Interview: Parts Per Million take aim at generational trauma in ‘Placebo’ video
Intense new visual from New England hard rock band now streaming online
BOSTON, MA. [January 18, 2022] -- There is perhaps no greater symbol of trauma in modern-day America than the handgun. Ubiquitous in our culture, from nightly news reports to daily reminders of our country’s heritage and history, the gun is a loaded metaphor for a wide array of issues preventing many of us from moving forward. For Parts Per Million and their impactful new music video for “Placebo,” released on January 18, the gun is a symbol of trauma passed down from parent to child, from one generation to the next.
Filmed with longtime collaborators Revelry Studios in Manchester, New Hampshire, “Placebo” is the New England hard rock band’s latest captivating music video that takes their aggressive sound – an eclectic mix of grunge, space rock, and driving guitar-fueled rock and roll – and illustrates the story behind the music. It follows recent video collaborations with Revelry, like “Find The Light” and last year’s live cover of Childish Gambino’s “Me And Your Mama.”
And much like Gambino’s “This Is America,” the Boston Music Awards-nominated Parts Per Million (for 2020’s “2020 Vision” music video) reflect the issues we deal with with a shocking dose of gore and reality. “Placebo,” the song, was originally featured on Parts Per Million’s 2017 debut album. But the band was never truly satisfied with its original recording, and rebooted it here to accompany its video companion. Allowing the visual’s storyline to marinate on its own merit, the track hit Spotify on January 21, a few days after the video release.
We caught up with Parts Per Million’s Paul McSweeney for a deeper dive into “Placebo,” it’s intense visual, and how inspiration came together.
publi*sist: What is “Placebo,” the song, all about?
Paul: “Placebo” is a song and video that covers trauma that we encounter as children – both abuse and abandonment, and how it can trickle down through generations of families and cycle on to the next. People with abandonment issues or who have been abused often struggle in relationships, exhibit symptoms of codependency, have an inability to trust others, and a tendency to sabotage relationships or themselves. We often struggle with substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and behavioral issues.
Relatedly then, what is “Placebo,” the video, all about?
The video is about breaking out of that cycle, with the gun being a symbol of that trauma passed down from parent to child. This video is dedicated to anyone who still struggles with these issues, as well as those who are working out of these issues or have broken free of them completely
Are you concerned about shocking viewers with this video?
Initially we were. We don't want to hurt anyone, but we hope people can see the symbolism in the video versus taking it literally. We were a little concerned at first, but we've talked to alot of people who have pre screened it for us and feel confident it will be understood.
Originally when the song was written it was just about that feeling you're left with in these scenarios. Once we started talking about the video, we wanted to really push the message of growing past the trauma. Music has always been the outlet for a lot of us to deal with some of the things we've been through, but we really want to push a more positive spin on it, even though the content is really dark.
Why did you decide to re-record “Placebo” for this video release?
We were never happy with the original recording, and it just deserved a better spin. As far as the video goes, it was always important to get this one done. The idea had been long standing and we wanted to see it come to life.
A constant theme in Parts Per Million’s music is breaking cycles passed down through generations. How is it possible to accomplish this in real life, and how do those efforts, positive and negative, manifest themselves in your songwriting?
In the recent years of my life, I've made a lot of changes personally with a lot of help, which I think is the only way to deal with some of the things that some of us go through. A lot of the music I like tends to sit in a negative place, and if I find myself sitting in that headspace too long, it can be dangerous. A lot of the time the songwriting is initially getting some of that anger, pain, and frustration on paper. After that it's about sorting it out, and trying to remind myself and people that everything is temporary and we can change whenever we want to. It took me a long time to recognize how beneficial or detrimental I can be to myself. Staying in the process of growth is the key.
Lastly, holy shit how are the Parts Per Million videos so fucking great?
[laughs] Thanks. We just try and think about the videos that grab us, and spend a lot of time going back and forth with the team at Revelry Studios on how to make something special. We're always floored at how well we work together with Tyler and Matt, and how the ideas just grow and bounce off each other into what we create. It's a collaboration that never gets old. I don't think there's anything we enjoy more than making videos with these guys and we can't wait to start working on the next one.
Parts Per Million is:
Paul McSweeney: Vocals and guitar
S. Brian Bailey: Guitar and vocals
Alex Marks: Bass and vocals
Jake French: Drums
‘Placebo’ production credits:
Produced by Kevin Billingslea
Written and composed by phonographic copyright holder Paul McSweeney
Published through Ascap
Video directed by Tyler Ayers at Revelry Studios in Manchester, N.H.
Parts Per Million short bio:
Parts Per Million is an independent rock band from the New England area founded by singer/songwriter Paul McSweeney and guitarist Brian Bailey. The band rounded out its line up with bassist Alex Marks and drummer Jake French.
The band uses each member’s abilities and different influences as the catalyst to form a sound surpassing something to be listened to and become something to be experienced. Parts Per Million intertwines the ‘90s-era heavy rock and grunge while incorporating something that is rarely heard in rock music with four-part singing harmonies, soaring guitar solos, and a chemistry between them that generate a sound that's unlike anything in today's rock scene.
In 2020 the band received a Video of the Year nomination for their song “2020 Vision” at the Boston Music Awards. In 2021, they followed up with a gripping and powerful video for “Find the Light” and a personal cover of Childish Gambino’s “Me And Your Mama” with the same vision that’s always been in mind – to change hearts and minds to believe there is always a way through adversity, and that something better is waiting on the other side.
Parts Per Million press photo:
Photo Credit: Local Legends Photography
Media praise for Parts Per Million:
“The performance by the band is flawless… impressive.” _Blood Makes Noise
“While you’re loading up your summer playlist, we recommend Parts Per Million’s new single, a cover of Childish Gambino’s ‘Me And Your Mama.’ The New England-based rock band landed a nom for Video of the Year at the 2020 Boston Music Awards, and this one may be an early contender for best single.” _DigBoston
“While hard to pinpoint in terms of genre, they are definitely a rock band – chock full of anthemic choruses, melodies, and guitar riffs.” _The New Fury
“Parts Per Million’s influences stem from ‘90s hard rock and grunge, which can be heard in their harmonies and scorching guitar solos.” _Don’t Forget To Rock
“Parts Per Million has its special magic around their music and their writing style. It stems from a genuine and gentle place and as they continue to grow as a band, we fall more in love with their magic and their presence.” _Keep Walking Music
“If there’s one thing that is certain in this time of uncertainty, it’s that these guys rock. With powerful vocals over pounding drums and riffs aplenty, ‘2020 Vision’ is as big as any rock track to come out this year… If you need something new to help the beers go down then give this a go. It’s sure to get you rocking. _Hard Beat UK