Afterlife Parade

21 Oct

“I think spontaneity is appealing, and I think we’ll always have that element in our shows.”

Music is something people turn to for all types of reasons. It reconstructs our broken pieces and puts them back together, as if they were never broken in the first place. It’s a powerful thing that we all need in our lives. Afterlife Parade frontman, Quinn Erwin, turned to the power of music to heal his own personal misfortunes. After successfully completing songs for what would be a two-part concept record, he found other members that shared his passion. Producing such raw and emotional music is what Afterlife Parade does best, and I’m super excited to present them on the site. Quinn answered my questions about the fantastic concept record, fans of the band, and more.

Q. With an album titled “Death” was it a natural progression to name your follow-up album “Rebirth”?

A. From the very beginning, I set out to create a concept record with two parts, so it wasn’t like I tracked Death and then went into the studio again and decided to track another record and call it Rebirth. The two are one. It was a very deliberate move from beginning to end. Everything was very thought out and plotted in terms of musicality and even lyrics. I concentrated a lot on specific symbols and metaphors; there are definite threads that run from the beginning of Death to the end of Rebirth. I hope our listeners will see that!

Q. The cover art for both of these albums definitely reflect the title and the mood of the albums. Can you tell us a little bit about the art?

A. I have a super great friend named Jacob Blaze who I approached about the artwork for the concept, and he was super enthusiastic about being a part. It’s always much better to share work with friends; especially friends that get what you are trying to accomplish! I explained that there needed to be two covers and that I wanted them to represent their specific themes and yet be connected or have a similar design. We felt like Death needed to be more angular and Rebirth needed to be more round. We talked about colors too, and it was really cool to discover that we were both thinking the same sort of hues for each part. After that, Jacob did what he does best! He is an awesome artist, and I hope everyone will take some time check out the rest of his portfolio: http://www.jacobblaze.com/

Q. Do you plan on keeping a theme for your upcoming records?

A. I think we will. We have a few ideas running around in our heads about the next concept we’ll tackle. I really enjoy writing for albums like novels or movies.  It’s a unique challenge for sure.

Q. If you had to choose one of your albums for your future fans to hear first, which would it be and why?

A. I think that this record is best listened to from beginning to end, so I would say our fans definitely need to listen to Death first and then Rebirth. We were really shooting to create a listening experience from beginning to end; we wanted to create a journey, and that journey starts with “Fate: An Introduction” and ends with “Maypole.”

Q. Do you prefer performing songs from a certain album in front of audiences? Does the environment and the mood of the crowd have a deciding factor in which songs you will perform, even if you already had a pre-planned set list?

A. We definitely play songs from both parts, but we do two very different sets. We’ll do a rock set in a club and then strip things down to acoustic instruments in a coffee shop. Both sets are very unique experiences. I think we’ll always do it that way. I think that timeless music is music that starts with one instrument or voice and everything builds on top of that. I wrote most if not all of the songs on guitar, so it makes it easier to at least get the foundation for each song when we play our stripped down set. All the bells and whistles that come with songs on Rebirth, on the other hand, can be a challenge to reimagine! I feel like we’ve done a good job of simplifying and finding parts though; we’re just using accordions where we would use synth or mandolin where we’d use electric guitars. We can’t play every song that way, so we focus on the ones we can when we strip it down. Our audiences in the those smaller venues seem to really enjoy it too. I think spontaneity is appealing, and I think we’ll always have that element in our shows. Being able to bounce off an audience is certainly an art that we work hard to master.

Q. After being a solo artist for so long, what was your deciding factor to form a band?

A. I’ve never wanted to be a solo artist. It was just kind of necessity because I couldn’t find bandmates to stick around and define a sound or the right name to represent that sound. So, naturally, I wrote songs for myself. I think if people listen to my solo records they might sense a sort of tension between a singer/songwriter and the front man of a band, and the truth is, that’s because there was. As I started tracking the songs for Afterlife Parade, I decided to dig deeper than I ever had as an artist and focus on the extreme aspects of what I do as an artist; as we were tracking, it started to become evident that the music was way bigger than a guy and a guitar. I felt like I was in the process of finding the sound of a band rather than a singer/songwriter, and in turn, I needed to allow it to be just that. As I was getting ready to start recording Rebirth, I settled on the name, and that was huge for me; that was really when I owned up to what the music of AP was and is.

Q. Did you find that “Death” or “Rebirth” got a better reception from your existing fans and your new fans?

A. That’s a great question. I think, for the most part, our fans understood what were trying to do, so I feel like they see it as one project as much as we do. Ultimately, they’ve expressed that they really like it. There are definitely songs on both projects that our fans really get into the most, but I don’t think we’ve really gotten feedback that they like one part more than the other. I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to knowing though! I assume that they just see Rebirth as a progression in our sound, and rightly so, in that sense, but to me, we just put another card on the table; we shared a little bit more of ourselves. We wanted to set ourselves up to do whatever we wanted to do in the future, and I think we accomplished that; I think our fans understand that each record is going to be very different as we try to give a concept and sound. I hope they understand that anyway! We’re not going to go completely off the deep end or anything though. AP has to have staple elements, you know!

Q. After dealing with all the hardships before the Death EP was recorded, did you find it difficult to put an almost positive spin on something with such a negative connotation?

A. Definitely. It was really tough before I started tracking the material, but even while recording Death and Rebirth, I went through one of the hardest times in my life personally. I am a positive person by nature, I have a lot faith about the future, but I really struggled to maintain that during the recording process for this project. I feel like these songs are just as much for me as they are for people who are listening. They were like small pieces of light or hope that were given to me along the way as I was just beginning to trudge through the darkness. I have a strong desire to give or help others, and so, it felt pretty natural to take what I had been given in that process and share it. I really do hope that people find or sense some sort of comfort in these songs. As a concept, I think the positive spin on it is what makes it provocative; to take something that is so hard and difficult and make it something to celebrate is a unique challenge in life as much as it is in song. I mean, we experience death every day in ourselves as we change and grow, and it’s hard; it’s never easy. But maybe the trick in the end is to celebrate that “death” and that in turn helps us while we’re wrestling with ourselves through it all.

Q. Do you see yourself going back to being a solo artist, or doing any solo projects anytime soon?

A. I will definitely do solo projects in the future, but Afterlife Parade is my focus right now. The coolest thing about being in this band is it has helped me understand the difference between Quinn Erwin the singer/songwriter and Quinn Erwin the front man of a band. I like the idea of being able to do things within the context of “Quinn Erwin” that I won’t do in AP.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. “Black Woods, White Beach” for sure.

Here is Quinn performing, Nothing But Love Can Stay, a hauntingly beautiful song that gives me chills every time I listen.

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