B&L: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?
Harrison Goodale: I’m a Whale. I like to cruise around the depths of the ocean. It’s more of a lifestyle than an association for me.
B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
Goodale: Ever since I can remember, I have been surrounded by music. I grew up with my family having impromptu dance parties in the living room to music like the Beatles, Van Morrison, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, The Band, and so many others. When I took up bass in 5th grade initially it was to fit in because all of my other friends and younger sister at the time had just joined an orchestra program in my hometown. So of course I was going to play something, and bass just happened to be the last instrument the teacher needed for the orchestra. It was love at first sight. Bass is pretty much the only instrument I’ve played my whole life. I seek music, especially group performance, because I enjoy being a part of a collaboration. It may be due to the fact that I grew up as a bass player, where I’m more often than not a part of a combined effort. It’s interesting to me to figure out how to fit into what everyone else is playing, to leave space for others, to know what melodies or groove to support. All the while, keeping in mind that we have to present a song with a clear emotional direction. So I enjoy creating music because it connects me not only to the people I’m performing with, but also with the audience. I love talking to people about their show impressions because everyone has a different emotional reaction to what they hear. It gets me fired up to have conversations like that.
B&L: Was there a moment or experience that led you to try your hand at making this your life? What keeps you inspired to keep going?
Goodale: It was around my junior year of high school that I decided that I was going to try my best to make music my career. It was my first time auditioning for the Allstate Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut. Up to that point I pretty much was the only bass player around so I got into most things without much effort. Allstate opened up my eyes. The kids there were on a completely different level, and I knew that if I wanted to do this I needed to dedicate way more of my time to it. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do since then. Throughout college I basically holed up in a practice room, and joined as many different university groups as I could. I think what inspires me to keep going is the fact that I believe hard work gets rewarded. You may not always know how or when, but if you put in the work, things will fall into place.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show? What do you look or hope for as you step foot on that stage?
Goodale: I think what makes a great show is being able to present a clear emotional arc. To be able to take the audience on a journey with you from the moment you step out on stage to the last notes. That’s what we hope for. A part of that is having surprises to keep the audience engaged, but to present them in a way that isn’t totally jarring. We are still working on it, and probably will be for the rest of our lives.
B&L: The last time we spoke you were going by the name Poor Old Shine. Why the name change? How’d you land on Parsonsfield?
Goodale: Well, it’s a long story, but essentially unbeknownst to us, “poor old shine” is an antiquated term for shoeshine. It is a little obscure, but we decided that rather than try and make an argument, we’d just simply change the name. We decided on Parsonsfield because it was the town in Maine where we recorded our first record and also met our drummer Erik. It marked a turning point in our sound, and we felt like a new band. We also wanted to get away from being placed in a genre simply based on our name before anyone heard our music. It gives us more creative freedom to take our music where we want.
B&L: Okay, let’s talk about the latest record, “Afterparty.” It’s been out for a bit… What were the goals when you set out to make it?
Goodale: The goal of that E.P. was to present a collection of mostly cover songs that you would expect to hear us play at a party or one of our live shows. In fact, we had been playing most of these songs for over a year before we recorded the E.P. We wanted to capture how we perform these songs live. The motto of the session was “to make known that a good time was had by all.”
B&L: Is there a new record in store? How does “Afterparty” influence the new set of party jams?
Goodale: Yes! There is a new record! It’s set to come out in the fall. Its called “Blooming Through the Black.” I don’t think that “Afterparty” influenced the new set of jams that much. My reasoning for that is Canada. After recording the E.P., we were hired to write and perform original music for a new play called “the Heart of Robin Hood.” This show took us to Boston, then to Toronto for a six month run. After being in the dry, close sounding world of in-ear monitors we needed a change. So when we set out to write this record, we found a reverberant space in an old Axe-Factory in Collinsville, CT. The room was the opposite of the theater. You could drop a penny and would have no idea where the sound was coming from.
B&L: What’s the state of acoustic music? It seems to be flourishing in the contemporary musical landscape. What does Parsonsfield add to the soundtrack that is acoustic, roots driven music in 2016?
Goodale: Acoustic music is alive and well, but I don’t think it ever really went away. Artists like Bruce Springsteen had a lot of acoustic driven material. I’m thinking specifically of “Tunnel of Love.” It’s featured much more on pop songs now though, I will agree. I mean, on my long drives back from rehearsal I can’t say how many times I’ve heard that Justin Beiber song where it’s just his voice and a clean guitar. Whether or not it’s a sample, who knows, but it’s an acoustic sound. I think that bands like the Avett Brothers, the Lumineers, and Mumford and Sons were part of that new wave of acoustic popularity. It has helped bands like us via “trickle-down” because it brought banjos, and “string band” instrumentation into mainstream popularity on a scale that hasn’t been done before. I like to think that with our new album we continue to evolve the “acoustic roots” genre. We feature a lot of traditional acoustic instrumentation: banjo, guitar, upright bass, and drums. However, we try and play them in very untraditional ways, as well as pairing them with synths and other pedals. So while we have someone playing banjo, we may also have someone else at the same time bowing a guitar. We are all about exploring different textures and colors in our arrangements.
B&L: You guys have a pretty raucous live show. What do you enjoy about performing? What do you enjoy about the energy that permeates from an engaged, attentive crowd?
Goodale: I enjoy being a part of a group effort. Everyone works together to create the best piece of art that we can. It doesn’t matter if we are performing for 5 people or 300. You give it your all for those 5 people who came to your show because they believe that music is a way to feel connected. It’s a personal experience, but at the same time it is also communal. I enjoy playing for audiences that are engaged because I get something back too. It’s not a one-way street. Sometimes when you perform, you wonder if people are making a connection with what you are playing. When you look out and see people dancing, or grooving, or even smiling, you know that it’s working.
B&L: What’s one tune (or, heck, a couple) that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written yourself?
Goodale: Any song by the Beatles. But specifically I really enjoy, “I’m Looking Through You,” off of “Rubber Soul.”
B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you gentleman perform at the Stone Church this Saturday? It’s a church. Any call-and-response gospel tunes in the cannon?
Goodale: I think you can expect a wide range of energy. We will play some pretty rocking tunes and also some that will float along. It has been awhile since we have done some of our gospel covers, but you never know.
B&L: Question number 12. If you could have a dozen of anything, what would that dozen of something be?
Goodale: I think I would take 12 acres of land somewhere in Vermont or upstate New York. Even if it’s just to wander around.
Parsonsfield will make a stop at the Stone Church on Saturday, May 7th in what is sure to be a rousing evening of porch-stompin’ tunes. For tickets and further information, click here.