A – Alex Bacon, guitar/vocals
V – Vincent Young, guitar/vocals
H – Harry Sullivan, drums
S – Simon Oliver, bass/production
What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
A: We’re a four-piece band, with our current lineup being around since September 2019. Our original lineup formed back at the end of 2018, although our old bass player had to leave to go back to university commitments in Leeds. We all know each other through mutual friends or our university’s band society; Vincent and Harry have been playing together the longest, I started playing with them with ‘pej’ first started after a few jams, and then Simon joined in September last year. I consider us still very new and wanting to expand our sound and reach further.
H: Back in the heady days of 2006 I was a clarinettist, but it soon became a chore. I then found myself tapping the table uncontrollably in year nine chemistry, at which point my peers said ‘just start the drums already, Harry’. So I did. Honestly one of the best decisions of my life. I met Vincent at a university band society meetup in first year and BOOM. Music.
S: I joined these boys in September 2019 having known Harry through university jazz band. As catharsis is the silent c in pej, I fell in love with the music, motives and people instantly. We’ve got a good little community around us now too and I feel truly blessed to be with these folks.
V: I was raised on soul. Sam Cooke. Diana Ross and the Supremes. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Otis Redding. You name them, I heard them. With these artists acting as a diviner to my musical tastes and approach from a young age, I was almost destined to be drawn towards music later in life: from my punk teenage years, to my post-rocky now I have never been more immersed in sound. Pej is a project which really allows you to balance structural songwriting with energy of a rock.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
A: Our debut single ‘Cerrebulous’ is the first proper song we wrote together as a band, and really reflects what we like about ‘pej’. Its foray into post-punk and shoegaze, as well as noise rock and post-rock manages to keep everything together. B-side ‘Mcleod’ is more laid back and definitely involves more 80s/90s sound, akin to The Chameleons, Slowdive etc.
H: Cerrebulous is a bit o’ post-rock, bit o’ post-punk, bit o’ fun really.
S: I’m very, very proud to have played on and produced these two tracks. It’s our debut to the Spotify realm drenched in catharsis and atmosphere.
V: Cerrebulous is a song I originally called ‘Chicken Bones’ and was about a hot date night over an even hotter chicken feast! Then I reworked it into something I thought more prudent. I found the mantras like “be your best self”, positive yet tiresome. I thought it would be very interesting to imagine a damaged character approach this way of living, incidentally influencing the rise of their shadow-self (a demon known as Cerrebulous) and destroying their own life. I had a very similar experience. I almost became Cerrebulous, when I tried to defeat this dragon called Paul on holiday in 2016. It was a tormentor of mine.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
A: For myself I’m a massive music lover, and if I’m writing I latch onto what I’m currently listening to at the time. The big influence currently has to be Massive Attack and Black Midi – how the former creates tension and sound is something I look up to so much. Non-musically, since I’ve played in ‘pej’ I’ve use a quote from the Daughters guitarist, Nick Sadler, I’d read in an interview – “be accepting of your limitations”.
H: Radiohead, Black Midi and The Cure are some big hitters for us as a band. Particular drummers that inspire me are John Stanier of Battles, Matt Tong of Bloc Party and Damon Che of Don Caballero.
S: Oof. Thundercat, Geddy Lee and Les Claypool ring out as the strong bass influences.
I would consider YouTube as an influential resource in how I have got here so far. Without it I would probably be picking my nose in front of a telly instead.
V: My cosmic uncle, Mark Earll and I have been playing guitar together for a long time and inspires me musically loads! (Look up The Cloud Physics Experiment on Bandcamp for some psychedelic wizardry!) All my friends and family inspire me all the time too. Mum, Dad, Harv (younger brother). My mate Alex Faingold and I have had some wonderful times. Of course my bandmates I hold close to my soul.
Musical influences include:
– Sam Cooke (particularly his early gospel tapes with the Soul Stirrirs – on YouTube there’s a massive playlist of loads of his recordings with them. Look it up! I want to make a hip hop album sampling all of this one day.)
– Neil Young has always had a profound effect on everything I do let alone musically. Such simple motives and such heavy emotionality.
– More specifically to pej are: black midi, Joy Division, Black Country, New Road, The Cure, New Order, My Bloody Valentine, Battles, Radiohead, Swans.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
A: We usually get compared to black midi because of one particular song we have, but that feedback has slowly fizzled out. We’ve definitely got post-punk and shoegaze running through our veins, but we’re all big fans of many different genres that somehow meld together. There’s always something a different listener can pick out and focus on.
H: You should listen to our music because…well, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Nobody’s forcing you. It’s cool whatever man. As you can tell I’m not too good at bigging us up. Ask Vincent for that. Hypeman, frontman, and a real rascal if you ask me.
S: Weird. Never would I have dreamed that I would be in a band with such a love for Englebert Humperdinck. That doesn’t really come across in the music, but I feel its important for you to know this.
V: We bring a dedication to disruptive elements. We try to make a statement using our arms of hearts alone. We won’t be doing gymnastics on stage, or god forbid, BURPEES! No, we want to explore an underbelly of the world we live in, using noise, visceral lyrical content and absurdist sound textures.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
A: Music – Madvillainy by Madvillain, Silent Alarm by Bloc Party and 2012-2017 by Against All Logic
Movies – Requiem For A Dream, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wall-E
Books – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby; Record, Play, Pause by Stephen Morris and For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
H: Album: Viet Cong – Preoccupations
Movie: Submarine – Richard Ayoade
Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
S: Album: Tigermilk, Belle and Sebastian
Film: Dr Strangelove
Book: MaddAdam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
– One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
– The Star Rover – Jack London
– The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious – C. G. Jung
– Astral Weeks – Van Morrison
– Pink Moon – Nick Drake
– The Disintegration Loops Vols.I-IV – William Basinski
– One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – Milos Foreman
– The Sacrifice – Andrei Tarkovsky
– Fitzcarraldo – Werner Herzog
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
A: Bit of both. Studio for creativity, live for improvisation (although we’ve had no ‘proper’ studio time – everything’s either been recorded in a rehearsal space or in Simon’s uni halls).
H: Probably live performances. There’s the opportunity for f-ups in both cases, but we’ve been gigging long enough that these f-ups are pretty few and far between when playing live. There’s also less pressure to nail it 100% than in the studio, and it’s always nice to get an instant positive reaction from a crowd of fans.
S: As much as I love producing music, it’s a long process. Live is always more fun. Its an opportunity to show people what you love doing. Release enough catharsis to last you for a couple of weeks, then do it again.
V: Hard. I like how creative you can be with both. Probably studio because you can really work with a pallete of sound, although I also like live because LOOKATMELOOKATMELOOKATMELOO…
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
A: Englebert Humperdinck is someone we’ve slowly become obsessed with during practice and also in our live shows. First it was playing the first five notes of Jurassic Park, now it’s just listening to ‘Love Will Set You Free’ as loud as possible.
H: Stripping off at practice is a fun semi-regular occurrence.
S: When I was nine, I wanted to play saxophone but was late registering so I had to choose between the double bass or cello. I asked which one was easier and my teacher said double bass. She lied. I played it begrudgingly until I was 14 when I was given my first acoustic guitar, then something clicked in my head and I couldn’t get enough of music of any form.
I mean, yeah we have some pretty unique ones to be honest. This one time we all got real naked together in a room and we sounded so great.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
A: For myself I’d say a track we haven’t released yet called ‘Viva’ which incorporates my spoken word spouting about how everything’s eventually gotten better in my life. Also it’s just a massive “fu” that all of us love to open with.
H: 100 Years of Solitude. Just listen to the opening lyrics man. There’s a good couple of time signature changes in there too.
S: Cerrebulous by far. Its dark, murky and I wanted it to be as sonically and emotionally crushing as possible. Self-discovery was achieved mixing Vincent’s stereo screams during the final crescendo.
V: Most unique is probably Viva. It’s unique because it has such a particular energy about it plus it features two drastically different vocals providing a new mood. It’s different.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
A: Once Simon and I have finished our uni exams, we’ll figure something out. Expect the unexpected.
H: Practice more. Gig more. Record more. Try to keep this band going for as long as possible. The usual.
S: Weirder sounds. Much, much weirder sounds. And more gigs! And live streams!
V: Probably get me a wife and settle down in West country somewhere..
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
A: Are you ever gonna sing properly and not shout?
No, never. I like my shouty ways.
H: What is objectively the best type of weather?
Glad you asked! It’s that cool, clear, crisp time in the middle of winter without much wind. Love me a good high-pressure system.
S: What is your favourite flavor of chinchilla?
Mine is tortoiseshell. Like a cute ‘lil swirl!
V: Q: how did you get such a sharp right-articulated canine tooth? And do you think Thom Yorke makes that face when he does a falsetto?
Photo credits: Chioma Ejimofo
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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