Being the afternoon personality on 100.5 The X is a pretty rewarding position. I have the privilege of listening to and talking about nearly four decades of alternative rock on a daily basis. Perhaps there’s no better feeling than when music from right here in Central Georgia makes it onto the airwaves and thus into your cars and earbuds. This summer, Macon’s One Horse Parade released Magic Beach Motel, an album that showcases eight new songs from a band that has grown tremendously. I had the opportunity to connect with members Mark Griffith, Wes Cook, and Jay Proctor to discuss the writing and recording process, the music video for “Mixtape”, recent inspiration from the heavens, and who’s been spending time admiring vintage motels on Vilano Beach.
ML- Magic Beach Motel is the brand new album for One Horse Parade. Before we get into what’s happening on the inside of the record, I have to wonder– someone in the band must really love St. Augustine, Florida?
MG- (Laughs) Yeah, yeah! We like it down there. We go down there a good bit.
WC- We all love it.
MG- Yeah, Wes and us have been down there with Jay for a couple of concerts at the Ponte Vedra/Jax Beach area. We’ve been down to the St. Augustine Amphitheater– which is a great venue– to see The National. We were on the beach at night coming back up to go to the car and there was that motel, neon in all its glory. It looked very seedy and Florida all at the same time. It just looked like a cool place and I just so happened to get a great shot of it. That place looks like it has lots of stories both good and bad…
Magic Beach Motel represents a big first for the band as you’re featuring a full-time vocalist with the addition of Brent Thomason. How did Brent’s involvement come about?
MG- At one point before Matt [Daniels, guitarist for OHP], we had a different guitar player and he left before a show at The Hummingbird. We were already friends with Brent, so he sat in and played guitar with us at the show. It was a load of fun! At that time, I think we kind of wanted him in the band but he was starting Choir of Babble and his plate was pretty full. Later on, we had the opportunity to perform a David Bowie cover [“Heroes”] and Brent wanted to sing it live, and then that turned into us doing another cover, a Radiohead cover. We eventually handed him an original we were working on. Brent immediately wrote some lyrics and had his vocal ideas when he reached back out to us. He asked for us to send him some more stuff. Every time we’d send him songs, he’d send us back vocals and voice messages with melodies within 2 or 3 days. It just turned into, “Hey, you know you’re in the band, right?”
WC- Before, we had tried some things with other people that wanted to sing for us, but [we] kind of always had in our mind that we wanted Brent. With Choir of Babble, we weren’t sure how it would work out and slowly but surely it did.
MG- It’s been great! We just work so well together. Me and Wes have sat in with [Choir of Babble] and Jay has done the Nirvana tribute with Brent. We have such a great time working together and it just flows really well.
How different was your approach to songwriting this time as compared to your previous releases
MG- Oddly enough, not a whole lot.
WC- Yeah… None.
MG- I think on our first EP, we went into it intending on having vocals and just never got there. After that, we just really embraced the instrumentals on the next couple of singles. But still, those songs could easily have vocals slipped right in. When we first started this [album], we weren’t planning on adding a singer. So [writing] wasn’t really different or altered. We just kind of did our thing and Brent would come over and step up to the mic and start ooohhhin’ and aaahhhhin’, developing a melody in no time. He just adapts to it so quickly. Nobody really had to change anything.
The album features loads of great guitar textures and effects. How did you approach recording those tracks for Magic Beach Motel?
MG- Jay and Matt really have their sound already dialed in and come up with stuff pretty quickly. Whether the song starts as a guitar part or a beat and rhythm idea, we live track as a band in an effort to get the drums and bass down. Once we’ve got the foundation for them then they go back and cut their stuff. It’s usually simple– miking up a [Fender] Deluxe Reverb or an [Vox AC30], getting down their tracks. We’ll go back and double them up or just see whatever they come up with. A lot of times, they’ll come back with some esoteric, atmospheric stuff and we’ll listen back. We may slice and dice and edit and put stuff where we want to put it. Really though, the core of it is mostly live takes.
Do you decide that one side of the mix is dedicated to Matt and the other is for Jay?
MG- You know, I don’t really think about who’s on what side when we’re doing it. I base it more on the part being played. I listen for what’s countering the vocal and just spread it out from there. It varies from song to song. There’s no rule that Jay’s on the left and Matty’s on the right.
The track sequencing on this album works really well. How long did it take to finally nail down the running order?
JP- I think it was arguing once a week for at least a year or two.
WC- Yeah, we went back and forth. It took us a while to decide.
MG- We had a starting song, and we knew where we wanted “Mixtape” to sit. We had the ending song, so it was just getting everything in between to flow just right. We’ve had a lot of comments about that, actually. I used to DJ, so I really paid attention to beginnings and endings of songs and how they flow into each other. Jason Janik, who mastered it, did a really good job a making everything seamlessly butt up to the next song without anything hanging over. There’s really no gaps. Every song flows into the next really well.
I had no idea that Jason Janik helped in the post-production for this album.
MG- Yeah, yeah. I mix and produce here while constantly turning around to get the other guy’s yay or nay, up’s or down’s, no and yes (laughs)! Johnny Davis from Choir of Babble helped with production. I picked his ears and brains several times when it comes to parallel compression for drums and some new things we’ve started doing. Jason Janik mastered it and he did an awesome job! We were really happy with the final mixes and Jason just made it pop. He really did for it what mastering is supposed to do.
You recently released a music video for “Mixtape” which is available on YouTube. I must say I enjoyed each member’s individual scenes, particularly Brent’s splatter paint scenes.
MG- (Laughs) Right? Brent Pollock!
When did you film the video?
JP- Whenever someone had a moment. We [filmed] for an hour on a Sunday afternoon. That was one of the major factors since I didn’t have to have everyone around as a band. We just did it as everyone had a minute and hodge-podged it together.
MG- Luckily, Wes didn’t get killed sitting on the side of the highway there in a chair. Jay’s got a drone we used to get Brent’s paint deal, so we got some nice shots that way. And Matty’s an avid jogger you know (laughs)!
Was that his training montage for last year’s Peachtree City Race?
MG- (Laughs) Yeah! He came in last! But it’s the effort (laughs)!
Has the experience of filming a music video inspired you to try your hand at a livestream concert or digital event of some kind?
MG- We’ve talked about it. It’s such a weird time now. You release a record– but then you can’t go play it live. We’ve started working on new stuff. We actually have a new single called ‘The Mistranslation of Everything’ which is gonna be out in the next couple of months, as well as another single off of the album. Brent was actually just recording vocals this week. We’d like to do a live in-studio kind of thing. We just have to figure out how we want to do it.
Wow, you guys move fast! You’re already working on new music. What can you tell us about it?
MG- We’d always wanted to work with Marc Whitten, who sadly passed away. We never got the opportunity to do it which is super disappointing. Jay actually inherited a sampler of Marc’s. Jay was going through it one night and found some guitar loops that Marc had done. Jay kind of cut them up, and we actually built a track with that as the foundation. Marc’s guitar deal takes this in a different direction because his playing style was unique and jazzy. Finding that piece of music was a happy accident.
JP- On the last bank of the last patch of the sampler is where that was.
MG- We plan on having that song out in the next couple of months. With no shows going on, we’re working. We’ve got some older things that Brent wants to put vocals on and some new files as well. We’ve heard some of Brent’s ideas that might turn into One Horse Parade songs. Whether this comes out as an album or as a collection of singles, we’re not sure of yet. We’re just staying active trying to get as much music out as possible.
Alright, I’ve got you guys for one final question. This may be the most obvious question so far. What ultimately happened to that splatter painting?
WC- It’s downstairs (laughs)! It’s in the hallway going into our band room.
MG- At some point, we may cut it down to size and put it on a canvas and hang it up.
JP- I secretly sleep under it every night.