Written by Taco Olmstead

Hey Mike, thank you for talking with me today!  I know you are currently touring, where are you all at right now?

We are in Arizona, in Flagstaff, at the base of the mountains out here.We went to the Grand Canyon this morning for the sunrise.  It was awesome.

You all just ended a tour in Colorado, correct?

It was incredible! We had three sell-outs out of the six nights, it was awesome. Two nights in Boulder was definitely the highlight, selling out two nights always feels good!

You guys have just been grinding it for the last two years it seems like; I don’t remember you guys even getting a two week break!

Yeah, pretty much for the last five years straight we’ve played about 150 shows a year and we’re gone about 200 days a year, so it’s been pretty crazy.  We just had a six week break after our New Year’s run, and that was the first time we’ve had six weeks off in like, six years or something! It was a much needed rest and relaxation in Asheville, got some snowboarding in.  So, yeah we’ve been pretty much grinding, so hard! We’re finally working and keeping this spaceship moving.

Do you think that has contributed to your success, really getting out there like that and playing that many shows?

Absolutely! We are a stereotypical band who is successful through touring.  There are different models of getting successful, and we did not go the big advertising, money, or label route, as many bands do, which works for them. We just did the super grassroots route—just getting ourselves out in front of people. The first three years of our band we booked and managed ourselves, and then we got our first agent around 5 years ago and we’re on our third one, just climbing that chain I guess. It has all been a matter of hard touring and word of mouth, we’ve never had a massive advertising budget for anything, it’s always been on the smaller end of things. We’re constantly pushing the envelope. We’re also willing to get into tons of debt, I think a lot of bands are really scared of that, they say “I guess I’ll have to work a job to keep touring at the same time,” but that doesn’t work, you have to commit 100% to playing music if that’s what you want your career to be. It’s really hard, and for some people it’s harder than others. For us, it’s definitely been a blessing, but also difficult, too, especially with finances.  We had to take loans out here and there, have friends help out here and there, it definitely takes a lot, but it’s totally worth it. It pays off, so when times are hard just keep pushing through, it eventually gets better!

That sounds like the average entrepreneur’s plight!

It’s so stereotypical, but it’s so true.  If you want to be successful in any business you have to work hard, open up a shop on the corner, be in debt for five years while you pay your bills, and then make a profit. It’s the same thing, it’s really no different at all.  We’re just rocking the fuck out and it’s awesome.

You guys are originally from Ohio and I know you’ve played a lot with The Werks, how did that whole relationship come about and evolve?

We’ve known The Werks the longest out of any band who has played in a similar situation as us—on this scene and constantly touring. The Werks have been crushing it. Some of us went to Ohio University and lived in Athens, Ohio, and The Werks, they went to school in Dayton. During our early days of playing around the state we were teaming up and doing co-bills together. These shows when we were all young is where it all started, and we just kept on pushing it and pushing each other. We were trying to create a small family group of musicians, with other bands, too, like Dopapod are our homies, too. We love the dudes and decided to play tons of shows together because we just really liked hanging out together.  That’s kind of where it all started, just a bunch of dudes having a good time chilling! (Laughter) We all branched out from there, and we’re friends forever, it’s crazy.

You moved from Ohio to Asheville, North Carolina, what prompted that move?

We were stuck in Athens, I guess about seven years, and for the first five years of the band we were there.  We wanted to get out of the small little college town bubble that we felt we were in and wanted to branch out. The West coast was intriguing us, the East Coast was intriguing us, and we looked around at several places but fell in love with Asheville super hard.  I feel like one of the reasons that we moved had to do with the highways.  Major interstates go straight through Asheville and it’s super easy to pop up the coast and all around really fast to hit up a lot of places.  That was a lot more intriguing to us than living on the West Coast and having to drive way longer distances in between cities.  It’s really hard to grow your band out there and it’s really hard for bands to even make it out there, it’s a big deal to even tour the West Coast.  A lot of bands just stay on the East Coast because it’s hard to make a profit and make it worth your time [to tour the West Coast].  We chose Asheville for that reason because it was centrally located, and it wasn’t in the Mid-West, since we wanted to break out on the East Coast.  It was such a good move for us, we’ve been crushing the East Coast for the past couple of years and it’s been really nice to drive back to Asheville instead of Ohio.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Ohio, we love Ohio, it’s our home forever.  I lived in Cincinatti for eighteen years.  We were just looking for more mountains, more waterfalls, more hiking trails, and it’s definitely a better location for a touring band.

I love it there, every time I leave Asheville I cry.

It’s so amazing!  There’s like fifteen micro-breweries, so many venues, more good food than you could eat in your entire life.  The food culture is exploding.  It’s really nice to call it home, to come back and kick back and relax since we’re pretty much on vacation while we’re home.

In terms of your music, it’s different from other electronic, or jamtronic, pick your label, type acts, in that it’s more soothing or ambient than say, Dopapod, but more exciting at times than Lotus. How did Papadosio develop this unique sound and carve a musical niche for yourself?

Honestly, it all started really early on, when one band member went to the other and opened up their CD booklet case and said “Oh my god, we like all the same stuff!” and other members said “Oh, look! I like the same music.”  It swelled from there, it’s pretty hard when you form a group of five guys together for them all to have very similar taste in music. There’s a big connection [between us] of our favorite bands that we look up to, like Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Aphex Twin, and all sorts of stuff…

Hold on, hold on.  Did you just say Aphex Twin?

(Laughter) Yeah…

Oh my god, dude.  I really liked Aphex Twin when I first got into electronic music in like…1994?

He’s the original gangster!  I loved Windowlicker, and all that really cool, very, very different than normal electronic sound.  We have a lot of influences that I feel are very outside of the scene that we play a lot.  We didn’t grow up on a lot of the bands that make up the jam scene.  What we grew up listening to molded us into the kind of musicians that we are.  I didn’t even listen to Phish until I was in college, I never even listened to Grateful Dead until college, personally.  I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles, and Pink Floyd, Rage Against the Machine…and that’s the kind of stuff that a lot of us in the band grew up listening to.  I feel like that–our influences, are different than a lot of other bands in the scene.  That’s something that stands us apart, as well as we are a variety show and we can’t decide exactly what kind of music we like.  We like to create new time signatures, make it danceable.  I feel like we’re always riding the line of trying to make it catchy but not too cheesy.  Sometimes you write a riff that’s so virtuoustic and impressive but it’s too over the top for people, like they can’t even dance or listen to it.  We definitely strive to make our music danceable and easy for everyone to understand and connect with it.  People that listen to all different types of music come out to our shows.  We’ll have a kid that likes death metal come out and have an absolute blast, as well as the folk/singer/songwriter type who also has a blast.  We have teenage kids and seventy year old ladies in our audience.  That says something about our music, that we can play for all different types of people; we don’t just play to a bunch of hipster kids that don’t dance. (Laughter)

That’s kind of boring to play to people that don’t move.

Well, we’d love to break into that scene, too! (Laughter)

Some fans argue that the lyrics are unnecessary in your music, but others love singing along.  Personally, I love lyrics.  Why do you feel that lyrics are necessary in your music?

Look at the most famous bands of all time.  They all sing.

Thank you!!

They all have a message, they all stand behind something.  There’s something to connect to in the lyrics. It’s just a no-brainer.  We’re trying to sing about things that speak from our hearts and that we feel strongly about.  There are some kids in this scene that are like “Dude, stop being so like nature, loving hippies, man, just play some crunchy jams.” It’s like, well, sure, man, we’ll get to the jam part, but we have some shit to say and we’re not scared to say it.  We’re going to do what we want to do and play from our hearts.  We could care less, we’re doing it for ourselves and it’s obviously working for a lot of fans, so we’re not worried about the kids that don’t like lyrics.  We’ll just play to the kids who do like lyrics, which is the majority of the world.

Me and my friends have an appreciation for the song “Hippie Babysitter.”  What was the origin of this song and did someone actually have a hippie babysitter as a child?

Um…I think so.  I had a hippie babysitter at one point and I’m pretty sure some of the other guys did, too.  I have no idea how that came up!  Sometimes you need that babysitter to take care of you…I know lots of friends who still need babysitters! (Laughter)  I think that was kind of a lighthearted song, just a, circus-y type sounding song that was really fun and happy and it worked out.  

That reminds of me of when I got a chance to ask Eli from Dopapod what was up with their song “Trapper Keeper” and what it means.  He ended up telling me that it was just “phonetically right.”

Yeah, sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason.  Some songs we get on more serious topics and others are just really lighthearted and about having a good time.  Literally, our song “Curve” says “Sub-atomic particles know (how to have a good time).” You can’t take yourself too seriously sometimes, we’ve definitely learned that from some other bands.

When I first heard of you guys it had to be about four years ago..or maybe five…

We’re coming up on eight years since our first show!

Wow eight years so…in the past couple of years you’ve had all this momentum behind the band, your fan base is just growing like crazy.  I was literally on the phone with Rob Chafin and told him “Look, in two days Papadosio is going to hit 68,000 likes on Facebook,” and I got it on the dot!  You were just at 67,000 when I had said that!  So you guys have been touring and gaining all this popularity.  How have things stayed the same, and how are things different now?

I think everything has pretty much stayed the same, as far as our excitement and everything.  The only thing really different, obviously, is that crowds are bigger, we’re playing bigger venues, and touring more.  I guess the biggest difference in this year is that we went international for Mayan Holidaze in Mexico and Envision Festival in Costa Rica.  I guess the only thing that’s really different in a lot of us is our urge to play more internationally.  I feel like we have this whole touring-the-states thing on lockdown, we’re incredibly blessed and lucky that all we have to do is keep playing shows and staying fresh and interesting for people.  But pretty much everything is the same, just another day, another city, another restaurant…it’s awesome.

As a band you are all very eco-conscious and very aware of how we impact the environment.  What are some steps that you do or don’t take, or some decisions you do or don’t make, to help lessen your carbon footprint?

That’s a great question!  It’s pretty hilarious talking about carbon footprint when I’m touring around on a tour bus nationwide.  On tour, we are guzzling gas on our tour bus, which there’s really no other way to do it.  If you were in a van and staying in hotel rooms your carbon footprint would probably be around the same. Heating buildings is [a carbon footprint], I mean 50% of our carbon emissions worldwide are from housing.  So, running a generator isn’t the worst thing in the world and it almost comes out even.  

There’s definitely a lot of thought that goes into it, we’re at a point now where there’s not a whole lot we can do besides composting while we’re on the road, as well as recycling.  When we’re on the road we try to reduce our waste as much as possible, like bringing our own coffee cups with us instead of buying one every time, bringing tupperware containers to restaurants for our to-go box instead of using styrofoam.  Just trying to focus on small things like that. We try to go to Whole Foods and stock up on good food, enough organic produce as we can in order to eat well and not spend as much money on the restaurants around, as well as create less waste than the waste that gets created when you go out to eat.  It’s hard being on the road.  

At home we have all sorts of ideas on how we want to live our lives. When I’m at home I have a massive garden where I try to grow as much food as I can to cut down on all the emissions of people driving our food all over the world.  I try to do that every summer with my girlfriend, we do as much as we can.  We buy 100%  organic, we compost everything, we’re just really conscious of those kinds of behaviors. It’s going to hard  to do exactly what I want to do until I’m a little bit older and making a little bit more money where I can actually invest in some things that I want to invest in, which are the homestead, creating a sustainable house with tons of solar…tons of land; I want to get an electric car someday–try to cut down as much as I can and charge my car with solar panels!

Now, I had to bring this up and I hope it doesn’t put you on uneasy ground, but the news of Papadosio splitting at Rootwire has certainly garnered a reaction amongst the fans.  Everyone is wondering what the next step will be.  Does the band plan on curating another festival to take Rootwire’s place?

Absolutely!  We have so many ideas for many festivals, many events.  We’ve been talking to people regularly and brainstorming about what we really want to do and what we want to happen at the event that we throw.  It’s definitely an unfortunate situation with Rootwire, we had a legitimate falling out with our partner and couldn’t meet on the same terms.  We couldn’t make it work anymore, we wanted to go in a different direction.  He wanted to keep the festival going, and it’s definitely an insult that they’re using the same name.  We wish they would realize and change the name and do something different, because it was 100% us and our friends and our hard work that built it.  I don’t want to get into too much detail, but it’s definitely a hard situation.

Well we’re really excited to have you at The Mad Tea Party Jam!

Absolutely!  We’re excited to take that Rootwire vibe everywhere. That’s one thing that Rootwire created, was creating an atmosphere with all of our friends that we can take everywhere.  You see how many life painters are at festivals now, four years ago that was not the same.  Rootwire was the first on the East Coast to do that and now it’s popping up at every small festival, every big festival is incorporating it.  It’s a movement that’s just exploding.  We’re just going to keep bringing that energy everywhere.  There’s no reason for one festival to be the end-all be-all, we should take that energy to all sorts of amazing events. We also want to create new events and change the game and be on top of the curve of how we respect the land, how we focus on creating a sustainable world.  We like permanent properties and working with property owners that want to better their land.  

Well, I’ve taken up enough of your time, I really appreciate you talking with us today.  Tell all the guys we love them and we can’t wait to see you in DC on May 9 & 10.