Linescratchers welcomes Joseph Mecham, web designer, guitarist, singer and songwriter to the fold. Joseph has been working on graphic design behind the scenes at Linescratchers but this is his first published interview. – Syphax
I can’t express in words how excited I was to interview Preston Pugmire, so I’ll just do some hardcore punch-dancing while watching Footloose, that should suffice. Bring it on Kevin Bacon… Anyway, I’ve known Preston Pugmire for a number of years now. We used to be comrades in the Rexburg Idaho music scene. (Which was jaw-dropping incredible for a town of 30,000). Preston actually sang guest vocals on a past recording of mine. He’s an incredibly outgoing guy and his music career is only going to escalate until he has claimed title of Grand Emperor of Pop (since King of Pop and Prince of Pop have been claimed by Micheal Jackson and Justin Timberlake, respectively). Bottom line… make sure to keep an eye on Preston Pugmire.
Your music could be characterized as pop, acoustic, or singer-songwriter. How do you describe it?
A: I play acoustic pop music in a singer songwriter setting. I avoided the pop label for a long time, but then a friend of mine told me everyone pretty much plays pop music and there’s nothing wrong with catchy melodies that touch people’s hearts. So I decided that my music was pop all along.
Tell us about your past in music and how you got developed as a musician.
A: I started off playing electric guitar in punk and rock bands in Idaho and have been in 5 or so groups over the years playing guitar in a ’90s alternative rock band, piano in one after the mission that kinda sounded like Maroon 5 meets the Killers, and just vocalist as well. I have always loved music and have finally reached a point where I can do it full time as my “job”.
What musicians or bands influence your style? How do you see those influences alive in your current music?
A: I grew up listening to ’90s rock bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters and the like, but my solo stuff is patterned more after artists like David Gray, Coldplay and Damien Rice. Their music is the kind that speaks to my heart so so much. A lot of my influence from other artists comes in how they perform. When I see a show and the artist really connects to the audience, I say “Wow, that was a cool moment. How did they create that? And how can I create something like that in my show with my music and personality to make it my own?” I love being influenced by others’ rhythms as well. When a song has a great groove and rhythm, I think, “How can I create that tone and feel but still make it sound like me?”
Where can interested readers find out more about your music? Anything coming up in the future we should be aware of?
A: I have a demo out right now that you can get for free at my website prestonpugmire.com, but my current project is recording a new album. I am working with an amazing producer named Aaron Edson in Provo. He did the last David Osmond record and has worked with almost every LDS artist in the valley including Archuleta. I’m really excited to make this album and I’m doing a really cool thing to make it happen. I’ve created a Kickstarter campaign to fund the record. If you haven’t heard of Kickstarter, its a really cool website where you can basically pre-sell your album and ask your fans and supporters to be your record label. There are all kinds of projects on the site from art to photography to filmmaking. I’m using it to spread the word about my new album and fund its production by offering people everything from cds, to shirts, to private concerts for assisting in the creation. It’s a way for the people to feel connected and involved in the process and im really excited about it. You can check out the project page here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/prestonpugmire/preston-pugmire-is-recording-a-new-ep
What do you think about the music scene amongst the LDS culture? Do you find venues or audiences that are sympathetic to your sound?
A: The music “scene” is kind of divided into those who play music aimed at LDS people and those who happen to be LDS and just play music aimed at people. I don’t play firesides or church events. I’m not against it in any way, it’s just not my target demographic. I feel that my music plays just as well with an audience of any faith as it does with an LDS audience.
As a one man band, reproducing your music in a live setting would probably be a bit of a challenge. Help explain this enigma, you pedal wizard you.
A: I have wrestled with this quite a bit; I was recently told by my producer Aaron that I’m doing this new record with that if I base writing my music around how I can play it live with looping, I’ll hate myself. That kind of kicked me out of a limiting mindset I had going into the process. But honestly, if you look at pop music currently and over the last 5 years, there has been a significant shift toward a single progression mentality. By that I mean artists like Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Lady Gaga and even One Republic, Maroon 5, and Rob Thomas are all putting out records and songs that change melodies and intensities from verse to chorus, but they don’t musically change chord progressions or riffs throughout the song. This style of songwriting lends itself perfectly to looping and I utilize it. But that’s merely the writing part. I guess you were talking about the performance part. I just begin with the goal of connection and memorable moments. Then I break the song down and decide how I can make the live recreation of that song entertaining. At some points, it’s a struggle, but if it doesn’t lend itself to creating a connected moment, I 86 it with a quickness.
Do your lyrics or musical themes ever reflect your spirituality? How does your faith influence your music?
A: Sometimes, I include spiritual things here and there, but in my mind that kind of music is best left to people like David Osmond, Mindy Gledhill, and Peter Breinholt. They are very good at it. I guess for some reason, I have not felt comfortable writing songs like that because maybe I’ve thought that it had to be an all or nothing thing. Like I either have to write all spiritual songs or all contemporary songs. But that is a fairly restrictive view of things now isn’t it? So I guess you can expect my album of hymns due out in the spring! (laughs)
How do you work your faith into touring?
A: That one is a little bit difficult. With my current schedule I haven’t been able to go to church on the road. It just hasn’t worked out. However, I really strive to be a model christian and Latter-Day Saint wherever I go. I always present myself as a clean Christlike person and there are always opportunities to be model Mormon and share the Gospel. I really don’t think that traveling and faith are exclusive.
Do you think that there is a future for Latter-day Saints who want to write music like yours?
A: A thousand percent! I grew up in a small community that was mostly LDS and I struggled to learn the difference between the doctrine and the culture. The LDS culture, if you let it, can occasionally be stifling. When I was a teenager, there seemed to be a path that I thought I had to follow and it didn’t include playing pop music and touring. I served a mission and got married in the temple and those are very very important things to me. But the Plan of Happiness is not so cut and dry when it comes to occupation and “dream seeking”. It took me a long while to realize that God is happy for us when we do righteous things that make our hearts happy. Even if it doesn’t fit into the mold our community or our family thinks it should. I still get a few crooked stares when I tell people im a full-time musician and a lot of people ask questions that reveal how they think about a decision like that. There are so many talented people in the church,
not just musically. and sometimes it doesn’t work to hide that under a proverbial bushel and expect to feel peace about it.
Being a married man, is music a side project, a current job, or do you see it as a career?
My wife Corine is pretty much the best gal in all the land, yea verily. She is an elementary teacher in Idaho and loves it. We talked a lot about what it would mean and what it would look like for our relationship if I did this, and she is on board with the whole package. If she wasn’t, it wouldn’t work. Bottom line. I would like to have a career doing this and we make it happen. It is obviously a case by case situation and for us it makes sense. There are a ton of people that live at home who see their wives less than I see Corine because of their jobs. We just take things as they come and make life happen.
Have you recorded an album before, and/or do you have plans on recording an album?
A: I’ve recorded six albums with my other bands I’ve been in. At one point before the mission I was in a band with my dad that sounded like Fleetwood Mac. That was a fun record to make.
If I were to look on your iPod… what artists would you be most proud of, and which would be your guilty pleasures?
A: My favorite band of all time is Radiohead. They changed my life for reals in 1995. My music tastes go all over the board. It might sound cliche to say I like everything, but listening to only one kind of music is so limiting. I absolutely love love Kanye West’s new CD and Drake’s debut release this year. But I often listen to classics like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. But then again records by Arcade Fire and Death Cab For Cutie get regular rotation as well. There are so many songs that just speak to me and they are all over the place musically. I guess one of my guilty pleasures is Teenage Dream by Katy Perry. When I first heard that song I was frustrated because I had to like it. It is a perfect pop song. I also really enjoy driving to Coheed and Cambria. But my real secret is that I know every word to Garth Brooks’ Greatest Hits album. Every note. Oh man, I can actually hear a bunch of people clicking off the site because of that one.