You always hear that three is a crowd. Well, with 20 Minutes to Park you don’t have to worry about that. This acoustic duo, who I first saw play a small crowd at a run down Indianapolis nightclub, brings pure talent mixed with industry quality lyrics to the stage. Mixing an incredible sense for what it takes to make it with a polished image and incredible vocals I would like to introduce you to the guys of 20 Minutes to Park.
When did you guys first meet?
(Josh) We met in the fall of 2001 during our stint at Indiana University. The dorms sucked and I think we were both a bit weary of school in the first place so we converted one of our dorms into a recording studio and rehearsal space. The neighbors loved it.
(Mitch) Yeah, singing Mr. Big at the top of our lungs really went over well in the dorms. I’m surprised someone didn’t break our guitars.
When did you know that music was going to be a career choice?
I don’t know if and when we ever said, “this is our career”. We graduated from college and just hit the road to play songs. I think we were living more moment by moment than anything. The word “career” sounds like a lifelong plan, which I don’t think either of us thought about much, especially in the beginning. In terms of what we love to do though, nothing compares to writing, recording, and performing music. And I think we learned this early on in our lives.
Where are you guys originally from?
(Mitch) I am from Chicago, Illinois. (Josh) I am from Nashville, Tennessee We are both from two great cities with a lot to offer.
I bet you are roommates, huh?
Honestly, neither of us has signed a lease since 2005. We have been nomads for the last four years. We’ve bounced around from friends to girlfriends to family members, not to mention the EconoLodge and at least thirty nights in the 1990 conversion van. Let’s just say we know how to live and pack light.
You guys have jobs or is music it?
(Josh) Luckily, our musician buddy David McMillin turned us onto an online marketing company called pearlywrites.com. We do a lot of writing and graphic design work for them, not to mention some construction and furniture moving in the past. Do what you gotta do.
(Mitch) Add painting fences, gambling, and selling things on eBay to that list. Our ability to avoid a 9-5 has really become an art.
What took you to Nashville?
(Josh) It was a natural decision since one of us is from there and we know folks in town. It’s a great music city and some of the best musicians in the world are here. It’s a humbling experience and you realize you will never be the best guitarist in the world or the best vocalist. Just write good, genuine music, and that’s all you need to do. Someone will care if it’s real. Usually that someone will carry your sincerity with them and pass it along.
(Mitch) I was under the impression we went there to drink one weekend and ended up staying but what Josh said sounds better and is true. We’ll go with that.
Describe your genre in one word.
What are you drinking on stage?
Usually a pitcher of water, some whiskey, some gin, and whatever else someone will buy us. We aren’t picky when it comes to liquids.
Where do you guys practice?
I guess it depends on where we are, but it usually involves a relative’s house. I wish we could afford to get some rehearsal space, but that’s not in the budget. Not yet.
Guys staying single down there in Nashville?
If you go by the IRS standards, then yes.
What is the biggest crowd you have played for?
We’ve probably played for a few thousand at one time, but if you count all of our shows that’s a much better number.
Well, this is when a drummer and a bassist would come in handy. It would go from two to four.
How often do you tour?
(Josh) After graduation we toured like animals, hitting the road as much as possible. I think we toured about 60,000 miles during 2006. After June of 2008, we slowed down a bit to get our head around the business and save up some funds. Touring is so expensive and you really need money before you leave town. We learned that the hard way.
(Mitch) Not to mention that at this point we’d probably do anything to avoid sleeping in that hot, smelly conversion van. Which reminds me, anyone want to buy a conversion van? It’s really not as bad as we make it sound.
Ever come back to Indianapolis?
Our nomadic lifestyle provides a probable yes, even if it’s just for a day or two. The world is home right now, and I’m sure we’ll consider Mars , too, once they get that figured out.
Who are your biggest influences?
(Josh) Well, we could shoot off a bunch of typical answers like Stevie Ray or the Beatles, but that gets boring. I mean, who isn’t influenced by these people, whether you like them or not? I think we are influenced most by what we are listening to at the time. Right now, that ranges from Kings of Leon to Ryan Adams. Not to mention a little country. Speaking of which, here’s a quote from Brad Paisley and Keith Urban’s latest: “When you’re living in a world that you don’t understand, find a few good buddies, start a band.”
(Mitch) I agree with the Josh on this one. Who isn’t influenced by big hitters like The Beatles? Along with who we are listening to at the time, I think we’re also highly influenced by old blues and country due in part to our respective cities.
Let’s play word association. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you read these three words. Go.
Lost: (Josh) Best TV show ever. (Mitch) I want to be on that Island.
Tennis: (Josh) Skirt. (Mitch) Singles in high-school.
Airplane: (Josh) Flotation device. (Mitch) Emergency water landing at 600 MPH.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
(Josh) I need to explore a bit more, but I would probably avoid Mississippi.
(Mitch)On The Island in Lost. Somehow I need to misplace myself in the space-time continuum. Any suggestions?
If you could meet anyone alive or dead who and why?
(Josh) Einstein. I’m sure he explains things a lot better in person.
(Mitch) Dead – Salvador Dali. That’s one crazy artist. Alive – Chuck Palahniuk. That’s one crazy writer.
What do you put on your pizza?
(Josh) Try Cajun spices with pepperoni is amazing.
(Mitch) I see Josh is finally branching out with his pizza toppings. I’ve got to have bacon, mushrooms, banana peppers, fresh roasted garlic, grilled onions, and grilled chicken on mine. Shout out to Eh! Formaggio is the best pizza place in Indianapolis, hands down.
Tell me about where your name came from.
The name? Oh, the name. 20 Minutes to Park is weird, and people often think it’s sexual, especially when they think it’s 20 Minutes in the Park. Oddly enough though, the name is pretty straightforward. It took us 20 minutes to park before our first gig, which was our excuse when we showed up late. Not surprising, this also became our excuse whenever we were late in the future. But we can’t say we didn’t warn them. Double negatives rule.
If you could tour with any band who would it be?
(Josh) We’re loving Ray LaMontagne right now. He seems like a genuine guy that would put a deeper twist on touring. We wouldn’t complain about hitting the road with Aerosmith though.
(Mitch) Any artist that is not self-absorbed and cocky. Ryan Adams seems like a great dude to tour with. Too bad he’s quitting music.
Where does your motivation come from on a day to day basis to keep playing music?
(Josh) We did something that was rare for college graduates, which I think has changed us forever. We didn’t get jobs related to our degrees; we just did what felt right at the time. Not that getting a job is bad, but it’s different if you just do it for the money. Waking up in the morning feels a lot different when you do what you love. The excitement and enthusiasm you feel about life and “work” is unsurpassed. I think the motivation to do what you love is natural; unfortunately, most of us will kill that motivation to replace it with money. The struggle is balancing money and passion, and if you can combine the two, you’re setting yourself up for a very fulfilling life. We’re still working’ on the money part of the equation, but at least we have 50% figured out.
(Mitch) Josh is absolutely right. Doing what you love comes naturally. It’s figuring out how to do it and still eat that’s the problem especially with music these days (but that’s a different topic). Life in general is a major motivator as well. I think for both of us music has always been a great escape, so we use life experiences in our music to cope with the good and the bad. Real life experience = a great song.
Is MySpace good or bad for musicians?
We jumped on MySpace in 2004, which was a huge time for MySpace. In the beginning, it was a great resource and we spent 12 hours a day on there, networking and messaging people. We got a lot of feedback and actually made hundreds of real friends across the nation. It was amazing. We still talk to a lot of them and technology has enabled us to connect with people on a very deep level. Today, we feel like MySpace is slipping a bit though, and there is just too much music to sort through. Facebook is also taking the lead, which is a much better interface anyway. All in all though, it has been a great tool and MySpace is probably good for musicians that utilize it.
What did you guys have for breakfast this morning?
(Josh) A smoothie.
(Mitch) Multigrain Cheerios, yogurt, and toast with organic peanut butter. Mmmm.
I always let the artists get the last word. Go.
Ricky, thanks for thinking of us for the interview. You’ve been around for a long time and we appreciate you keeping in touch throughout the years. Indy has treated us well and we will be setting up a show in town soon. We’re gearing up for some recording time this spring and hope to have some new material out by May. You might even hear some drums on this next one. To anyone that has read this whole interview, thank you. Please visit us at 20mtp.com or myspace.com/20minutestopark to stay in touch. Download tunes at iTunes or steal them off a Peer-to-Peer network if you are poor (that’s what both of us would probably do). If you can’t find them, e-mail us and we might just send you some songs if you have a good story. Genuinely from both of us; Josh and Mitch. We are 20 Minutes to Park.