Hope and melancholy lay side by side in the sepia-toned, folk-pop bed Paul Schalda has made.
In Pablo, a New York five-piece made up of two sets of brothers, including Paul’s sibling, Will, on piano and vocals, and Paul’s wife, Margaret, Schalda, formerly of indie-rockers AWEK, uses his frayed vocals to wring out a lifetime’s worth of sadness and dreams in spare, acoustic country downers and beautiful, rolling, piano-based rock that soars and swoops like a hawk that often meet together in the same song.
Generating a great deal of positive press, Half The Time is the band’s beguiling debut. It demands your attention. (Click here to read Goldmine’s online-only review of Half The Time!)
Goldmine: With your wife singing harmonies and your brother on keyboards, plus Michael and William Strandberg on guitars and bass and drums, respectively, there seems to be an emphasis on family in the band. Did the makeup of the band come by design or by chance, and how does having so many people who are related in the group affect the band’s dynamics?
Paul Schalda: A bit of both. My band Awek and Will’s band the Realistics broke up
round the same time, so he said he’d help me out with my solo project. Mike
and Brian didnt join til December, 2005. Family is very important.
GM: Does it make easier or harder to get work done?
PS: Definitely easier.
GM: Half The Time was re-released in 2006. It seems to have multiple lives. What do you like about it most?
PS: That it feels like an album to me, not just a bunch of songs
GM: I was really struck by the down-home blues of the opener, “Wall St.,” and how the song segues into kind of an old-time folk or gospel kind of feel, before growing heavy and noisy at the end. With this kind of music, it seems like its hard to surprise listeners who’ve heard so much of it over the years. How did you come up with the changes, and was there a conscious decision to kind of give listeners a few doors to go through?
PS: The song just came about. I really wanted to keep the opener
quiet, put the focus on the vocals. You always want to keep them
GM: “Loser Crew” is a really touching song. That delicate interplay of piano and acoustic guitar in the quiet parts paints such a lovely, bittersweet backdrop for your lyrics. Talk about how that song came together.
PS: I wrote that song years ago. I recorded it once without Will on
it. The piano really fills in that song nicely, I guess ’cause we hardly
use a bass. That the low end of the piano can sometimes come off warmer than
GM: It kind of reminds me of the best of Damien Jurado. Is he an influence?
PS: Funny thing you say. The last tour I did, I opened up with his
“Rehearsals [For Departure]” song of [Rehearsals For Departure]. I saw him in Seattle when we played the
KEXP New Year’s party. He was there chilling with jeremy enigk. I didn’t have
the balls to introduce myself.
GM: The choice of covering The Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” is an interesting one, with that gently pounding piano. What was it about the original that you liked and why did you think it would be a good fit for Pablo?
PS: That record is one of my favorites of all time, “O and O”. I felt like
the album need something with just piano and vocals.
GM: William seems to have really good instincts for piano parts and where to place them within the const