We’ve written about The Parmesans a great deal since their formation less than two years ago, and with good reason. The trio features some of the cheesiest goofballs around (as they would be the first to admit), yet their tight harmonies, pickin’ skills, and ability to craft great melodies that you’ll hum in your sleep force you to take them seriously as musicians. They’re constantly gigging, and if they don’t make you grin at least once at one of their shows, you’re probably just incapable of enjoying life. And with every release and show, they seem to get better. Today, we’re excited to share with you their latest release, Nature’s Burrito, for the first time. After the album, read a conversation with The Parmesans’ Brendan Welch about the band. The Parmesans have a host of local shows upcoming, beginning tonight at Amnesia as part of Sioux City Kid‘s residency that we told you about last month, followed by their release show with Doncat at Thee Parkside on Thursday.
The Bay Bridged: You went through some lineup changes in the band’s early days – how long have you been a three piece, and how has that affected your style?
Brendan Welch: We’ve been a trio for a little over a year now. I’m not sure how our style has been affected but it’s made our whole operation more streamlined, easier to manage – everything happens a bit faster. We’ve always thought power trios were cool so we’re stoked.
TBB: What’s your songwriting and recording process like? How do you decide who sings and who plays what instrument?
BW: We all write individually and bring our completed ideas to the group at which point we just kinda jam ’em out until they feel presentable. The primary songwriter always sings lead on any given song. We all write for guitar and transfer to other instruments based on the needs of the tune.
Everything we record is live, vocal and all. Once we get a take we like, we’ll go back and overlay a few extra instruments if the song calls for it.
TBB: You’ve released several albums and toured California a few times – what have you learned from the experience?
BW: We’ve learned to not listen to all the BS advice seemingly ‘expert’ people are always spouting off to young bands. We do what we want, the way we want to do it.
Traveling California is awesome and we’ve developed a lot of strong relationships all over the state. Now is the time for us to branch out and start playing across the country.
TBB: How many gigs have you had over the past two years? Any memorable ones, good or bad?
BW: Around 100 – give or take. Opening for Wayne Hancock is up there with the top tier highlights. Lots of bad experiences – mostly revolving around digestive issues on the road.
TBB: Are there plans for a national tour soon?
BW: Nothing set in stone. It’ll start gradually happening over the course of this year.
TBB: You’ve mentioned that you’ve all been in other bands before, were they folk bands? What were they?
BW: No, this is the first time the three of us have been in an entirely acoustic, folk oriented group. Spencer (bass) and I (Brendan, mandolin) grew up playing music together – we were in a few metal bands back in the day. Spencer went on to play electric bass in a rock n’ roll group called Tito for a few years while I played guitar in a sludge metal band called Crawler. We met Andrew (guitar/horn) through a band called The Dig-its – he was one of the guitar players – they were a rock n’ roll group as well.
TBB: You guys obviously have fun with your music – was it a conscious decision to not take things too seriously, or did it just kind of happen?
BW: I think the music and how we perform it is a pretty true reflection of our personalities. Laughing it tight. We teeter on a fine line between whimsy and stupidity. Our friend Brett who runs The Lost Church once referred to our brand of humor as, “obscure and alienating.” By far the best compliment we’ve received to date.
TBB: How do you describe your music to people that haven’t heard it?
BW: This is probably the hardest thing about being in a band, trying to answer this question. I usually spout off some sarcastic nonsense but I suppose my honest answer would be this: we try to emulate the musicality of players like Doc Watson and we take our vocal ques from groups like The Everly Brothers. I’m sure our punk and metal influences shine through in some ways. Either way, we’re 100% cheesy – and that’s a fact.
TBB: Favorite burrito?
BW: Mi Pueblo up in San Anselmo is the business. Also that taco truck on Industrial in Oakland with the 15″ extendoritto.
Sioux City Kid, The Parmesans
April 22, 2014