Eight (and a half) Questions with PAUL TODD from Social Station
1 TNFTV: Social Station seems to have a distinctive, identifiable sound, and yet one that's familiar and approachable as well. Is that just what comes out of the songwriting process and creative expression?
PT: When it comes to our sound, Social Station can’t help but draw from a well of pretty serious themes and expression. Aiming for bright and upbeat songs yields something inevitably dark. Social Station just seems to default to melancholy. Accepting that fate, we have found a very comfortable place in the dark wave and post-punk genres. I am not sure what would happen if we tried to write darker music, not sure where that would go.
2 TNFTV: Is Social Station a prolific band? How quickly do song ideas arrive and full songs come to fruition?
PT: The first thought that comes to mind for our song writing process is akin to planting a tree. The initial idea for a song is pretty much a spontaneous creation, a lyric, melody, chord progression, drum pattern, riff, and so on. Once that idea gets going everything else seems to fall into place and take root. Then, we tend to live with the song for a long time before the song finally takes shape. For our new album, most of the songs have evolved for years before getting to their current form. A song like Hesitate has lyrics and melodies that have stuck with me for over 10 years. At this point, my mind is like a field of ideas growing and evolving, and I very much take a long view of getting these expressions out. Performing new material live seems to be the only way to really refine songs. Crowd reactions are certainly humbling and immediate feedback to what is working. Playing our new material for the past year made recording the new album really easy.
3 TNFTV: Do you have "favorite tracks" or songs that you can identify as particular stand outs or are you attached to all your finished pieces of work?
PT: I’d say I’m pretty well attached to all of our finished pieces of work. The biggest challenge for me is letting a song go. At each stage of Social Station’s progression, from bedroom project to local shows, regional shows to national tours, I see new potential and possibilities for everything we have done. I am really excited to share the latest incarnations of songs like Until Today is Tomorrow and Hands on the Ground. Recording and touring with Jacob these past couple of years, we have really locked in to a sensibility and cohesion that has breathed new life into many songs. Its tempting to redo everything but I have to resist and accept that some work had its time and place. After avoiding the question, I’d say my favorite track to play live is Awfully Pretty. Its has been with me for five years and I still get the same rush of emotion from the moment I first recorded the tracks.
4 TNFTV: How are you feeling about your upcoming album in terms of band growth and songwriting evolution, and is Fall 2020 still the target for the release?
PT: We are really excited to join Young and Cold Records for the release of our upcoming album. The release date is now set for September 15, 2020, with vinyl shipping on October 15th. This album very much feels like a debut, at the same, culminates five years of hard work. Everything seemed to really come into focus when Social Station became a two-piece, not to mention a father son duo. All of the constraints to pursuing creative expression and opportunities to grow seemed to fall away. We share so many sensibilities, from classical music understanding to an appreciation for bands like The Smiths and Joy Division, and every tour has been an amazing adventure.
5 TNFTV: Would the live/performing presentation of Social Station ever included more musicians than just Paul and Jacob?
PT: Social Station in the early days consisted of myself and Spencer Kydd, and a number of other musicians coming and going. We finally locked in with Alexander Minx on drums and really started to get our music out there. Unfortunately, Spenser became chronically ill, and Alex and I did our best to hold things together while Spenser was in and out of treatments. Our last show with Spenser turned out to be an outdoor concert that we filmed. That night he went to the emergency room and discovered his illness had returned. Jacob Sebastian filled in for Spenser for several months to carry on as a trio, and then made the tough decision to forego live drums, and never look back. Jacob and I played more shows in 18 months than the previous 4 years.
6 TNFTV: Are there any musicians or producers that you'd like to collaborate with if given the opportunity?
PT: I’d have to say the two artists we’d love to work with, that happen to be on Young and Cold Records, are Twin Tribes and Rosegarden Funeral Party. We are fortunate to have shared the stage with them on the West Coast. I personally feel we share many of the same inspirations and they have such a positive attitude.
7 TNFTV: What can you share about past experiences of Social Station touring? Any memorable gigs?
PT: Touring really is an adventure that takes such massive preparation and energy to pull off. Several shows immediately come to mind. Playing the Out from the Shadows festival in Portland, Oregon was amazing for us. The reaction to our performance still carries us forward to this day, and the other artists were so inspiring. Twin Tribes and Light Asylum just blew us away. Following that festival, we headed down to California and played a very memorable show with Rosegarden Funeral Party and Violator in Oakland. It was pure joy watching Leah Lane command the stage. As far as cities go, we can’t wait to get back to New Orleans. The Goat is an amazing venue, and we’d jump at any chance to hang with the band Trashlight. One more show that sticks with us, is the kick off to our summer tour in 2018 at the now defunct Rock and Roll Hotel in DC. We opened for She Wants Revenge and was our debut performance as a two-piece. That show definitely cemented our current direction.
8 TNFTV: Is Social Station a uniquely DC-based band or could the band thrive and succeed in just about any metro area?
PT: While we call the DC area our home, Social Station has always connected with other metro areas, and tried to consistently play other areas such as New York City. With the upcoming album release, we have sights set on playing as many cities as we can, and heading over to Europe. Unfortunately, like everyone else, our touring plans are on hold due to the pandemic. We were slated to play a festival in Germany this November, but now rescheduled for November 2021.
8.5 TNFTV: Are there any thoughts you'd like to share with followers?
PT: Find your passion. We live and breathe music, and our passion fills us with energy at the best of times and worst of times. We wouldn’t have it any other way.