Our latest interview is with Jonas Parmelee, bassist with the Providence, RI-based rock trio the Silks. Last American Band, the band’s 2013 debut was produced by Paul Westerberg and recalls the best qualities of 1970’s rock-and-roll — filled with songs as raucous as they are melodic.
Parmelee talked with us about the psychedelic side of Tweed and why Ben & Jerry’s ice cream reminds him of the Clash.
This is your first time playing the Tweed River Music Festival. What, if any, expectations do you have for the experience?
Seeing that Tweed River is in Vermont, I’m expecting it to be a very psychedelic experience, if you know what I mean. We’re really looking forward to playing Tweed. We’ve heard how great a time it is. Lots of great acts playing this year and we’re excited to be part of it.
Are there any particular artists that you are particularly excited to see perform at Tweed this year?
I’m really looking forward to seeing Handsome Jack and Lydia Loveless. We think of Handsome Jack as a sort of brothers-in-arms. They’re a great band and they can really hang. Totally love their tunes. Lydia is one of the best singers going if you ask me. I was really impressed when we opened for her this past winter. I’m also looking forward to Smith & Weeden and Township.
Vermont is a haven for outdoor sports and activities year-round. Are there any outdoor sports/activities that you especially enjoy when you’re not working?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but I’m a city boy through and through. Don’t get me wrong, I love being outside on a warm day and experiencing nature and all, I just don’t want it touching me. Bugs, dirt and poison ivy? No, thank you. As far as outdoor sports, I used to love playing in this adult baseball league. It was like little league for people in their 20s and 30s. My team was usually one of the worst but we had the coolest name. We were all rockers so we called ourselves the Death Hawks. It was lots of fun but I had to quit when my eyesight started getting bad. I also didn’t want to risk breaking any bones since I needed my hands to play the bass.
What is your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor?
Ben & Jerry’s? Love ’em all. The strawberry (or is it raspberry?) cheesecake with the graham cracker crust swirls in it will always have a special place in my heart. My super bitchy ex-girlfriend would never allow me to get that flavor just because she knew how much I loved it. Whichever kind of Ben & Jerry’s I was currently into, she would decide was the most disgusting thing to be found in the store. It was like that Clash song. “I’m all lost in the supermarket, I can no longer shop happily…”
Do you think differently about festival shows than you do about regular shows?
To me, performances are performances. Be it a bar, theater, private party, or festival stage, I really approach them all the same. I get anxious and lost in my mind and struggle to socialize for an hour or so before we hit the stage. Then I suddenly turn into a werewolf, except the first note struck is my full moon.
Tweed has always been a festival that is built around community. How would you describe the music community in your home town/town where you live? How has it, if at all, influenced your music?
The music community in Providence is fantastic. Lots of talent. It would be great if we weren’t bastard castoffs in our own town. Our true hometown diehards aren’t exactly the same folk you typically see out at local bands’ shows. I’m convinced the Providence music scene would be happy to see The Silks shot into the sun.
How does “location” fit into your songwriting?
“Mud Money” is a song about quahogging for money to buy smack. It’s a Rhode Island fairy tale. So yeah, I suppose it’s inescapable that the location one occupies is bound to influence what one has to say.
Here are the Silks performing “Home Again” at historic Studio A in Nashville, TN.
Tweed River Music Festival is less a showcase for bands and more a celebration of everything that great music embodies: the deeply personal link between artist and fan, the spirit of community and cooperation and, yes, the magical atmosphere of a great show in a stunning setting.
Set on a bucolic swath of land nestled between the Green and Northfield Mountains in the Mad River Valley in Waitsfield, VT, the 2015 Tweed River Music Festival will host more than 30 acts, including staples such as Bow Thayer, Tim Gearan, Andrea Gillis, White Dynomite and The Curtis Mayflower, while also welcoming Bloodshot Records recording artist Lydia Loveless, Vermont natives Waylon Speed and Alligator Records recording artist (and Boston native) Jesse Dee. Other great musical acts include Joe Fletcher, JP Harris and The Tough Choices, Caitlin Canty and ANTI Records recording artist Christopher Paul Stelling.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.