Pallbearer are always interesting to interview, and this time was no exception. Sitting in the basement of the infamous Saint Vitus Bar, chugging beers and shooting the shit is always fun, especially with good people. And if nothing else, Pallbearer are good people.That’s why I was thrilled they decided to talk about Saint Vitus Bar, their upcoming album and much more.
Obviously you’ve been at St Vitus a lot over the years, and this is a special night for this bar – what is it like to be a part of that celebration?
Brett (B): It’s a great honor. It’s obviously one of the best, if not the best metal clubs in the US. We love the whole staff and everyone who works at the bar. It’s like coming home.
Devin (D): They gave us a shot early on. It was really cool to fly out the first time right after the album came out. It was in late 2012. We came up here right after it was released. So to be a little ass band from Little Rock to be flown out was cool and it’s cool to be back. When we’re in town and not even playing here we try to stop by no matter what because we dig the staff.
You guys played some new shit during soundcheck – tell me about that…
B: There’s no name for it.
D: We have funny working titles to communicate names but no actual name. It’s still in the conceptual development phase.
Something I don’t fully understand given that your bassist lives in Brooklyn is how do you write?
D: Apart, worlds apart! (Laughter) Joe holds it down up here and works on a lot of material and every once in a while he will fly down. We’re alwas talking. It’s so easy to write collectively with the internet.
B: The three of us work on shit then Joe comes down and shows us his stuff and arranges with us. We always arrange as a group.
D: Everyone is in the process of every song. It’s just the way that we have to work.
You were telling me there is going to be a lot more guitar harmonies on this record…
B: There’s going to be a lot more guitar in general.
D: It’s a lot more technically challenging to play. I think it’s the most complex record we have ever written by a lot. We don’t want to get bored.
B: We really pushed ourselves on the second album and we are pushing ourselves for this one too. We’ve had some weirder proggier parts that came up and some new shit. That song we played upstairs in soundcheck was about as fast as it gets and we don’t have anything else in our catalog as fast as that.
At one point you said to me that you consider yourselves a prog band as much as you consider yourselves a doom band. Are you heading in a more prog direction in general?
B: I think it might just be that one song. It remains doomy. Overall it might be a bit more proggy but it still has that Pallbearer signature vibe and it’s still very melodic.
What is it like to be at a level where you can call a lot of shots in terms of running shows?
B: Well it’s really been five years of non stop touring. Linearly we haven’t been around that long but we have done a shitload of touring.
D: For a while we were touring as much as any metal band. A lot of it is just paying your dues for a while and if you are consistent then you start to get a chance to have a say in your presentation.
Now that you have a say, is there anywhere you want to move that?
D: Having a production budget would be cool. It would be cool to have a stage show. Pyrotechnics would rule…
Where would pyrotechnics fit into the show?
B: It would be like WASP – exploding codpieces!
D: In all honesty it would probably be more like projection type shit. Stuff like Pink Floyd or Yes.
Another thing I wanted to circle back too… you once talked to me, Devin, about how you want to be a “Badass motherfucker” in terms of being a musician. What steps have you made towards that?
D: All the wrong ones! I was probably really drunk when I said that! I don’t think anyone is going to say they want to be a weakass bitch musician. I practice every day though and learn a lot of jazz and theory. There will always be people who are way better than you but it’s more about developing your own personal thing. Guys like Santana and Slash aren’t technically amazing but they have their own sound. It’s amazing. I would like to develop a signature sound.
You don’t feel like you’ve already done that?
B: It could always go deeper though!
D: We want to be weirder in the confines of what we’re doing.
B: The new material is an extension of that philosophy. It’s more complex and more melodic and there’s more colors. Our first album is mostly one tempo and a lot of the same vibe. The second album branches out a little more. What we have for the third album is even more of that. More tempo changes and smoother transitions. The songs flow more naturally rather than having distinct changes. There are some jarring moments but it’s constantly evolving.
When did you start studying jazz?
D: I’ve always been interested in it. I played in high school but it’s always been over my head. It’s nice to reach out though. It’s obtainable. What’s beautiful about it is that it can be so many things. Ultimately it’s the theory and mastering the fretboard so you have complete control which, for me, would be the ultimate goal.
B: For me playing jazz is just playing the wrong notes! (Laughter)
Stay up to date with Pallbearer on Facebook and stream the EP on Bandcamp. Pallbearer are just starting a summer tour with Baroness and just released an EP called Fear And Fury. Catch them at a venue near you.
08/12 – Washington, D.C. @ The Howard Theater
08/13 – Northampton, Mass. @ Pearl Street Ballroom
08/14 – New York, N.Y. @ Webster Hall
08/16 – Providence, R.I. @ Fete Ballroom
08/17 – Buffalo, N.Y. @ Waiting Room
08/19 – Cleveland, Ohio @ House of Blues
08/20 – Detroit, Mich. @ St. Andrew’s Hall
08/21 – Chicago, Ill. @ The Metro
08/23 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ The Varsity Theatre
08/24 – Lawrence, Kan. @ The Granada Theatre
08/26 – Albuquerque, N.M. @ Sunshine Theatre
08/27 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ Club Crescent
08/28 – Las Vegas, Nev. @ Psycho Las Vegas
08/30 – San Diego, Calif. @ The Observatory Northpark
08/31 – Tucson, Ariz. @ The Rock
09/02 – Dallas, Texas @ Granada Theatre
09/03 – Memphis, Tenn. @ New Daisy Theatre
09/04 – Baton Rouge, La. @ The Varsity Theatre
09/06 – Orlando, Fla. @ The Beachum Theater
09/07 – Tampa, Fla. @ State Theater