Interview: Pelican – Trevor de Brauw

Considering the distance you all live apart now, did it help having that skeletal form there which you could just build upon as you couldn’t get together in a room?

For those two songs yeah but those were still written in the same way we have been doing since 2006 when Larry and Bryan moved. Every time we have a show we not only practice the set, we work on new material. The other two songs on the EP [‘Ataraxia’ and ‘Taraxis’] we approached in a really different way which was kind of exciting. We just kept recording parts and sending them back and forth to one another and continued to layer the pieces together. I didn’t know how it would play out and although we were really happy with the results, we weren’t sure how other people would feel about it but people have been saying really pleasant things about those two songs and in the reviews also.

You say it was exciting but was it difficult trying to manage it and get into the right creative mindset as you had to wait for a response from the other members, listen to their parts but maybe not feel what they were doing?

Not really but for us it may be different than other bands. We’ve played together for so many years and composed together for so many years that there is now an intuitive sense of what everyone will bring to each song within their position in the band. You know what feels right to play when someone delivers a part to you or you know how to write a part because you know what they are capable of doing to this to make it sound great. Even if it doesn’t fit with what we have in mind – a big part of the Pelican process is that we all have our equal say as we’re four very different musicians, a Pelican song will not sound like a Pelican song until each member has contributed their part and had their say.

After you built the songs, the final song that you would record, did you take them to a professional studio to record each layer or do you all have your own home studios that were capable of capturing what you needed and then just pieced it together?

I’ll walk you through it as it is a little bit complicated [laughs]. For the two older songs on the EP [‘Lathe Biosas’ and ‘Parasite Colony’], Bryan recorded his bass parts at home and sent them to LA where Larry recorded his drum parts. Then I did most of the tracks at home for the first track [‘Ataraxia’] and then Bryan and I created a skeleton for the last track [‘Taraxis’] before we sent those to LA where Larry recorded additional drum parts. Then we finished everything else at another studio and mixed it there. Most of the home studio stuff we used but then we overdubbed them in the studio to make better sounding recordings. There are only a few things from our home recording studio that made it to the record.

Your sound has always had that raw quality to it, more of an old school analogue sound to the modern digital recordings. Did you really want to get this involved with the technology side of music and have you embraced it?

I was pretty resistant to digital technology in the early days of the band but after seeing how much it can facilitate your creativity, I’ve grown to it. Digital audio has grown leaps and bounds from ten years ago when we started as a band and although I don’t think it will ever sound the same as analogue, and I do love the analogue sound, I don’t have anything against the digital sound anymore.

A few bands are experimenting with old school recording ways again in order to get a different sound but it is the few against the many.

We haven’t really recorded analogue since 2005 with ‘The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw.’ We’ve used analogue tape in ‘City Of Echoes’ to record the drums to tape but we then dumped that into Pro Tools and recorded everything on top of it. The last album [‘What We All Come To Need’] we just did through Pro Tools so I mean possibly we might use analogue again the future but it all depends who we choose to record with in the future and we’ve not got to that discussion yet. Some people are known for analogue recordings though.

Just depends on what feels right at the time for the song.

Yeah exactly and what the studio is like, engineer and all that kind of stuff. A lot has to be in place for it to work.

You said that you work on new material at every show but when it comes time to begin the pre-production for the album, work on the material and get things together, have you thought about whether or not you will continue this process on or will you set aside a week or two and then all come together?

I think we will build more songs based on the experiment we done with this EP but when it comes down to tracking the record this time, we’ll all be in the same room together.

I did see a mention that you have some songs possibly near the rough completion mark for moving forward with.

We do indeed, we’ve kept working.

Based on your release history you have released an EP and an album in the same year on the last three occasions so will the album be out this year or realistically next year?

We’ve not really planned that far ahead yet. The band is for our enjoyment and it is only a part time endeavour but it would be nice if we had it written in full by the end of this year and then out next year. There are no guarantees but there will be an album in the future.

On ‘What We All Come To Need’ you worked with several guest musicians such as Greg Anderson of Sunn O))), Aaron Turner of Isis, Ben Verellen of Harkonen and Allen Epley (The Life And Times and Shiner) who came in to do vocals on ‘Final Breath.’ Do you think you would work with guest musicians on the next album or again, is that something like the Allen Epley situation, if you feel it is necessary then you would look at it?

It would be nice to work with a vocalist or two again for sure. We definitely wouldn’t do a full vocal record but we would like to work with Allen again and there are other vocalists that we’ve talked about working with. The reason we worked with Allen was because we had a song that made sense for it and the song comes first so if it needs that vocal track on it, we’ll add it. We won’t force anything. We won’t bring in a vocalist and build a song to make it work, we’ll just wait and see and if a song or two feels like it could do with a vocal addition then we’ll do it.

Are there any vocalists you’d like to work with?

We’ve not formally agreed on anything yet with regards to who so I don’t want to say anything as of yet. I know who I’d want to bring in but it could be better used as a surprise when we announce it, if it happens that is, instead of giving it away the now.

My last question to you is regards to instrumental music. There are more bands and solo artists releasing instrumental album across the board from post-rock/metal to progressive metal. Do you see this as a good thing and something which should be regarded with some importance that there are more people now becoming involved?

To me it doesn’t matter whether music is instrumental or not to be honest. The thing that is important to me is that people are into music and not only do they like it but they try to support it in some way. It’s also important that people like Pelican [laughs].

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