I think nobody can deny that there is a certain hype about these things called sludge and drone and all those spherical instrumental rock bands nowadays and as far as I am concerned this hype isn’t even wrong because a lot of these bands are really great. Maybe the quota is just so good because the point where billions of shitty clones start to follow the trend isn’t reached yet. One of my personal favourites in this field of music is Chicago based four piece Pelican and so it was quite clear that I’d try to attend their show at the Logo in Hamburg when they were around and yes, I would not be disappointed. Pelican really did create an atmosphere whereas Cave In could only get me with one and a half song or so. This stuff is just too desert rock for me…
So after the show I sneaked into the tiny backstage broom closet and asked the band a few questions which I recorded with my brand new minidisk recorded and half of which I just deleted because I don’t know how to use it properly so I just decided to write this stuff down in another way than the classical interview style.
I was glad to hear that the band’s tour with Cave In was going well as they reported. Actually it’s going really excellent. It is one of our best tours for sure so far. Especially as they were playing many cities that neither of the band has played before they was very happy about many people coming to listen to their music.
They are also very happy about the new album they just released. It’s just better. I think it’s more dynamic. The songs are more accomplished. We know each other better. It is more cohesive as a whole. It sounds better. I think it’s everything we wanted to be pretty much and that may sound overconfident but we took time with it and we feel a lot better about it.
A little less happy they were about me putting them into a drone context as they don’t regard themselves as being a drone band, maybe they had some droney moments on their first recordings but they left that behind pretty much. They simply regard themselves as a band with a hardcore/punk background not only because most of them were together in a grindcore band named Tusk before they formed Pelican. They still play house shows though this has recently become rare as there are simply too many people who want to see their shows. But they just played a few before they joined the Opeth US tour.
As an instrumental band they think their artwork got a very big importance because when you are listening to their music you cannot read the lyrics sheet but simply look at the artwork. So they take great care of that. Also the song titles are very important for them as they are like the thread of their records. Usually we write a badge of songs when we are working on new material and once we have a feel what the new songs sound like we start coming up with a theme tying the songs together and we name the songs accordingly. With their latest album this central topic is nature. When we were doing the demos we were just thinking about other things and came up with titles like “aurora borealis” and “sirius” and the record seemed to tie itself together around various themes centred around the environment and changes in nature and it just seemed to make sense. I mean we definitely use song titles that feel right for the songs. They are not jokes or something like that.
They don’t think having no lyrics is a disadvantage rather the other way round. I think as an instrumental band one of the things that are really positive is that our music doesn’t have like a set meaning. With a band with lyrics there might be a single way that you could read a song whereas our songs are pretty much open to be interpreted for everyone the way they want. And I feel like we name our songs in a similar fashion that are more open to interpretation, that are more open for people to decide what they mean to them..
This openness for interpretation may also be the reason for the band being quite quiet on stage. Where other bands take minutes to explain the contents of the next song Pelican just let the music speak for itself and reduce their speeches to some friendly words as they are indeed a very friendly and nice band. Maybe this has to be this for if you were negative people you could not bear the heavy weight of the little epics they create and that are always more on the melancholy side of being. But it is the smiles on the faces of the musicians and the devotion to their music that is ubiquitous that gives the whole that little twist to optimism that keeps you from getting crushed by the huge musical buildings they create.
So the only thing I forgot to ask and so will never come out is why the Cave In guy have so much bigger beards than those in Pelican. We’ll never get to know… Bt in the meanwhile we can meditate about it while listening to their latest record “The Fire in our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw” that is out on Hydrahead.