Happy Hour On The Floor, the fifth album from alt/folk rockers Parsonsfield, draws from new experiences, new relationships, and new responsibilities — and, in return, delivers a new sound. The album, featuring bandmates Chris Freeman, Antonio Alcorn, Max Shakun, and Erik Hischmann, drops on April 3 via Signature Sounds. I caught up with Freeman to hear more about the band's firsts and how Parsonsfield continues to find inspiration for their evolving sound. Excerpts below.

Happy Hour On The Floor comes out April 3 on Signature Sounds
Signature Sounds

Thanks to a different approach, the band's fifth album has a new perspective,

"We wanted this to be different, but also keep the handcrafted vibes that make us special," Freeman says. With that goal in mind, Parsonsfield took their time to make the album, recording for 10 days in a barn in Connecticut, and trying out new recording techniques like using loops instead of click tracks. "A click track is a harsh, artificial sound that is pretty stressful and uninspiring to play over," Freeman says. "This time, using bells, muted piano, and drums, we built loops that were inspiring to play over, and had the vibe we were looking for."

Freeman says they also incorporated new instruments in the tracks on Happy Hour On The Floor, including a vintage CR-78 drum machine, cello, mellotron, and an iPhone. "I just wanted it to sound beautiful, no matter what the sound source was. Everyone followed their instincts to make it happen."

It's been nearly 10 years since members of Parsonsfield met in college and started playing music together.

“It became the best part of our week,” Freeman says. “Stress-free jamming on old-time bluegrass and Irish music. We were nothing more than a song circle for each other.” Show requests followed, and everything snowballed from there. They started writing songs, solidified their lineup, and officially became a band.

Their first Boston show was at the cafe at the Somerville Armory.

Parsonsfield used to come up to Boston from Connecticut to busk for the day — i.e., play in subway stations and on the street — and were familiar with the scene. “We decided to go out on the street and busk to tell people about our show that night.”

They played on the street for a few hours, and when they got to the Armory, they played three hours more. “And while playing the show, someone asked us to come to their house afterward to play a house party.” The band lugged their stuff a quarter mile down the street for their third show for the day. “I think we wound up playing for about 8 hours that day,” Freeman says, considering this a successful intro to the Boston music scene.

The first song they wrote/played together was “Footsteps in My Ear.”

According to Freeman, they crammed five people into a college bedroom, and the sound made him think it might burst. “At that point, I had played very little music with a full band, so in fact, it was my heart about to burst with joy.” Shakun added what would become the mandolin melody on guitar, and Hischmann, on drums, brought what had been a quiet acoustic concept into a new emotional range. Freeman wrote the next verse in the shower during a rehearsal break. “I learned then what I still know to be true. There is magic in creating music with other people. I knew I wanted to chase that feeling of creation for the rest of my life.”

Freeman finds what he calls “song seeds” all around the Boston area.

“I love to just walk with my phone and record voice memos of myself singing,” he says. “I wrote a melody yesterday morning where the words were just a list of shops at Assembly Square. Those words are just filler for the time being, but I find that movement leads to my best ideas.”

Freeman loves Robert Burns, Shakespeare, and John Updike as inspiration for lyrics. Collectively, the band also has some close band-friends who live here in Boston and are inspirations. “Tall Heights and Darlingside are both Boston bands that we have grown up with in the industry, and they have been good friends to us,” he says. “Tall Heights helped us edit the songs on this new album.”

Parsonsfield has been playing “Ophelia” by The Band since the very start.

“It's such a great song to jam on, a little bit bluesy and very rootsy,” Freeman says. “That song can go on for an hour and everyone is still dancing and smiling like it just started.”

And their pre-show ritual goes back to their time in a singing group in college.

“We used to always do ‘4 on 3,’” says Freeman. “It’s a cheer where we count, 1,2, 3 and then all shout 4! together.” They like to bring someone from the venue, or whoever is hanging around, to join in. Before that, Freeman enjoys going for a run, some yoga, and meditation. “I find that it helps get my mind focused on the show and allows me to leave all the other stresses behind. Plus, running is great for your voice. It opens up your breathing.”

Career options outside of music?

Freeman thinks that Alcorn would be a robotics engineer working for a company that is about to be bought by Google, while Alcorn thinks that Freeman would be in front of the camera, starring in his own cooking/running/yoga show. “Maybe I’d get a cameo.”

Where can Boston see Parsonsfield perform next?

The band has several local shows coming up, including April 16 at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, and May 9 at the Sinclair. You can get the full tour schedule here.