Q&A with Papadosio

by Aaron Decker (Communications), published December 18th 2013

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The music of Ohio five-piece Papadosio carries with it all the trappings of a jam band. However, one listen will also reveal that these guys are more than just grooving basslines and a nature-centric mentality. With influences that span both the digital and the organic, the band have crafted a wide-ranging, yet cohesive sound. They’re very visual as well – their latest album, 2012’s To End the Illusion of Separation (T.E.T.I.O.S. for short) includes a booklet showcasing artwork corresponding to each track. All this considered, it’s not hard to see why live performance is such a large component of what Papadosio do (they curate their own festivals, such as EarthNight in Columbus, Ohio). On the eve of their latest Boston show on November 8th at the Sinclair, Tastemakers had a chance to speak with keyboardist Billy Brouse about Boston, playing live, and what the future should look like.

Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): So you’ve been in Boston a few times in the past year. Is there anything that makes performing here special for you or different at all?

Billy Brouse (BB): Actually, I think the first time that we played there was the first time I’d been to Boston, so I didn’t really know what to expect. But I had a lot of friends who lived there and still do, and they’re like, “Dude, you’re gonna have a great time.” And then people just straight showed up. Everyone was having a good time and showed up to dance, which is what we like. And that was like my first real introduction to Boston. Really, other than that, other than the people that come out, that’s pretty much all I really know about Boston. But that’s enough for me to like it, you know?

TMM: [Your show at the Sinclair on 11/8] is going to be a club gig, but you guys are a very festival-oriented band. You guys are curating your own festivals, which is something you don’t see a lot anymore. You’re doing EarthNight again in Columbus this year, how did the idea for that come about?

BB: Our visual mastermind, Jason Takahashi, actually started it in upstate New York at a college called Skidmore where he and my brother went. So—I think it was for his senior thesis actually—he threw an event called EarthNight, which was like an environmentally-minded, art-minded, kind of aesthetic overload night of all sorts. So it started up there. And I think there was only one up there, but he had just been waiting to do it again. He brought up the idea last year, right on the solstice seemed like a great time to do it. Kind of like a city festival but kind of not. Kind of got the professional vibes with the presentations and workshops and whatnot. Gives people a good time. Not just a party time, it is kind of what you make of it. In the middle of winter in Ohio, which is brutal. I think it’s just gonna keep going, really. I’m very excited for EarthNight for sure. It’s more fun doing EarthNight than almost anything else all year, I think.

TMM: From that statement, I’d assume that you guys are more live-centric than studio-centric?

BB: Well I mean, as of right now and in the past we’ve been much more live-centric because all we do is play live all the time. I’d like to—we’d all like to, kind of—actually get into the studio and really go for it. We have our own little studio, which is nice and everything. But we never really have time… [To End the Illusions of Separation] was, “go on tour, get back home, work on the album, go back on tour, work on it again.” You’re never just in the studio for a long time. I’d like to kind of migrate that way, but also obviously play a lot of live shows but still have a good chunk of time to invest in the studio environment. But yeah, as of right now everything goes into the live show.

TMM: I read that your album is meant to be “a call to reject artificial barriers.” Would you say that this signifies the band’s vision of an ideal future?

BB: Yeah, and I think most peoples’ ideal future, whether they know it or not. We’re all just people. We’re just guys and we’re on a stage. And you go do your thing and you’re not on a stage, but it doesn’t make you any different. We’re all just struggling along, no one’s better than anyone else. And once you kind of realize that, I think then you can start taking responsibility for your own actions, which everyone struggles with. I personally do, everybody does.

TMM: As far as the sound on the new album, it has a lot of jam elements but it doesn’t sound like Umphrey’s [McGee], for example. And it has dance elements, but it definitely doesn’t sound like Avicii. Who were your influences for crafting your sound on this album?

BB: We didn’t write all the songs just for this album, it was more of an ongoing process. Nine Inch Nails is definitely a huge, huge inspiration, although it might not seem so much to come across live or in the studio. But I think if you just have a little bit of that… like, you don’t have to be straight Nine Inch Nails-esque all the time. And Radiohead, for sure. YES, definitely. YES is a huge influence on me and my brother, I know that. We’re just out trying to forge our own way, you know what I mean? And there are elements of all different music you can find in there, if you look hard enough.

TMM: I haven’t held a physical copy [of T.E.T.I.O.S.] in my hands, but I heard about the flipbook where you have an image for every song. What do you look for in accompanying visuals?

BB: Something that I guess portrays the message of the song. All of the artists we worked with have seen us live plenty of times. We know them personally and they know that we’re kind of going for it, what our whole deal is. So I guess it’s just something to reinforce the whole message of the song, really. And the mood. Because when we’re playing live, not necessarily every time, there will be the album artwork on the LED screens just kind of flipping around and doing its thing back there. It’s kind of a tool to help convey what we’re trying to say, really. And to support another sense, a visual sense in someone. Having the audio be stimulated, that’s one thing, but then you combine it with visuals, and that brings it to a different place. That’s what we’re all about, trying to make a whole show of it. Whatever it is that the song is to you in conjunction with that piece of art.

TMM: What are your future plans? Plans for a new album?

BB: Yeah, there are definitely plans for a new album. I’m not really sure when that’s gonna be able to happen. I think when we have a good chunk of time and the means to do so, we will do it because we love to create. There’s no real date set, and that’s the way we like it. But spring tour, for sure. We’ll be all over the place, so look for us.

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