Backstage with Paul McDonald
Off the heels of his June 2nd album release show at Analog, we caught up with the talented musician about his new album, Modern Hearts plus where he found the inspiration and where he likes to go in Nashville.
You just released a new album, tell us about what inspired you to create Modern Hearts.
PM: I was living in Los Angeles and had been writing music over the past decade with different bands and projects. I had moved to Nashville after a heavy breakup (in LA) with my ex-wife and our band. After our split, I was back to where I started. I thought, well, I guess I’ll make a solo record. I was uncertain where I wanted to land sonically, but with the help of handful of producers and co-writers, I was reminded of the reason why I make music in the first place. I’m really proud of this album. I wanted to express myself and it was like therapy for me: the rollercoaster of heartache, bitterness, emotions and questions…and then figuring it all out.
Tell us about the title Modern Hearts.
PM: It stemmed from a song I wrote for the album and around the idea of relationships and breakups in the digital age. Really, you can’t get away from anything privately these days. I think going though a breakup is a timeless notion and poetic enough to last.
You worked with some incredible musicians on the new album (Cage The Elephant, James Bay, Shawn Mendes, Maren Morris, Nikki Lane, Kacey Musgraves, and Buddy Miller), what are your most memorable moments from those collaborations?
PM: Wow, so many moments. We brought in a handful of great musicians who played in big bands and seven of us recorded inside an old church at Echo Mountain Studios in Ashville. We basically camped out at a house for a week and woke up for breakfast, some of us hiked in the mountains to clear our head space and then we started recording. No girlfriends and no kids. We bonded over the art and let the story be about the music and creative freedom. We really dove into a place of no-holds-barred, artistic camaraderie.
You just held your album release show in Analog, tell us how about the experience on the Analog stage ?
PM: Amazing. That might be one of the most beautiful venues in Nashville in that size. Sonically it sounds great too. I feel like it’s going to be the next big room in town.
Tell me about a time where travel inspired your music, was there a particular trip or place that helped shape a song?
PM: Of course. I wrote this record over 3 years and I was living in LA and Nashville and touring on the road. All this really allowed me to revisit my thoughts. But, it was my time in Los Angeles after my breakup that allowed me to see things in a different light.
You live in Nashville now, what area few favorite bars and restaurants?
PM: If I want to get beer and burger by myself, I go to the divey bar Dinos in Five Points. And, for healthy food, I drop by the East Nashville vegetarian restaurant Wild Cow.
What about coffee?
PM: I stop by Barista Parlor for black coffee, straight up. No cream, no sugar. I say: Give me the one with the most caffeine.
Most importantly, where do you like to listen to music?
PM: I enjoy the dingy rock club The 5 Spot on the East Side; it’s a good room when its chill and on Tuesdays, you’re bound to find some high caliber musicianship. And I love Ryman it’s a big room but has such beautiful seats.
PM: I’m almost finished writing my second album. After writing so many songs, for Modern Hearts, I knew I found my voice. At the end of July, I start my US Tour and then the plan is to be on the road the majority of this year. I also have a few side projects too. I’m singing on a track of Lincoln Parish (Cage the Elephant) new album and also have new side band with Emily Kinney. We’ve record a few songs together.