Papadosio Talks Evolution Of The Band, Meow Wolf And NYE In iEDM Interview
Suwannee Hulaween was an incredible festival. The line up was on-point with a wide variety of genres, the art was over the top, and the venue is naturally beautiful. Papadosio played the pre-party making Thursday night unmissable. The majority of the festival arrived early to catch this psychedelic band.
I’m a long time fan and was honored to have the opportunity to sit down with Anthony Thogmartin and Mike Healy of Papadosio for an interview after their set.
iEDM: First, thanks so much for what you do. Huge fan. We'll start with your new album Content Coma. I love the new sound. What's inspired this evolution?
Anthony: I think that people say ... That's a classic thing to hear, It's like "We like the new sound." I think that one of the hallmarks of what we like to do is, if someone has a song idea, we're like okay. There's no, like, is this Papadosio or is this not. I think that there's this energy between how we all interact with each other. If we all like it, we do it. So when people say "I like the new sound," I'm like "Hell, yeah." Because what that means is that they like where we're actually musically at. I couldn't imagine being in a band this long and having to cater to a specific genre or a specific, like ... It would just be, maybe it would drive me nuts.
Mike: Yeah. I mean, we've been around twelve years and we've all changed too. Like every couple of years, you know, we listen to new influences or learn so much more about music technology that takes us down a whole other rabbit hole of knowledge and working with each other and figuring out how to use that technology as a band, and perform live with it is something that's changed a lot over the years. I mean, every single person in the band has just like flipped gear constantly from day one to work out their sound and or flipped what we listen to you know. From metal to folk or whatever, you know. It's all just constantly changing.
Anthony: It's cool to have people basically along for the ride. It could have gone a different direction. Especially this record, I was like "oh shit!" I had like a freak out, I thought "Is anyone gonna like this?" And then the reaction was like twice as good as I thought it was going to be.
iEDM: So, where did you guys get the name Content Coma from?
Anthony: Well, you know, it's a play on words. I think Sam came up with the phrase. It's supposed to be read incorrectly or correct, like content coma or content coma. So like are we content with the content? Does the content make us content? Are we in a coma because we're content or because of the content? The whole thing was supposed to be like, sort of a play on words. And I think that Content Coma rolls off the tongue. Really well. So that's why it's adaptive that way. So you can kind of dissect that easily with the lyrics, and with "Content Coma" the single. But yeah, it's essentially one of the main originating from a genius idea by Sam.
Mike: There's a lot of, some more messages through different songs that tie it all together too. It's the state of- It's the state of the union right now. Everyone's just staring at their phones all day long or you know, sucked in on Reddit or Facebook or Instagram, living outside of the being with each other. It's gonna tell people to hang out more with their friends.
iEDM: Absolutely. I think that definitely there's a theme to your music in the album. Definitely an overarching theme of transformation. Always, so you guys are always growing and changing. Love it, sounds great. Do you guys have a favorite song on the album?
Anthony: That's like asking someone to choose which is their favorite child.
Mike: Yeah, like some of them are so chill and some are so high energy. For me it just depends on how I feel from night to night. I love all of them, and I always say that, every album. But this time around they're all really, really fun to play, especially for me, there's just a lot of really cool rhythms all over the place.
iEDM: I have a favorite. "Skip Switch." Huge song, lots of different vibes, sounds so fresh. Can you guys talk about the workflow and writing process for that particular track?
Anthony: It initially started as a footwork track that I was listening to at the time. A couple of my favorite footwork artists and I was just, I ended up having this weird guitar idea over it, and I started playing the piano, which I don't normally do. I'm not really a pianist at all. But I started messing with the piano and it all just kind of started to click that this would be a really weird journey for our band to try to do. And then after kind of being like "You guys, what do you think of this?" And the guys were like "That's pretty sweet."
Mike: It's evolved a lot though from that review.
Anthony: Absolutely. The original one was really fast. I don't know if you listen to footwork music at all, but it's really fast. I just wanted to try it out. I was just having fun. It was a total ... I didn't sit down to write a band song. But the guys, the fact that they liked it encouraged "Will let's see where it goes," you know. And it ended up being a synergy between the footwork track and jazz piano. So you put those two things together and you get a capable player like Sam, you give him the music and go like "Dude, now you take this somewhere." And you know, with Mike playing the drums. I think people like it because it's something very new. It sounds new. And in fact I'd like to explore it more in general with a live band because I've never seen it before. And Mike's fast enough to be able to do that kind of stuff.
iEDM: The drums sounded amazing on that track. The piano- all of it. It's super cool.
Anthony: It was a real piano. A real studio.
Mike: A grand piano. And this is the first album we've ever recorded from the back of the drum set. In the studio.
iEDM: So you guys had like, a grand piano?
Anthony: It was a full grand. I think it was an HS6. It would take this whole room to fit it. And there was, like custom built ribbon microphones at Sound Temple on in Asheville. It's a really great studio.
Mike: It's a first experience for us.
iEDM: So a little bit more with that song. It has like, few different iterations of the song, like several different jams. How did you fit all of those into one song?
Anthony: I don't think it's as mystical as it might seem, because for the most part, if you are constructing a song in software you can create sections and then flesh the sections out. And then the challenge is not making the sections, because that's easy. It's how do they go into each other. I think that if there was any magic in that song it's like, some of the transitions. The transitions are good, that's my favorite part.
The song goes from a solo to a "dum, dum dum dum dum". It's really ... I think that that is one of our stranger ones because we're going from a straight forward feel to a swung feel.
iEDM: Yeah, and then swing comes in like halfway through.
Anthony: It never feels natural to go out of swing and back to straight.
iEDM: But you go several times through the album from straight beat to swing. And it's really cool.
Anthony: I think it's just as simple as having this part separate, then being like "Now here comes the puzzle" How do you make those fit together? And we arrive so many times in rehearsals and sometimes it doesn't work perfectly-
Mike: Oh, dude! Even at the show, we're like that one's a hard one. Whenever we're about to play it I'm like "Fuck, here we go!"
Anthony: And then we just keep trying until we nail it and figure out "well, this is the best transition."
iEDM: It's an amazing track. Do you guys have any favorite festivals?
Anthony: To be honest man, a festival in general is... just like a show is magical in its own way, a festival is magical in its way. You usually have a huge crowd of many people that are friends of friends that would not have normally come to the show, so they get to see the music. At the very same time though, you have no sound check. You have to rush onstage. You have potential issues like what we had today, where there were software problems between the boards and we couldn't get them to talk. We had to home run everything. It's an incredibly complex problem that is impossible to explain to anybody. But then at the club you get a great sound check, but only your core fans come to those shows. So it's like, pick your poison. Both of them are awesome, and both are like, hardcore in their own way, you know.
It's more like, I think that the environment of a festival is really magical. There's potential there for the gathering of more community around the music, which is cool.
Mike: I love outdoor adventure style places, places that have beaches or zip lines or white water rafting. And like those-
Anthony: Or Red Rocks.
Mike: For me, I'm always looking for this stuff outside of the music. I just like body surfing the whole time.
Anthony: Mike, by the way is a master body surfer.
Anthony: I've seen him do a hundred yards easily.
Mike: But I just, like, stuff like that- It just makes the experience really fun.
Anthony: Ride the waves. Out to the beach. It was really, really fun.
iEDM: You guys have had a busy October tour schedule. What's a favorite moment you want to share with us?
Mike: Oh yeah. So this is crazy. We're halfway through our tour right now. We just did three and a half weeks full West coast, everywhere out west. It was absolutely magical. But we started it off after a couple of shows on our way out West, we started off at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, and holy shit, that was one of the coolest experiences we've had at a venue. It was like walking in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland going down the rabbit hole a little bit, like exploring throughout their whole facility and then playing a show there. Our visual mastermind Dustin Klein, he projection mapped Meow Wolf's stage and had a light rig on the stage as well that interacted with our 20K projector, but he literally made the stage, like melt.
Anthony: It was crazy. He melted the whole room.
Mike: So cool.
Anthony: I was like "What?" I just wasn't sure what I was really looking at. It was-
Mike: I can't wait to go back.
iEDM: Yeah. Those are popping up everywhere. Denver's gonna get their own Meow Wolf.
Anthony: Vegas too. Each one will be unique, which is really cool.
Mike: So that was, for me, one of the highlights of this tour. I always love hitting the major big cities on the West coast. I just love going out there, being from the East growing up it's always a vacation when we go out there to the sunshine but Meow Wolf stood out for sure.
iEDM: Haven't had the chance to get out there, but definitely on the list.
Anthony: It's worth it.
iEDM: I've always been a big fan of your lighting design. Can you guys talk about the team work and how you guys work with Dustin, your creative process and how that comes together?
Anthony: Dustin is ... He's an anomaly man. His mind is so unfathomable. Like, as a person, if you meet him you instantly pick up on, "this guy's something special". For example, on the way here he spent the entire day yesterday working on the pixel mapping for this show and the one in Denver. The whole day. Twelve, thirteen hours of just trying to work it out and grinning the whole time, just like "wee!" Like "I'm gonna figure this out". Like, you know he's just a special, we're unbelievably blessed to have him all the time.
Anthony: Oh yeah. The best addition to our crew.
iEDM: I have a small visualization company called Double Negative Design, years ago at Hyperion we watched the Clam shell stage, and just got so inspired by his work that we immediately went home and built our own project. Shortly after that you guys got together, and it was cool to see him like grow and watch that all happen.
Anthony: He'd been designing systems for us before we even knew it. Like I saw other visual designers like Jason and all them were, Dustin was a part of project before we knew it and helping people out, telling them how to do stuff. It takes a certain kind of mind too.
iEDM: Love you guys' collaboration. You guys just announced your New Year's Eve run in Georgia, Nashville, and a special acoustic show at a winery. Can we talk about that for a second?
Mike: Yeah. So this will be the second year in Nashville. We just had such an amazing time last year that we were just, it was like a no brainer to us to come back to Music City and do New Year's, ring it in there again. But this time around, we used to do acoustic sets in different locations at festivals or wineries around the country in past years and it just felt like the right thing to team up with City Winery there and create a different experience than things we've done before. Like, this time around people can sit at tables and get like an amazing meal and you know they can just hang out with their best friend and enjoy an awesome dinner and then watch us mess around and play a show afterwards. That hasn't happened yet for us and our fans when before we did stuff at different wineries or different acoustic sets and like, you know they're just a lot of fun and people all came out and had a great time and we do some workshops and other things going on, but this is more like let's just get together and have a meal together and enjoy each other's company and get ready to ring in the New Year the next night. What else, just something different to do.
iEDM: Definitely looking forward to that. That's incredible. Your Resonance set was killer. You guys always kill it when you return to Ohio. Do you guys ever miss living there?
Anthony: Yeah. I mean you go there in the summer and you smell the smells and you see the places and if I get the chance I'll try to go and see my favorite places in the woods and see- my folks still there. A lot of my friends still live there. It definitely pulls on the heart strings. Yeah, it really is a unique place, nowhere else like it in the deep mid West, as I'm sure you two are familiar with.
Mike: Yeah, I definitely miss my whole family. All my siblings and my parents are in Cincinnati. I miss living there because the city is, I feel like the cities where we grew up are a lot cooler now. Cincinnati is so much better now than when I grew up there. I'm saying wow, what happened, this city is so cool. Asheville, because Asheville is the coolest city ever, but it's really awesome coming home now. Like, you guys have come a long way and I do miss the energy, the mid west energy that you're always used to. And what's funny is being a touring band, all we do is run into people from Ohio, Indiana, like all over the whole country. You're just drawn to familiar energy.
Anthony: Ohio's huge exporting- like I'm sure you guys are familiar, with being from Indiana, you see all those people, the humble, good home grown people in all these other places. Their wonderful energy and their nice demeanor. And you see them everywhere. It's awesome.
iEDM: And I remember the Earth Night parties, I would go. I wouldn't miss those. That was like, the one party in Ohio that I one hundred percent would not miss.
Anthony: Yeah it was a good time.
iEDM: If you could collab with any band out there, who would you collab with?
Anthony: I'm really getting into King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizards.
Mike: Oh, that was my favorite show the entire year.
iEDM: Where'd you see them?
Anthony: Nashville, my friend got us in, because tickets sold out.
Mike: Yeah, it sold out in like five minutes- and now they're like literally headlining shows all over the world.
Anthony: They found a new sound. It's hard to explain, it's so good.
iEDM: You guys are always on the grind. There's always something next. What are you guys preparing for? Where are you headed to? What's next for you?
Anthony: Shit man, I think we're like, musically what's next, it's been on the tip of tongues, I think where we're at right now is how do we- what is the next thing we're bringing to the table, you know what I mean? There's kind of a hodge podge of ideas and a big mushy cloud of ideas that we haven't like washed off to distill the gems out yet.
Mike: There are different kinds of ideas, for sure.
Anthony: We have some fun ideas. None of them are developed enough to like speak to them because you are catching us in the direct center of this tour.
Mike: We're just trying to do it and get home.
Anthony: Stay healthy.
Mike: Refresh, think about what we're doing. Take a little bit of time off. And then we have lots of really fun plans for winter and spring, but whether that's what we do, we'll just have to get our heads right and ready for all that.
Anthony: Yeah, trying and chisel it out.
Mike: Yeah. There's always new music on the horizon every couple of years. So that's never going to need an end. We have to keep on.
Thank you Anthony and Mike for your time and we are counting down for NYE! You can follow Papadosio on SoundCloud HERE.
Festival Season is winding down and the holiday season is approaching! Check out Gifts Ideas For Your Favorite Raver and the iEDM Holiday Gift Guide HERE.
Banner Photo by @keithagriner