Joshua Powell has seen it all. He’s traveled to nearly every state in the United States, lived out of a van and played over 800 shows before settling in the Midwest. His band recently changed course and is now known as just ‘Joshua Powell.’ PATTERN sat down with Powell, musician and now professor at Anderson University, to pick his brain on what sparked these events, how his music is evolving and his thoughts on the current music scene.
Allie Coppedge: You settled here in Indy not that long ago. What spurred that?
Joshua Powell: After school I was a nomad for a couple of years, on tour in a van. We would play 6-7 nights a week across the whole country for over a year and a half. But I wasn’t seeing the growth. Indianapolis seemed like the perfect place because it’s situated in the center of the Midwest so you can go two states in any direction and tour 16 different major music markets in a weekend.
AC: What do you bring to the music scene in Indy?
JP: More than anything, Indianapolis has been such a formative and pivotal part of my life story. I grew up in a small town and went to college in one. So I moved to a city where I’ve been able to carve out my own identity and approach this scene on my own terms, where they don’t have any preconceived notions of who I’ve been in the past. I feel so loved, welcomed and accepted by this scene, and because both in the integrity and authenticity of our music and lyrics, the transparency with which I conduct myself on stage, and the true not-at-all-a-marketing-ploy real love that I have for Indiana, for this community. I think people here know it.
AC: Do you feel like you’ve really been able to carve out a community here?
JP: Absolutely. There’s nothing more important than people. I have friends all over the country, but I have the highest concentration in Indianapolis. I’m living my best life right now, the dream of having this little hippie, artistic, commune of people that all just chill at my house. Everybody’s there making records, planning tours and just loving each other’s shit so much.
AC: Has anything changed since you moved to Indy and started recording/playing here frequently?
JP: Yes, it’s been two years! You know how much neural remapping you can do in two years. I’m a different person than when I moved here two years ago. Indianapolis is significantly cooler than it was back then such as the restaurants, breweries, art venues and galleries. The millennials in the Midwest are realizing the opportunities to build here. It’s just a very exciting time. Bands are starting, businesses are starting, and they’re all run by people in their 20’s.
AC: A lot of people want to dismiss these smaller music scenes, but it’s a lot easier to make an impact in those places.
JP: Absolutely. We joke about it all the time that we’re famous in Nebraska. We’ve played Lincoln, Nebraska a dozen times and who else tours to Lincoln? That’s the thing, when a half decent band comes there, they get so happy. So yeah, we’ve probably played there more than any other touring band.
AC: Do you ever miss constantly being on the road? New cities and landscapes every day?
JP: Yes and no. People always told me when I was on the road, enjoy it while you’re young. And I was just like screw you, I’m going to do this forever! My first couple of years I was still so young, still figuring out so much about who I am and what I wanted to do. Yet here we were, captaining our own quest and I collected what I feel was a lifetime worth of experience. I don’t know a lot of people who have been to 42 states and did the stuff we did while we were on the road. Crazy hikes, swims, parties and the things you’re open to when you’re just living out of a van. But we still travel so much, play out almost every weekend all around the Midwest, so I’m not stir crazy.
AC: What would you say your sound is now?
JP: When we were first starting out in this scene, we were a folk band. We’re now somewhere in the intersection of psychedelic indie rock and dream pop. There’s folk at the core because of the way that I tell stories and the way that every song starts as a poem that eventually becomes a song. We all got interested in pushing boundaries of sound, working on textures, trying to make guitars not sound like guitars, that sort of thing.
AC: What’s the hardest part of this journey been?
JP: I have this theory that the x-factor, or whatever it is that gets people to succeed, isn’t so much about talent as it is about sheer grit. Just staying in it long enough is the hardest part. You get jaded.
AC: It seems like you’ve already done so much, played in hundreds of cities across the country, played festivals, had your music played on TV shows. What’s next for you? What are you pushing for?
JP: World domination? No, but really it’s a boring answer. More of the same, but better. We’re applying to festivals in the summer, seeking to grow our team. I’ve normally been the one to handle everything, but it’s getting to the point where I can’t handle it all. So having new team members to work for us to help out would be great because I’d love to be able to write more. We’re also on the shortlist for South by Southwest, it’s not a confirmed slot yet but that’d be a big thing. We’re scheming up some shows with other Midwest bands to help grow each others markets.
Read our 2017 interview with Joshua Powell here!
Other Band Members:
Adam Schuntich- Lead guitar and sings harmonies, Colin Oakley- Drummer, Joshua Townsend- Bassist, Ricky Olmos- Keyboard, Jacob Powell- Played drums and arranged for them on the album