Morgan Enos interviewed Nicholas Larson of Próxima Parada for us.
Morgan is out in Brooklyn these days & so this interview was conducted via email.
You can listen while you read!
MORGAN: Hey Nick! Randall sent me. Listening to Big Seven right now and it sounds great!
“Steely Dan with zero cynicism” is the first impression I got from Big Seven. Whether or not your crew is down with the Dan, what music of their era do you take influence from?
NICHOLAS: It’s funny, you’re not the first to hear a Steely Dan influence in our music, and yet none of us pull from them. I, personally, only know a few of their tunes. Our bassist, Kevin, is probably the only one in the band with much Steely Dan knowledge.
MORGAN: I was a latecomer to Stevie Wonder, but I’ve been spinning Innervisions and Talking Book constantly this year. Beautiful, spiritual stuff – and I hear quite a bit of it in your sound. Do you take much inspiration from Wonder’s life and music?
NICHOLAS: We are all fans of Stevie Wonder… I love how he can groove really hard while also conveying so much authentic joy (e.g. Isn’t She Lovely, Sir Duke).
MORGAN: You’ve got four official members, but an army onstage, from what I see! Can you tell us about all your live members and what they do?
NICHOLAS: The last big concert we played was our album release show at the Fremont Theatre, and we wanted to make it extra special, so we invited a lot of friends to join us on stage (backing vocals, trumpet, sax, etc). On the album, there were five musicians recording, which at that time made up Próxima Parada. Myles Wittman on trumpet has since relocated to Seattle and so is not playing with us regularly, and Andy Olson (drums) is now getting his teaching credential from Cal Poly, so is no longer playing with us. Aaron Kroeger is now our current drummer. He is a close friend that has a strong background in jazz and funk, so working with him has made us tighter and more tasteful as players. He has been a wonderful addition to the group.
MORGAN: Wine and music play integral roles in the Central Coast’s culture. Are you a wine fan yourself? If so, what’s your favorite record to pop open a bottle to?
NICHOLAS: I’m not qualified to answer this one. I don’t drink wine, but…let’s see if I can give you something to work with here…When I twist off the cap of my preferred fermented beverage, the kombucha varietal, lately you’d find me listening to the same Chavela Vargas album over and over again, Chavela Vargas con el Cuarteto Lara Foster. Both kombucha and Chavela are tasty and effervescent.
As for wine albums, Kevin and Josh could answer this one, I bet.
MORGAN: I appreciate your very positive, sincere music in a very conflicted, bizarre time. How can a great song fight the forces of evil, dumbness, and fear?
NICHOLAS: Hahaha “Fight the forces of dumbness”! Great question! Our songs really just come from trying to make sense of our personal experiences, and our optimism in our personal philosophy always finds its way into our music. The best thing I could hope for would be that the vulnerability that we convey in our music give people permission to look deeply at themselves and listen to their own song that so desperately wants to be sung.
MORGAN: Can you tell us about the title and cover of Big Seven? Who’s the boy, who’s the pooch, and why the number?
NICHOLAS: The boy is my little brother, Jaden. The title is many things, but in the simplest sense, Jaden was seven when that picture was taken. Also, one of the songs off the new album, Better Now, is in 7/4 time signature (seven evenly weighted quarter notes per measure), also known as Big Seven. The pooch is Kato, and he is a friend’s dog. We wanted the scariest dog we could find. He looks like a killer but he is a sweetie.
MORGAN: During his recent Rock Hall induction speech, Eddie Vedder said “Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to music.” I found that a beautiful and simple thing to say. Can you describe your musical philosophy?
NICHOLAS: I know that people have the potential to use music as a way to distract themselves from their thoughts, so I try to be intentional about when I listen to music. That said, I find time to listen to some music everyday; otherwise there is song coming out of me. As for my musical philosophy, it’s pretty simple: I prefer music that feels like it’s someone’s soul put out into the world for everyone to observe. Those souls might come from Africa, Cuba, Mexico, the US, Spain, anywhere.
MORGAN: Paul Simon, who’s 75, recently said he intended to quit music. But I think he just scheduled a tour or something so, whatever. Would you like to play music for the rest of your life?
NICHOLAS: I want to be able to grant myself the inconsistency to do whatever the hell I want to, but at the same time, I don’t see how I could ever stop enjoying what music offers. Maybe if I go deaf.
MORGAN: What are Proxima Parada’s plans for 2017? Go further… how about 2018?
NICHOLAS: We just want to get Big Seven into people’s ears. 2018, hopefully we can make enough money to record another album!
SipMusic Club Presents Proxima Parada May 6th at Lompc Wine Factory. Free for club members $9 for non-members. Wine by the glass will be available.