Why did it take 10 years to release a new studio album?
Technically, we’ve gone into the studio and released new content in the last 10 years. For my part , the two years leading up to the hiatus weren’t exactly the most productive creatively speaking. Some of the time/pace things will get touched on in other questions I see here.
How would you describe the songwriting process? How is it different than years past/past albums?
As far as any specific process is concerned it’s always been many varieties. Even on my end, sometimes it starts with a lyrical idea and sometimes a melody gets stuck in my head and necessitates putting words to it so I can get it out of there! At the end of the day the songs are realized thanks to each member’s skillsets. Beats that I put on a demo aren’t anywhere near what Albert will eventually do with it. For me that’s a big part of the fun.
How did that idea and concept for the “Spirit Bear” video come together?
Dominar films out of Athens came up with the concept and I knew immediately that I liked the path they were on. My initial reaction to doing any video at all was “maybe we can just make a short film to the music and not have to be in front of the camera”. So naturally, I was put in a very red suit and a steady Cam was attached to me. The best way to hear god laugh is to announce your plans aloud.
PGroove is also known for having a sense of humor and almost tongue-in-cheek geekiness that often spills over into the music. How, if anyway, did that spill over into the new album and it’s process?
Oh the geekiness isn’t tongue and cheek. It’s legit I assure you. Having said that, I don’t think it’s really in the recipe on the new album. Seems like times are tough out there and I wanted to focus on how the music might be of service in general. There have been pop culture and literary references in plenty of our material in the past of course. Maybe it’s just with more life experiences and personal things that have happened? I really tried to push myself to be actively aware of what we might say and what emotions we’d hope to convey to any listener. While making the album I lost my sister / closest friend and processing that couldn’t help but be woven in. Not in a dark way but rather catharsis and in honor of. Also notable that my loss wasn’t the only one.
How is this album technically any different from PGroove albums of the past?
We’ve learned a lot as we’ve gone along. I think we went into this one all looking forward to being pushed out of our comfort zones. Working with Jason and Tim was a pretty amazing experience. Taking the time with the album allowed for things to marinate and organically arrive at what in my opinion is their best realization.
Your sobriety. How has that been handled to avoid the same pitfalls of the road?
I’d first say that the risks and pitfalls aren’t limited to the road. I was actually at my “worst” immediately following our “last” show. This visits back to why has it been 10 years. If you are into a program or however you go about wanting to change the way you’re living ? It’s different for everyone, but I needed the routine that I got from drug court. Once that phase was done in my life and we band members began corresponding the questions were – is there a future for the band? If so what sort ? Two night stands occasionally ? Dipping your toe in the waters, then waist deep, so on so forth. It ultimately comes down to personal accountability. I’d like to think that it’s evident I’m a more dependable collaborator , business partner and ultimately better person/friend. Losing siblings and friends that are your peers definitely makes an impact. Thinking of your own decisions past to present. I want to feel good. Quit drinking sodas and I get up early and exercise ?? These might sound like small obvious silly things to some, but for me ? Who’s had a life of High mileage living and not the best decisions it’s significant as to where my head is. I like to think of Robert Downey Jr. He was in the orange jumpsuit and with what seemed to be endless legal troubles. He was a liability for productions to consider casting him etc. Now he’s Tony Stark! I love a good redemption story and would like for that to be a prevailing aspect of my own.
How does the band decide on setlists? Bust outs? New covers? The band has always had their finger on the pulse of being at the forefront of pop music and debuting songs that are relevant in today’s music. Can you elaborate on that?
This will sound obvious, but we all love music. When we convene on the road I always get turned on to new stuff from the fellas. I even have different relationships with each member. Matt and I share a love for Nine Inch Nails. Adam and I have been on a Big Red Machine kick. I count on our tour manager Michael Blair for all my indie Americana content. Then I’ll hear Waltzing Matilda at the end of the Deadwood movie and text it to Albert immediately. Matt is the go to guy for the framework of starting the setlist day to day in the bands shared notes.
An example of how a cover might get suggested from me , I was still on probation in Virginia and heard ELO’s Long Black Road. I didn’t even know if the guys would even speak to me again much less be back at it. Nonetheless, I heard it and thought “this is sooooo totes in our wheelhouse” … we covered it last NYE and have several times since. Took only four years to get it in the line up. Conversations are already well underway on how often to play the new material. Do we care about stats on paper ? As a person who loves going to concerts I know what it’s is to chase a song. I also know the delights of something being a near certainty. Depending on the band. I like to walk around and meet fans. If there’s a good request (either the song itself or the reason why it’s being requested) I know I’m stoked to play the new stuff.
How would you describe the current climate of The World of PGroove?
A positive one. Something I’m present to actively appreciate. Not a lot of folks get to the point where their demons are in the rear view mirror at all , much less to the point where they stay way behind. I’m grateful.