The Grateful Dead and Particle? At first glance this combo may seem a bit odd, but upon further investigation and interesting conversations with members of both bands, we find plenty of common ground between these two groups. While it may be difficult to unearth, one has to assume there is a tie that binds - especially considering not only that Mickey Hart has linked up with Particle to form Hydra, but also that Phil Lesh recently invited Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz to join his "Friends" for a few shows in the Bay Area.
Hydra by John Werner
So what is it exactly that links these two bands? As Darren Pujalet, drummer for Particle and Hydra, explained over the phone from his Los Angeles home, "My personal take on it is that when a band has reached the 40 year status and has broken as many boundaries as the Grateful Dead has, they're looking back and looking really at who some of the bands are. And I'm not saying Particle is 'the' band, I mean there are so many out there that are doing it right now, but in a more modern version trying to cover some of the same territory in the sense of being groundbreaking... And I think the element of Particle without vocals, and the ease of someone like Mickey being able to come and be part of it. And then also just sort of the high-energy end of it and what Particle tries to bring to the audience visually is part of their [Grateful Dead] attraction. And I think there's just a lot of respect, and I really feel that much like the Grateful Dead did in their day, I just feel like Particle is trying to step out of the box - and again, I'm not saying we are the only ones that are doing that, but I do feel like we are trying to step out of the box and not be the typical jam band."
In addition to Particle striving to "cover some of the same territory in the sense of being groundbreaking," Pujalet elaborates, "I think the general philosophy of Particle is to try to give the audience that [feeling where] they never really know what to expect when they come to the show. Just taking people on these amazing journeys. So I think that's kind of the goal, and in stepping out of the box and doing stuff with Mickey we're really trying to capture that." As Pujalet explains his side of the link, we also find Grateful Dead drummer and all around percussion master Mickey Hart simply expressing, "This [Hydra] is really powerful. And it's fun, we like to have fun. And they're young. I like to know what they're doing, and it keeps me plugged into the young pulse."
Mickey Hart :: Hydra :: 04.07.05 :: Santa Cruz, CA
So we have the young instrumental quartet Particle, which has experienced a meteoric rise since their humble beginnings doing after-gig parties starting back in 2000, linking up with a member of one of rock's most influential and important bands - the Grateful Dead. But both parties are quick to point out that while there may be trace elements from these bands, this five-headed Hydra is a completely separate entity. Pujalet noted, "Hydra's music is a departure from both Particle and the Grateful Dead, but it's a collaborative effort with inflections of both. And I would say as a whole it's a completely different animal." When asked how it's so different Pujalet responds, "It is a different vehicle altogether. You know in the sense that we [Hydra] are creating a little bit more of a world flavor of music where as Particle really has been sort of a high-energy dance format. And that's what the people who do like Particle like about it - it just takes you into that direction. But I think Hydra, for all of us, was an attempt to go into a different zone really. And to kind of capture a different mentality when you are at the show and to allow people to kind of slip away to a different voyage than they are normally used to with Particle. And with Mickey creating the coloring it just adds such a different element to the music. And I think the goal with both bands is that if we can just take people away from their everyday responsibilities and worries, for even a moment, we've done our job."
Darren Pujalet :: Hydra :: 04.07.05