Singer-songwriter Butch Parnell (born Dave Parnell) recently released his latest EP, The Fall, a 6-track collection of soulful, emotionally-driven, and slightly twangy tunes that Parnell says is "...a familiar story of love and loss that I've tried to tell as simply and without pretense, as I can." Recently, Parnell kindly took the time to talk about the album, its story, and more.
The Fall is your fourth EP as Butch Parnell. Did you approach the making of this project any differently and if so, how?
I was working on another EP for about eight months and was gearing up to complete that, but all of a sudden, I decided to go in a different direction. With this EP, I kept things moving and turned it around in about six weeks, which was the fastest I have ever worked on anything.
I used to be in a band with five other people and with that came five different opinions and trying to work things around five people’s schedules. It took so long to do anything - we put out two albums in five years – which drove me insane. So, with this one, I wanted to see if I could do it or if I was the one holding things back.
A lot of people have told me some of their best work comes the quickest. Do you find that?
I do because the more time you spend on something, the more the critic shows up and nothing kills creativity or puts doubt into something like second-guessing.
I totally get that. There are six songs on the project, five originals, and a Beyonce cover. Were the five ones you had written recently, ones you had in your pocket, or a combination?
Some I had for a while and just didn’t know what to do with them. The last track, “The Break,” I wrote almost four years ago. It was a song I recorded, but there was just something not right with it, so I scrapped it. When it came time to put the songs together for this EP, I felt like it was missing this song, so I gave it one more go, coming at it from a different angle, and the song came to life.
That’s a real emotional closer. Is there a story behind it?
Absolutely. I listen to albums top to bottom because I think song order tells a story and I created an entire fictional story for this album. Track one, “Ophelia,” drops us in the midst of a relationship between two lovers who are in bed and one is comforting, and concerned about, the other who feels like the weight of the world is on them. Then we have the Beyonce song ["XO"] before track three, “Give Me A Reason To Stay”, which is the lullaby they sing to one another. Track four, “Come Down,” is where one of the couple wakes and realizes if they’re comforting the other, who is going to comfort them and “Hurry” [watch the lyric video HERE] is about both of them needing to hear the other say "I love you" in order to keep the relationship moving. “The Break” is the last chapter of the relationship where through no fault of their own, they are driven apart. It’s a sad story but a beautiful story about loved that has to be told because if you only tell happy ones you never appreciate them.
So, is this record born from personal experience?
The album is 99% autobiographical, but it is not all drawn from the same relationships. “Ophelia” is about something more current, while “The Break” was written about a break-up from the perspective of a previous partner, and “Hurry”, which was not actually written about a love interest, is about friendship where someone needed to hear they were loved in an encouraging way.
As the title, The Fall seems to capture the essence of the album.
I had that title for forever. I have this thing where every album has to have the article "the” followed by a word. Additionally, I like when words have multiple meanings, so that you’re not exactly sure what someone is talking about. If you listen to the songs they speak about going into a season of dying or rebirth which to me, is how autumn is. You leave summer and see it get colder and the leaves change and if you haven’t been around the block long enough, you don’t know spring is coming. It’s the cycle of things and I wanted to line that up with the time of year and have it have multiple meanings.
And the artwork?
The artwork is a reference to the fall in the Garden of Eden, but at the same time, it's a reference to the lovers from a specific tarot card. The couple has their back to the title because they still think they’re lovers - they have no idea that their winter is approaching, and that spring may not blossom for them.
Finally, you are Brooklyn-based. Do you play out in the city often?
I play mostly outside of NY, which is weird. The kind of music I do is not that popular here in the city, which has become more of a rock and roll and DJ-laptop kind of town again. I will do some release shows after the first of the year at a venue in Brooklyn and have some other shows as well.
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