The Glaswegian underground is rising
Imagine a band that sounds like Immense, Mogwai or the Icelandic newcomer Sigur Ros. Imagine this band is called Pariah and was formed six months before they recorded their first demo, a 3-track CD including the songs "The Night-Time Driver", "Sleeps With Cactii" and "Youths Can Help". Imagine they are all 19 years old and live in Glasgow (one of them just moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow). Imagine - while doing this interview - we, that is: David (19, keyboard, bass), Andy (19, guitars, samples) and me, were standing in a Glaswegian pub called "Nice'n'Sleazy" pouring down about three jugs of lager. Here is the result of it.
First of all, could you tell me how the band did get together?
Andy: "Basically what happened was me and David had a band before about three years ago. But then that kind of split up and me and him played a lot together. Jamming with keyboard, guitars, and drum machines. We recorded a few tracks - about four, five or six. That was between spring '98 and summer '99. Then we got a couple of our mates to help us out. And that was it."
Everything seems to work out pretty well for you guys. You played an excellent live show the other day and after just six months, Pariah's music sounds mature, incredibly fascinating and catchy as well.
David: "At the moment we've got a good set-up. Everybody involved is talented and a great musician."
How do you write the songs? I mean you (sometimes) use three guitars, bass, drums, loops, keyboard and samples all at the same time. That's a lot.
Andy: "We bring all the different ideas to the rehearsal and see what we can make of them. That's how it works."
David: "I watch films and try to get some ideas out of them. Every movie that makes your blood run faster is an inspiration to me."
Yeah, like the "Nutty Professor"!
David: "I like Eddie Murphy. He's a great actor. (loud laughter) I think we are pretty much an Eddie Murphy musical form. (He shook with silent laughter.)"
Andy: "We don't even write the songs together but individually. David is the main songwriter and I contribute some songs as well."
There is a big difference between the demo and your live performance. The CD is, first of all, roughly mixed and you used a drum computer. Thus, the demo songs sound raw and a more minimalist whereas your live show is massive, intense and solid.
Andy: "The main difference is the atmosphere. The tunes are the same, but the atmosphere is surely different. Live the songs sound much bigger. There is so much more we can do on stage whereas during the recording session it was just the two of us sitting there."
David: "The sound of the demo is really sweet and pretty, but live you want something bombastic and big. That is a cool balance I think."
Talking about songs: The beginning of "The Night-Time Driver" always reminds me of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks". Was that a coincidence or a purpose?
David: "I don't know. That was the first song we ever recorded. I mean I heard the 'Twin Peaks' theme the first time after we recorded it. It is not really typical for what we do and it has a really cool atmosphere. It is a pure cliché, but if you are listening to this song and driving through the rain when it is pissing down it is a fabulous picture."
How do you think of titles for the songs? You don't have any lyrics, so you have somehow to come up with certain ideas. Do you try to transform the musical atmosphere into the song's title or what do you do?
David: "It is again a pure cliché to say that music is a soundtrack to films. But I think the songs fit situations. Whenever I play 'Night-Time Driver' it reminds me of driving through a rainy night. The second song reminds me of deserts. I don't know why and how. But you know what? I like deserts."
Andy: "The thing about instrumental music is that there is no lyrics to it. You know what I mean?"
Oh yes! (very loud laughter from David and me)
Andy: "Hey, you didn't let me finish! What I was saying was... You can't name a song after the lyrics. So either you name it after something you were thinking of when you were writing it. Or you write the song and think of something that it sounds like."
But why don't you have no lyrics?
David: "I listen to music just for musical reasons. I do not have any special interest in singers or lyrics. I mean there are for sure some great singers out there. But as far as our band is concerned, our music wouldn't get anything from having some guy singing about his love life when his girlfriend doesn't like him anymore."
Andy: "Many people say we sound like Mogwai. Well, fair enough. But look at all the other bands you have: two guitars, drummer, singer and bass player. All of them sound familiar and no one makes a deal about it. So why bother? It is just another kind of a movement."
David: "Rock'n'roll music has only existed for 40, 50 years or so. Instrumental music has existed for 400, 500 years. It seems that instrumental music to many is new and exciting. Singing is just an instrument - nothing else. To us, instrumental music can be as creative as any other music genre."
Maybe it is because in the last couple of years no instrumental band was as successful as Mogwai is right now. Is it at least an advantage coming from Glasgow because this town's music scene is very vivid and creative and special?
David: "Definitely. All the Glaswegian stuff is championed in the music press. You have Primal Scream, you have Mogwai and many, many others. I definitely think that Glasgow has a special scene."
Andy: "It is by far easier to get some attention in Glasgow than if we would all move to London. At the same time you get pidginholed because of Mogwai's success and we also play instrumental music. (...) All the successful bands in Britain have come from elsewhere than London. But they have to go to London to become successful because there is the capital, there is all the big money and there is the press."
But maybe Pariah is the exception that proves the rule. Maybe they do not have to move to the Thames to become known in Great Britain. We will see.
If you want to get in touch with Pariah:
phone: +44-141-339-5658 (David) or +44-141-248-8403 (Andy)
Notice: There might be some spelling and grammatical mistakes in this interview. But that is not what this interview is all about. It is a feature about Pariah, one of Glasgow's most promising newcomers. They do not have a record deal, but they are bloody young and fucking awesome. Get to know them by reading this funny interview (by the way, the first one they've ever done!) and listening to their songs. Support the underground!