Comprised of Graham Parsons (vocals), Mike Savina (guitar), Adam Danis (drums), and Drew Tyner (bass), the Michigan-based four-piece has historically released music at a rapid pace while simultaneously expanding their own sonic boundaries. “As musicians, we haven’t settled. We haven’t settled on the sounds that we’re making,” Parsons says. “We are always trying to rethink our rigs, and to push the palette even further and create sounds that we want to hear that we haven’t heard yet.”
“Redbreast” is like few others, beginning as a lush, celestial track and evolving into a melding together of genres that would seemingly never work together within the same song. Somehow, though, The Go Rounds masterfully make this unique sound their own.
The Kalamazoo natives have firmly established themselves within the Great Lakes community, becoming notable performers in local festivals and also taking their spectacle to performances such as SXSW and Chicago’s Green Music Fest. Sharing stages with performers such as Jeff Tweedy, Mandolin Orange, The Wood Brothers, The War and Treaty, Liz Cooper & the Stampede, and many others, The Go Rounds certainly have a repertoire that justifies the hype.
We got the chance to discuss “Redbreast”, their favorite Kalamazoo cuisine, and more with the band.
The Go Rounds have a very unique overall sound. If someone in an elevator asks you, “What kind of music does your band make?” what is your answer?
It really depends on who is asking the question. You don’t want to make assumptions about where people are at in their relationship with music, but there’s a subtle art to figuring out within a few seconds what people need to hear in order to feel their query has been satisfied.
For the most part, we say that our music lives under the umbrella of rock n’ roll. Indie? Shiiiit, I don’t know. There are two guitars, bass, and drums. Songs have a discernible structure. There are verses and choruses. But there’s also experimental noise interludes, gut-twisting sub-drops, synth pads, ambient guitar clouds, and wildly affected vocalscapes.
We live in a post modern world where pinpointing genre is becoming less and less relevant. Does it sound good? Invoke feeling?
So I was hoping you could talk about your latest single, “RedBreast.” It’s very theatrical, atmospheric, and just different. Can you walk us through the process of making this song?
The song was inspired directly from a Michael Dickman poem entitled, Red Migraine. The lyrics are taken from these passages. During a retreat in the Mackinaw State Forest a few autumns back, time allowed for an inspired run of song creation. With the help of a 1970’s-era analog drum machine, and within the serenity of the yellowing tamaracks and icy deep-woods rivers of northern lower Michigan, Redbreast was provoked from the ethers.
Months after this Northwoods retreat, the song essentially found its present-day form during a multi-day band retreat and psilocybin-infused microdose turned full dose in Madera Canyon, Arizona, very near the Mexican border. We played the song live for a couple years before taking it into the studio. It existed during the tracking of our last full-length, Whatever You May Be, but wasn’t quite ready for the studio treatment.
During the tracking process we divided the song into four or five sections. The ambient intro, the big hits at the band’s entrance, the chorus/verse feel, and the angular hits after the first chorus. Each section had its own needs, feel, tempo – so we approached them as isolated movements.
Are there any overarching themes or motifs behind it?
At the time it was adapted to music, the original poem spoke to me in some eerily specific ways. I also like the openness of concept, the possibilities of interpretation. Something that’s resonated with me about it is the idea that love doesn’t always win. Sometimes all the love in the world can’t keep someone or something alive. There is no love without immense suffering and that excruciating necessity of balance is the essence of existence. The stanzas that reflect that idea are:
Look I’m covered in red feathers / Caught up in our time together / I could not control the anger / Redbreast wants you to remember
Look I’m covered in red feathers / Caught up in our time together / We could not control the laughter / Redbreast you have to remember
Especially in a layered, diverse song like this, how do you know when a track is finished? Do you find yourself wanting to forever keep tinkering and re-recording tracks etc.?
I think because we had a live arrangement set for so long, it became more about supporting the elements and dynamics that needed support – there wasn’t a need to create a vibe or overdub our way to something whole… it was whole as it was, it just needed to be dressed up for the occasion.
So Kalamazoo, Michigan. What should people know about it? What’s the music scene like? Any extra special Kalamazoo cuisine?
You can rent a room in Kalamazoo for $250. Like to live in. $600 and you’re stepping somewhere posh. Artists like these prices. Artists like Kalamazoo. Beyond the necessary and lame evils of finance, Kalamazoo just has an energetic pull that seems to attract authentic, creative types. The scene is diverse and multi-generational – both performers and audience members. I would argue that this town has and has had more house venues than any other in the state of Michigan. Basements basements basements. Vibes and wildcards galore. I will say I live here only because of the musicians I’ve met and projects we’ve embarked on together.
If you happen to find yourself in Kalamazoo, I suggest eating at one of these fine establishments: Rasa Ria on West Main, Pacific Rim on Kilgore, Quekas on Cork, or Shawarma King (Westnedge or Drake) … anywhere else… you’re rolling the dice.
Did you feel the past year and a half helped or hindered your creative process and artistic drive? Neither?
It sucked. All of it, for me.
What does success as a band or as songwriters mean to you?
Depends on the day. Sometimes it’s finally getting the arrangement feeling good on a track we’ve been working on for a year. Sometimes it’s getting an audience to a place of pure electric exuberance and joy. Sometimes it’s not getting a parking ticket the whole time we’re in NYC. Sometimes it’s a great Thai place 3 blocks from the venue. Sometimes it’s being able to air our grievances with one another before they mutate into something unrecognizable. Sometimes it’s releasing new music (wink wink). To continue on the path is success.
What are one or two pinnacle moments for the band?
There have been many peaks over the past decade. Some of the lowest and darkest moments have themselves transformed into peaks capable of having us doubled over with laughter. It’s all a part of a broader picture of what anyone wants to believe is time well spent. Luckily, we’ve found one another in this life and have been able to share in some beautiful adventures together.
If I had to pick one moment, my mind still travels to flying into Mazunte, Oaxaca, to play the Mazunte International Jazz Festival.