When you hear Papadosio, you will understand what all of the fuss is about. They are a genre-combining, boundary-breaking group out of Ohio who are very familiar with starting out in a local scene. Do they sound like everything else out there? Not at all. Spending their teenage years in a town that had almost every type of music that you could imagine, they were prepared for the long struggle that successful musicians have to endure.
I had the opportunity to chat with Papadosio’s Billy Brouse and Mike Healy, where they fill us in on how they started, where they’re going, and pretty much everything we want to know. Check out our interview below!
For those who are unfamiliar, can you tell us a little bit of a backstory? How did you all meet?
Mike Healy: We all met in Athens, Ohio, at a bar named O’Hooleys. We used to attend a weekly open jam there on Tuesday, which hosted all the best musicians in town every week for a night of musical improv. We met there and took the rocking back to our band house and started rehearsing in 2006.
Billy Brouse: We would come together once a week and rock out. Before you knew it we started a band, and here we are!
What was the music scene like growing up in Ohio? Was there one?
MH: I grew up in Cincinnati and there was a great music scene going on. I used to play in the Battle of the Bands all the time all through high school at Bogart’s. It was super fun and got me interested in all types of music. I played shows all through junior high and high school all over town. Then when I went to college in Athens, Ohio, the music scene was turned up even more for me. I met so many amazing musicians in Athens during my seven-year residence there. So many different tastes in such a small town, too. From punk to metal to reggae to hip-hop to indie rock to experimental to electronica to jazz and fusion, Athens had it all.
BB: There was and is a music scene in Ohio. Sam [Brouse] and I are from Northeast Ohio and grew up around Kent, which is a college town, so there was always some crazy show to go see. When I moved to Athens, I started seeing more jam-oriented music and really got hooked on live music and what it brings to the table verses studio music. Athens still has a great music scene; I recommend it to any and all that pass through Ohio.
I know a lot of bands dream of world domination for their music careers, sometimes immediately. Was this always the way or did you plan on embracing the long struggle that musicians have?
MH: We planned on embracing the long struggle, for sure. It is so true that it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll and play original music. It’s easy to get super popular quick if you do whatever is popular and what sells fast, but the hard touring really does pay off over time and you create a scene around your band and fans that will be there forever. It’s much more rewarding to do what you love. That has always been our focus.
BB: I think we all knew what we were getting into. It’s a long haul and we love what we do, so it has worked out for us. I don’t think anyone thought that it would happen overnight or we wouldn’t be here right now.
What does Papadosio mean?
MH: I could never put a meaning to it. It can mean whatever you want it to.
BB: It’s that thing when you see a cloud that you really like but can’t immediately describe it but it comes to you later. Ya feel me?
Your sound is extremely unique. If you had to classify into a specific genre, could you?
MH: It is very hard to put a genre to it since we pan everything, but psychedelic rock can sum up a lot.
BB: Not really. Prog-electro-polka-hop? Step? I don’t really know.
Since you combine so many different styles and elements, who would you say some of your influences are as a group?
MH: Oh man, there are so many influences for all of us. For me, I would say Radiohead, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, RHCP, Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire, just to name a few.
BB: Yes, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Steely Dan…
Does the band do all of the songwriting?
MH: We write 100 percent all original material.
BB: Yes, we do all of our own songwriting.
What comes first, the music or the lyrics? Can you give us some insight on the process as a whole?
MH: Usually the music comes first and lyrics later. Songs come to us all the time. It could be riding in the van and someone comes up with an idea and puts it on the computer to work on later in rehearsal. Whenever someone has an idea, they can totally get it down and then bring it to the band and everyone puts their flavor to it. Or we can write all together in the rehearsal room while jamming out an idea and writing part to part. It really all depends on the situation.
BB: It really depends on the song. I usually write songs without lyrics; that’s just how I roll. I can’t really speak for everyone else, but if I had to choose one, I’d say the music comes first. There is usually an idea of what you are trying to convey with a song, so that has a big part in the process whether the music or the lyrics come first, so I guess an argument could be made for either method.
I see you guys are playing a lot of festivals. What are some of the most enjoyable parts of playing these things?
MH: I would have to say seeing happy people dancing in every state that we play is the best feeling ever. To know that we can put people in a state of ecstatic bliss is so humbling. Sharing such an amazing space together on stage and with the crowd and knowing that there are only more places we can play and people we can reach keeps us going every day. We are very excited for Rootwire, our festival that we have grown into its fourth installment this year, in August. Throwing Rootwire is our way to give back to the world how we want a festival to be: inviting all our friends from all over the world to come for a weekend of co-creation and unity in joy and spirit.
BB: I’d have to say meeting new people, seeing old friends and the audience, of course. Crowds are usually more open and willing to experience new thing at festivals, which is great for any act, and especially for us.
A big one that we are all excited for is the Jersey Shore Music Festival on July 20 at FirstEnergy Park, which is a minor league baseball field. Pretty cool, right?
MH: Oh yeah, we are super excited to rock the minor league field. It will bring back memories of playing ball when I was younger!
BB: I didn’t realize that, and yeah, pretty wild.
Is there a specific show thus far that has meant the most to you all?
MH: Rootwire and Earth Night have become our big celebrations of the year, most definitely.
How do you all prepare for long stints on the road?
MH: We practice every once and a while, but since we are on the road at least 200 days a year, we have just become accustomed to being on and off and have been quite seasoned at the back-and-forth lifestyle. Trying to maintain a balance or physical exercise at home and on the road is key to keeping energy levels up. Eating as healthy as possible always is so important, obviously. Just really trying to be well rested before tour always helps the tour start off well.
BB: Rest up and get as much home time as you can, then pack well, but light. Also, it helps to be ready for anything at any moment!
What’s the hardest part about your job?
MH: The sleep schedule, for sure. There are so many changes on the daily and it’s super hard to feel well rested all the time. But you sleep when you die, right?
BB: Being on the road so much, for sure. It’s hard to leave loved ones at home and leave for such a long time; don’t care how long you’ve been doing it.
If you guys weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
MH: I would probably move out to the country and grow the biggest garden ever and have a greenhouse and try and be super sustainable to live a simple, healthy, fulfilling life. I already do the gardening part as much as I can with the place I am currently at and the rest of the band has gardens too at their places. But when it comes down to it, we all don’t know too much other than play music all the time! It is so ingrained in our everyday lives. We live and breathe music so it’s super hard even thinking of an alternative.
BB: Hmm, hopefully making instruments or something close to music. Really don’t see myself straying too far from this crazy world of music that I’ve sunk myself into.
Any plans for a fall tour?
MH: Crush. Crush. Crush! We will be releasing fall dates in the next few weeks and we will be all over the place! Super excited to bring our full production all over the country to close out 2013.
BB: Oh yes, indeed, a large one. Stay tuned…
What is the best way for fans to access your music?
MH: Bandcamp.com/papadosio is a great place to access music, from our free albums to new albums you can download to all of our live shows that we have been releasing this year. We are so excited to have a live show catalogue now, as it have been a dream for years. Check out some fresh new shows from spring and summer tours!
Papadosio will be playing the Jersey Shore Music Fest at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood on July 20. For more information, go to papadosio.com.