Forming in 2000, Particle is a pioneer of the Livetronica music scene. They’re upcoming show at The Cabooze on April 18th will continue their tradition of combining a full light show and multimedia production with their signature mix of high-energy dance music, rock, and funk.
Although Particle’s original rhythm section recently announced their departure from the band, they gave fellow founding member, Steve Molitz (keys), their full support to carry the torch along with longtime guitarist Ben Combe and an exciting new rhythm section consisting of bassist Clay Parnell (Brothers Past), and drummer Brandon Draper (Quixotic). The revitalized lineup has written and recorded over a dozen new songs together, and will no doubt give Particle People the full Particle experience!
Particle – 4/18/14
917 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Beat Mpls contributor, Guy Strauss, caught up with Particle’s Steve Molitz to talk about Particle’s current tour, Minneapolis, festivals, and Shaq Fu! Read the exclusive interview below:
TBM: How’s the tour going, are you guys down in San Diego?
Steve: Tour is going great! Ya, ya were driving on our way to San Diego right now, the tour is going great. We just had a big LA show at the Troubadour, MidAmerica music Hall in San Francisco, Vegas. We’re definitely feeling great man, having a lot of fun.
TBM: That sounds pretty awesome man, the last time I saw you guys was down at Aura.
Steve: Ya, Aura was a blast, and now we’re driving along side the Pacific Ocean, getting a little inspiration for tonight’s show.
TBM: Very nice, Can you tell us a little bit about how Particle got started back in 2000, and a little bit about your following the Particle People?
Steve: I knew original the bass player Eric before he moved out to LA. Uh, so, I, I’m from LA, and Eric moved out there. We use to jam together, and then he was jamming with Aaron, the original drummer. Through those guys, eventually the three of us came together through the LA music scene and found an amazing guitar player named Dave Simmons, and our first show was actually on a boat cruising around San Francisco.
TBM: That’s really awesome!
Steve: Ya ya, our first show was when Phish announced they were taking a hiatus in 2000. Umm ya, we played like a late night boat party cruising around San Francisco Bay. Uh and we really had no intentions of forming a band full time. We got asked to play this special event and we kinda put the band together just to play that show, and we had such a great time. I remember standing on stage by our instruments we had played and we all looked at each other like, I think there’s something here. We should keep this going, we should keep this band going. A lot of twists and turns and changes over the years, but fourteen years later, here we are on tour.
TBM: Well that’s awesome man. My buddy’s dad gave me Launchpad way back in 2004, when we were jamming and came up and said you guys should listen to this. So, I’m a long time listener.
Steve: Oh, cool. That’s really really cool. That album came out in 2004, and we’re actually putting the finishing touches on a new studio album right now. So, that should be finished this summer and released on our fall tour.
Steve: Definitely stay tuned to Particlepeople.com for all the info, and to answer your other question: somewhere along the line our fans kinda started calling themselves Particle People, and we loved the idea because we’re all Particle People. The fans and the musicians and everyone in the scene, and we sorta like the idea that a particle, depending on your perspective, can be a small piece of something really big, or it can be a planet. If your perspective is the galaxy and it can be you know one grain of sand on the beach, or ya know going all the way down the molecular level. It can be open to interpretation as our people, so individually and collectively, so we kinda like the idea that particle people is all of us and none of us at the same time.
TBM: That’s an awesome philosophy; we can all be something in the universe. So, your wikipedia page says a lot about how you guys having been touring since 2000 with bands like The Disco Biscuits and STS9, a lot of people contribute your funk, jazz fusion into forming what we now call “Livetronica.” How do you guys feel about that, and what do you think of the future of your genre of music?
Steve: I think it’s been a really exciting evolution. At the time we started playing this “Livetronica” music it was just something we were interested in, but there wasn’t a scene for it. I had never heard of bands like Tetra 9 or The Disco Biscuits when we first started. The Internet wasn’t as of a powerful tool back then. So, after the scene evolved we quickly heard of the handful of bands that were doing this. It was really unique you could count the amount of bands doing this “Livetronica” on one hand back then.
TBM: Oh ya, it was really small.
Steve: It was an exciting time, and we all had our own take on it. Each of the bands evolved their own sound in their own way. You know it’s just really been fun to watch over the years, and now it’s such a big genre, and it’s taken on a bunch of sub genres. Where now it’s really common to see kind of a duo where one person is playing a live instrument and the other person has a laptop, and one is a producer playing beats. It’s kind of sub divisions within this sub division, its kinda of a fun and exciting thing, we’ll see where it goes from here. I think the scene is definitely ready for a change, the “Livetronica” thing had a nice run, I feel like the DJ/Producer thing had a nice run, and I feel like there is probably another wave coming. I’m very excited to see what that is. We’re certainly excited and we certainly integrate elements of both of those things. We’ve never been a band that used all program beats or laptops or anything like that. On the other hand, we’ve never been a straight rock band that played traditional songs. [We’re] kind of a hybrid where we’re a fusion of funk and rock and electronic dance music. At the end of the day, I think our sound is always about tapping into the raw energy and harness dance music, and sorta loosing yourself in the moment, and really be free to follow the music into where ever it takes you and that goes for the musicians and the fans. We’re on this improvisational journey, just as much as the fans are every night and it’s a cool experience. The way we think about it is throwing up a circus tent when we come into town and whatever happens, it’s there and we’re creating our own little world and we’re all in it together. That’s kind how we approach our live show.
TBM: Well that’s what you guys excel at is this improv feel with your songs, and that’s what makes these sets unique and what really makes people lose it.
Steve: Oh absolutely, and the shows have all been really different from night to night. A lot of our songs are big open canvases that just allow us to create these different improvisations that let us go in a lot of a different directions from night to night.
TBM: So, how long has been since you’ve been in Minneapolis?
Steve: Um that’s a good question. I mean it’s hard to say, I love the Twin Cities, and I play there all the time. I feel like I’m there a few times a year, I really love the fans up there, and I have a lot of friends there and great bands.
TBM: it’s a great town.
Steve: Oh ya, it’s an incredible music town, and I’m trying to remember the last time Particle was there, and I’d probably have to say it must have been last year. The Cabooze has always been one of our absolute favorite places to play. To me that’s one of our kinds of homes away from home. Whenever I get there, it’s just a place where we see a lot of familiar faces and we feel like we have friends and family there. So, we’re really looking forward to that show.
TBM: That’s definitely my favorite venue in the city.
Steve: It’s an incredible room.
TBM: Small and intimate. You really get to feel the crowd and you’re right there next to the band, so it’s a lot of fun. How many times have you guys played The Cabooze?
Steve: Oh quite a few, I’m not really sure. I feel like saying you know a dozen or so. That’s one of those rooms we’ve definitely played a lot, it’s been a home base for us.
TBM: Well I’m super excited to see you guys tear up my personal favorite venue in the cities. Any hints on what we can expect there, are you guys going to drop a “Have a Cigar” cover like you did at Aura?
Steve: Oh, that might not be a bad idea. Ya, we’ve got some new songs we’ve been working into rotation. We debuted our version of “Cheap Sunglasses” a couple nights a go. We also have a bunch of new original tunes, that we’ll have up in up in running by that time, maybe we can save a few to debut at that show… [The Cabooze] being one of our favorite places to play. And of course our lighting designer, Will Signmen, is from the Twin Cities, and has ran lights at The Cabooze over the years. He’ll be in the house that night, with his full lighting rig. We’re just waiting to freak out, the fans in Minneapolis are really just some of our favorite to play for, it’s just a fun crowd. You know?
TBM: Always a fun crowd in Minneapolis, very rowdy.
Steve: Oh ya, true music lovers. Who just completely loose themselves in the moment and love to have a great time, love to get down and we’re really looking forward to that.
TBM: The Cabooze is definitely my festival family home, and we’ll all be in full force. So, was this your first time at Aura? This last year, I know you guys have play Wannee a few times.
Steve: Ya, that was our first time at Aura. We played The Mushroom stage at Wannee a whole bunch and that’s an amazing place to play, such a good vibe there. At Aura we played The Porch stage. That was really cool also. If fans want to check out our light show they can see our full Aura set on Youtube. Get taste for what’s in store for the Minneapolis show.
TBM: So, you guys have been tearing up the festivals forever, you’ve played Bonnaroo countless times. What’s your personal favorite fest to play?
Steve: Bonnaroo is always a fun one, and we did a lot of really cool things there. One time we brought in a local gospel choir from Tennessee, you know from a really small church in Tennessee, we brought them in and we did a big Funk and Soul routine, where we had this sixteen piece choir on stage singing back ups for songs. It was really cool. So, the Bonnaroo shows are all memorable. Some of the late nights we’ve gotten epic six hour marathon sets. Austin City Limits is another one we love, Coachella, Lollapalooza, uh ya we’ve really had some great times. One festival I’ve always loved is the Bella series.
TBM: Oh ya! Bella out at Harmony Park?
Steve: Ya, all the Minneapolis festivals, Bella, Harvest all the different things that you do out there. I mean, I’ve never been to Wisconsin; I’ve always wanted to go to South Side because I’m a big fan Apple Robinson and his crew. So, hopefully one day I’ll get out there and check that out. Your festival and the club scene is just so incredible. Whenever people ask me what the best music scenes are, I always say Twin Cities, Colorado, East Coast… we get into these really tight knit cities all up in New York and Philly.
TBM: So, you guys are big Harmony Park fans then?
Steve: Oh ya, it’s not even about the festival, ya know the name of each specific festival, they’ve all been, you know it’s the same thing with Wannee and Aura, it’s that park the Suwannee Park is just such an amazing place similarly Harmony Park, I feel like we have just amazing times there.
TBM: Ya, Harmony Park is definitely one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever been too. Same with the Suwannee. I was just blown away when we got there for Aura.
TBM: So, what’s up on Particle’s festival season this year? Where are we going to see you guys at?
Steve: Well we just announced that we’re playing the Allman Brother’s Peach Fest, so you can check us out there. We’ll be at Catskill Chill in New York, that’s another great fest. We’re going to be making some really cool announcements about upcoming fests soon. Best thing thing to do is check us out at all the usual places: Twitter, Facebook, and our website, Particlepeople.com. We’re adding new things everyday. So, just stay tuned to that.
TBM: So lets talk about one of those crazy random bits of news on the ParticlePeople page. Your collaboration with Shaq.
Steve: There’s a sequel to an old game being made called Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn. I had scored a game last year for the production company that is making the game for Shaq. When they decided to make the game, they called and asked if I’d be interested in doing the sound track, so we got together. Shaq owns a bunch of movie theaters, so we went out and met at one of his theaters. He’s such a creative and fun guy. He has a million ideas per minute, a really fun and energetic kind of person to work with. So, there’s a really good spirit behind the game, and the production team has done some really great stuff. I played a bunch of games they’ve made, most recently the Halo Ten Year Anniversary Combat Edition. It’s a really cool game. It’s a great team and Shaq’s fun creative energy is behind it. If people want to get involved with it they can head to the Indiegogo. You can have your likeness created as a character in the game, record a voice over for one of the characters, or even do a motion capture of signature kung fu move. There’s all kinds of rewards there. Keyboard lessons with me, a private Particle concert, a pick up basketball game with Shaq. It’s just a fun way to get the fans involved. So, check out the indiegogo Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn page. I think there’s about two weeks left in the campaign so check it out.
TBM: Sweet, so did you get a chance to play some basketball against Shaq?
Steve: Not yet, but I’m hoping that happens.
TBM: You going to go up against the big man?
Steve: Although, I’m not sure how good I’d do against Shaq… I go up to his Knee caps.
TBM: Ya, he’s a giant
Steve: Ya, he’s a pretty big dude.
TBM: Well thanks for doing this interview. I’m really looking forward to your show at The Cabooze.
Steve: Me too man, we’re really stoked, and we’ll see ya down there. Come say hello. We have a bunch of stuff we designed for this tour. Actually there is an artist in Minneapolis, who designed our spring tour poster. It’s this limited edition silkscreen print, so definitely check those out at the show, and you’ll be supporting a Minneapolis artist.
Intro by Alex Stahlmann
Interview conducted and transcribed by Guy Strauss
Photos and music compliments of Particle