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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

Looking behind the scenes of Porcelain Parrot

Allison Ward
The band sits with Reaves to watch him perform small disappearing acts with his bowl of fries.

Amongst the many talented students at UNC Asheville lie four whose ambitions within music have started to become realized through a little gig band called Porcelain Parrot.

“Jon, Brandon and I jammed out in a practice room on campus our freshman year. Noah joined the fray after to play lead, and we started hitting practices pretty regularly after that,” said Nathan Reaves, a 20-year-old junior, bassist and mass communication major at UNCA.

It’s been around a year and a half since they’ve joined together, but the inception started with a solo project the lead singer, Jonathan Davis was working on. He figured it would be cool to use that project’s name as the name of the band and thus, Porcelain Parrot was born. 

Being full-time students as well, the entirety of the band has a lot of activities they have to focus on outside of the gigs they play. Lead guitarist Noah Brackett, 20-year-old junior and music technology major, loves to play basketball in his downtime.

If I’m not doing something music-related there is a good chance it is basketball related. I also love tinkering with my guitars, switching out pickups and electronics or trying new things,” Brackett said.

Reaves is currently in a directing class at UNCA where he gets to work in small groups to produce short films. He’s often working independently to make soundtracks and unique music for the films, but has enjoyed opportunities to direct and write scripts. His most recent group project was named Half Past Whiskey.

“I’ve been working on a new music project with some friends called The Blinds! It’s an indie pop-funk band, really fun stuff. Me and a good friend of mine have also been working on a social media food channel called Crum Eats where we cook and eat just about everything,” Reaves said.

The drummer of Porcelain Parrot, Brandon Grovenger, has a couple side projects he works on with Brackett. His current project is called S.O.T.S, an alternative hip-hop music group on Spotify.

Outside of Porcelain Parrot my main ambition is to get into studio work and be an engineer,” said Grovenger, 20-year-old junior and music technology major.

Davis is still ambitiously working through his school year, balancing the work of his music projects with his regular school schedule. He has plans to continue producing and writing music under the Porcelain Parrot name, with a bigger project in mind for the future.

“I’ve been working hard on an album mostly recorded by myself, with some overdubs from my bandmates, for the past two years,” Davis said.

Porcelain Parrot takes a lot of pride in the crowd’s enjoyment in their sets. They want an engaged crowd that is shouting for more music when they’re trying to head off stage. Forming a set that keeps the crowd yearning for more takes time and practice.

“We try to build energy throughout the set and have a good pace to keep people engaged. For example, before we play our ‘hit’ song we play a cover of ‘Rock n Roll’ by Led Zeppelin to get the crowd’s energy going,” Reaves said.

Brackett said they’re usually checking over the set three or four times in practice just to perfect the order of everything and figure out what songs do and don’t work for their sets. 

“My favorite part of music is performing, and your set and setlist can determine so much of how the performance is received. For me, I think a good set should have a balance of tension and release; I like to start loud and big, cool out in the middle, and end as strong as we started,” Brackett said.

This performance and crowd work is something Davis is still learning to balance. He wants to have a certain flow between songs that leaves little time for the crowd to get bored and wants everyone to be super engaged with the music. 

“The most important thing I’ve learned recently is to talk less, and play more. Stage banter is hard and people are there to hear the music,” Davis said.

There are some things that just make a performance feel like a show. One week they were playing “Helter Skelter” and Brackett would start a long solo with just him. The rest of the band started giving him these held up hands like they were trying to give him extra energy and power through their fingertips.

“The rest of the crowd joined us in this action one night, and over time it’s become one of my favorite moments playing live music,” Davis said.

This whole endeavor has been a massive learning process for the entire band. From getting in contact with venues to working with new people and being creatively invested in someone else’s project, it has all been a culmination of new experiences and interesting events. Their biggest hurdle starting out was to find gigs around Asheville. 

“The truth is it’s not very easy finding gigs in the first place. We usually take what we can find, and so far we’ve played at places we know are established either through personal experience or word of mouth,” Brackett said.

The band was lucky to have a group of friends running a house venue for the very start of their journey. Tan Universe, a band that has since dispersed and had the lead singer move to Los Angeles, was a massive help for them starting off. Many of the other band members are pursuing other ventures in Asheville.

“I’ve found myself prone to anxiety when reaching out to venues, following up, etc. My schedule has been so full for so long that sometimes I need to take a break to prioritize school or my personal life. It’s all a great balancing act but I can feel it slowly getting better, as time goes on,” Davis said.

All this said, The band carries on taking whatever gigs they can just to get their name out there. They’re never sure who they’ll meet or what opportunities they might find just playing a random gig in Asheville. A few dollars of pay is certainly worth the exposure these small venues can provide according to Reaves and Grovenger.

“My plan after I graduate is to work a lot, and to play as many gigs as possible. Going on tour would be absolutely awesome! I want to continue to make meaningful personal and professional connections here and to get as involved with the community as possible,” Davis said.

Grovenger plans to graduate next spring and wants to remain in Asheville for a while to pursue studio work. There are opportunities and connections for him to move to LA when he’s ready, but getting some experience where he lives is opportunity enough right now. 

“I’ll be graduating in spring 2025. I don’t have any immediate plans. I imagine I’ll probably take a couple of years to continue playing music and maybe look for job opportunities at recording studios or other related fields,” Brackett said.

Reaves is graduating in spring 2025 as well, and is entirely focused on creating new and interesting connections after graduation. He’s not locked himself down to any one plan but wants to continue pursuing the projects he’s passionate about. 

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