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Parsonsfield Expand Horizons With 'Now That You're Gone' Video

Parsonsfield
Jim Dan Dee

Parsonsfield

Chris Freeman figures he got his steps in while making the video for Parsonsfield's "Now That You're Gone," premiering exclusively below from the Massachusetts group's upcoming Happy Hour on the Floor album.

"Yeah, we ran through the north end of Boston probably about 20 times that day to make it -- and almost got hit by a car at one point," Freeman tells Billboard about the fast-moving clip, which illustrates the song's theme of "chasing after somebody but never quite connecting." "Fortunately," he adds, "I'm a big runner. Three of us in the band are; We do a couple marathons a year. A lot of these (new) songs came from running and were written while running. That's how I come up with a lot of creative thoughts."

Freeman and his Parsonsfield bandmates had to deal with more than just creativity during the four-year interim between albums.

After an initial blast of three albums, the group found itself at something of a crossroads, "definitely growing apart in a lot of ways," according to Freeman. The five members scattered; bassist Harrison Goodale, who eventually left the band, moved to Colorado, while drummer Erik Hischmann relocated to Philadelphia. Relationships and other life issues became a focus, and the band was in a degree of jeopardy. "We were all spread out," Freeman recalls. "It was getting difficult, and it felt like we weren't clicking together. It felt like we were in a different place."

The group did release an EP in between albums, but it wasn't until a band meeting during December of 2018 that Parsonsfield got back on track. "It was an ultimatum moment, almost like, 'Are you in or are you out?'" Freeman says. "I felt like if we could really dig in and lean into one another we could make something we would really be proud of. I wanted to make sure that if this was the last album we ever made, we could feel good about every part of it. So that's what we did."

The remaining quartet "dug into the writing" of Happy Hour on the Floor, coming out April 3, accumulating 40 songs and also coming up with a different sound that leans more towards contemporary pop and away from the Americana influences of Parsonsfield's previous releases. Part of that, Freeman says, came from losing a member. "It came out of the necessity to rebuild," he explains. "We had this surreal moment where the world we built together crumbled and we had to find the confidence to build it back up again. That's why we dove into new instruments and new sounds." That was a particularly tough sea change for the frontman, who significantly altered his philosophy about music-making in general.

"I feel like in the past I'd been negative in terms of keeping instruments away and finding reasons not to use them," Freeman acknowledges. "I was really into Americana and folk and bluegrass and wanted to keep things really kind of simple and spare. As I sort of expanded my horizon in terms of the music I was listening to, I realized the act of creating is the same no matter what type of instrument you're playing, whether it's bass or synthesizers or electronic drums or real drums. It all feels the same.

"So I sort of broke those walls down this time. We said, 'Let's just make something really beautiful that paints with sound the feelings that we had.'"

Parsonsfield will remain a quartet for live purposes as well, and Freeman says the group is looking forward to incorporating electronic drums and more of its new sounds into the performances -- and to see what the band's fans make of it.

"I try not to care that much," Freeman says. "We have a really great support group back home (in Massachusetts) that will stick with us. Really I just hope it reaches more people and I hope people are able to see that even though it feels different for them, the act of writing the songs was the same for us and it all still feels organic, even if it sounds different."

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