One of the “next stops” of Próxima Parada will be at Brighton Music Hall in Boston this coming Wednesday. The band, based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., had a boost in success after their 2019 song “Musta Been a Ghost” went viral on TikTok in December of 2022. The band, whose name means “next stop” in Spanish and Portuguese, delights in bringing their uplifting and groovy vibes all over the country.
The Daily spoke with the band’s vocalist, guitarist and pianist Nick Larson on Oct. 14.
Larson did not always have a clear path towards becoming a musician.
“I started playing in college. I had no dreams of being a professional musician. I wanted to be a physical therapist, that’s what I went to school for,” Larson said. “We all graduated and we [were] like, ‘Let’s keep having fun with the band and things will work out.’ Over time it became very clear that this is what we were supposed to be doing.”
What started as a pastime in college has since grown into a national touring act, with the band’s “Next Stop Tour” recently kicking off on Sept. 20 in Phoenix, Ariz.
“At the beginning of this tour we talked about how we really want to see this as an adventure, and that requires [facing] some challenges,” Larson said. “If you want to do something meaningful it definitely requires some discomfort. I keep having to remind myself of that.”
Tackling discomfort head-on marks an important part of Larson’s songwriting.
“[Our music is about] trying to make sense of struggles, and telling myself the things that I need to hear,” Larson said. “When you write it into a song, it’s like okay, I’m going to sing this a lot, so I keep having to bring it back into my experience … A really simple example is this song called ‘Begin Again.’ Every time I sing that song, I feel like I’m hitting this gentle reset button.”
Próxima Parada’s latest single, “Tunnel Through A Mountain” (2023), meditates on depression over only three chords.
“That’s the simplest song we’ve ever put out,” Larson said. “We always want to be in service to the song. … If a song needs a lot of colorful chords then, hey, we’re here to serve the song, we’ll do it.”
Lots of colorful chords, however, would not have fit “Tunnel Through A Mountain.”
“Kevin and I were driving through Colorado, and I was driving the van and Kevin was sitting passenger, and he was playing a ukulele. We were looking at these ginormous tunnels cutting through these huge mountains in Colorado on the I-70, and we were just thinking about the things in our lives that feel like that. Something like depression, for me, can feel like trying to build a tunnel through a mountain,” Larson said. “Serving the song means getting out of the way. … What [the song] needed was those three chords, the simple melody and the simple lyrics.”
Embracing the simplicity to serve “Tunnel Through A Mountain” resonated to great effect with audiences.
“I see tears in the audience when we play that song. I notice people turning inward and reflecting on their lives when we play that song. I think it’s really been impacting people and I’m really grateful for that; that this simple song could resonate with so many people,” Larson said.
Starting from no musical experience, and teaching high school Spanish for five years before becoming part of a touring band, Larson advises aspiring musicians to prioritize enjoying making music above rushing to find success.
“There really isn’t a rush to this. If you’re really enjoying it, you just keep putting time into it. That’s what it’s been for us. We haven’t had big breaks, or it wasn’t just this one moment that all of a sudden [made us think that] we could do music full time. It was very slow and organic over time. It’s a beautiful practice in delayed gratification,” Larson said. “You work really hard and you don’t always get exactly the results you want. We really don’t like to be uncomfortable in life, and doing this career is a practice in affirming discomfort.”
Larson’s conscientious approach to working through discomfort brings a warmth to otherwise difficult and cold topics. Whether listening to records or catching the band at their “next stop,” Próxima Parada’s music guarantees a cozy togetherness in facing struggles, backed by a solid musical grooviness.