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Interview: Parts Per Million
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Paul McSweeney, Parts Per Million: David Lee Roth on MTV singing “California Girls” and the cover of “Born in the USA” by Springsteen had me so intrigued to be a performer. Those are my earliest memories of being fascinated by musicians. My sis got me interested in playing an instrument when she brought home a saxophone that the middle school band director gave her since buying them wasn't an option for us. I was flat-out jealous, so I went the next day and asked if I could also join. I'd like to imagine the idea of playing music more and doing what I do for a living less, which is plumbing. We all have some sort of 9-5. It's just part of supporting the habit of playing music.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Hike, climb, ice climb, surf, and work out as much as I can. Most of these hobbies keep me sane, I think that helps influence my creativity in general.
How long has your band been around?
Probably six years now, but we were just trying to find half a band for the first three. It was mostly myself and the guitar player at first.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We have three guys from New Hampshire and I'm from the North Shore of Massachusetts. I spent some time living in Florida, which definitely had an influence on my playing. I spent a lot of time playing open mics and listening to acoustic sets. I still mostly write on an acoustic and go from there.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Originally it was a play on my name. The initials are the same, but eventually it took on a different meaning. It alludes to the idea that alone we aren't much, but together we can accomplish a lot. I very much live and die by this sword. I'm a member of a Union and wholeheartedly believe if people were willing to work together we could be doing a hell of alot better as a whole.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
We played one a few years ago right before the pandemic shut everything down with 96 Bitter Beings that was really fun. We honestly haven't played a lot due to the current situation we are still stuck in.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Again, we haven't played a lot of spots and really want to get into Boston.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I'd love to see us on a ticket with Foo Fighters or Alice in Chains. Badflower or Nothing but Thieves would be dope as well.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Same advice as always, no matter who it is. Don't give up. It's cliché, but sometimes these silly ones ring more true and there's a reason they linger on.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Drugs are bad. Hahaha. But seriously.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Probably “Find the Light”. It has a lot of connections to it, and it was really cathartic to make something that had no religious or spiritual connection to the idea that if there is an afterlife, no matter what most of us believe, we can still hope we get a shot to see our deceased loved ones again. Whether in dreams or the afterlife.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
“Undead” and “Ironside”. They are just a lot of fun and have great energy, which is always well received.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I usually just sit and write until something sticks with my acoustic. I usually get inspired by a song and go from there.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I try to keep the message positive. We try to push a lot of different messages but with the same idea: We can get through this. I've had alot of help with alot of issues I've faced. I'd never have done it without music and people who actually cared.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Sure. They're normal. We don't have much of an issue keeping things simple and not taking things personal.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We're going to focus on getting out and putting together a really dope live show, and we have some new live sessions and music coming throughout the year.