Butch Parnell – The Fall
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) How would you describe your sound?
A) I would say it’s a bit folky with some elements of country and bluegrass. It’s simple songs performed as direct and honest as I can do them.
Q) Who are some of your musical influences?
A) I was a huge Oasis fan when I was younger. So, I kinda learned to write songs by deconstructing Noel’s. As I got a little older I found Ryan Adams and The Jayhawks and they provided me with the language for writing songs. So, I guess I am equal parts brit-pop and alt-country. But I doubt anyone hears that when they listen to my songs.
Q) Talk about the story behind your new song “Give Me A Reason.”
A) “Give Me A Reason” is a sort of simple lullaby. I wrote it as sort of an apology for self-destructing a relationship. It’s just a song about an insecure guy who doesn’t know what to do when he finds an amazing person who wants to be with him. And he begs that person to just give him a reason to stay.
Q) What was so special about this song to you that made you want it to be the first single released?
A) I think it was the closest thing to the other EPs that I had released. I like songs to tie in and guide you to where you are going. There are songs on this EP that don’t sound anything like earlier things I have released. And they are there to show where I am probably going next. That is the great thing about EPs. You really can go anywhere musically.
Q) What do you think it is about the song that fans connect to?
A) Hopefully, it’s the honesty and rawness. I recorded this EP and this song really fast. I wanted to capture the mistakes that let you know it’s real. I wanted the song to sound like it was just written when it was recorded. There are mistakes that will probably drive some engineers or music perfectionists nuts, but I wanted the listener to know that it was a real song performed by real people.
Q) How does the video for the track play into the message behind it?
A) I don’t know. I didn’t make the video. I do all the writing and recording and mixing and blah blah blah. So, my manager actually put that video together while I was working on more songs.
Q) What is your song writing process? Do you need music before you can create lyrics?
A) Generally, I come up with a line that the song will then be themed around. I create a bit of a back story for the characters and then words and music seem to appear at about the same time. In the case of “Give Me A Reason,” it was actually very different. I had had that melody for ages and just did not know what to do with it. So, it just kinda stuck around in the back of my brain for a bit until the story and the words decided to come to the party.
Q) How much of hand do you have in the production of your music?
A) I write, record and mix everything myself. Or at least 98% of the time. My brother also records some for me as well. In my last band we would do an album every few years. I’d write songs. We’d try to raise some money to record. We would end up getting a budget price, which meant we were the low priority in everything. It would take years to finish anything and it just drove me crazy. By the time the album came out I had musically just moved on. So, learning to record and mix has helped speed things up and save me money at the same time. Now, I can write a song and record and mix it in weeks as opposed to years. It might now be as “professional” sounding to some, but most people are just listening on a mono iPhone speaker any way.
Q) What can fans expect from a live Butch Parnell performance?
A) Tons of stories. I am probably more of a storyteller than I am anything else. So, I like to let the audience know where the songs came from and where we are going with them.
Q) What songs off your The Fall EP are you looking forward to performing live?
A) I can’t wait to perform them all live. Depending upon the setting they will all change a bit to fit the atmosphere. If I am traveling with a full band “Give Me A Reason” will be much fuller and if I am doing solo shows “Hurry” or “Ophelia” will sound less like Fleetwood Mac and more like a folk tune.
Q) What do you hope listeners take away from listening to your new EP as a whole?
A) The story of a love that fell apart, but that was still beautiful despite it’s failure.
Q) Where are some of your favorite places to perform and what makes those locations so significant to you?
A) I love playing in any room where the stage mix is great and there is an audience that is actively listening. I like being on the road and visiting new towns and meeting new people, but I really love playing in Charleston, SC and in Brooklyn. I used to live in Charleston so it always feels like a homecoming and when I am in Brooklyn I know that I get to sleep in my own bed that night.
Q) Who would you most like to collaborate with on a song in the future?
A) I am really into co-writing right now. I am obsessed with writing a number one hit for someone else. I have a knack for writing pop country songs so I wanna work with someone in that genre. I know it probably sounds strange from someone who performs more folky tunes, but those songs are just so damn fun to write. I’d also like to work with Oran Thornton, my first producer, again. He’s a great guy and knows how to get the best out of a recording.
Q) What album/band are you currently listening to and why do you dig them?
A) Right now, I am stuck on country radio. When I get into huge writing moods I just throw myself into the music I want to do. So, in order to write that hit song I have been studying the current hits. Once I get my hit I’ll most likely just start listening to KISS albums again.
Q) You are a part of social media. Why is that such an important way for you to connect with your fans?
A) It’s a direct line. You can have real conversations with real folks that go two ways. I try to keep my social media as honest as I can. Some musicians want to only show you the fancy side, the awesome studio or show they are playing. I’ll show you a picture of my 4-year-old laptop that I’ve made four EPs on. I wanna show what it’s really like to be working musician. I also just wanna show off pictures of pizza and my best buddy Winston (my dachshund).
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) Thanks for taking a moment to stop and listen. I hope something you heard inspires you to create something.