Interview by Scott Preston
Hailed as one of the pioneers of livetronica and an unstoppable musical force on the live music circuit, Particle is evidence of the euphoric transcending energy that emulates from a wildly synergistic band at their peak. Nearly a thousand live shows in their early years — many of which are widely recognized as being among the most epic jam scene shows of the past 20 years (i.e. Six hour marathon continuous late night set, Bonnaroo 2003; “Also Sprach Zarathustra – 2001” featuring Phish’s Trey Anastasio and GRAMMY Award-winning pianist Eumir Deodato, Hammerstein Ballroom 2005; “The Other One” with Phil Lesh, La Zona Rosa 2005) — have readied Particle for this milestone moment and next chapter of releasing their much-anticipated follow-up studio effort to their highly influential debut album, Launchpad (produced by rock legend Tom Rothrock).
Accelerator is the consummation of a fiery rock band engulfed in a world of analog synths along with the latest digital production techniques. Initially captivating fans across the nation with inventive manipulations of exclusively live instruments, Particle in 2018 stays true to form while also incorporating cutting-edge music production software to add modern EDM layers and textural depth to their compositions. Accelerator exhibits a fierce quartet built to quash any preconceived notions of what this band is capable of with nine jaw-dropping performances. Upon hearing their latest works, fans will know that Particle is and remains the same uniquely compelling force that turned so many heads so quickly fourteen years ago. (from press release)
Jamband News: I see the band is getting ready for an extensive October tour.
Steve Molitz: Yes we are very excited to be going out on an album release tour. We just can’t wait to play all this new music for people.
Jamband News: I noticed that there was 14 years in between albums. I’m sure that wasn’t in the grand plan, but was there any reason for that?
Steve Molitz: You can’t always predict how things are going to turn out. There are a lot of twists and turns. The band members in Particle are involved in a lot of different things. It was really all about timing between the different projects. I was touring with Phil Lesh and Friends, Robby Krieger, Rich Robinson and still touring with Particle. It takes a lot of time and energy to make an album and I wanted to make sure we could do it justice. It wasn’t something I wanted to rush. You are actually the first person I’m mentioning this too, there were other songs and demos that were recorded and intended for new albums but the timing wasn’t right. Once this lineup started touring and playing music I could feel a shift artistically and creatively and it was time to record the follow album to Launchpad. Our joke was that we wanted to beat Guns N Roses for how long it took them to record Chinese Democracy.
Jamband News: So tell me about the writing and recording process for the new album Accelerator.
Steve Molitz: It was a real collaborative effort. I wrote three of the songs, our bassist Clay wrote two, and the guitarist Mike wrote four. This really is a representation of the bands total sound and vision. Of course Kito’s drumming ties it all together. The recording process was definitely different because tools and technology has changed dramatically over the last 14 years. I also compose music for video games so I was able to use a lot of tools from my composing world and apply them to this album. So if you listen to songs like “Home Away From Home” or “Accelerator” you’ll hear elements that are a lot more cinematic and covers a wider tonal palette. We really tried to take advantage of modern studio techniques while still being true to the organic analog roots. There are a lot of songs that juxtapose modern elements where there are some programmed beats and a vocoder doing the vocals but you still have the live acoustic drum set. Then you are recording the whole thing in an old wooden barn with 30 foot high celings in Woodstock, NY. It was something we definitely set out to do, to create a merger between analog and digital.
Jamband News: You mentioned you work on video game scores. How did you get involved in that?
Steve Molitz: I really just fell into it. I was fortunate enough to have a few key people in the business that were fans of my music and gave me my start. You never know what will happen when you open one door that will lead to another and another. Before you know it you are so far down the rabbit hole that you are a video game composer. I first started doing it in 2006 with a song I wrote called “The American Dream” that was written for a game called “Scarface – The World Is Yours”. It was based on the classic Al Pacino film. Right before you called I was working on “World War Z” based on the film and the Max Brooks novel. As soon as we get off the phone here I’m going to go back to figuring out what it sounds like when you are fighting a thousand zombies who are chasing you through the streets of Moscow. What is really cool is that all the Particle guys have played on these soundtracks. We don’t publicize it too much but NBA Playgrounds, Shaq-Fu, Mud Runner and a few others that we made in the last year that Particle is featured on the soundtrack.
Jamband News: When the band is one the road what does the band do when you aren’t performing?
Steve Molitz: I will definitely be working on World War Z on this tour, backstage and in hotel rooms. We are all producers so the rest of the guys will be working on projects as well. Everybody in the band is constantly sitting around with guitars, keyboards and laptops. Mike our guitarist also has a great solo DJ project he does called Jail Break. We found out long ago that you have to go where the music takes you and figure out what its for later. When I’m working on a new song I don’t say is this for a video game or is this for Particle. I will create the song and present it to the other guys and if it resonates then we will work with it. We are in a really great place right now where we are sharing new music with each other on a daily basis. There was a groove that Clay sent over a couple days ago that we all loved. Even though its only an 8 bar demo I wrote back right away saying we should play it on tour. Which for most bands would be unthinkable. We will take it and through it to the wolves and see how fast it can run. By the end of tour it will have its legs and I think a song like that would be a candidate for our next studio album.
Jamband News: Are you already thinking about the next album?
Steve Molitz: We are already working on some songs for the next album. We won’t make you wait another 14 years for this next one. The truth is we probably had 3 albums worth of demos when we went in to the studio to record Accelerator. A bunch of the songs are really, really good and we can’t wait to record and play them. We had to draw the line somewhere so not all of them made it on this album. We probably already have half of an album worth of songs that I feel passionate about.
Jamband News: You are starting your October tour very soon. Are there are more shows in the works for beyond October?
Steve Molitz: Funny you should ask. We have been getting a lot of calls not that this new album is coming out. Promoters from parts of the country where we aren’t playing on this upcoming tour are reaching out to try and line up some shows for later in the year. We will have to see how it goes with everyone’s schedule, but I suspect we will be extending this tour or at least adding some select dates around the country.
Jamband News: Is there somewhere you would like to play that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Steve Molitz: I would like to play South America. We have been to Japan, but with this new album I would really like to get back there. The Japanese fans are so amazing and responsive. They have an amazing culture built around music and surprisingly jam music. Plus it would be a great excuse to eat the best sushi in the world.
Jamband News: Do you see the bands music being appreciated or interpreted in different ways depending the part of the world you are in?
Steve Molitz: Absolutely. I remember I played a concert in Germany and thought it was one of the best ones I ever played. While I was playing the crowd was staring, standing very rigid and intense. Nobody was really dancing. I was trying to figure out what was going wrong. The song would end and there would be thunderous applause. Its a different culture, they prefer to watch. At the end of the day music is the universal language and it crosses all barriers which is the beauty of it. Especially with a band like Particle where so much of the music is left up to interpretation. We leave room to allow people to fill in the blanks and assign any meaning that they want.
To see a comprehensive list of forthcoming Particle tour dates, please visit: particlepeople.com
Accelerator Track Listing:
2. All Night
3. Home Away From Home
4. Devil’s Work
8. Star City
9. Bravo Delta