David Sprague: “Battle of the Bands”

The movement I would want to inspire, would be a push for mass empathy. The ability to understand what other people are going through comes naturally to some, but it can be learned. Even though you can’t always relate to people you disagree with, if both sides can be empathetic, there isn’t a problem that […]

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The movement I would want to inspire, would be a push for mass empathy. The ability to understand what other people are going through comes naturally to some, but it can be learned. Even though you can’t always relate to people you disagree with, if both sides can be empathetic, there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved.

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing David Sprague, the front man of Psychopath Etiquette; a band on the rise out of Southern Maine. The band was formed in the fall of 2019 and is heading back into the studio this fall to record their first full length album. David and Paul are brothers and the founding members of the band. Although they’ve been playing music together since childhood, Psychopath Etiquette is their first attempt to make the leap from amateur to professional.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a big family, and music was always a part of my life. As a family, we sang together at church. My parents played in a band together in high school. They both sing and play the guitar. All of my siblings can sing and play at least one musical instrument. I learned how to read music from a hymnal. I played my first piano in the foyer after Sunday service. I no longer consider myself a “religious” person, but my musical roots are start and end in a church.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Music has always been a part of my life. I go through phases, but I always come back to music. I started singing and making up songs when I was 15, and I learned to play the guitar around that time. The first song I learned was a cover, trying to impress a girl(which didn’t work) but it got me on the path. Music turned into an emotional release for me. It became the way that I process my feelings.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Honestly, Covid has been a changed everything for us. Obviously, it is a tragic situation, but it also push us to move 100% online and that has turned out to be the best thing for us. Before we were struggling to book shows and get out to venues, now we stream four nights a week to people who are logging on to watch us and listen to our music.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We once traveled to northern Maine to participate in a “Battle of the Bands”. When we got there, we realized that every band in the competition besides us was a punk band and we we’re getting ready to play acoustic folk music. 
 The lesson there was pretty straight forward: know your audience. It went fine and we had fun, but it’s okay to be selective about where you play.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We are about to head back into the studio to record our first full-length album. “Rough Draft” is our EP that is out right now, but as the title implies, it is very raw. We just wanted something we could give people to listen to, so we recorded six tracks in three days. And we are happy with how the songs came out, considering. But with the full release, we are going to be able to really take our time, and get our bands sound really pinned down and rounded out.
 The working title for the release is “Variety Show” and that is our plan: we want to make an album that crosses multiple genres and mixes playing styles. We love all different kinds of music and we’re hoping to come out the other side with something really special we can be proud of.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity allows for the highest forms of creativity. The more art and culture you can draw from, the further you can push the norms of our culture to make truly new and exciting art and storytelling. I don’t just listen to music that I like, I try to listen to all kinds of music, because you never know what is going to inspire you. Anderson Paak is one of my favorite musicians to listen to while I’m writing new songs. Our music couldn’t be further apart, but he really gets my creative juices going. If you’re only listening to one or two genres of music, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Passion is good, but perseverance is better. It feels great to burn the midnight oil when you’re excited, but grinding out guitar practice every day isn’t fun, but you need to do it.
  2. Building something worthwhile takes time. Everyone starts out small, and it may take a long time for you to find your audience. But you have to keep taking steps towards your goal, even when no one is watching.
  3. There is a difference between selling out, and self-promotion. If you want to make are for a living, you need to learn how to run a business. It’s not enough to just write a killer song, if no one ever hears it.
  4. If you’re afraid of trying something new, you should probably try it.
     I was scared to share my live streams on my personal Facebook page. So for awhile, I didn’t. But once I did, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and a lot more people found our music.
  5. Follow your heart, but bring your head. Do what you love, in a way that makes sense. I miss live shows, but they don’t work with my life right now. So I’ve been working to make online streaming shows feel like a live event. It’s not ideal, but it is the best I can do realistically.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Don’t focus on the mountain you’re trying to climb, focus on the next step. Success is an overwhelming idea, and it can feel unattainable, so spend your energy on attainable things. What can you do today? What can you do right now that can help you get where you’re going? Focus on that thing.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement I would want to inspire, would be a push for mass empathy. The ability to understand what other people are going through comes naturally to some, but it can be learned. Even though you can’t always relate to people you disagree with, if both sides can be empathetic, there isn’t a problem that can’t be solved.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My brother is my drummer, and my partner in pretty much everything I do. He is my rock, and without him I would never be able to do what I do consistently. He is down for whatever crazy thing I want to try, and helps me create in whatever way I need him to. Together, we become more than a band. We become unstoppable.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“I am a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”-Thomas Jefferson

In today’s overcrowded media, you need luck. But you can control it. What you can control, is how hard you work to be ready when the chips do finally fall your way.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Sara Bareilles is a singer/songwriter who I would love to have lunch with. She writes songs that are so well structured, and stay sharp, where as I can get a little lost in the weeds with a song staying on topic. And she as managed to be mainstream, while maintaining her individuality, all while making awesome music. She also just seems to be an awesome person. It would be a good lunch.

How can our readers follow you online?
Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, all under “Psychopath Etiquette”.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you!

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