You've been raising funds for the new album on Kickstarter, how's that been going?
Paul McDonald: It's good, you know, Kickstarter is an interesting thing; for me it was always an interesting thing to actually have your fans help fund the record. It's been a cool process so far and it's really good to see that people are supportive and really liking the music.
You've released rock and folk in the past, but "Bright Lights" has a strong indie pop feel; is that sound indicative of what we can expect to hear on the new album?
Totally, I mean, you know, like you said, the typical in the past has been kind of roots with rock and folk and I just wanted to kind of experiment with sounds and stuff on this new record. That ["Bright Lights"] was kind of the first track that we wrote and it was mixed with that more modern kind of pop production just to kind of back it up but, you know, we just started really liking it and that's one of the sounds. But the album kind of goes up and down; it has more indie pop tracks on there and it also has some pretty heavy tracks as well. It kinda still has some elements of, like, the folk stuff that I've done in the past but also some new sounds. We're using synths but we're also using like banjos, you know, so it's a lot of in between.
How would you describe the new sound?
It's kind of a blend between folk, rock, pop, and blues, maybe. More in the pop realm this time around which I think is a cool approach. You know, that word used to scare me, being like "hey, I'm a pop artist", but all that means is that it's popular, I guess, that's what pop means and I just kind of wanted to experiment and try to go for a wider sound this time that more people could, I guess, attach onto. The main reason for doing music is to get it out there and have people hear these songs and these emotions and when they're hearing these songs, I hope they inspire people and that they can relate to these songs. I just felt maybe this was a cool approach and it's better for me, as an artist, to grow and step outside of my comfort zone and to experiment with new things.
Have you had trouble breaking out of that American Idol stigma?
You know what, I'm not really sure, because it's always going to be a part of what I've done in the past and that's cool; I mean it totally opened doors and led me to where I am right now. I haven't ever done any of those like American Idol tours or any of that stuff, I've just always constantly been growing as an artist. That was a season of my life, when I was on TV, you know, singing songs, but I've never let that hold me back or put a chain on me, ever. Right after I did that I didn't even do a solo career; I could have put out a record immediately after Idol but I decided to do the band thing with Nikki and, so, I don't think so.
Why go solo now after working with bands for so long?
It seems like the thing to do since I've been playing music full time. I've had bands all, you know, the entire time: the only time I was doing anything solo was when I was doing the American Idol stuff and that still felt kind of like a band because I was with ten other people, we were touring around and I wasn't really singing any songs I had written so it didn't really feel like it was any kind of solo work, more of like, I was part of a major production. I like the creative aspect of working with other people, I just kind of felt like, after this last record that I just put out with Nikki, you know, I had had all these other bands and national stuff, I just kind of felt it was the time to start fresh and try it. I feel like ten years is a good time - I just turned thirty years old - and I was like 'I think it's time for me to make a solo record' which is cool, you know.
The music video for "Bright Lights" was just released; how's the response to that been?
I feel like everybody has been super kind and seems to like it, so that's good news. It's only been out one day so it still has a lot of time to kind of make its way across everyone's computer and all that kind of stuff, but everyone I've talked to enjoys it which is just good. It was kind of scary because, for me, that's always been the toughest part about releasing a solo album; with a band you can kind of, you know, cover yourself a little bit because you're in with a bunch of other people and if the track doesn't work out then you go "hey man", you know, we don't let them screw up, but with this solo thing it's your own name and, at the end of the day, it's your art. So, it's really scary to put something out and I think that's why I've waited so long to do it, because I wanted it to be right. People seem to really enjoy this track and the video so I'm kind of really excited about it and I hope that this is a good sign for the rest of the record.
Are there any new releases from other artists you've gotten hooked on?
Ah, yeah, you know, the new Hozier record - I've worn that one out. And the newer Ryan Adams record is really cool. I've been listening to Alt-J, their new album is really cool, too. And, actually, I've been getting into the new Taylor Swift album, which I thought was kind of a really cool approach.
Have you had a favorite fan interaction?
Favorite fan interaction story... Not so much. There's always, you know, I'm trying to think of a really funny one. It's always inspiring when people come up and say they like the music or when they know me from certain things or whatever, it's always cool. One time, I did get this one guy that came up to me - this is more of just a funny story, not so much a fan - but, he was like, "hey man. I know who you are. Do you mind if I grab a photo?" and I was like "yeah, no worries, man" and he's like "dude, you're so awesome. I love everything you do" and I'm like "oh, cool. Thanks so much" and he's like "you know, Hangover is my favorite movie" and I'm like "that's cool. That's a great movie" and he's like "you're Bradley Cooper right?" and I'm like "no man, I'm not at all". He's like "you're lying man", I'm like "fine man, but I still am not an actor, I promise". That was kind of funny.
Is there anything you can share about the new album; any new tracks you're excited to release?
You know, I'm excited about all the tracks, really. They all kind of have a certain thing that I love about each one. "Bright Lights" is more of the kind of pop tune, but it has lyrical depth in it. The lyrical depth on this record, it tells a story; I wrote this over the past year - it's been kind of an interesting period in my life - and I've written about that, so the album kind of goes up and down with emotion. I'm just excited. Each track is so different; they each have different vibes but they all kind of run together, which is nice.
What do you want people to take away from the album?
I just hope that they enjoy it. I hope they can relate to it. I hope it inspires them. I hope, you know, they feel something when they hear it, because this record has really been just the past year of my life; so much work, so much of my time, soul, and heart, and energy has been poured into this thing and I just hope that people can relate to it. Maybe one of my songs will help them or they'll feel the same thing that I felt when I was writing it and that's all you can really do when you put something out, is just hope that people enjoy it and that they feel something when they hear it. That's the beautiful thing about music, you just hope it inspires them.