By Juliana Russell
Post Paradise, an alternative rock band based in Fort Collins, Colorado, consists of singer/guitarist Nick Duarte, cellist Amy Morgan, drummer Mark Roshon, and bassist Brian Zeiger. Following the release of their song and music video “The River”, Nick Duarte answered some questions for Black on the Canvas.
What is your band Post Paradise about? How did your group get started?
Nick: I had just moved to a new town, Fort Collins, CO after my old band broke up and I was getting the itch to start writing and playing music again. I think we started up at a time when things were really starting to explode in the area so it was a really supportive environment. I really just found everyone online or through friends. We’ve been through some rhythm section members but our lineup now is solid. We focus on writing songs we love to play and putting on the most enticing shows that we can. It’s as simple as that. We’re just building fans one day and one show at a time!
Who or what are your main influences and inspirations, both individually and as a band as a whole?
Nick: It really changes depending on what day you’re talking to me. There are bands and songs that I listened to over and over way back when that now I have no interest in. They got me to a certain point and I still love them, but I’ve kind of beaten it to death, you know? I’m always looking for new inspiration. That’s not to say that I’m looking for new things to copy, but it’s more the headspace that an amazing song can put you in. I love falling into that trap and just being taken over by something that surprises and amazes you. It can be so inspiring.
Talk about your song “The River”. Can you provide us with the lyrics and tell us what they mean, i.e. what was the inspiration? Is there a particular back-story?
Nick: There isn’t a particular back-story necessarily… I draw loosely on my own experiences and do my best to put that into words and melodies. “The River” is a really hopeful song despite its eerie tone. Imagine someone who just went through an experience where their whole relationship world was turned upside down. They felt they were drowning in it and didn’t know how, or even that they needed to escape. Now they’ve been lead out of that situation and shown something deeper and healthier, relationship-wise. That’s essentially the premise for the lyrics of the track.
I love the inclusion of distorted electric cello, as well as the sharp 4th scale degree—it gives the song a very unsettling atmosphere (definitely in a good way though!). Do you have any comments about those aspects of the song (if not already answered in the previous question)?
Nick: I love that the riff conveys a very uneasy and even creepy vibe at first. You’re not sure where it’s going to take you. I also like that it’s sort of counter-intuitive because the overall message of the song is actually very positive.
Talk about the video to “The River”. What is the artistic or metaphoric purpose of the inclusion of acrobats?
Nick: We really wanted to do something involving water imagery. We didn’t have the budget to rent special cameras for underwater or anything like that but we did like the idea of the aerialists flowing gracefully. I think it worked out really well, they were so talented and had such fluid movements. There are shots that really convey a sense of tension and struggle and then others that show free flowing carefree motions. We were very happy with the results.
What was the compositional process like for “The River”? Did the lyrics come first, or a particular part of the melody, or the chord progression, etc.?
Nick: This one started out with a couple chord changes and that opening guitar line. We jammed on the parts we knew we liked for a few weeks probably then eventually the inspiration for lyrics hit me. I changed things a little bit to fit the melody that I’d come up with and then brought it back in to everyone. We sort of put things through the ringer one last time, with everyone’s input, added some parts, worked out the bridge, solo, ending, stuff like that. This one was a very organic process; it all came about very naturally and without too much hassle.
Along the same lines as the previous question, what are your usual methods of creating a new song?
Nick: I wouldn’t say that there are usual methods necessarily but the way it works most often is that we’ll start with a guitar riff or a cello line and start working out parts and rhythms around it. Sometimes it sticks with us enough that we turn it into a song, other times it just doesn’t feel good enough and doesn’t pass onto the next phase. Lyrics are a whole other beast. Sometimes I come in with a complete song’s worth if I’m lucky, but if not it can take me months to come up with something I’m totally happy with. I let everyone pick it apart too, which is helpful. After a while, I’m too close to what I’ve written and it helps to get perspective.
When we get to the recording phase, there’s a good chance that we’ll end up changing things yet again when the right inspiration hits. Producers are great for that. Working with Andrew Berlin this time around, he was always hearing things that we weren’t and had great ideas to try out to make the songs even better.
Also about composition: what happens when you get stuck? Were there any aspects in the production of this song that were particularly difficult to overcome, whether creative or technical?
Nick: We try not to work it too hard. If it’s not working maybe we’ll take some time away from the song and see if new inspiration hits. Sometimes the riffs and melodies never turn into a song no matter how hard you try. Once you start trying to put this thing that you’ve created into a certain box it can really change things, and maybe not for the better. I find it best to let it breathe and come back with new perspective if we’re not happy with how it’s going.
What future plans does Post Paradise have?
Nick: We’ll be home for the holidays and then hitting the road a lot more in 2016. We only had two outings in 2015 due to us working on the two EPs, the video, etc. Now it’s going to be time to actually get it out into the world and show people what we’ve created. We’re looking into some new potential markets we’ve never toured to before which is exciting. I’d really like to build up a few more outposts since we’re kind of isolated in Colorado. In other words “Next year we’ll be coming to a city near you!”
Any final thoughts, parting comments?
Nick: I always like to stress the importance of supporting your local scene. We have such a great community in Northern Colorado, which has been huge in helping us develop as a band. It can be nearly impossible for bands to get traction on a national level without the support of fans in their home base. Anyone that’s reading this, you’re obviously a music fan and like discovering new stuff. Go check out what’s happening in your town tonight. You never know when you’ll discover your new favorite band in your own backyard…
Photos by Ed Ziehm Photography