jason kundrath interviews national rockers The Parlor Mob on the eve of their return home to The Stone Pony on Memorial Day weekend …
Rath On Record #9
Artist: The Parlor Mob
File Under: retro-rock for now people
Homebase: Red Bank, N. J.
Players: Mark Melicia — vocals; David Rosen — guitar; Paul Ritchie — guitar; Anthony Chick — bass; Sam Bey — drums
Hailing from Red Bank, N.J., The Parlor Mob is a five-piece band that began stunning unsuspecting audiences in 2004 with their powerful, dynamic and authentic take on the classic rock model. Their sound expertly eschews the musical influence of the last 35 years, and dives headlong into sonic territory made famous by some of the greatest bands in history. A bold and risky move, for sure — especially considering the fact that singer Mark Melicia’s voice at time’s bears an uncanny resemblance to the sound of Led Zeppelin-era Robert Plant. The Parlor Mob, however, happen to have the talent and the charisma to own it, as anyone who has ever seen them live will testify. In fact, their jaw-dropping live shows earned them the Asbury Music Award for Best Live Band. Twice.
The music industry took notice, and in 2006, the band signed with Capitol Records. The deal, however, went south shortly thereafter in the wake of Capitol’s merger with Virgin Records. But the very next year, the band signed with the venerable heavy rock label, Roadrunner Records, and soon began recording tracks for their debut album And You Were A Crow. Released in 2008, Crow featured many strong tracks and earned the band fans all over the globe, but it also contained moments of unabashed tribute to their influences — moments that undercut the band’s unique identity. After nearly two years of touring in support of their debut, the band announced in Summer 2010 that they were preparing to record their second studio album. Recorded at Wire Recording in Austin, Texas, with producer Matt Radosevich, the still-untitled album will be released on Roadrunner later this year. And a series of promo videos from the studio have been building excitement, painting a picture of a deeper, more expansive and perhaps career-defining album. And the clips of new Parlor Mob music throughout these promos support this idea, featuring killer riffs, heavy grooves, and a variety of tasty tones. [For more pictures and videos from The Parlor Mob's recordings check out their Tumblr site.]
As the band prepares for their upcoming performance at the famed Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J., this Saturday night, I caught up with guitarist Paul Ritchie to talk about the intense process behind the making of their new album, the benefits of playing live on little-to-no sleep, and the joy of friendship with Lenny Kravitz.
‘Rath On Record: Your Roadrunner Records debut And You Were A Crow came out back in 2008 when George W. Bush was still in the White House. Why did it take the band this long to record a follow up?
Paul Ritchie: Well, I have to say that it was because of our extensive touring. We had toured for two straight years on that album which didn’t really leave us too much time to do much of anything else. When we finally had a chance to relax and begin the writing process, it was January of 2010.
ROR: What’s one of your favorite memories from those two years?
PR: The first time we played Lollapalooza. We drove all night from a show in Minnesota arrived in Chicago at 6 a.m. We loaded into the grounds at 8 a.m. and played at 11 a.m. completely exhausted. It was one of the best performances we’ve had as a band. We played in Camden, N.J., the following day at noon.
ROR: A statement from the band on your website described the road to the new record as “extremely intense and emotionally heavy.” Was the process emotionally intense for you?
PR: Yes definitely. I believe It was emotionally intense for all of us. Writing is always intense process, whether it is intense emotions of happiness or frustration. It’s hard not to put pressure on yourself or each other when you want the best.
ROR: How was the writing process different this time around?
PR: We tried to approach the writing process in a couple of different ways.
We spent more time writing individually, then we would take those ideas and collaborate as a band. Then we also had the times where we would get together and just jam.
ROR: In your series of promo videos for the new album, your producer — Matt Radosevich — describes it as a “big leap forward.” In what ways has The Parlor Mob changed since 2008?
PR: I think maturity and growing up. I don’t think any of us planned to make different incarnations of our debut album we just aren’t those kind of people. I think all of us as a band and artists have spent our whole career growing and progressing. We want to remain fresh, and not be scared to try new things.
ROR: Your last album drew more than a few comparisons to Led Zeppelin — both favorable and critical. Do you expect similar comparisons with the release of your forthcoming album?
PR: I don’t expect the same comparisons but I do expect comparisons. I feel like there is just no way around that. I think the only way I’ve found to avoid that is to just not read any reviews.
ROR: You recorded the new record at Wire Recording in Austin, Texas, a city your drummer Sam calls your “home away from home.” Would you ever consider leaving the Garden State behind and relocating there?
PR: Maybe if I didn’t suffer from terrible cedar allergies, I was sick the last three weeks we made the record. Sam and Mark would never move there anyways because they’re surfers. I love New Jersey.
ROR: What’s it like being on a record label that is also home to Kiss, Nickelback and Lenny Kravitz? Do you guys all hang out?
PR: Yeah, I pick up Lenny, Gene, and the boys in my Altima and we cruise down to our favorite Jersey Shore points. Most of all it’s good to know I got friends to call when I need to borrow money.
ROR: What can the hometown crowd expect from your show this Saturday night at The Stone Pony?
PR: A very long set with a lot of new material and a lot of old. It’s gonna be very fun.