Summer Music Series: Zane McDaniel of 'Feral Parrot'
In another chapter of our Summer Music Series, All Things Considered host Peter Biello spoke with Zane McDaniel of Feral Parrot.
McDaniel was able to release an album during the pandemic and they break down how writing it helped them process emotions and their eating disorder. Below is a transcript of the conversation.
Peter Biello: This is All Things Considered on NHPR. I'm Peter Biello. Every other Friday, as part of our Summer Music Series, we're highlighting musicians from around the Granite State to bring you new music with local roots. Today, we're talking with Zane McDaniel. Their stage name is Feral Parrot. Zane, thank you very much for speaking with me.
Zane McDaniel: Thank you for having me.
Peter Biello: Zane, let's start with some of your music from your most recent album. It came out in June. It's also titled Feral Parrot. This track is called "Mouse God." So can you tell us a little bit about the song?
Zane McDaniel: Sure, this one I was trying very much not to write from my perspective. So, I think I had just come from reading some, like Facebook comment where people were getting really riled up at, like, either something that Millie Bobby Brown or like Billie Eilish or like some young celebrity had said. So, I was just like in the headspace of imagining being a developing child, just getting like a barrage of anonymous criticism all the time. And that's what informed this one.
Peter Biello: That's what I like about this song, is what I like about a lot of the songs on this album, Zane, in that you cannot predict where it's going to go next, like you're going to be hit with a different kind of cadence or tone or set of lyrics at any given moment. And it has the potential to surprise you. And I was wondering if that's what you aim for. Do you aim to sort of surprise the listener at every twist and turn?
Zane McDaniel: I think I just have a very fickle attention span and I spend so much time working on my own stuff that to keep myself interested in it I have to change it all the time. So a lot of times it'll start more simple and logical and then I'll get too comfortable with it.
Peter Biello: OK, well, let me give the listeners another taste of what I'm referring to. This is the first track on the album. It's called "Weird Interference." ....So that part right there just weaseled its way into my head and will not get out.
Zane McDaniel: Oh, I'm so glad. I'm sorry, also.
Peter Biello: No, no, it's a good thing. Can you tell us about Weird Interference? What's this about?
Zane McDaniel: Sure. I think that phrase popped into my head as I was trying to think of a way to describe when, if you're withdrawing at any point, socially. And I think a lot of people probably over the pandemic experienced living in a new situation and not being used to reading the social cues of that, and kind of just like quietly festering for a long time and not communicating well with, like, these new people that you're living with or anything. So, feeling this kind of unspoken resistance, but not being sure if it's imagined and I was reifying that as like radio interference, that is just like screeching like tinnitus in your head all the time in every interaction you have with people.
Peter Biello: So you write on your Bandcamp page that writing this album was mostly about trying to better understand your eating disorder. Can you tell us more about that? How did this album help you reach greater understanding?
Zane McDaniel: For me, a lot of my disordered behavior is kind of about numbing out, either depriving yourself of enough sustenance to, like, adequately feel in your day to day... just because everything feels too overwhelming or every sense is like too easily stimulated or also, on the other end of the spectrum, like bingeing to the point of discomfort, where you just kind of knock yourself out into sleep all the time. And really your only waking moments are like just experiencing kind of eating comfort food, and that's as much as it feels possible to do. The way the album helps was I actually had to acknowledge some of the things I was feeling instead of just burying them and trying to numb them out. And it was an easier venue to maybe say ideas than having to directly communicate them to a person's face.
Peter Biello: Well, was there a song on this album that represented for you your efforts to reach that greater understanding?
Zane McDaniel: I think all of them a little bit. I mean, they're kind of different. The last one, "Uzumaki," is definitely about like there's a refrain at the end of that one that's just about... I had moved to L.A. for a bit, kind of away from my family, who would be probably my most comfortable source of support, emotionally. And so I felt like calling them at a very strange time, cause of the zone difference, would be especially a burden, especially if it was just to vent, too, when I didn't spend enough time talking to them regardless separate of that. So, yeah, just about trying to give myself permission to communicate.
Peter Biello: Let's listen to a little bit of Uzumaki.
Peter Biello: Let me ask you about how the pandemic was, because for some artists, it turned out to be a really creative time. Some artists, it was such a stressful time that they couldn't create anything. What was it like for you?
Zane McDaniel: I think I skewed lucky in the pandemic in that I had some family and friends who were willing to take me in after getting laid off and trying to figure out next steps and everything. So, yeah, and I was like in an environment where there was not only time and equipment for me to work on music and be creative, but the support there to do that, not like anyone breathing down my neck saying please get a job right now. But, at the same time, because of that, I felt like the other shoe dropping was inevitable at some point. And so I put a lot of internal pressure on myself to work every day and to make sure that I didn't squander this enormous amount of time that could prove to be productive, which is not a very fertile venue for creativity, like telling yourself 'what's wrong with you? Just make something good because you have to.' And doing that every day and being ruthlessly critical at every point.
Peter Biello: Zane McDaniel is a New Hampshire musician, thank you very much for being on the program today, Zane.
Zane McDaniel: Thank you so much for having me on. It's an honor.