[Interview] Papadosio Shares about Straying from the Norm, Shapeshiftour and More

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5-piece fusion band Papadosio – a blissful blend of electronic rock and jazz – kicked off their Shapeshiftour in Thornville, OH at Resonance Music and Arts Festival, with subsequent shows in various parts of Florida and rounding out in Seattle, WA. We were able to catch up with members Anthony Thogmartin (vocals/guitar/keys), Billy Brouse (keys/vocals), Rob McConnell (bass/vocals), and Sam Brouse (keys/vocals). Unfortunately, Mike Healy was unable to join us for our conversation before their show at The Plaza Live in Orlando. However, the rest of the crew discussed with us a variety of topics, including a brief look back upon the Extras in a Movie tour, staying originally unoriginal, performing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and much more. Read the interview below and view the Orlando show photos HERE.

You guys did a Nine Inch Nails tribute set as one of your performances for Resonance Music and Arts Festival recently. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the inspirations in doing so? Honestly, I was unaware that NIN played that significant a role in your music that you chose to emulate your tribute set around them.

Sam Brouse: Their live shows are just so awesome and different, and their music was definitely a challenge for us, but I felt like if anybody could pull off it off it’s us. We had a lot of different sound options and they wanted us to do a tribute set, so that’s just the one we decided on.

How do you think the crowd reacts to your set when you do tributes such as that one?

Billy Brouse: We’ve never done it, that was the first time we did it.

Sam: No one really expected us to play NIN.

Anthony Thogmartin: The median frame of reference that a lot of people have in the micro culture of music festivals is ‘well this song sounds like this jam band and this other band that I already know that’s within the same scene, and it’s in this very small kind of thing.’ It was refreshing to do NIN because we’re a lot more influenced by that music than really any of the classic frame of reference bands that people use normally. So it was refreshing for us to show people that. After reading reactions, I think that a lot of people are starting to realize and understand that ‘oh, that’s a lot more like Papadosio than this is’, because we never really listened to too much scene festival band music.

I think it’s a cool merging of cultures. The last time you all caught up with Florida Music Blog was during your Extras in a Movie tour a few years back. Can you briefly over some big things that have transpired for you all in between that time and now?

Sam: Since then we’ve headlined Red Rocks twice, and the first time we did that it was an amazing experience. Super scary. Having come from that experience into releasing a whole other EP and then playing Red Rocks again, I think we’re really confident in our ability to do a bunch of different things and be ourselves on stage more than ever before which has been fun. Now we’re just dusting off the cobwebs to do this whole tour.

[Related: Papadosio Talks Extras in a Movie and Road Stories]

You guys are no stranger to Red Rocks now, but do you feel like it will ever get easier and not be as nerve-wrecking to take the stage at such a renowned venue?

Billy: I don’t ever see it being like ‘oh yeah okay, I’ll call you after this Red Rocks thing’. I’d like to meet the person that can say that. Maybe Peter Gabriel could. But at least for me, it’s pretty crazy. Once you get up there it’s a little different but before it’s just like ‘oh my god let’s just do it, let’s go!’

Going back to the Extras in a Movie tour, I know it was a while ago, but you guys executed something out of the norm for that album and tour, something more experimental for Papadosio. Do you feel like you received mixed reactions from your fan base in regards to that project?

Sam: Yeah, I think so. I think at the beginning it was kinda weird for some people and it still might be. But it was what we were doing at the time.

Anthony: And now they’re requesting all these songs. Which is just how it goes, you know. We’ll release another record and everyone will be like ‘wah’ and then two years down the road that’s what everyone will want to listen to. There’s actually a term for it, I don’t remember what it is but it means familiarizing yourself with music to the point of if you listen to something more than like three times it becomes your vibe, and that’s what you want to hear. It’s just like the nature of familiarizing yourself with tracks. I also think that a lot of popular music nowadays is very digestible right away, almost like fast food. Like a song that is so good and so easy to listen to is like a french fry, it instantly appeals to people. The first time I listened to ‘The Bends’ by Radiohead I didn’t like it; and now it’s probably one of the best albums I’ve ever listened to.

Is there something significant that swayed you to go that route for the E.I.A.M. album? Or was that just the place you were in at that time?

Sam: A  lot of things went into it, but I really do think that that was just what happened at the time. We wanted to try something different and push yourself out of your comfort zone then you’ll never get better.

Making people uncomfortable with music can be good, maybe it isn’t easy but it enables them to broaden their horizons and get into something they normally wouldn’t, something that isn’t super saturated and expected from a band. It’s nice to know that you guys can always switch it up even though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Sam: One album that comes to mind that we all listened to like that and were super into was that Yeasayer album – that was so different from their first album. It was completely different but so interesting, and then they went on to make an entirely different album again. Artists that do that are really inspiring.

Anthony: I think that they’re super inspired too. I’ve always really liked Beck a lot, and I think that from one album to the next people are like ‘oh Midnight Vultures man that’s the funky one!’ and it’s like okay, but there’s also all these beautiful acoustic choir albums that are really enjoyable to listen to. May we never fall down the pit of making easily digestible music.

I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that. Personal question for you [Anthony] about your side project, EarthCry, how does it feel to remix Papadosio songs that you all create as a whole with your family and add your individual twist to it?

Anthony: We all do it, you know. We do it in rehearsal, just think of ways that something we played yesterday could be different than today. We’ll prepare for a show and just brainstorm how we can play one song one way and another a different way, honestly it’s just another day as a musician, hearing the same riff over and over again your mind starts to wander into something different. I’m really happy that we’re a a band who is able to navigate to different sounds like that so we aren’t repetitive. We’re kind of taking a journey and it’s really fun.

On the subject of touring, how can you describe a typical day on tour for you guys besides practice and rehearsal? Do you have anything in particular that you like to do in order to mentally prepare yourself or relax or have fun before your show?

Rob: Eat food.

Sam: Eat food and shower. The shower is very important. Try to exercise more because it’s really easy to not do anything.

Rob: Exercising definitely helps before you play, stretching helps a lot in that it prolongs your ability to play. I know so many musicians that have wrist and neck problems and back problems because they don’t take care of themselves.

When you aren’t on tour or in the studio, how do you like to spend your downtime? Any particular hobbies aside from playing in music that you find yourself doing?

Rob: Basketball.

You guys are big Cavaliers fans, right? How do you feel about the Dwayne Wade stuff?

Everyone: Oh hell yeah.

Billy: We love it! It’s going to be a really interesting season to watch.

Rob: Other than that, we all like to cook.

Billy: I like to play golf sometimes, like a boring old white guy. We all enjoy hiking, Asheville is really good for that.

Sam: Playing with dogs…and playing Settlers of Catan for me, it’s my new super hobby. I play like three times a week every month, it’s awesome. I like to cook as well.

What do you like to cook?

Sam: I like to just find new recipes and cook them. My girlfriend works like all day when I’m home so I just find myself alone with my dog being a stay-at-home dad. It’s actually pretty fun to cook and clean and do the things you don’t do on tour.

Billy: I think about dinner all day, love doing that. And then go grocery shopping.

Anthony: I like to bike, Mike and I. I wish we could say that we do it more, but the frequency is like once a month we go mountain biking which is super fun. Mike’s really intense and I’m kind of more like a joyride kind of guy. You’ll see Mike coming first flying down and I’m kinda just cruising behind.

Where did you all come together as a band?

Sam: We’re all from Ohio, and moved to Asheville together.

Billy: We met in Athens, Ohio and did this open jam thing and all started playing together and eventually were like ‘hey, let’s f**kin do this.’ So we did, and here we are.

Rob: It was kind of a college town. We weren’t really all in college, but we were college-y.

Anthony: Rob is being nice, I’m the only idiot who didn’t go to college.

Rob: I didn’t exactly finish college but..

Well I think that’s something you don’t necessarily need worry about now, but you could always go back if you want. How do you feel like Asheville’s scene is with live improv music?

Sam: It’s cool, all of our friends come through town at least once a year when we’re home. We’ve also met some amazing musicians of all different types here; DJ’s, producers, bands, horns – and we keep in touch with them as much as possible. Last year for Anthony’s birthday we did a jam with a couple of bands where we rotated members and had a lot of fun doing that, so if you want to do something fun musically there, there are so many people around you to work with that inspire you which is really cool. I’m sure it’s like that in every city but Asheville feels like this really cool microcosm because it’s so small.

Papa D’s next run of shows starts off in Salt Lake City, UT at The State Room on October 25th.

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