|Doom: decay, loss, sorrow, ennui, depression, suicide” that’s how Pylon spot their new album. When we say Pylon, we mainly pinpoint to Jan and Matt, the main members of the band. As Doom/Down-tempo Swiss band, they have, so far, gained many attentions especially on one of their latest release “DOOM”. Jan had the pleasure to answer my questions and to tell us what’s behind Pÿlon|
RargouTia: Greetings Pÿlon! How are you doing in such autumnal days?
Jan: Hi Ned! We’re busy, really. We’ve already started working on the next album; it will be called Armoury Of God and we’d like to think of it as the third part of our doom trilogy. Most of the songs are roughly composed but this time of the year always helps to get the mood and the arrangements right.
RargouTia: As a start, would you explain in your own words who are Pÿlon; as a musical band and a band’s music?
Jan: Ever since 2003, there have been two constants in Pÿlon: Matt and Jan. Matt used to only play guitar and write most of the compositions, but he’s also been the main singer since Doom (2009, Quam Libet Records). I, Jan, play bass and the harmonious instruments floating around in the arrangements. Matt originally wanted to form a grunge band, but things first went a bit hard-rocky, then stoner. At the moment, most people feel that we play traditional and epic doom. Because we are big fans of Count Raven, Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus, that’s a nice thing to hear. However, with Andrea, our new drummer, on board, one of the next albums might get more metallic.
Our albums may not be thorough concept albums but there usually is a principal lyrical topic to each one. All of the lyrics on Th’ Eternal Wedding Band (2006, Quam Libet Records) explore ‘death’ in many different ways – sombre, pious, humorous, transcendental.... The album title translates as « La bague éternelle: celle qui joint les vivants à la mort ».
Doom, of course, reminds most people of the style we play. But it is the meanings of ‘destruction’, ‘ruin’, ‘fate’ and ‘divine judgment’ which are reflected in lyrics on the decay of the mind and of physical life.
On Armoury Of God, a title taken from Milton’s Paradise Lost, there will be a religious aspect to the lyrics. But it wouldn’t be Pÿlon if you wouldn’t get mixed messages again!
RargouTia: as far as I know, Switzerland’s metal scene is not that wide. How have you got the idea to create this band?
Jan: There has to be an inner desire, an urge to create music. All of the current and previous members had played their instruments for a long time before we joined Matt, so it was never a matter of friends just getting together and making noise. As soon as we started, we met more and more other bands and musicians and we realised that the Swiss metal scene is very large, in fact. Once we founded our own label, we started to release other bands’ albums – more than twenty by now – and, perhaps even more importantly, a series of compilations with Swiss hard rock and metal bands exclusively. Just a few weeks ago, we released HEAVY METAL NATION V and VI simultaneously – that is to say that we have crossed the one-hundred-bands barrier already! The difficult element about the Swiss scene is a linguistic one: with three main socio-linguistic areas of different languages (German, French and Italian), it is very difficult to get exposure in the entire country, but we hope to be a help to at least some of the bands this way. You are certainly right, however, that there are very few doom bands and none other who favour clean vocals.
RargouTia: Considering your musical taste and your own production, can you tell us what’s behind the fact of playing Doom/down-tempo/metal? Why exactly choosing this flood noting that everyone lately tends to become a rock star?
Jan: I’m sure that most of the underground musicians accept the fact that they will pay the price of remaining underground for the benefit of playing the music they love. Sure, you can try to become a rock star – for a bass player, this entails the torture of ‘re-re-re-re-sol-sol-sol-sol-do-do-do-do-re-re-re-re’ ad nauseam – or you can try to actually make money by playing the music most of the 50- to 65-year-olds loved in their youth because they are the ones still buying albums no questions asked.
For us, it wasn’t a conscious decision but a matter of meeting people who love the same music and who are willing to experiment.
RargouTia: Well, I guess you’re not like everybody. Do you think that frequent line-up changes makes you decide to be more of a studio band than of a live one? And now, are you still looking for new members?
Jan: You are entirely right that frequent changes have an effect on a band. Luckily, we don’t have to earn our money on the road (or from music, to be more precise), therefore we really enjoy creating music in the rehearsal room and in the studio. Every once in a while I hear studio engineers or the big cats in the business bemoaning the fact that many musicians can’t play an entire song. I don’t see a problem with that as long as they don’t go on stage, because the world would lose many great compositions if not-so-good musicians who are great writers couldn’t take their time in the studio.
At the moment, Pÿlon are a complete power trio with Andrea, so things look good!
RargouTia: EPs, albums, compilations…Pÿlon haven’t had enough of recording. I bet you still remember your first album’s recording session. If so how was it? Is there any other great memory from your first releases?
Jan: Touché, we love releasing, ha ha! We recorded our first album, Natural Songbirth – we never called it a demo because it was exactly what we wanted at the time – on a 12-track mixing desk and a 2-track cassette recorder. It was engineered by a friend who was the entire A-Team rolled into one: you could give him mediocre, partially defective equipment and he would make the recordings rock in a way many cubasers and protoolists cannot do it. Of course, Natural Songbirth (2004) came and went without a peep, but we were very lucky that Th’ Eternal Wedding Band was quite well-received and generated interest in Doom. There’s a lesson we learned: don’t hold on to your baby, mamma, but set it free and let it explore the world; don’t over-do your sound design in the studio, release the thing with a bit of roughness around the edges while it still sounds honest and creates interest. I hope not to sound big-headed – I’m not and we were merely lucky that a handful of freaks like ourselves out there in the web-wide world have taken a shine to our latest two albums. Perhaps this is even a reason why the diametrically opposed path of the instant rock star we talked about earlier is such a treacherous one? Perfection with general appeal is of limited relevance or depth and hardly ever honest.
RargouTia: Do you distinguish a difference between your albums’ and EPs’ music; mainly some particular touches in this, new voices and instruments in that… would you explain?
Jan: So far: no. Our first compilation song was To My Brethren which we re-recorded for Th’ Eternal Wedding Band because the production didn’t convince us. The first EP, Days Of Sorrow, was really a trial to see how people felt about the production of the songs which would then be slightly re-mixed for said album. At times, we write songs exclusively for compilations, but it’s a difficult thing because if they are too good, it’s enticing to keep them for a proper release. And if they’re not so good ... Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, really.
My stance now is that the special stuff needs to go onto the album as the exposure is greatest and the feedback most focussed that way.
RargouTia: DOOM, Pylon’s new striking album. So you may want to tell us about this whole trilogy thing. As I know, DOOM is the second chapter of the trilogy, right?
Jan: We wrote a ton of songs and lyrics between 2004 and 2006 and we felt strongly attached to many of those. We couldn’t fit them all onto Th’ Eternal Wedding Band which is why we decided not to throw away the others but continue to work on those. Of course, some new ones creep in every once in a while as well, so we’re making our lives a bit more difficult yet. There are two advantages: we work better with a clear focus – this is also the reason why we decide on album titles and artwork very early on to guide us. Plus, if we ever decide to play something else, we already have an excuse. – Tricky uses, right?
RargouTia: DOOM, as an album, how can you describe it entirely? And as one of your great achievement, how do you perceive it?
Jan: The Traditional / Epic Doom moniker probably goes a long way to get the right people interested and the wrong people disinterested. Many friends and reviews tell us that Doom keeps growing on them. Listening to it the tenth time, they enjoy it more than the first or second time. It is quite emotional and hides heavy, groovy bits behind slow intros and a non-explosive production. That being said, it was a great experience to work with five guest drummers because we had no drummer in the band during the recordings. It was very amusing to get all these metal, punk and rock drummers and explain to them the concept of a guitar riff and see whether they basically could solo along on the drums rather than play a straight beat. And if they played a straight beat, it had to be slower and much more sparse than what they usually do. The Doom feeling should be reminiscent of an album from the ‘70s which is why we included a long, improvised drum, bass and flute solo section in the first song, Renovatio (Renewal & Relapse) and intertwining flute and clarinet solos on DeadLove. Because Matt also produced the album, we got exactly what we wanted. We enjoy the album as it stands but we’d probably not term it “our great achievement” simply because we hope to be pleased with the next one just as much.
RargouTia: If you’re asked to pick your favourite song from this album, what would it be? And why?
Jan: I enjoy songs which take the listener to different regions of the mind, which change and morph and re-shape. Renovatio does that to a certain extent (plus, it has great riffs by Matt!), and DeadLove, based on the two simplest riffs I could come up with, almost miraculously does the same. Two of the songs which are most often mentioned are Dream A Dream and Ho Theos Erchestai – both are quite pompous and elegiac with spots of organ and Hammond sounds exactly in the right spot to support Matt’s voice.
RargouTia: Currently, you won’t give live performances and gigs. Have you ever tried the live sensation; while grabbing your humble instrument to entertain a devoted crowd? If so, how do you find that feeling?
Jan: Oh my, you’re dangerously poetic there, Ned! Perhaps you should write our lyrics! So far, we’ve played five public gigs, but we don’t have the constant craving to go out and play. Either we’re working hard on an album and prefer to focus on that, or we’re lacking a drummer.
RargouTia: So, you’re actually working on a new album now, right? Is there anything Special about it? Do you think it will strike harder than DOOM?
Jan: I’m sure it will in terms of Andrea’s drumming. He’s a versatile drummer and sneaks in a fast bit here and there, leaving Matt and me trailing in the dust. As our aim is not to put more than one hour’s worth of material onto Armoury Of God, the production time will be shorter although the individual songs may become longer. We’ve got some nice lyrics in store which, once again, will not be too modern-sounding. I’m sure that some listeners will accompany us on our musical path, some will return and some will join our party through the slothful mires of Doom.
RargouTia: Beside the future album’s project, any others on the road?
Jan: Why, of course: the album after that and the one after the one after that! – And yes, titles and artwork are set, ha ha!
RargouTia: Otherwise I think that’s all I have thanks for your time, it’s highly appreciated. Is there any thing to say as final words?
Jan: Thank you very much for your kind attention and band-width, Ned! May your Metal-Waves be long and droning!
Interview by RargouTi on October 2009