An Interview with “Good Friday” — Four Students Following Their Dreams


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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Ryan Nguyen

“We are Dawson, Eli, Hayden, and Patrick. We make music.”

This is the page description from the Facebook about page of “Good Friday,” a four-member band started by three Aloha High School students and one former AHS student; Dawson Kolstad and Patrick Procaccini are both seniors who are both graduating on June 9 as part of the class of 2017, Hayden McAllister is a current AHS junior, and Eli Fissell is a former AHS student who graduated with the class of 2016 and who is a current student at Portland Community College. The rock band was founded in 2015 and released their first album, Blind, in 2016, and their album contains nine songs, which can be found on Spotify and iTunes. Their most popular single, “Walking on the Water,” has just under 1,000 listens on Spotify.

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From left: Dawson Kolstad, Patrick Procaccini, Eli Fissell, and Hayden McAllister. (Photo Credit: Good Friday Facebook page)

Their electrifying music brings a touch of modern to the mix of music inspiration the four musicians bring to the table: a dash of punk rock, a sprinkle of bouncy pop, and a bit of hard rock all come together to establish these four teenagers as an undoubtedly talented up and coming band to watch out for. Sitting down to interview them, the members’ young age doesn’t mark them as immature when they speak about their passion for music.

Madeline Saunders: What kind of music genre [would you define the band as]?

Patrick Procaccini: I would say “progressive rock.” I think we’re taking a lot of older styles and themes and putting it into our own way, and also using modern styles as well, and using that in our own way. So we’re mixing old and new.

Ryan Nguyen: [Was this style a deliberate choice at the beginning, or was it a result of your own style evolving over time?]

Eli Fissell: A little bit of both. Really, all of us have inspiration from bands all over the rock landscape, like [from] punk to pop to hard rock, and I think we all were wanting to figure out how we could bring something more unique to the table than just being a hard rock band or just being a punk rock band or whatever. We wanted to see how we could show those influences, and also make it something that’s more appealing to a modern audience.

Madeline: [Why did you guys originally decide to start a band?]

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From left: Dawson Kolstad, Patrick Procaccini, Eli Fissell, and Hayden McAllister. (Photo Credit: Kiara Yin-Husband)

Hayden McAllister: That is a good question.

Dawson: I remember that Eli actually named the band by flipping through… well, he was looking at…  wasn’t it a list of holidays?

Eli: I was sitting in class with this school planner in front of me. And I decided, “well, I’m going to… I’ve always wanted to start a band because the three of us have been… including [Patrick] [growing] up together, and we’ve grown up playing music together, and we had always talked about the idea of starting a band. And so I was sitting in class, and I’m like, “what’s a good band name?” So I just flip [my planner] open to a random page… and [I found the name] “Good Friday,” and I thought, ““Good Friday.” That’s a good band name.”

Dawson: Exactly! Especially… we get a huge boost of likes around the holiday [Good Friday].

[Everyone laughs]

Dawson: Well, actually… also, if you look at what the day Good Friday is — well, first of all, I wanted to comment that it’s [the name] is a lot better than our original name that we came up with when I was… [nine, ten years old]. We came up with the name — at this time, I was just in the middle of my Michael Jackson phase — and you can actually spot little hints of Michael Jackson melodies or whatever throughout our music — and I think it was funny, because I wanted to be edgy. I was like, “Eli, what do you think of this name: “Built for Rock”?”

[Dawson, Eli, Hayden, and Patrick laugh]

Dawson: Also, I think our music is a metaphor for the name, “Good Friday,” because — I mean — although we’re not a Christian band… [Ryan: Would you say there are elements of religion in the band in your music? Is that what you were going to say?] … well, I would say that it’s very reminiscent of the name, “Good Friday,” like a lot of our music, because… Good Friday is the day that Jesus died, and then Easter is the day he came back to life. Good Friday is basically the dark before the dawn, and I think if you look at a lot of our music, you can see elements of that within the music, whether or not we’re Christian or not — I mean, we all are Christian guys, but our music is not Christian music. But you can see that, I think, clearly in the music. You see [that] there’s some darker elements to our music that foreshadow a light at the end of the tunnel.

Ryan: [How did the band begin?]

Patrick: I didn’t start [with music] until, about 8th grade. And then I basically self-taught myself. That was… [2012]. And I started on bass, actually. I started playing with the jazz band at middle school, momentarily — I didn’t really stay around, though. And then I basically taught myself, just learning off my brother, because my brother already [knows how to play] guitar. And then I met Dawson in Spanish class. And then we got together and had a little jam session, and it has all led up to this moment.

Hayden: I’m still in my school band, actually. I play trumpet in there, and I… “Good Friday,” at the time, was more of just a side thing. But now… trumpet in school is more of the side thing, and I’m more focused on this than anything. Really, in [the] school band, we play music that’s already been written and learn about music and how it works, whereas in [“Good Friday”], we’re more message-oriented; we have something to say, and we do it through the way that we know best, which is music. We also really enjoy the heck out of making our music; it’s really fun.

Madeline: Do you make music because it’s fun, or do you enjoy getting profits through selling music?

Hayden: Well, for me, music has always been this way. I’ve always seen it as a way to communicate things in, the same way you could communicate through a speech or through a book. But it’s something that’s more precise, in a three to five-minute song you can say something, you can represent a whole idea and not just the words of it, but also the feeling with the music. So that’s why I’ve been drawn to making music. And I think it’s an easy way to communicate how I feel and how I think to the world, and that’s why I’m drawn to music, first and foremost. I’d love to be making enough profit from doing it to have that be my full-time job, but even if the money wasn’t there, I’d still be doing it — I’d still be putting myself out there.

Patrick: I think for each of us as individuals, we definitely do it for fun.

Eli: That’s how it started off. We didn’t have any intentions of making money. That wasn’t any of our personal intentions; [it] was just because it was something we enjoyed. It was something that we were open to and that was available to us.

Patrick: Yeah. And as a band, too, it’s like… you can play on your own time, and it’s nice, and it’s relaxing, but I find it much more rewarding to play with these three guys than alone, because there’s a connection between all of us when we play. And it’s not just that we might get an opportunity to play some big gig in Portland or anywhere [else] or that we might be able to sell something, but — for me, at least — it’s just all about the connection that we have on stage or in the practice room or writing songs or anything.

“[F]or me, at least — it’s just all about the connection that we have on stage or in the practice room or writing songs or anything.”

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The band signing with Music Millennium to sell albums. (Photo Credit: Good Friday Facebook page)

Ryan: Do you guys have any future aspirations of playing professional music?

Hayden: Yeah. This is something that [is] our dream. And if this is going to be our career, that’s going to be the biggest blessing ever, and we’re not going to let anything throw us off from that. And we have full confidence that we are able to do that. We have enough connections, and we have a strong desire to do it, and I firmly believe that we will be able to go somewhere.

Dawson: Yeah. I totally agree with Hayden. I think that so much of the time, people let the statistic get to them, that maybe 0.5 percent of people who try to pursue a music career ever get anywhere, and I think that that stops so many people, because the chances that are so slim. But I think that we’re all so stinkin’ motivated, that I think it’s already getting somewhere that — and I don’t mean this out of any pride or anything, but I do think that it’s getting somewhere that not a lot of people are able to get to. It is what we all want to do. When I think of the possibility of this being my life, and this giving me a career, making a career out of this and gaining profit from it, I think that that’s so much more exciting to me than the idea of just sitting at a computer all day in a cubicle. I think that that’s not for me, and I don’t think that’s for these three guys either, and I think, for pursuing a professional music career, I mean like recording ten albums, fifteen albums, and going on big world tours — that’s something we all want to do, and I think it’s very evident in the way that we want to portray ourselves. I don’t know if we seem like that, already. We probably don’t. Maybe we do. But I know for a fact that all of us want to do that for our [lives].

Patrick: I think at this point, we’re putting our feet in the water. And now we have an album out, and we’ve been playing a couple shows, and I think we’re starting to get used to how it is in the real world where instead of playing for really small crowds or just one song for an event, I think we’re really starting to step into professional music. And also the same with our album recording, because the first time we made it into the studio, we had no idea what we were doing. And then, once we actually started to take it seriously and get a lot of feedback from people who are already in the music business, we started to realize that it’s a little bit more complicated than we might have thought, as well.

Dawson: Yeah, it was April of 2016. It was the day after my birthday, so April 11 of 2015 was the first day we went into the studio together. [Ryan: Where was that?] It’s called, “Thelma’s,” and it’s in the Sellwood area of East Portland. So, Hayden and I are cousins. And our grandpa, Paul Jones has a lot of connections in the music industry, and so he decided that he’d get us booked for some time in the studio with this guy named Ron. Ron Chick. So he ended up doing our album with us, and he mixed it and everything. He did an amazing job. But our first time in the studio, he did an amazing job the second time, because the first time, he had nothing to work with, because we sucked as a band. We were decent as musicians — four different musicians. But as a band, we were awful in April 2015. We had only been a band for two months.

Ryan: So what did you guys feel when you were walking into that recording studio for the first [time]?

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The band during rehearsal. (Photo Credit: Kiara Yin-Husband)

Hayden: I was pretty freaked out, because I had actually been in there before, because we had seen our grandpa record in there previously, for his albums, but…

Ron, who was just sitting there, waiting for us, and we walked in and stood up. I was nervous, because I knew it was our first time, and I didn’t really understand how it worked. It was not good at all. And then, so we…  recorded five songs, originally. And they were just not… like, at the time, we were like, “oh my gosh, we just recorded something; that’s so cool.” And then about a year later, in that time, we had a couple gigs that were good for experience, like working together, and still, a lot of practices together, writing more music, and we had this original concept of an album, and then it ended up getting completely changed and shortened. And then in February of 2016, we felt like we were ready to go back in.

Hayden: So, February of 2016, we released one of those five bad recordings, [“Shadow”].

Dawson and Hayden: Which was the best out of those.

Hayden: Which tells you had bad the other ones were.

[Everyone laughs]

Ryan: [W]hen was your first major gig?

Patrick: The Lantern Walk, maybe?

Eli: But I wasn’t there for that!

[Everyone laughs]

Ryan: Let me rephrase this… as a cohesive group.

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Drummer Hayden McAllister during a rehearsal. (Photo Credit: Kiara Yin-Husband)

Hayden: As a group, probably Music Millennium. Which was…  April 2016.

Hayden: Music Millennium is a music store in downtown Portland.

Patrick: It was really tight. It was small. Small and cramped.

Hayden: You’d walk in, to your left, there were stairs going up, and then there [were] more stairs. Then you’d follow [them] all the way to the other side of the room, on the top level, and there’s a balcony where you can set up your stuff, and then down below the balcony, everybody can shop, and they can look up and see you play there. It’s pretty cool; it just wasn’t conveniently spaced for us.

Dawson: [W]e are rambunctious live.

Patrick: [laughs] I would say so.

Dawson: [W]e do jump around a lot, or at least I know [that] I am insane. I run and I jump.

Patrick: He runs all over the place.

Dawson: Eli literally looks like he’s about to take somebody’s head off…

[Dawson, Eli, Hayden, and Patrick laugh]

Dawson: … with his swinging bass [guitar] as he’s stomping around, and then Hayden’s smashing the drum set, but he’s kind of stuck in the back.

Hayden: Yeah. I guess so.

[Everyone laughs]

Dawson: Yeah. And Patrick is just… Patrick’s more calm [sic] than Eli, though.

Patrick: I was more calm [sic], but most of the time I just feel really cramped, especially with the venues that we’ve played.

Ryan: How did you feel as you walked onto that stage for the first time?

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From left: Patrick Procaccini and Dawson Kolstad during rehearsal. (Photo Credit: Kiara Yin-Husband)

Hayden: [Before], we had had a few gigs, and they weren’t anything special at all. Either somebody wasn’t there, or it had just something completely go wrong, or… not that many people [would come], but this time, [we had] a pretty decent amount of people, and we had finally pulled our act together well enough. So we got up there, and then we were introduced, and [then they] were like, “oh yeah, be sure to check out their single on iTunes!” And that’s cool to hear. We started the set, and then you could just… my favorite thing, probably, when we play, is just to see people’s faces go from like, “okay, it’s [just] teenagers,” that’s because that’s everybody’s… [preconceived notions]. Yeah, it was just, “okay, it’s just another teenage band just trying to go somewhere.” And then we — I don’t want to sound prideful at all, I’m just saying in the humblest way that we always, you know, watching people’s faces [change completely] is super rewarding. Individually, and as a group, it is so nice to [hear]. And then we can do our stuff: we play our original songs, a few covers — people want to hear something they know — and that was probably our best gig up until this previous one.

Dawson: Hayden is right; Music Millennium felt really good, but finally, it felt like all our time in here, playing in this room and trying so hard to lock into each other and trying so hard to be tight-sounding, interesting, and evoke emotion out of a crowd, it felt like it paid off with our most recent gig. [Ryan: Where was this?] The Analog, in Portland.

Patrick: It’s like a cafe and bar.

Dawson: It was really nice because it felt like the four of us were… it felt like that was the top of our game — even though I was sick — but it felt really good, and it felt like we [barely] ever messed up. And it felt like we got people there.

Patrick: Yeah. We had minimal mistakes, and I think we had the right crowd we would’ve played for, too.

Hayden: We opened for three other bands, and for them to be able to let us in and like… they had no idea, really, who we were, so we just had to show them who we were and prove a point, and honestly, that’s what we did. I feel like we’re a little bit more respected now. Which is, obviously like, not what we’re [primarily] pursuing, but when you’re trying to build yourself up and build a foundation that’s what you want, is for other musicians who are respected to respect you, so then you can get other respect from people and end up getting more of a crowd and … [a following].

Ryan: Tell us about your upcoming album.

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The band’s official first album, “Blind.” (Photo Credit: Good Friday Facebook page)

Dawson: Yeah, for this new album, I think we’re split. [W]e focus a lot on live stuff, but also we do focus a lot on album stuff [and] on studio stuff. Like, that’s a huge priority, I think they’re probably fifty-fifty, because it’s important to have a good sounding album. And our last album did sound really good. A lot of the music came together really well, and I think — and I’m pretty proud of it, to be completely honest — but I think we can do a lot better. And for this new album, we’re going to be recording, Eli and I are going to be splitting, most likely, a lot of the key stuff — and maybe the other two if they want to — but other than that…. Patrick shreds [the guitar pretty well].

Patrick: [laughs] Yeah, [I’m] hoping maybe to expand my musicianship to other string instruments like a mandolin or a violin or something like that to just layer over the top of the guitar or something like that. I know, actually, we have a song that we’re working on right now, where Eli is actually on the lead guitar and I’m playing the bass for it. But I also want to improve some of my vocals too and get some vocals, possibly, in an album somewhere in the future.

Dawson: Wouldn’t it be cool if we had four vocalists?

Patrick: Four vocalists.

Dawson: I would actually love it…

Hayden: It would officially be a boy band.

[Everyone laughs]

Dawson: [in a “girly” voice] Yes! We’d be a boy band! [in normal voice] We’d be cooler than the Jonas Brothers.

Hayden: Let’s not go that far…

[Everyone laughs]

Patrick: I’m excited for all of us to expand our musicianship, because I know that Hayden plays trumpet in the school band, he plays bass and guitar… well, he’s working on guitar a little more.

[Everyone laughs]

Patrick: You have enough to where you can play a couple of songs.

Dawson: [laughs] Just kidding.

Patrick: And I know Eli is working on keys and guitar as well, so it’s like we can play, pretty much, every instrument.

Dawson: Woah! That’s a little…

[Everyone laughs]

Dawson: No, he’s joking about that. [laughs]

Patrick: We can play each other’s instruments, if we have to, except for drums. [laughs] We’re definitely expanding our musicianship — personally, as well as a band — because we’re adding a lot of different instruments into the next album [as well as] using more keys than we did [before].

Madeline: How is planning going?

Eli: We’ve been putting ideas together for about a month; we probably won’t even start recording for another couple of months, but we have another producer that we may be working with. And we have a lot of ideas, pretty much. All four of us are always working on writing something new, whether it be lyrics or a new guitar part or a new drum bit.

Ryan: So how long does it take you guys to finish an album, juggling school and work and college applications?

Eli: Several of the songs from the first album were written way back at the start [of] February, March of 2014, and it took until just this past November to get that album out. So about a year and a half is what that took, but we weren’t nearly as focused. We didn’t know exactly what we wanted from the album, we didn’t know exactly how everything would come together, and we weren’t as focused on it. But this next album, yeah. For about a month, we’ve been actively trying to put our ideas together that we have, and we already have twelve songs that are not anywhere near final, but we have a good fit written for it. And so, we’re already at the point where we’re starting to piece it together and get a more cohesive idea of what it might be sounding like, and we’re still probably going to write a [lot] more songs, and we’ll probably end up switching out songs for better ones that we end up writing, but we’ll probably be [starting] some preliminary recording in the next three, four months. From there, it’ll probably be another five, six months. Depending on how long we want to take and make sure everything is all good.

Madeline: Do you have a name for this new album?

Eli: [laughs] We didn’t even name the first album until… what? Two, three months before we released it?

[Everyone laughs]

Eli: I think we’ll probably do the same thing with this album: wait until we have all the songs recorded and listen through it multiple times, [to get a feel for it], and then put a name on that based off the final product, not what we think it’s going to be before we’ve recorded it.

Patrick: Yeah, because what we did for Blind was we analyzed each song, and we talked about what its deepest meaning was, and other possible meanings that each song could have, and also the structure of the album between songs and how the feel of a song will change throughout the album. We talked about all of the changes through the album and what we thought would work best. And we had a lot of really good ideas for the name and a lot of really bad ideas…

[Everyone laughs]

Ryan: What sort of bad ideas?

[Dawson, Eli, Hayden, and Patrick groan]

Ryan: … It’s for our readers out there!

Eli: I’m thinking of our first title for it.

Patrick: Woah, woah, woah…

Hayden: No…

Eli: No, before that.

Dawson: … Wait, what was it?

Patrick: Don’t do it…

Eli: Love this Revolution.

Dawson: Oh no! Shut up!

[Everyone laughs]

Dawson: Stop it!

Eli: Go write that down.

Dawson: No, no! Stop!

Hayden: Oh no, no…

Eli: It’s an inside scoop….

Hayden: Yeah, in our first draft of the album…

Dawson: Which was a year and a half ago.

Eli: A year before it came out, even.

Dawson: Before the real one.

Eli: And we cut like half the songs from that original [one].

Hayden: Thank goodness we didn’t stick to that.

Ryan: Do you guys have [any advice] you would tell your young musicians selves?

Patrick: I would say don’t give up, and pursue it at all costs. Because at this point, we’ve put in so much effort, time, and money that there’s no going back. So if you really want to try to get your name out there and be a professional musician, you have to put everything into it.

Dawson: I kind of agree with Patrick’s point, I think. But I would tell my old self, in my words, [to] embrace what’s happening. Because I felt like we didn’t embrace it together for a while; I think we embraced our own personal ideas and aspirations for what this would be a lot more than we embraced it together. So we embraced the idea of it individually more than we did as a band, and I think we definitely suffered because of it for a while. Not “suffer,” but… [Ryan: It held you back?] … yeah, yeah. Exactly. So finally, the moment we started acting as one, I think, was the moment we started creating a lot of really good material — relatively good material — but stuff that we were proud of.

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