Eric Gould: From Particle to Pink Talking Fish
As 2013 came to a close, Particle fans were given the bittersweet news that the band they knew and loved would be hitting the road harder than they had in years, albeit with a new lineup. Founding bassist Eric Gould and founding drummer Darren Pujalet would be stepping down as full time members of the livetronica outfit, with Brothers Past’s Clay Parnell taking over bass and Quixotic’s Brandon Draper joining the team on drums. While we already discovered Molitz’s take on the new incarnation of Particle, we recently caught up with Gould, who shared some of his thoughts on the band’s new direction. Gould also spoke with us about his latest project, Pink Talking Fish, a unique tribute act that reinterprets three titans of modern music—Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish.
So what can you say about the reshuffling of the Particle lineup?
What happened was for the past really five years now, we’ve still been a band but we haven’t been doing it on a full time capacity. We’ve just been going through some strong markets and just having some good shows. But we haven’t really been feeding the machine as much as it really needed to be. I love Particle with all my heart. It’s my baby. I formed the thing with these guys but it just came where Steve had a real strong desire not just to do Particle, but to really tour it hard. Going out for month-long tours and things like that. And that happened to coincide with me adopting a little girl from China and becoming a dad. So I was in a position where I wasn’t prepared to necessarily do that kind of touring and be away from my little girl for that long at a time. I had a conversation with Steve about it and basically it was one of those, “If you love something set it free” situations. I said Steve, “Listen man, you’ve got my blessing to go do this. I am happy to stay involved as an advocate, and pop in on shows as many times as I can but I can’t do the full capacity. But if this is what it’s going to take for Particle to resurge and to thrive then I’m not going to get in the way of doing that.”
The whole experience has been very positive. Darren was in the same position as me. He’s got twins on the way, and they’re due any day now. The drummer [Brandon Draper], is actually a great friend of mine that I had been playing music with on other projects over the past five years. I introduced him to Particle, so it’s kind of ironic that he’s now playing in the band while I’ve actually played with him longer than the Particle guys. But he’s perfect for the role in there and then Clay [Parnell] wound up coming in, and they could have not asked for someone better. I answered a some of his questions and helped him as he was getting ready. Once again just full on support, full on advocate.
It’s been really positive though. We did a nice hand off over the new year, during our show at The Cutting Room in New York City. Clay got up for the first time and I passed the bass off to him for a couple tunes. Since that I’ve already been up on stage in Boston for one show. There’s a couple more that we have scheduled, some festivals where I’m going to be hopping in. So even though I’ve technically left the band, with how it has gone I don’t think I’ll ever officially be leaving the band. I think I’m going to always be there in some capacity. Also on that note, just because I’m not doing the heavy touring with Particle anymore does not mean that I have any intentions of not being a heavy part of the music scene.
Was there any kind of hesitation on your part when Steve came to you with this idea? Was there any part of you that either wanted to join him on tour or maybe not let the thing go on without you?
Man I would love nothing more than to be out there and doing it but sometimes you have to zoom out at and look at the whole forest rather than one small piece of it. That just the way life is. You really have to look at all the goals you have. And one of my goals over this past period of time has been to be a dad and be there for my family on that end and that is something that has made the decision clear for me. I won’t say it’s easy, because it definitely isn’t easy. It’s a very heavy decision and a very emotional decision. But being away for weeks at a time from my little girl is just not in the cards. I don’t know if you’re a parent or not, but it’s just something that happens. I know a lot of musicians up there in the circuit that are parents and the majority of them, they do their touring in a shorter capacity. It’s getting in and getting out. Particle is at the point where it needs to road dog it really hard right now in order to resurge in the right way. So practically it was an easy decision, but emotionally it was a very hard decision.
With that in mind, I did this because of my love for Particle. I hope that the music fans out there who have been on the journey with us realize that—that the reason that this happened is so that Particle could be the best that it could be for the country and for the world and get out there and give the fans of the music what they deserve, which is regular stops all around as much as possible. It hasn’t been fair to the fans of Particle who love the music, who love to come out and dance to be doing as little as we’ve been doing it. So that’s really what it’s about. It’s not about the individuals. It’s about Particle as a whole.
You may have, to a degree, left Particle but you definitely have plans to occupy your time with some musical projects. Pink Talking Fish is your new Pink Floyd/Talking Heads/Phish tribute act and it sounds pretty interesting. Obviously those are three bands that have a lot of respect in this scene. What made you choose these bands to sort of combine into a single tribute act?
I lived in Kansas City for five years and, when I was in L.A. and doing Particle full time I was just in Particle, I didn’t really branch out. So when I moved out to Kansas City I got involved with a lot of other bands, some of which played a lot of covers and things like that. And I really enjoyed it. I had this idea probably a year and a half ago, just taking three of my favorite bands which are Pink Floyd, Phish and Talking Heads and taking these three bands and creating what I call hybrid tribute fusion and I didn’t know the phrase at the time but I basically just thought in my head, “What would it be like to really integrate these?” And until now I’ve written 99% of the set lists for Particle, it’s one of my favorite things to do in a band. So the first thing I did was sit down and write a setlist for what this would be and I looked at it and I flipped out. I was like, “Oh my god. This has to happen and I have to create this man.”
I launched the band around when I was moving back to New England, and now it’s currently a revolving cast of characters. Some of the Particle guys pop in every once in a while, but right now they’re busy so I’m utilizing some great players that are on the Northeast scene and just having an amazing time. We’ve done two runs in Colorado. The first run that we did there, I got it right away, the way that we design these combinations. The people just got it and I realized that this was taking three of the scene’s most beloved bands and doing something different and unique with them. It’s not just your average tribute band. This is a band that’s taking a song, taking the catalog and creating certain types of things through different types of combinations that make it fresh and exciting. The first time we played “You Enjoy Myself,” “On The Run” came out of the ambient section before the piano solo, and the Floyd fans really dug it. All of sudden there was this roar in the crowd, just this energy that went up because it seamlessly went in. It was the same hi-hat pattern. It’s very, very similar. So it just came up and then when it came down it was back to getting ready for the little melodies that led to the piano solo. It was just seamless and executed beautifully and the crowd just got it. It was the same with some of these grooves that just work out perfectly together. You know Talking Heads “Slippery People” and the Phish song “Sand,” we just inserted “Sand” right in the middle and the groove just never stopped. When it does that shift within it, the crowd loves it. It’s just so much fun.
I’m scratching the surface on all these ideas of what this band is, and everyone who is a part of it is just having so much fun with it. We’ve done two Colorado runs, a Northeast festival last year and we’re about to really introduce ourselves properly with a Spring tour that starts off at Wanee Festival, which is one of my favorite festivals to play. So I’m really excited about it. Then we’re hitting up the Northeast and just hitting a lot of the cities in that region. We’re really excited to do this and this really is my baby that I’ve been working on for a long time. It’s great to see it come to fruition and to see the positive response we’re getting from the musicians and from the audience who have been there.