Written By: Chad Berndtson
:: Interview - Steve Molitz ::
It’s been the better part of a decade since Particle could be considered a full-
time band, but as keyboardist
and scene mainstay Steve Molitz first revealed to JamBase back in December, the
jamtronica powerhouse is
back in business, albeit with a revamped lineup.
Molitz is the remaining founding member, and joining him for Particle’s first national
tour since more or less 2007
are later-era guitarist/singer Ben Combe and two new Particle members, drummer Brandon
Draper and bassist Clay
Parnell. Both Darren Pujalet and Eric Gould remain connected to the band but are focusing
on family and careers –
and give the new lineup their full blessing, Molitz says.
The foursome has a whole lot planned – they’ve been writing new songs with an album
planned and lots of
multimedia on the way. And as they head out on tour – which began this week in the
Northeast – they’re taking along
a full lighting rig, complete with 24 lasers and lights manned by LD and Atmosphere
veteran Wil Simon. Molitz also
tells us that every show will be available for download via Nugs.net the day after the
Molitz took a break from band rehearsals in Connecticut last week to talk to JamBase about
the past, present and
future of the band and also other projects he’s working on.
JAMBASE: So how’s it going with the new lineup?
STEVE MOLITZ: Rehearsals have been incredible so far. I came into this with a
really open mind and no
expectations, because I wanted to give Clay and Brandon a chance to get comfortable. But
they came out of the gate
swinging, man. It’s just such a cool and exciting thing we’ve got going, and even within
the first few days we’ve been
here, we’ve written 3 or 4 new tunes on top of the dozen we’d written toward the end of
last year. On top of that,
we’re going through the old material and revitalizing it to match the strengths of this
I think we have a good combination of staying true to the past while making it fit where
we are now. The band is a
collective again – really, it’s the platform of Particle material and the Particle style
with new and amazingly talented
musicians. I’m having a blast and we’re laughing like every minute.
[Particle Rehearses Untitled New Song]
JAMBASE: It sounds like you’ve got a foundation again. Do you think it’s accurate
to say it’s been a while
since Particle could be considered active, even though you have played handfuls of shows
in the last few years?
SM: I think so. We never quite said we were taking a break, but we went from
playing 150 shows a year to
playing 50 shows a year to playing 20 shows a year, and less. We never quite went away,
but obviously that’s a big
drop-off, and if we still played festivals and regional weekends over the last five years
or so, we never got together
for big tours because we had hit a phase in our lives where we were interested in pursuing
other things: starting
families or other musical projects.
I’ve had some amazing adventures, everything from working with Phil [Lesh] and Rich
Robinson to this ongoing work
scoring video games. I learned a lot and spent a lot of time doing some discovery. I don’t
know, why this year to
come back with a big tour? Sometimes things just need to blossom.
JAMBASE: So no particular reason why 2014 was the year for Particle to really come
SM: Well, this seed was planted two or three years ago. We started talking about
getting out and touring
again and that just wasn’t possible at the time. Darren and Eric were both getting married
at the time. Both are still
playing a lot of music regionally but neither is at a point where he can commit to a full-
time tour, so the 20 shows a
year we’ve been doing are all we can each make time for.
In the past year, though, I just really started to miss this music and the fans – I felt
it in my heart and in my bones.
The band has so much history and I think I just wanted to reconnect with this music. So it
wasn’t that 2014 was a
target year. It took some time to discuss and talk with Eric and Darren and Ben about
wanting to record a new album
and get back out there. We tried for a while to figure out a way for the founding members
to do it, but when Darren
and Eric realized it’s just not possible, they gave me their blessing to form a new rhythm
section that would be able
to tour on a much bigger level.
It took a while to line it up, and I’m so excited and thankful that we have all the
elements in place now. This? This is a
really exciting time.
[Photo By: Robert Chapman]
JAMBASE: Was that decision to go forward without Eric and Darren an awkward
conversation? Did they push
back at all?
SM: No, really, not at all. They’re so supportive. They want to hear Particle music
being played, I mean, it’s
in all over our DNA. It’s a bittersweet thing, I get what you’re asking. I give them a lot
of credit for having the
sensitivity and maturity to make a very difficult decision. It’s like that old phrase, if
you love something, set it free,
I think they realized the best way for Particle to shine was to me to move forward with
it. They want, and need, to be
at home right now. They have new families. It’s a beautiful next step in their lives and
they committed to me that
they want to see Particle carry on. We’re of course going to keep talking and jam together
when we can. Darren’s in
L.A., he’ll probably be with us there, and in Boston, Gould will play with us the first