2017-10-01 / Features

Paracosm's reality's no longer just a dream

By Kristina Wright

Paracosm was one of the first local bands I saw in Pensacola. My favorite things were the energy and ferocity they brought to the stage.

Band members are Bryan Norris on drums; Rob Perez on guitars, backing vocals; James Tangman on lead vocals/guitars; and Troy Alsaker on bass, backing vocals.

1. What does the name Paracosm mean to you?

Bryan Norris: Paracosm is a dreamscape that has become reality; a hallucination that you project into the world and live in. I personally get lost in that realm, and when I come back from reality, it’s almost a surreal feeling.

Rob Perez: That’s what the audience gets out of our shows. They take 30 minutes out of their night and get lost in our record or the live show.

Troy Alsaker: Paracosm, to me, means an alternate reality in the form of music. Going to work, being a family man is everyday reality. Once I pick up the bass, my paracosm starts.

James Tangman: An alternate world or state of mind, unraveling as the music sets the stage. After almost five years, that kind of became an identity for me.

2. How did you meet?

Troy Alsaker: I contacted James back in 2013 off a Craigslist ad. We set up an “audition” and we got through every single song on the very first run through.

Rob Perez: I’ve known the guys from playing shows with my other band, The Helvetica Effect. That went on hiatus about a year ago, and we were all working together, already, on a benefit memorial show for Prince called “Purple & Paisley.”

Brian Norris: The first person in the band I met was Don Gregory. It wasn’t until a few years later that I met Don again at karaoke. Several months later, he asked me to join the Prince tribute show. I remember about 10 minutes before the show, and Don asked if I wanted to be in the band because Troy stepped down. I thought, “Why not?” I had two weeks to learn their catalog of music, and we started playing shows as a three-piece.

James Tangman: As a huge fan of The Helvetica Effect, I was looking forward to working with Rob in the Princecapades, and eventually our EP. I’d met Bryan prior to the Prince rehearsals, but that’s where we really got on famously.

Rob Perez: All of our songwriting language had meshed so well that I thought, “Well, I’ve got nothing going on right now. How about I come in and produce your next EP?”

Brian Norris: Don switched over to guitar and we asked Rob to play bass for us. We performed for a few months as a four-piece while we worked on the EP. The beginning of 2017, we had creative differences in the band and parted ways with Don.

Rob Perez: I took on bass and guitar duties. Somewhere during recording, this silent agreement of, “Hey, the work you’re doing with the songs needs to properly translate live, too,” happened, and I just haven’t left.

3. What is your favorite part about being a musician?

Troy Alsaker: The freedom of expression, and ability to take feelings, emotions and portray them. Being a musician has gotten me through hard times, good times and everything in between. To see other people jamming, dancing and singing to my music is like no other feeling.

Brian Norris: For me, it’s the journey. It’s about exploring every road and avenue trying to find that little bit of something that makes the whole piece pop. Applying innovations and techniques into my style to make it unique. If it makes people feel something, then I’ve done my job.

Rob Perez: Creating something bigger and better than yourself. A song, any piece of art, could change a life, a perspective, help someone through a tough part of their life. When you can hit those right chords, and see someone feel it in their soul, it’s one of the best feelings ever.

James Tangman: For years and years, I played alone, to my favorite bands. Now I feel like I’m in one of my favorite bands. When an idea becomes a riff, and that becomes a verse, then a chorus -- molding these pieces of music with these guys has been very rewarding.

4. Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Brian Norris: Hopefully opening up for the Foo Fighters or Nickleback. I’d see it as a win, either way.

James Tangman: Taking more vacations with my sons. Maybe an RV amusement park excursion. But like an RV caravan.

Troy Alsaker: I’ll be retired on a beach surfing in Costa Rica and flying back for shows and tours with the band.

5. If you could change the music scene in Pensacola, what would you do?

Brian Norris: I have a three-step idea: 1. Open more venues in the local and surrounding areas that would support original music. 2. Pay these musicians their due. 3. Promote. If the venues promoted more often and enthusiastically, I think it would make a difference.

James Tangman: If ALL the genres would see this as our music scene period, then perhaps we could see some new life and vitality. Maybe we need current venues to open their eyes and see what they are sleeping on.

Troy Alsaker: If we all supported each other as bands and friends instead of trying to compete in a negative context, I think we could all get much farther. And, if not, we’d all at least have more fun and build towards bigger shows.

Rob Perez: I think the goal now in having a proper scene is really lifting everyone you can, when you can. You mix in those technological advances with good ol’ fashioned hustle, and everyone could make this another Seattle. You just gotta work hard and be loud enough.

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