Before you read the rest of this article, go outside or open your windows and breathe the fresh air. It’ll clear your head, straighten your vibes and bring you to a place where you can begin to better understand the spirit of Papadosio. Hailing from the depths of Southern Ohio, these musical journeymen meld progressive rock with electronica and folk into a psychedelic electrojam that, according to Drummer Mike Healy, should “make people think about our surroundings, and how we can be better stewards of this earth.”
Their most recent album, To End The Illusion Of Separation (aka T.E.T.I.O.S), celebrates a shift in their sound from dancehall bangers to coordinated, meaningful productions, but has a bigger purpose at play. It empowers its audience to reject barriers that stratify society and limit our potential, so we can come together as humanity. Tribal rhythms dance with layers of titillating sounds, setting the tone for soaring vocals and a musical fiesta that rock the cosmos and paint a picture of peace.
Before they return to elevate the Madison in a quasi-homecoming on April 26th, Healy took a moment with us to reflect on a crazy new year tour, downtime before a highly anticipated festival season, what makes a jam a jam, and the bigger message behind their music.
CM: Welcome back to Cincy! What can you tell us about your current tour so far?
MH: We just got back from the longest tour with no breaks we’ve ever had – two months. We started at Aura Music Festival, flew to Costa Rica for Envision Festival and jumped on the tour bus for six weeks out West. It was incredible! We had so many sold out shows, and the crowds kept coming in hot with so much love. The highlights so far were definitely our two sold-out nights in Boulder… our super-late show in Chicago, when 1,100 people showed up for a 1:40am start time… and our tour closer in Louisville, when Dopapod came to help us celebrate our eighth birthday as a band of brothers. Rob Compa sat in on “The Big Smile” for an incredible rendition, and we had a total-band superjam encore. Couldn’t have asked for better friends to come celebrate with us.
CM: So what’s new with Papadosio? Anything on the horizon you guys are excited about?
MH: We have been back from tour for a week now, and it’s been amazing to relax for a second. With that being said, we are super excited to get the festival season started and to end the spring tour with some huge club shows and our Covington show. I’m from Cincinnati, so this is a homecoming show for me.
CM: How is playing in a festival atmosphere different from playing in a venue like the Madison?
MH: It’s completely different. When we play venues, we have all day to set up and get super-comfortable and dialed in, so the shows always go super-smooth. With festivals, it’s always a race to get everything going on time, so there is so much on the table. We play super-well under both situations, but festival sets are usually way more stressful. At festivals, the stakes are high and the energy is crazy, but with venues you get a more intimate vibe that can really connect with our audience on a deep level. When we come to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, our crowds are some of the liveliest in the country.
CM: What’s your best memory here?
MH: I would say our best memory at the Madison is when we played New Year’s Eve several years ago with The Werks. It was an incredible sold-out show, and we had lots of confetti canons! Super rad – I felt like the Flaming Lips for a second with all the confetti.
CM: Confetti always raises the bar of any party. How would you describe your concert now?
MH: It’s quite an engaging experience – we take people on musical and visual journeys. We love playing our music, so we pour our hearts and soul into every performance. Beau Williams gets every room super dialed in. Cameron Gifford runs the monitors on stage with us, and is super tuned in to making us sound the best to ourselves. Daniel Hiudt is also a musician and is way on-point with our music, so he really knows how to feel the lights like out like an instrument and crushes it every night. He works with Jason Takahashi, who runs our LED wall and inter mixes, to make so much beautiful content live and breathe with our music on stage. The wall becomes a magical place that takes viewers on a journey, exciting the senses and moving your soul with love and understanding.
CM: I would describe your concerts as “jam central,” and definitely never the same twice. What carries you through a performance?
MH: Every show, we look at the last time we played in the city and do our best to not repeat any songs. We then take our set list and figure out a way to do some transition improvs, as well as choosing sections in songs to improvise that get away from the song before eventually returning to the original chord progressions.
CM: You also put down some pretty epic covers, things like Thom Yorke’s “Black Swan” and “Karma Police” by Radiohead at Hoopla. How do you decide what you’ll cover? Is that a regular thing, or what leads into that kind of jam?
MH: We love Radiohead and Thom Yorke, and we just play covers of songs we love. The lyrics to these songs were really speaking to us at the time and they were perfect covers. We did a transition out of “Black Swan” into “Direction Song,” and it was super fun.
CM: How does that balance with improv versus planned songs? People rocking out can’t really tell where one begins and another ends, which seems to incite widespread party.
MH: That’s what we are going for – a seamless, continued dance party at times. Sometimes the crowd just wants to keep going, and we like providing that continued space. Other times, the song is just so powerful it needs to end normal. We’ll take songs and stretch them, like our Magreenery show in Louisville. It was an hour-long CD set list that we stretched into two hours with improvisation.
CM: So in between all the grooves, what do you really want people to know about you and your music?
MH: We are playing music from our hearts, and will always continue to do so. We play for the betterment of ourselves, and the world around us. When we were younger, we were way busier and messy with our style. It’s become so much more polished and packed with serious messages over the years as we’ve grown up a lot as individuals and musicians. We can’t wait until the time is right to take our sound all over the world.
CM: Do you have a message-in-closing for Papadosio disciples?
MH: Do what you love no matter what, even if the future looks hard and difficult. Keep pushing through on your dreams and eventually they will all work out.