In Session: Eric Krans of The Parlor

ALTAMONT – Releasing their first album in five years, The Parlor has something very special in store with You Are Love and I Am You, set to come out May 19th. An album delving into the couple’s shared trauma, and the path after their collective healing, the record makes for quite the endearing listen. Ending the way it began, it’s a compelling listen, to say the least, that can be enjoyed easily on repeat.

I had the chance to sit down with Eric Krans of The Parlor this past week. What follows is our conversation.

Lucas Garrett: Thank you for sitting down, Eric! I hear you have another album coming out. Tell us about it!

Eric Krans: Yeah! We have a new record coming out in May! It’s called You Are Love and I Am You.

LG: That’s a very interesting title.

EK: Hahahaha.

LG: Let’s talk about the genesis of the record.

EK: Well, our last full-length record was in 2018 and was called Kiku. Jen and I are married, and we have been playing music all throughout the last decade-and-a-half; we were touring around playing music with a couple of different bands. We were in a band called Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned. We left Dunbar and started The Parlor in 2012. We had a couple of releases, but during that period of time, we had things that went wrong. We had multiple miscarriages trying to start a family; we almost lost her mom to lupus and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, and then we lost her uncle and aunt in succession to a series of devastating illnesses. We felt pretty low, and we made Kiku about the miscarriages. We thought we were making a record that’d be cathartic, but went and played it out a lot and found it was making us feel like we’re ready to be done… right before COVID…

During COVID, we had more time to work through those problems and decided that we wanted to make music about the feeling of actually engaging with grieving wholeheartedly and the feeling of finding out that even though grief never goes away, we are still alive and well. We had a lot of people that supported us along the way, and it felt really nice to realize that death is a reminder that we live a very rich life. That’s what this record, You Are Love and I Am You is all about.

LG: From what I heard, it’s this amazing – in my opinion – instrumentation going on in the record, an amazing soundscape that you two have created. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing. What are some of your creative influences for the record?

EK: A bunch of influences! We have a lot of different stuff that we listen to. On a track-by-track basis, there’s a whole lot we could point out. There’s one track that’s very influenced by Fleetwood Mac; one that’s influenced by Mazzy Star; one that’s influenced by Beck…

LG: I love Beck!

EK: Yeah! There’s another one that’s influenced by Tame Impala meets Mamas and the Papas. There’s a track that has a feel of Enya meets… I don’t know! It crosses into something else! Have you ever listened to the band, Broadcast?

LG: Yeah.

EK: We were feeling Broadcast during the time of making that record, so we were always trying to make things sound gritty.

Cover art for You Are Love and I Am You.

LG: Now that you’ve gone through Kiku and the emotional trauma and coming back after COVID with this new material, do you feel a rejuvenation in making and performing music?

EK: That’s a great question. We haven’t played it out yet. The only show that we have on the calendar is May 20th, the album release show. During COVID, I rekindled relationships with some of my friends from high school I used to play music with. They’ve been coming out to the house, recording music here – not for this record, but maybe the next or the one after. The music sounds like the stuff we wished we could’ve played when were 18, you know?

LG: Mhm.

EK: We’re a bit older and better at playing music now. At first, it was my two friends and me. Then, Jen came in, and we started playing Parlor songs. That’ll be the band at our release show.

LG: And that’s at Indian Ladder Farms on May 20th?

EK: You got it

LG: So, this new album is going to be online, but where else can we find it?

EK: We’re selling the record on vinyl through a couple of places online and at Indian Ladder during the show. Jen has a shop where she sells botanical soap she makes, and tinctures, bath products. We’re selling it on that site and also selling it through a company called QRates. They’re the company that manufactured the album, but they also have a marketplace there for selling, as well.

We recommend listening to it on vinyl – the album is meant to be played front-to-back. The beginning of the album is exactly how it ends.

LG: That’s a very cool idea. Whose was it?

EK: I think that was Jen’s idea. Did you ever get into archetypal symbolism before?

LG: A little bit.

EK: We really got into that: Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, a bunch of that kind of stuff. I was really fascinated by the ouroboros.

LG: I don’t think I know what that is.

EK: It’s a snake eating its own tail, drawn in a circle. It symbolizes life and death. The snake is eating its own tail and is killing itself, but that’s how it’s giving itself new life. It’s an ancient symbol—a big symbol for the alchemists, people into esoteric philosophy in the middle ages.

LG: Have you ever read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo?

EK: Yeah, we read it during COVID!

LG: One of the best books I’ve ever read.

EK: It’s so good.

LG: A lot of what we’re talking about is in that book: listening to what is around you, feeding off the energy of the universe. What might harm something else might actually bring to life something else.

EK: Exactly right. When we went through all of the pain and suffering, and miscarriage – the grief of the family loss we had — we realized that experience of going through all of it made us fully understand who we are. I don’t know if we’d have gotten to that point if we hadn’t been forced to go through such a hard experience.

LG: I was talking to a friend of mine once, and she said, “I don’t believe anyone that says they’re not broken,” and I remember replying, “it’s how we put ourselves together after we break that defines our humanity.”

EK: I love that. It’s the truth. I had some visitors today: a good friend of mine and my older brother came over as well. He’s sixteen years older than I am, but a good friend of mine – a really close friend. We talked about this exact thing you just brought up.

We were saying, “What is the thing that defines us? Each and every one of us?” You’re the only Lucas Garrett that ever will exist, and I’m the only Eric Krans. There’s never going to be a person that’s exactly like either one of us. That’s a gift we have to offer the world because it’s completely unique. My brother was saying it’s really important to recognize whatever the wound is that we have – that we’ve had to heal with – is also a unique wound. The way something injured each one of us is completely unique to us. Our wound ends up being part of our gift.

LG: Right! And, every subsequent wound is impacted by the wound that came before it. Not only do we have unique wounds, but we have unique compounding of wounds that hit everyone differently.

EK: Every single person has had some experience that is hard. Just coming to the point where they know themselves and know they’re capable of living through the difficult experience, and then coming out the other side where they feel confident and whole in themselves… that’s what Jena and I are calling the ecstasy of catharsis. The healing from the wound and knowing the wound is there forever and is part of who we are. We’re one with the universe.

LG: Like The Alchemist.

EK: Yeah! There’s literally no way to separate ourselves from the universe! Ha, it’s impossible. You can’t exist separate from the universe, and it feels really nice to know that. It feels relaxing. After going through what we went through, Jen and I are a little less affected by all the stuff we were affected by before. We still are, but it’s not as confusing as it used to be. Now, it makes sense.

A lot of the stuff that Jen or I used to get upset about, we have a new perspective now, realizing that a lot of people are going through difficult stuff. No reason to hold anything against anyone. Every single person that’s ever harmed me, or hurt me, or whatever, has probably been in their own situation. Their own pain and suffering.

People don’t go out to hurt each other. They’re doing it because they’re either trying to defend themselves or achieve something they think they really need in order to feel whole. In reality, I think people don’t mean to hurt each other. I used to feel hurt by people more than I do now. Now that I understand I was hurting people that way, too, it’s not the same.

LG: Something happened to me in my life this past summer that I was not ready for. At the moment, I was like, “What am I going to do about this? Why am I going through this?” Then, a couple of months after that, someone came back into my life. Now I know why I went through it – I’m able to help her out with what’s going on. My entire life up until now has prepared me for this moment.

EK: Right.

LG: When things happen to us, it’s like, “Why the hell is this happening?”

EK: Hahaha, exactly!

LG: Then, something else happens, and you’re like, “Oh, that’s why.”

EK: Yep. So, that’s what the record is all about! It’s about realizing all of the stuff that happened… I don’t like to say it happened for a reason so much because I don’t know if it needs to happen for a reason. What happened to us, as you said, gave us an understanding that allows us to experience life differently. We can stand in with conversations in ways we weren’t able to in the past. For the most part, the songs on this record are about the feeling of having fun again, relaxing, and being thankful for everything.

LG: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about tonight?

EK: We’re really excited about the show on May 20th at Indian Ladder Farms. That’s the big thing for us. We want to share our appreciation for people and everybody. We’ve invited our families and all of our friends. We want to be with family for the day and enjoy everybody’s company.

We also want everyone that is inspired by our music to come out and be a part of it. It’s going to be a lot of people coming to love each other, and to us, that feels like the best thing we can share with the world at this point: appreciation and gratitude.

LG: The world could always stand more of that. It’s a very cool thing what you’re doing, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of it!

EK: We’re less active now than we were years ago, partially because of COVID and partially because we’re getting older. We’re in our early forties now. I also want to touch on my own mistakes along the way. I’ve been a part of being toxic in some ways in the past…

LG: We all have.

EK: I want to be open about that. I’m trying to apologize to all the people. I might have pushed too hard or made them feel like they didn’t want to do it anymore. ‘Cause one of the things that’s been really nice is that Jen and I have been making music together for so long. It allowed us to get to the point where we had the whole cycle happen.

We were young, alive, and excited, and full of “go get ‘em.” We went through the whole thing to the point we were ready to quit. Ready to die as a band. Then, this album happened, and we’re back to having this youthful energy again. I want to share that with people. I want to make sure the people that I may have hurt know that it was really awesome that they were a part of it. Every single person has had a role in making this happen. If it weren’t for all the friendships through the years, this album wouldn’t have happened. Or the other albums.

The music community around here is really awesome and supportive. It’s such a good group of people that have tried so many times to make the community work.

LG: Well, thank you again for your time, Eric!

EK: My pleasure, Lucas!         

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