MEB staff writer Heather Allen got to chat with Colorado-based indie-alternative quartet Post Paradise to discuss their DIY approach to music, the incorporation of the cello in their work, earning their stripes on the ‘DistasTOUR,’ and their amazing local RPA designed just for them.
I guess we’ll start off with what initially inspired you to become an artist?
Amy Morgan: Do you want me to go first?
Nick Duarte: Yeah, if you want?
A: Okay. *laughs* So for me, I started playing the cello when I was 8 and I’ve been playing it for about 5 years. I wouldn’t say that I was an artist at that point because I was just learning and kind of doing it. I think I came more of an artist and musician when I joined the band. I started writing my own music and started getting comfortable with performing and it just became a totally different thing for me. I kind of fell in love with it and it’s just so much fun.
N: I think I’ve dreamt about being a musician since I was probably 15 or 16, something like that. As soon as I realized that I could go to school for music after high school I was just like ‘Oh, why did I worry about all this other stuff for?’ So it was pretty early on when I made my mind up that that’s what I would be doing and now it’s been awhile now. *laughs*
You have to start off young that’s for sure.
N: *laughs* Yeah, it’s kind of funny because I remember being like 22 and being ‘Well, it hasn’t happened yet so it’s never going to happen.’
A: You were too old.
N: Yeah, right! *laughs*
Gotta keep the dream alive!
N: That’s right!
On a personal level, as well as on a band level, who are your personal musical influences? Who are your band’s influences?
N: I’m definitely the alternative rock guy, like the stuff from the ’90s. I don’t really listen to that stuff anymore, but it was one of those things where I was really cutting my teeth on music – the Billy Corgans of the world and Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, all that kind of stuff. That’s what really got me into music in the first place. Anytime I hear something I’m not expecting to hear, and that happens in pop music and other genres, something that really catches my ear I’m never sure what it’s going to be. I guess that’s part of the charm. Sometimes I’ll get caught on something and I’d have to explore it. It’s kind of like that musical journey of learning.
Yeah, of course.
A: So for me, I grew up playing classically and I think having that base has come through in my playing a lot. Bach was my favorite thing to play before, but what I listen to I love stuff that incorporates the strings and we loophole through a lot of bands like that – that kind of symphonic stuff like Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins and things like that. The band tries to see where the cello fits in it.
N: We’ve both actually discussed this with the band. The Diorama record by Silverchair that came out in 2003 I think is one of those records that kind of opened my eyes to having a full symphony. Backing a band and having a full record like that is just totally different than what they used to do, like hard rock, and it’s so cool.
A: That record was probably one of the first good music record that I had. Commercially, I listened to a lot of like ’90s pop stuff like Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys so I’m still catching up. *laughs*
The classics. *laughs*
A: *laughs* Oh yes. I’m still learning.
I think everybody’s had that phase in their lives. *laughs*
N: I think I’m starting to do that now though like with Katy Perry and Lana Del Rey.
A: But that’s not even that bad.
N: *laughs* I know. I studied pop music so it’s just so funny.
It’s finally come full circle for you I guess.
N: That’s right!
A: Yeah, a lot of the stuff that we’re listening to as a band. Our bass player is always finding obscure stuff. He does like Pandora and Spotify all the time so he always has this odd stuff that he shows us.
N: He’ll show us videos too. He knows about everything before we even know they exist.
A: Yeah. *laughs* Like Manchester Orchestra, who I think had a lot of influence on this last record.
Awesome. So Amy, you were speaking about how you were trained classically on the cello. It’s kind of what makes your music is extremely distinct as a band just like how Yellowcard incorporated the violin and that’s what made them different. And then with Nick, you have your edgy alternative vocals that massively grunges it up. Is there anything new that you would want to incorporate in your music?
N: That’s a good question.
A: Pretty much every record that we’ve done we’ve had like a cello-piano influence. Nick plays keys a little bit but we don’t usually have it live. It’s hard to do on the road and it weighs like 200lbs or something. It’s crazy how hard it is to travel with. We’ve been trying to bring more keys into it so we could keep doing our thing in our full songs.
N: And really, in a perfect world any of that stuff would be easy to bring that along with us. It’s just so much work to arrange something like that. Like, it would be amazing but it would also be really really tough. I don’t know. I’m not ruling it out for future albums. Like it was can be so impactful and really really cool.
A: See we’re very DIY so we have to do things on the scale of what we can afford time wise and money wise.
N: Yeah, we carry our own stuff. *laughs*
Yeah, it’s definitely understandable. Even bigger artists are trying to go through that DIY element of it instead of working with all these producers. They want to do everything themselves, which in a way everyone should be able to do everything anyways.
A: Well, it’s so much easier because there are so many avenues of promo and how to sell you music that you don’t need someone to distribute it for you. I mean, it’s a different kind of thing, but it’s very possible to do everything on your own. But as far as adding more stuff we would probably want to add it to our light show so we can kind of keep that allure. We have new plans for maybe our CD release to do some fancy stuff with our lighting.
N: It’s always nice when we do hometown stuff because we can kind of get into the venues ahead of time and use all day to work on stuff and make sure the stage stuff is good and put all together. It’s tougher when we travel because we can only fit so much in the van, but we’ve kind of cut it down in size.
Speaking of light shows, you kind of rolled into my next question about how elaborate your guys’ light shows are and how theatrical your is demeanor on stage. Do you try to change up the format for every show or tour? Or do you keep everything relatively similar for awhile?
N: I wouldn’t say that every show is different. It’s interesting because every light show is kind of written to the music so when we put a show together we don’t usually use the same set list unless it’s kind of a day-after-day-after-day kind of thing in different cities. So if we’re doing something in town, you know, once a month kind of thing it’ll definitely be, like, wow. We always put on something a little bit different into the show just to keep it fresh.
A: Every few months we’ll add a new piece of gear or add something else.
N: I really geek out about it a lot so I really spend a lot of time programing that stuff. Even when we play different songs in a different order it ends up changing the light show and the feel and that too. With every song we kind of get into a room or our practice space and we set everything up and we just kind of play the music back over speaker so we can think about what this part makes us feel, and colors, and feeds, and moods, and if things should be crazy and strobing or a mellow flow. That sort of thing. So every song has its own journey with the production to it anyway, but every now and then we get something new so we kind of update and change things around. It’s a lot of fun.
So you totally knocked out my question of ‘how do you even come up with the light sequence for each song?’.
N: Sometimes it’s really easy and sometimes we have no idea and it just has to start somewhere you know?
Yes, of course. As with anything in life.
Speaking of touring, if you could choose any three artists to create a tour with, who would they be and what would your tour be named?
N: That’s a really tough one. *laugh* So I’ll just start out, I’m a huge fan of Circa Survive and obviously Manchester Orchestra like we said. I mean, it’s so tough because if we could pick anybody I would be like ‘let’s tour with Radiohead.’ Actually no, they would make our light show look bad. *laughs*
A: I want to throw out the Trans Siberian Orchestra because they’ve got the guitars and the pyrotechnics and the symphony that we could probably borrow and it would be awesome!
N: Assuming it’s already there you mean? *laughs* And it’s funny because I’ve never thought of naming a tour. I don’t know. We never do that I guess. Well, we do name them but we name them after they’re done. *laughs* Like, we have a ‘DisasTOUR’ that happened, like, four years ago.
A: That would NOT like to repeat. *laughs*
N: Yeah we had to cancel a whole lot of shows because the van broke down and then we kept ordering the wrong parts. It was rough. So I don’t know what we would call a tour. Maybe some kind of ‘Symphonic-‘ something ‘-Awesomeness.’ *laughs* This is what we digress. *laughs* Sorry, we ramble with the best of them so don’t mind us. *laughs*
*laughs* It’s ok, it happens. Speaking of touring, you kinda of starting talking about the ‘DisasTOUR’ but we don’t have to talk about that one right now.
A: *laughs* Oh I think we can. It’s been long enough. We’re ready!
Ok! So what happened apart from your van breaking down like everywhere. *laughs*
A: See, Nick did a really good job at putting together a veggie van, like, a van that runs on vegetable oil instead of gasoline. And he spent months or a year on making the portable system to filter the vegetable oil that we could potentially get as we go.
N: It was a dream you know?
A: It was serious a really good idea!
N: Yeah, you’d never have to pay for gas. And it was funny because the filter system worked perfectly fine, but it was the van itself was a lemon. It had problem after problem and of course everything was fine until we got on the road.
A: Yeah, we had to leave it in somewhere in Kansas. Well first, we stuck in like Woodland, Kansas for four days.
N: Yeah, maybe I don’t want to talk about it. *laughs* It was pretty rough and it’s bringing all back.
A: *laughs* It hasn’t been long enough yet.
N: Ok, so we got in the van and cancelled like 11 shows or something because of everything that could’ve gone wrong with the van did. If they ordered a part they would be like ‘oh that’s not the right part’ and so we’d be stuck for another day.
A: So we played A LOT of the places in town.
N: Yeah, there wasn’t a whole going down over there at the time. We ended up having to fly to the East Coast to finish those dates and it was just a mess.
A: Yeah, it was a process. And then we had to have the van shipped back to Colorado when we got home. *laughs*
Oh my goodness!
A: I have a picture of a Gremlin ripping parts out of the van while it’s just crying money. *laughs*
Well I hope that you guys got a lot of fans from Kansas because of that little stint! *laughs*
N: We probably did! *laughs*
A: But now we have a very reliable van to use.
N: Knocking on wood for that.
A: And we’ve had good tours since then. I think we got that out of our system.
N: It’s a good learning thing though because vans are going to break down, that’s just sort of what happens. When you put so many miles on something and you’re out so far from home and you do this stuff so often, you know, eventually they’ll wear down. So we try to take car of that stuff as often as possible. *laughs* Everytime we’re back in town we get it fixed before we go back on the road and realize that something’s wrong. So, it’s been good. *laughs*
I feel like your van breaking down is kind of like a ‘this is your time to earn your stripes’ thing and then you’re a real musician. *laughs*
A: You hit it right on the head!
N: You’ve gotta remember why you’re doing it!
*laughs* So apart from that lovely tour, you’ve shared the stage with some pretty big names such as Twenty-One Pilots, Walk The Moon and Panic! At The Disco, which is one of my favorite bands personally.
A: Yeah we’ve shared the stage with them at music festivals but unfortunately we never got to meet any of them.
N: Well, we hung out with American Authors for a bit and some of the other bands like that. We have a really good radio station in Denver and they put on all these shows and bring people through and a lot of time locals get to open and things like that.
N: Yeah! So, we did a couple of those things. One of them we were on the side stage so we were so close to all those big bands. *laughs* You know what was really cool was watching, like, which band did you say was you favorite?
Panic! At The Disco.
N: Yeah so they’re one of those bands where I had already been following them for two years now. It was cool watching a lot of the band so their thing. They had like their crew and they set up their production, this whole thing, and they have their new lineup now and everything and they just destroyed it! It was so, so good!
A: They put on a amazing show.
N: Yeah and it’s so popular to do like the backing tracks things now. They might’ve had like a little bit of that, but most of their set was played by just the four guys onstage and it was so entertaining and so much fun.
Yeah it’s very very impressive what they can do. Are there any fun stories you would like to share with us from sharing the stage or other festivals in Colorado?
N: Well I always say that it’s more fun to tell the weird and bad stories than the ones about things going perfectly. *laughs* So without naming any names, sometimes you open up for bigger bands that are super awesome and other times you open for a band and they’re a little weird. *laughs* This weird experience for a band that I’m sure everyone’s heard of is it was that they had this big tour bus parked behind the venue and everything and we were loading out after our set was done. All of a sudden this guy comes running out and was just like ‘guys you need to move your van.’ We were like ‘oh, ok.’ I guess we parked too close to the bus so we move the van like 20 feet away, and keep in mind that we’re load our gear into the van right now. We just got done starting it up again when the guy comes running back again and was like ‘guys that wasn’t far enough.’
A: We wanted us 50 feet away from the dang bus. *laughs*
N: We were already so far away and we were trying to move our gear and the bus was blocking the rail so we couldn’t go anywhere. So just weird little stuff like that. Even when guys walk up onstage and their people will try to block us by making a wall like they’re afraid we’re going to rush them or something. *laughs* Every show is always just a new adventure. With that said, I have met some of my little musical heroes. Everytime I’ve met someone that I’ve really been inspired by it just feel really cool.
And then it becomes a fun story to tell everyone later. *laughs*
N: Yeah exactly!
A: If it makes a good story it was worth it. *laughs*
Of course! So going back to when you were talking about your new album, you’re actually releasing a new EP in the fall.
N: Yup! In September!
Awesome! I’m pretty excited about it! Care to give us a little hint into what it’s going to sound like? Is there anything different that may not have been included in the past albums?
N: Yeah definitely! So the last record that we put out was very polished and clean. This time we worked with somewhere else in Fort Collins. It was really, like, we’re working in our hometown state’s studio just a few miles away from where we lived and we just got going. It was really mellow and the main goal was to get great performances out of us. So it wasn’t a matter of saying ‘oh this part should sound like this’ it was more like ‘this should sound like you playing that part.’ That kind of thing. So we got a lot of our character in playing stuff saved into these songs, which we’re really excited about. It’s a high energy alt-rock record. The last one was more clean and polished and this one has a little more edge to it for sure, like a shift in alternating vocals and things that are kind of new to me on this record but at least it’s coming through. It’s definitely the hardest stuff that we’ve done I think but, I mean, it’s not more, like, metal or anything.
A: Yeah, it’s not. *laughs*
N: I guess that’s the best way to put it. *laughs* There’s also a lot of love songs surprisingly.
A: Yeah for being as high energy that it looks.
Yeah, we all need more love songs in the world. *laughs*
N: *laughs* Especially badass, energetic ones.
Of course! You can’t be sappy, you have to be energetic and make me wanna dance! *laughs* What was your favorite song to write and record off of the EP?
N: Oooooh. That’s another tough one. I mean, you’ve heard “Ordinary,” the first single that came out last month or two months ago. That one was probably, ah, I’m trying to think of how many re-writes we did on that.
A: It started off a completely different song.
N: Yeah, we ended up kind of changing things around and playing with stuff so much just because we had the time. We didn’t really have any deadlines that we put on ourselves this time around so it was like we could take all this time and really try some things. We would be really excited about it and then we come back to writing and practice sessions, like, the next week and be like ‘yeah, this part could be a little better.’ Then we would re-write that and then we’d be like ‘oh well now the old part doesn’t match up to the new part that we just did.’ So we kind of just did a bunch of changes with that and we had a pretty good format when we went into the studio. Like, there were little tweaks we needed to add and everyone had questions to ask us about it, which is what brought us to a new direction in really getting the production value. I was really excited with how it came together because it was a long journey that once we had the finished product we were like “Yes! This is exactly what this should sound like!”
A: I feel like writing that one took a lot of time and we made a lot of changes with the tracking but it was just so awesome when it was done.
If you had to add one cover song to the EP, what would you choose?
N: Wow. That’s pretty tough.
A: We used to do a lot of Radiohead covers. I really like the way the cello fits into Radiohead. Hmmm. I don’t know.
N: That’s so tough because we don’t really play a lot of covers, which is funny. We’ve covered some Smashing Pumpkins, some Radiohead, we did an Arctic Monkeys song a few months ago with some friends just at a local festival and somebody came up to play guitar. But yeah, we don’t do it very often. I’m just trying to think of,like, old stuff that I’ve always wanted to do acoustic. I think that would be kind of fun. See, you’ve got us thinking about it! *laughs*
A: Maybe it’ll be on our next EP! *laughs*
Someone is going to ask you that and you’re going to be like ‘I want this song.’ *laughs*
A: I think I would want to do Radiohead’s “Airbag” because it would be really fun.
And to kind of get a general question out of the way. What is the meaning behind your band name Post Paradise?
N: So we get asked this a lot.
A: Because there’s a really long answer for it.
N: It’s going to be two sides. *laughs* So I used to be in a band in Florida for a long time and it was one of those things where you’re living in Florida trying to be in a rock band. But where we were in Florida it wasn’t, well, I don’t want to say that they didn’t like rock bands because we did have fans, but it was like a retirement place.
A: This isn’t the short answer.
N: Ah, I’m sorry! Anyways, people call Florida ‘paradise’ and I never liked it so when I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado I thought ‘This place is amazing for music scenes.’ I decided that I was going to give it another try and start another band and it’s been incredible. This is what happens ‘post paradise,’ like, after leaving that supposed paradise that I didn’t think was all that great. See, I was concise. *laughs*
A: You brought it home.
N: *laughs* Yep, I brought it home.
Well that answer wasn’t as long as I thought it was going to be. *laughs* Hyped up the answer.
N: I know really. *laughs* That one was actually shorter. I think that’s the fasted I’ve ever done that.
Well I feel honored. *laughs*
N: You got to hear it first!
Yay awesome! Since Post Paradise has such a prominent role in the Colorado music scene that you even have your own local RPA named after you!
N: Yeah, we were pretty excited about that.
A: We got to help mix all the stuff together and help bottle it and flavor it and stuff.
N: It sold out really quickly too so I hope that they make more.
Awesome! Care to give us a little hint of how you would describe the taste of your beer to people who haven’t tried it yet?
N: It’s kind of funny too because it’s a rye pale ale. Everyone’s heard of IPAs and things like that and those are really hoppy and bitter. I’m more of like a pale ale person myself and we’re in Fort Collins, the beer capital of Colorado, but the rye pale stuff makes it a little smoother. It’s still a pale ale, but it’s more of a smooth not as harsh or bitter tasting. Even though it’s smoother, Amy doesn’t like pale ales so she was kind of bummed. *laughs*
A: I wanted to do more of a stout. That would’ve been my dream beer but we didn’t have enough time because it takes like months to do a stout. So that’s why we did the pale ale, Nick’s dream beer.
N: I have some left over in the fridge right now. I save it for special occasions.
A: They used like pineapple or pineapple hops or something about the hops.
N: I didn’t taste that.
A: I don’t know. I didn’t really pay attention to that part. They said it was, like, pineapple flavored hops. Something a little fruity.
N: Some special daiquiri that they were saving for, you know, a great occasion.
A: Everybody’s loved it so far so hopefully we can get more.
N: They put it in cans, which is really cool because we have our logo on the can.
A: And our little bio.
Awesome! Well I if I ever go to Colorado I’m going to have to try that!
N: Oh yeah!
A: Maybe by the time you come we will have Post Paradise porter stout thing. I wanted to have a Post Paradise peanut butter corner thing but not yet.
You can have your own section in Whole Foods. *laughs*
N: There you go! Let’s do that!
So I’ve got a couple of harder questions for you guys. What keeps pushing you to continue being an entertainer?
N: Hmmm. You know it’s funny because we’ll talk to musicians and we’ll hear about people who, you know, only do something for so long. They’ll say like ‘Oh, if nothing happens in the next couple of years then I’m done, or I’m going to try something or I’m moving on.’ This is just what we do at this point and it feels so good. Our lineup right now, it’s very solid and everyone is in it for the right reasons and it’s just sort of, like, we enjoy making music and we enjoy playing it for people and people seem to enjoy us doing that and they want to come to our shows and pick up the record and I definitely hope that they do. I just feel like we’re in a good form of momentum right now so that makes it really easy to keep being an entertainer and to keep trying new stuff. And you know, there’s always something else you can do – there’s new music videos, there’s new art forms that you can look into, technology is moving so fast with videos, the light show stuff even. So much of it gets cheaper and cheaper and every now and then there’s something new that we couldn’t have afforded before and it’s brand new and exciting and much cheaper and we can add it to our light show. And with that there are new sounds that we can explore. Yeah, I don’t know. There’s just so much that can be done. *laughs* I guess that’s the short answer.
A: I think for me it’s, like, it’s just the funnest thing that I have ever gotten to do. It’s just so much fun to make the music and all of the behind the scenes stuff and putting on a show is such a rush. A big thing for me is kind of being able to showcase the cello in a different way and inspire younger musicians who are in orchestras and maybe not cone ting with it the way that I kind of wasn’t went I was doing classical music and show that there’s an option and there’s another way to do it. I teach lessons and a lot of my students get to see me in lesson/classical form and then come to see me at a show and it’s a totally different thing.
What do you hope your audience takes away from your music?
N: Hmmm. I mean, a lot of the inspiration is big, especially with the fact that it’s not the traditional setup for a band. You can look at the cello and be like ‘Oh, well I don’t play any of those other instruments but I play a French horn.’ Who knows! Music is so categorized so easily but it doesn’t mean that’s what people have to do. And not to totally destroy all of the musical paradigms because we’re doing rock music and that’s what we love.
A: For me, growing up as a classical musician I didn’t really know what else was out there. Even later on when I saw Yellowcard or something like that, it still didn’t connect with me for some reason that I could use that, like, using a cello in a rock band or a cello in a band here locally. And then I was like ‘Oh, I can do that.’ I like that with our live shows we kind of create this world with the light show and it’s very effective because it pulls people into the music. You can get into the feelings of the song and the flow of the show and it’s kind of the staple of who we are as a band.
Speaking of classical music being incorporated nowadays, you have artists like Lindsey Sterling who does not sing and only plays violin and she sells out all these tours.
A: I love Lindsey Stirling! I’m so excited that she’s getting played on the radio and it’s like so cool! And the Two Cellos guys too!
My last question for you guys is what big plans should we be looking forward to from your band in the near future apart from your upcoming EP?
N: So we’re actually working on a video right now, I mean, not like this second, but we just had a meeting about it so we’re getting it ready and getting it set up for the song that we’re going to release right before the CD comes out. So that’s happening and we’re just finishing up some booking for some fall tours in the midwest. We’ve got a bunch of festival things that we’ve got going on in Colorado right now because there’s just so much that happens here in the summer so we usually hang out here. So we actually recorded a full length album that we’re splitting into two parts so the first part will be this EP being released in September and then we’ll finish mixing the second part of it and it’ll be a continuation of that whole thing in the second EP. It’s pretty exciting and we haven’t talked much about it because it’s still in the planning phases but I’m so excited to have something that’s ready to go after this other one so we can kind of just one-two-punch it a little bit. *laughs*
A: We would love to tour a little bit more and make it out to the West Coast a little but we see! Just a lot of planning. *laughs*
N: Videos, traveling and more music! That’s kind of our MO. *laughs*
And we’re all excited to hear what the EP is going to sound like and hopefully we’ll be able to see you on tour and everything!
N: Can’t wait for you to hear it! It’s going to be awesome!