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We Are One


The name sounds funny, does it not? You might even be wondering what the heck a Papadosio is. Is it a grandfather known for his skills in line dancing? Is it a Mexican term for a person with two dads? Who would come up with such a name that sounds like complete and utter nonsense?

This isn't the first time Papadosio's lead singer, Anthony Thogmartin, has been asked this question since he and his band have become rising stars in the music world. In fact, he seems a little dismayed when my first question during our recent chat is inquiring about the group's moniker.

"We usually just make up stories when someone asks us that question," he says. And while he could have come up with some hyperbolic myth about the creation of the strange name, he instead told us the truth behind the meaning of Papadosio.

"We kind of came up with the name so that it wouldn't have any meaning," he says. "If we picked something that meant something it would mean that we had to do that specific thing."

So, since we don't know what a Papadosio is and it appears its actions won't be categorized, what can those who've never heard this oddly-named group before expect from not only their newest album, T.E.T.I.O.S, but the live show they'll be putting on at Saint Andrew's Hall on 2/3?

One thing is for sure, as Thogmartin stated, the music isn't something that's easily categorized. In fact, it's hard to know where to get started when thinking of how, exactly, to put into words the sound that's created by these Ohio natives.

Coined by the group as a combination of "eclectic musical traditions with modern electronica to stir the heart and fuel the mind," the sound is indeed a mixture of spirituality, computer generated tunes and spoken word. Think Incubus meets Radiohead meets The Secret. Yeah, that's the best way we know how to put it into words.

"My personal approach to spirituality is musical," says Thogmartin, who seemed very much pleased when we asked him to describe the intersection of spirituality and instrumentation that's very prevalent in the way he makes music. "Prayer and mediation is musical to me," he continues. "They are the only patterns we can see in octaves. Music is just really close to us."

In tune with the religion that is music, Thogmartin's notions on the creative process are as much of a doctrine of his beliefs as his relationship with the music he makes.

"The songwriting process - we're all just really good listeners," Thogmartin begins of his particular method for crafting new tunes. "We might get a spark for an idea of a riff, but we really can't take credit for it, we're just translating it. It's just something we've heard before."

That something he's heard before could be anything, according to Thogmartin, and the blessed inspiration to turn everyday sounds into a piece of art is something that might strike him at any time.

"A lot of times I will be out when I hear or think of something, so I basically either run to my computer or sing into my phone. I'd be pretty embarrassed if someone listened to the stuff I've recorded on my phone," he laughs.

When inspiration hits, however, Thogmartin doesn't waste any time getting his thoughts in order and fully creating a new track.

"Sometimes I'll have to cancel things with my family and friends so I can just sit down and write it out," he says.

While the band's leading creative force might seem humbly unwilling to take too much credit for the hard-to-categorize, unusual and wholly different take on song they're quickly becoming recognized for, he is, in fact, willing to admit that the being known as Anthony Thogmartin has always been a bit different.

"I never went to college. I didn't want to listen to what other people find acceptable," he says, once again touching on the subject of Papadosio's altogether different sound. And it was that desire to break with the traditions of popular culture that first drove him to choose music as a career.

"I think it was at the time of first receiving an instrument," says Thogmartin about when he knew music would be his life's work.

"There was just a lot of potential to be different," he says. "And isn't that what we all want, to feel special?"

Papadosio is certainly something special. Trippier than a Church of God and Signs Following service on acid, their albums can be a sacrosanct enough experience to listen to on one's own. Hearing the group live is something completely different.

"There's a lot of improvisation going on," says Thogmartin. "There's a lot of noodling, pickle and pedaddling."

There's also quite a bit of production, olfactory stimulation and pretty pictures. "We share a lot of visuals of what's going on so people can get a grasp on what's happening lyrically," he says.

Having not mirrored this live show off any other group's, Thogmartin says the way their live stage presence came about is a bit of a happy miracle.

"I guess it just kind of happened on accident, the most happy accident possible. It's as awesome as it could be," he says.

Making it back to Detroit is no accident, however, and Thogmartin sang some pretty praise about our little city.

"It's almost like they're leaning in, wondering what you're going to do next. Other places in the country, people are just there because they think that's where they're supposed to be, but Detroit as a whole is a World 2.0 kind of place," he says. "We're really excited to come back."


Papadosio • 2/3, 7 p.m. • Saint Andrew's Hall • 431 E. Congress, Detroit • saintandrewsdetroit.com • 313.961.8961 • $12

The name sounds funny, does it not? You might even be wondering what the heck a Papadosio is. Is it a grandfather known for his skills in line dancing?


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