the Blue Moon commercial, and LA vs Portland.

So what should we expect from the new album? Would you consider it a continuation from the last album? I am playing the last album right now and my roommates have stopped by my room to ask what it was and say they like the tunes. Are there any plans to tour when the album comes out?

The new record is a step in a slightly new direction, I think - it is a bit broader, and more dynamic in its ranges from mellow to upbeat. It also covers a lot of different themes and ideas lyrically - it's a big growing record for us. We are really proud of it! We went into it wanting to make a record that put the vocals - the harmonies, the lyrics - at the forefront, and we kept that a priority. Approaching the album with that as the focus just made a much more dynamic sounding record - it really put the focus on the craft of the song itself, rather than the decoration of the song, if you will. All our past records have been full of harmonies, and had a strong melodic core, but I think this one is just a more mature version of that, in a way. I think we all feel that it is our strongest, most well rounded album, and we are really excited for folks to hear it!

We definitely want to tour behind the record once it comes out. We don't have any plans set in stone yet, but we're hoping to hit the road quite a bit around the US, to support the record and get the word out. At this point, we're not sure whether it'll be us going out on our own, or going out supporting someone else - time will tell!

You all have supported a bunch of great bands over the years, which has been your favorite tour?

There have been so many great tours over the past few years - we've been really lucky, and have always happened to go out with bands we love, and really click with. A few years ago we got to go on the road with our friends Blitzen Trapper. That was great - they are good pals, and also one heck of a band. So being able to spend time with them, and see them play every night, was a real treat. Plus it was our first full-on national tour, so it was a really new and exciting experience. But I think the top of our list has to be touring with Cotton Jones. They are just the best folks you'll ever meet, and we get along with them SO well. It was like one big traveling family - every night was a giant love-fest. When we finished the tour, we were all so sad to say goodbye ... I think we all texted eachother non-stop for days, just talking about how we didn't want it to be over. You don't have many tours end like that!!

The Parson Red Heads - "Punctual As Usual" LIVE [Mondays (at the Echo) Vol. 3 - December 18th, 2006] by spacelandrecordings

"Punctual as Usual" was featured in a Blue Moon commercial, how did that come about?

It's pretty boring business stuff, really. =) We work with a licensing company called Rumblefish, based here in Portland, and they called me up one day saying that Blue Moon folks heard our song, and were interested in using it for their first commercial. It was a really simple thing! I never really thought that the commercial would continue to play as long as it has, and be seen by so many people - but it's great that it has!

Your sound is very folky California pop, what has inspired this? What do you consider your main inspirations for creating music? For a while you were based in LA correct? and you are now in Portland, why the switch? How do you like the Portland scene? Seems like Portland might be the best city for music in the US.

I guess we're just inspired by the music we love - we've never had any preconceived ideas about what we're "supposed" to sound like, or even what we think we SHOULD sound like. We just write music that comes naturally to us - the songs develop as we play them together, and take on their own personality. There are so many inspirations for creating music - whether it be the other bands that we love, or other eras of music that we love. A lot of our inspiration for creating music is that it is just what makes us happy and fulfilled. We feel like we were meant to make music, and to make it together, and something about our songs reaches people in pretty amazing ways - and that's really more than I could ever ask for. That, in itself, is pretty inspiring.

We lived in LA for 5 1/2 years - it was such a great experience. It really taught us how to be a band. We worked hard up there, and earned our keep. And we met SO many wonderful people, and fellow musicians, who helped us out along the way. Its a very supportive circle of people up there, in the Echo Park / Silverlake music scene. I wouldn't trade our years in LA for anything, and I don't think we'd really be what we are now if it wasn't for our time spent there. It taught us everything! We decided to move to Portland for a few reasons - one, we were touring enough that it was getting a little out-of-hand to pay the high cost of living, when we weren't even THERE enough to really feel like we lived there. Its not easy to pay $1000 for a studio, when you aren't in it for 5 months out of the year. The cost of living also affected how much we were able to focus on our music - we all had to work day jobs so much just to get by, that we weren't really able to give our music as much attention as we would have liked. Now that we are up here, we can spend a lot more time working on songs, working on becoming better musicians. It's a much better life-style up here for that - it's just easier to get by. The decision was also made much simpler by the fact that we already had SO many good friends and fellow musicians up here in the Northwest (because this is where we first formed, and where a few of us grew up). So it was very comfortable to move up here, hardly felt like moving at all!

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