Written by Charles “Bones” Frank, Photography by August J. Heisler
On what had already been a stellar Thursday evening of music at the Hulaween festival, located at the famed Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, my night sought to expand even more. Among the incredible performers that peppered this Thursday pre party lineup was Papadosio, a band who like me, calls North Carolina home, however that is far from their only admirable quality. My thirst for their sound having been so welcomingly quenched from their evening set on the Amphitheater Stage, I moved from my scenic view in front to behind the heralded stage to pick the brains of Dosio’s Anthony Thogmartin and Mike Healy. We discussed their appearance at Hulaween, and also delved a little deeper into culture, the important larger roles of festivals and live music, and of course their new album.
Bones: Ok so thank you guys for taking a second for me, I appreciate it so much. I know you guys took the red eye in here and you’re out on the tour for the new album ‘Content Coma’, so again thanks a lot. Now let’s get down to business- Can you talk a little bit about how cool it is to be at Hulaween and what it means to be down here?
Mike: I mean we’re just…honestly we’re just really grateful to be here. Especially because we are in the middle of our tour…
Anthony: West coast tour! We’re back east in a couple weeks though.
M: Yea, and it felt like a really important thing for us to change around our schedule while we’re on the road just to make it here. Even though it is the pre-party it’s still a HUGE day.
M: And we flew in from Denver overnight, we fly back to Denver tomorrow because we have a huge show at The Fillmore, but we are just so grateful to be included in all the festivities here and to be on one of the best lineups of the year. It’s just so cool to be down here.
B: Festival season of course has been wrapping up and it’s so cool to kind of just return just for a breath to that energy under the cloak of fall.
A: Yes for sure.
B: And it’s always so cool and it fosters this really unique mood and sets the scene so well. It’s just a blessing to have you guys here. Anthony, you talked from stage for a second about the divisive era that we’re living in and how important it is for people to be heard. To transmit that both instrumentally and vocally and really deliver a message is something that is critically important and can affect so many channels. Could you return just for a second to what you were talking about on stage and to your remarks about how important live music is in that regard and the role that gatherings like this play?
A: (laughs) I was really tired when I was saying that, and what I was really trying to hone in on kind of what you just mentioned is that these kinds of festivals are really special, and rare. And I don’t think people realize that the conditions under which this kind of thing can happen are a lot more finicky than they might seem.
A: I think we’ve (as a community) had a really great run the last… thirty years. But society hasn’t always been so acceptant and ready to embrace the arts the way that it is now. And if we allow certain trends to continue in the directions that they are going, this type of gathering is potentially going to look different. It might not stop, but it will look different to the degree where the kind of connections that we’re making with each other, the quality of them could change. I think that that is something that we can, as a community of music lovers, something that we can cultivate by getting out and voting sure, by talking to people that don’t agree with us, acknowledge all the civil and social connections we need to make to keep this wonderful dream alive. I see it, we see the backend of everything and we kind of look at how cost diseases are hitting the United States pretty hard, we’re on the edge of another recession, and things are looking pretty grim. Thusly, it’s really important for people to support each other, support live music, support cool ideas, and invest in them. That’s what needs to happen, we need to take care of our own in a way that we have never had to before.
M: And to touch on that, Hulaween in particular as a festival is a great example of what Anthony was talking about. It is one of the bigger grassroots style festivals. It’s not underneath the massive corporate umbrella. So many festivals in the entire world are now being absorbed.
B: Yes, yes!
M: And of course, we still play events and festivals with more corporate involvement, we are grateful to play everywhere, but it’s different to see the smaller promoters succeeding at something that they are throwing and are passionate about. That’s a huge thing for us; we like to support a lot of the smaller guys.
B: And that reciprocation that you’re kind of describing, it comes through. It really is tangible and speaking from experience, I throw a festival back in North Carolina, and you we’re talking about how things really do get by on the backend by the skin of their teeth, and that moment when the band finally hits; that moment is serene.
A: It’s a miracle.
M: It is man.
B: To return just a second to the new album, ‘Content Coma’, and where you guys are at musically. I’ve been lucky enough to follow you guys through the years, being from North Carolina of course, and also being very close to my peers inside the industry back in Ohio. I’ve seen the whole gambit of your diversity and so many different sets that always deliver something new, while remaining familiar. Your sound really comes through, and it’s a tremendous quality to be able to replicate every night when you rely on creativity again and again. How do you do that?
M: For us in relation to the sets at least, to stay fresh we try to use this method where we look at the set list from the last time we were in town, and of course look at the set list from the night before, and we have over just about one hundred songs now that we play live.
A: And we’re going to pass that with our next release, which is really exciting. But yeah we have an archivist I guess you could say, who records every single set, lets us know where we are in our catalogue, lets us know what we haven’t done, keeps us informed on requests and helps us synchronize all of that. After that, the set lists almost write themselves which is really, really fun. Now with this new record we’re getting to this degree that I’m noticing where we really have a lot of area to span, I mean a decade of music. I think about that and then I think about bands like Phish and The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd and having to create set lists that span like decades and decades. That is truly mind blowing to me. Where my head was ten years ago, is like, it’s almost like a different life.
B: Right, right of course. And with the new album it really goes from front to back. It’s not concept materiel it’s a real record. The transition and progression from track to track strike me as materiel that is obviously new, but the arrangement antecedes when records were meant to be like that, before digital tracking. To be able to deliver your sound, and still have that element of fluidity come through is really cool. I’m happy for where you are. The new record is so cool.
M: Thank you, that means a lot to us that people can recognize that. The landscape has changed of course, and now people rarely listen to albums, they listen to singles and new tracks individually because they are accessible, there is streaming, all of those things have created this new modern landscape of how music like ours is delivered.
A: One of the things that was so cool was one of our fans set up like a live listening party online. So everybody got the record at midnight and talked about it as the songs came out. And because everyone was waiting with their finger on the trigger, one hundred or one hundred and fifty people or so maybe, they were on that group at that time, they all were talking about it, and it was so awesome and moving.
B: Very organic.
A: Yes. It was real time.
B: And honestly, it relates to Hulaween, it relates to the grassroots aspect that you described, and everything has kind of come together and it’s so cool how cycles are created and how things align like that. My friends that is all of your time I’m going to take, and it’s been a humble pleasure. Safe travels back to Denver and with the rest of the tour.
A+M: Awesome man, thank you so much.
You can follow Papadosio on the conclusion of their ‘Content Coma’ tour as they have returned east to finish off 2018. Catch Anthony, Mike, and the rest of this dynamic unit in Columbus, OH on November 23rd, and Pittsburgh, PA on November 24th, before they move south to ring in the New Year. More information about their new record and tour is located at Papadosio.com. You can always keep up with my own travels; writing, and great conversations like this one right here at The Jamwich, or on my company’s social media page Uncle John’s Bone. Until next time friends, this is Bones signing off!