We’ve been following Ryan Daly and Parade of Lights since the start. Since the first song of the project saw the light of day we were instantly hooked. It’s hard to believe that “We’re The Kids” hit digital streaming services four years ago. What followed was an amazing debut album in 2015 with Feeling Electric. After that, there’s a familiar story.
Band does well but not amazing. Label movement happens. Business decisions get made and what was supposed to be a sophomore album turns into an EP.
Specifically, for Parade of Lights there’s probably a lot more to it than that, but things are where they are regardless. Daly and his bandmates, drummer Anthony Improgo and keyboardist Michelle Ashley are moving forward with their new EP Human Condition Pt. 2 as an independent after getting dropped by their label a few months ago. The first part of a two-part album was released by the label earlier this year.
Familiar story or not, 2017 and 2018 were trying times for Ryan Daly and PoL. Alternative Addiction recently sat down and chatted with Daly about writing Human Condition (both parts) and making the video for their song “Tangled Up” by themselves.
“At first, we didn’t really know what it was about,” said Daly about Human Condition in the interview. “The more we chipped away at the demos, the concept began to become a little clearer. We didn’t decide to call it Human Condition until the very end. I think the first album is a little brighter and a little more joyous. There’s still some of that here, but I think it’s different. There are some darker themes. The lyrics are more serious. I think that’s a natural progression; at first, everything is celebratory and then you even out and you start thinking about everything. You start thinking about the challenges and the life cycle of everything. It’s something that everyone experiences, all those emotions and peaks and valleys that everyone goes through that make us human. That’s what most of the record is about.”
This wasn’t the typical creation process for a band. With music these days, some of us pay attention to release dates intensely, but even then, some stuff falls through the cracks. It seems like half the time we know what’s coming and then when Friday comes and the release radar on Spotify is updated and there’s two to three things posted that you didn’t expect to see there. That’s what happened with PoL on Human Condition. The songs might pop up instantaneously for us, but there’s a lot of work behind them.
“We started writing it in 2016 and slowly but surely wrote it. Then, the label wanted us to work with a producer, so we worked with Carlos de la Garza. We recorded most of the demos for the album at our studio in Santa Anna. Then, we did most of the real tracking at Carlos’ place which is in Eagle Rock. We recorded drums at East West and we recorded the remaining of the drums at Capital in Studio A. It was an awesome experience. We wrapped it up a while ago though. I think it was finished a little over half way through the end of 2017 and it’s finally coming out at the end of 2018.”
Daly has produced other bands and projects during his music tenure. Really, he does that more than Parade of Lights, that’s why it was surprising to hear that the band worked with an outside producer for Human Condition. Daly explained the motivation behind working with Garza on the EPs and how great he thought the music turned out because of it.
“They (the label) wanted us to bring in an outside experience. They thought it would be beneficial to bring in someone from the outside to provide a fresh perspective to keep us from making the same record and doing the same thing as the last record. They wanted us to bring in someone new, and I’m glad we did because Carlos killed it. Choosing a producer is interesting, it’s basically like adding a new member to your band. It can be tricky, especially to do it in a pinch.” “Carlos is good at capturing a live sound. His drums sound massive and everything he records sounds great. On The band/production side things is not my strong suit, but that is Carlos’ strong suit. The programming and things like that is where I did a lot of the production. It was a good partnership between the two. Once we found our groove it started to be a really easy process. We didn’t want to be done making the record. It was finished, but we had a lot of fun making it,” added Ryan.
Working with an outside producer made sense when it was explained to Daly, and they agreed to do that. Splitting the release of Human Condition wasn’t necessarily a tact that Daly was behind. They didn’t have much of a choice in the matter and releasing the EP in two parts seemed like a decent compromise. Instead of releasing just an EP, they’d release the album in two parts because all of it is a cohesive record.
Compromise aside, there were some elements of frustration for Parade of Lights when they were dropped. Astralwerks was changing structure and moving from underneath the Capital umbrella to the Virgin umbrella, so there was always going to be some roster casualties when the actual move took place. Ultimately, Parade of Lights was part of the cuts. Business things happen, and Daly expressed his appreciation to the people at Astralwerks who helped push Parade of Lights with their first record.
“The people that worked there and worked on that first record had our back and we’ll always be appreciative of that.”
Another thing admirable that Virgin did for the group was releasing their masters of the songs to them, so they could push out the second EP by themselves. That’s something that they didn’t have to do. That’s set up Parade of Lights to be where they’re at right now. They’ve got the second part of an album that’s outstanding and they’re getting to work “Tangled Up” alongside of the EP with a brand-new video too.
The video for “Tangled Up” was self-financed by the band and directed by Daly with a concept that he and the band came up with.
“It was a learning experience for sure. After we got dropped, we knew we needed to do something for the song because it got featured on the 13 Reasons Why soundtrack and it seemed like we’d be doing a disservice to ourselves and the song if we didn’t have a cool visual to go along with it. So, we decided to do it ourselves. I’m a big camera nerd, and I’ve always wanted an excuse to do it. I always knew it would be a ton of work if we did do one ourselves. We just went for it. Anthony’s cousin was available to play the female lead and I had my little brother to play the male lead. We brainstormed the storyline and we tried to go into it as professionally as a bunch of unprofessionals could. I think it turned out cool. It looks dark and gritty, and that’s what we wanted.”
Check out the video for “Inside My Head” below and be sure to follow the band on all their social media channels. There’s a possibility of Parade of Lights touring in 2019, there’s also the possibility of another video popping up in the next few months, stay tuned here and to the band’s socials for more.