December 3, 2019

Joshua Powell Brings Psych-Rock To The Small Studio

Joshua Powell and the Great Train Robbery at WFYI - Scott McAlister/WFYI

Joshua Powell and the Great Train Robbery at WFYI

Scott McAlister/WFYI

Our latest Small Studio act honed his craft playing more than 800 shows across the nation. These Indianapolis based artists are proving it’s possible to be full time, working musicians in the city. 

Guitarist and vocalist Joshua Powell and his band "the Great Train Robbery" specialize in a blend of music which may remind listeners of two iconic rockers.

Keyboardist Ricky Olmos jokes with Powell, "It's stoner jams for English majors? No, one more. Oh, Neil Young songs played by Pink Floyd? Yeah, I like that one."

Along with guitarist Adam Shuntich, bassist Josh Townsend, and drummer Colin Oakley, the band laces their dreamy  “psych-rock” with heavy riffs, electronic loops, and digital effects - including a meow or two. 

The band's Small Studio Session features three songs from the its latest album, "PSYCHO/TROPIC."

Powell says the tracks aren't structured like a traditional album

"We really built the album in a way that’s meant to draw you in and take you on a series of crests and dips," he says.

This inventive work is made possible with frequent shows and touring across the U.S.

"We’ve played over 850 in the last five years, in 42 states. We’re very good now, that's a byproduct of it -- you can't play that much together and not really hone your craft," Powell says. "In a world where you're trying to reach out to everyone you can digitally and make all of these social media connections – you can’t replace the live experience and the emotional connection that you make with an audience when you are playing at a dive bar in Cleveland."

Powell chose Indianapolis as his creative home after college, following a rough and lengthy tour. He says that he didn't even have a home address for almost two years.

"I tuckered myself out. I was not in good shape. Sixty pounds over what you see now and a lot sadder. We needed a place to grow; a central hub from which to work," Powell says. "We saw the way Indy was growing – maybe a renaissance is happening. And it's not oversaturated like Nashville or Austin.

"People seemed to really know each other and support. It's diverse and encouraging. It's literally in the heart of everything. We can go to 16 major music markets in a weekend, and we do. The progress of the city I've been able to watch in the last few years has been so inspiring to me," Powell says. "It's not a celebrity feeling city, it's not L.A. It's gritty. It has its flaws and its beauty. Sometimes you have to look for it. But, the people here have believed in it, believed in themselves, believed in each other, and decided we don't need to go to a cool place, we're going to make this place cool. So whatever the next Small Studio is, the next idea is; it's an amalgamation of all of those things working together, and a rising tide raises all ships."

Support independent journalism today. You rely on WFYI to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Donate to power our nonprofit reporting today. Give now.


Related News

Zero monthly listeners - Indiana label Ulyssa celebrates Spotify’s unheard musicians
Babyface reflects on early years in Indy during visit to IPS Carl Wilde School 79
Spotlight on Black artists who shaped Indianapolis