The Human Condition
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The Human Condition

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Alternative Acoustic




"The Human Condition Throws Album Release Party at Great American Music Hall"

The Human Condition, a San Francisco-based acoustic band which describes its sound as "purplegrass," releases a new album tonight, Oct. 8, at Great American Music Hall. The band consists of Mark Joseph, 32, Nathan Harris, 31, David McEnulty, 33, and Dan Brennan, 35. But they're more than just a group of 30-something bandmates, they're a genuinely close circle of friends who support each other within their own band and in various side projects each are involved in.

McEnulty is The Human Condition's newest member, replacing the former and much-missed bandmate Gabriel Shevener, who retired from active performing after the birth of his first child. The band is excited about the release of its first album, and promise that attendees at the Music Hall show will receive a free album download card with every ticket purchase. The album, at present, is only being released online, though a vinyl release is in the works.

Can you tell us what exactly "purplegrass" is?

Brennan: People see a string band with people singing and they think bluegrass, but bluegrass people don't like it so we call it purplegrass.
Joseph: There's a bluegrass influence, but we're not traditional bluegrass. We're influenced by American roots music but also by modern music. Like the Beatles, who were the first band that made me believe that music can bring about social change.

Can you talk about some of your other personal influences?

Brennan: I listened to a lot of old music, like Paul Simon and Waylon Jennings. I love the Dead, a country band that became more.
Harris: I remember dancing my ass off to the Dead's Europe 72 concert album. My parents signed me up for piano lessons shortly thereafter. I studied classical, jazz, and blues, and played in punk bands since I was 16. To me, John Coltrane is ridiculous. It's a beautiful expression. He always seems in direct communication when he plays.
McEnulty: I'm into a lot of rock, progressive rock, and folk. My first big musical memory was driving through the desert of Southern Utah in a Westfalia. My brother played Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. That opened whole new worlds to me.

So what can your audience expect at the Music Hall show?

Brennan: We've all played in different genres. Human Condition has a string band format, but we have a big sound.
Joseph: You'll have a good time. The band appeals to four-year-olds and 100-year-olds — there's a unity vibe. We do it to have fun. We put a lot of work into it, but at the end of the day it's about creating memories.
Harris: We're gonna have fun. So everyone will have fun.

This looks to be one of the biggest shows you guys have done so far. What are your goals for The Human Condition?

Brennan: To make people feel things.
Joseph: To encourage people to treat each other better.
McEnulty: Community unity.
Harris: To make them laugh and love.
Joseph: It's a shared experience. The audience is just as important as the band.

Are you ready to face that audience?

Joseph: I am so fucking ready! I've been waiting for this my whole life! - SF WEEKLY


We recorded an EP with Matthew Zipkin at One Union Recording in late November, and are currently finishing material for an album-length session TBA.

The MP3s you hear on SonicBids are from the November session, which was recorded live in the studio with minimal overdubs.



San Francisco string band The Human Condition performs original, modern-day roots music, creating a sound as varied as the world they inhabit. Each song strains against the confines of style and expectation; as much an homage to the past as a departure from it. 

The groups music is a ramblin' drive across an American landscape that is quickly becoming the stuff of memory and imagination. Rowdy barnstormers and driving road songs are offset by calmer, brooding ballads that evoke lazy days and restless nights. Guitars, mandolin, and upright bass are joined by lush vocal harmonies and occasional harmonica in a familiar palette which is cast in new light by innovative songwriting and lyrical imagery. 

Band Members