Two years have passed since we initially declared our love for the music of Paw Paw, and in that time, we are confident that Eston Lathrop (the birth name of the multi-instrumentalist responsible for the Paw Paw galaxy of sound) has gone through a variety of changes.
We’re also confident that those changes – whatever they may be – have a direct impact on “Full Earth Greeting,” the extraordinary, just-released album from Paw Paw on Fire Talk Records.
But then – plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Our original assessment of Paw Paw’s music was that it sounds exquisite, poetic and eternal and if anything, we’ve only doubled down on that assessment since being introduced to “Full Earth Greeting.”
It’s difficult to even assign something like a label or genre to Paw Paw’s music, especially at the scope so fully investigated on “Full Earth Greeting.” This would seem to be the music of deep breaths and deeper thoughts – not to mention the music that allows those very thoughts to slip immediately into perfumed memory.
The good news is that we don’t have any desire to assign a genre-label to Paw Paw, nor to the immediate, undeniable beauty of “Full Earth Greeting” as an album. And while the interview below may illuminate some corners of the album that we may have missed on our first twenty listens, all you really need for “Full Earth Greeting” to reveal itself to you is forty-one minutes and an open set of ears.
We’re grateful to Paw Paw for his music, and for answering our ridiculous questions below. Enjoy.
How would you describe your earliest experiences with making music in your youth? Was it something that was generally supported by your family or peer group, or was it to be more of a solitary pursuit? What were the albums or artists that convinced you that making music is something that you can do, and do yourself?
I played drums/percussion in band starting in, like, 4th grade or so. It was something that my family absolutely supported since I really took to it. I was given a handed down snare drum and some sheet music and totally nailed “The Addams Family” theme song. When high school came and went, I’d dropped out of the concert/marching band and resorted to making music with friends. Trevor (of Woodsman/Fire Talk Records) and I grew up together and have basically been making music together ever since.
I can’t really pin it down to a certain thing which I gained the confidence to make music myself. I’ve just sort of always recorded for fun. It’s basically a therapeutic experience for me.
Do you feel that, in general, music captures your imagination in a way that is different than books, paintings, etc.? In what way?
I think they can be similar, depending on your acceptance of emotions or your state of mind at the time. Books have the ability to give you a direct setting, as well as paintings. Yet you still imagine them and you add other details that may be relatable. With music, I think it has potential to be more in-depth and more interpretive. I’ve had the most powerful experiences, personally, directly in front of the stage at a live show. Seeing Spectrum at Austin Psych Fest in 2011 with my friends was one of those times, for example.
When considering your own personal musical evolution, can you pinpoint one or two people in your life who you feel are most responsible for expanding your musical palette, so to speak? Is there one album or band from your adolescence you have returned to most for inspiration or perhaps introspection?
My Dad and Trevor.
If I’d have to choose one band, it’d have to be The Beatles, as ordinary as that sounds. Every time I hear “Sgt. Pepper,” it takes me back to when I was a kid, listening to it, reading the lyrics, and driving around the Northwestern Iowa countryside.
We have an enormous and growing soft spot in our heart for “Full Earth Greeting.” What can you tell us about the origin of the album title? What did you take away most significantly about your own place as a musician from the experience of recording this album?
Thank you! The album title, if I remember correctly, was an excellent Google Translate deformation. I typed in something like, “Greetings, Earthling” and converted it into Japanese, then back into English. “Full Earth Greeting.” I fell in love instantly.
The process of recording the album though was a real test of sanity. I’ve been working on it off and on for almost two years now. It’s gone through a few variations and times of uncertainty to now where I’m totally happy and confident in its representation of myself and what I hope people will take away from listening to it.
What can you tell us about the sequencing of the album – how important is that to you in the overall impression you desired to make with “Full Earth Greeting”? We’re thinking specifically here about the album beginning with “Foreverrr” and ending with “Dream Result – a happy accident or pre-determined spaces?
That wasn’t always the order of things but once I landed on that, I knew it was right. I didn’t want it to really be too “concept”-y of an album, but there’s most definitely a little journey I hope to take the listener on.
What music have you been listening to lately? If you had to choose, what’s an album that encourages within you a deep and direct connection to the Earth, and why?
Tartit, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Samba Touré, Tinariwen, The War On Drugs, The Caretaker, Forma, Grapefruit, Cloudsound, Creation VI. Deepest connection? Puerta del Sol – “S/T.” That album is firmly planted in the soil yet reaches towards the stars. Favorite nap time album.
Hermann Hesse wrote the following in “Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte“:
“So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
Trees are dumb! No, it reminds me of the early talks of G.I. Gurdjieff, “Views From the Real World”. Basically he explains that learning the fundamental aspects and principles of the universe, the tree possesses ‘a key to the understanding of Unity.’ So I believe that Hesse was saying something similar- you do learn from the tree. (Maybe the trees are just dumb old beings trying to tell us what to do, in a childish mind.) You learn what it is to be one with all, you take great comfort in this knowledge. It doesn’t matter what you are. True understanding is the truest happiness.
What’s next for Paw Paw?
Recording. Trying to get people to take a little time out of their day to listen to the new album, to unwind and let their mind wander away from the “realities” of our “solid state,” if you know what I mean. I’ll also be playing the Underground Music Showcase in Denver, CO, in July.
“Full Earth Greeting” is available now. It’s spectacular. Unwind and let your mind wander, as the man says.