I Talked to Pallbearer about Penises and Suicide
The dudes in Pallbearer are turned on to some truly heavy shit. There is a darkness and a profoundness to their sound that few of their peers can match. Yet despite their rather bleak ideas these guys maintain a sense of humor and triumph despite the struggle of everyday life. So yes – we do talk about wieners and killing yourself, but we also realize that there is a way forward through the darkness.
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After playing a great show like tonight how do you feel?
Devin (D): Fucking great. It’s one of my favorite towns to play. Our merch girl is from here so she knows lots of cool places to hang out.
Brett (B): I feel like Philadelphia Anselmo right now (Does Anselmo impression) Pretty fuckin’ good!
D: We’re down with Philadelphia Anselmo right now. (Laughter)
To talk about what we referenced earlier… tell me about your penises…
B: It’s bruised and purple. It looks like Rasputin’s mummified dick. It’s shrivelled.
D: I’m all head. The dome expands to this power dome it’s like four inches across. I’m proud of what I’ve got going.
B: There’s very little shaft.
D: Almost none.
B: Well on both of us actually. Both of us have almost zero shaft but huge mushrooms.
D: It’s like a hockey puck with a peehole. That’s how you write harmonies man!
What about the others?
D: I’ve only played around with Brett’s dick.
B: We have to link up like the Planeteers before a show.
How do you handle your relationships with girlfriends and stuff while on the road?
D: Lots of phone calls text messages and being open about shit.
B: It depends how tolerant your girlfriend is. I’m lucky enough to have someone who understands that I do what I do.
D: Being in music is at least 30% having a good support system and having shit to fall back on. We both have that so we’re lucky.
How did you establish that?
D: My parents have also been super supportive. I was the asshole at fourteen who had a half stack.
B: He also had a half chub.
D: Yeah – I was chronically masturbating. But when I didn’t have my cock in my hand I had my guitar in my hand which is effectively the same thing. We used to piss of our neighbors because I would turn my half stack all the way up. Then they’d call the cops and they wouldn’t do anything because my mom is awesome.
B: And hot. Super hot.
Tell me about Devin’s mom!
B: She’s cool as fuck!
D: She’s more attractive than the rest of my family. I don’t know how the rest of the dudes came from my mom. We’re a family of ugly fucks except for my mom.
Does that idea of being an ugly fuck reflect the culture you were raised in?
D: We just don’t give a fuck. The thing I care the most about is that my t-shirt matches my ideology. I’m don’t want to get caught slipping wearing a shitty band shirt. My wardrobe is just band shirts and pants.
B: We don’t have time to give a fuck. If you don’t think that your idea of how I am as a person doesn’t fit in with your thing… I don’t give a fuck.
Do you think that gets at one of the problems in metal?
D: Oh yeah.
B: People are so concerned about being true. The truest thing to do is not to give a fuck. I know plenty of shit about metal. I don’t need to prove that I’m a real metalhead. I just do what I do.
D: I’m not a name dropper. If you want to talk shit we’ll talk shit and talk about bands or whatever but I’m not a name dropping motherfucker. I just want to meet people and have beer and talk about their lives. I don’t give a fuck about how much metal anyone listens too.
B: It’s cool if you just got into metal or if you know every band as long as you’re fun to hang out with… the whole metal warrior thing is bullshit…
D: Paying 90 dollars for a backpatch doesn’t make you true it makes you a bourgeois fuck! I don’t know how you’re buying 90 dollar Bathory backpatches. I love Bathory but I don’t love them that much.
I’ll admit I bought a 40 euro Mayhem patch when I was 17.
B: But when you’re 17 you have disposable income.
D: Everything I spend I actually spend – it’s not my parents money.
B: I had my own money at 17 but I didn’t have to pay bills, rent, food or whatever.
To go back on what we were talking about is that… as I became higher up in the metal scene I realized that I didn’t have to give a fuck because I had the most metal cred… Do you get that?
B: Maybe. I’ve never thought about that. I just got into guitar and metal at the same time and that’s just what I do. I have nothing to prove to anybody. Our music speaks for itself and whatever you think about it… whatever.
What’s the deal with the new record?
D: We’re about to start working on it after this tour and we have a fuckton of material so nothing to worry about. We don’t release a record unless we think it’s better than our previous one. We’re going at it 100% and we’re at a different spot then when we did the last one. I know it’s going to be good because I’m writing with my three best friends and doing something that’s been successful thus far. At this point with what I’ve heard there’s no reason not to like it.
B: We have so much working material and we’re taking several months off to purely focus on writing. I’m really happy with what we have but we’re going to write a whole bunch more stuff.
At a very early stage in the process you mentioned it’s a lot more soundscapey. Is that still going to be the case?
D: I think it’s going to be a lot more soundscapey and have a lot more clean sounding stuff. It will have a lot more atmosphere… or at least a different atmosphere. We’re not trying to copy our last album. We want to grow and hope people grow with us.
B: There will be elements of our other material in the new stuff but we’re going to try to take it in new directions and try new things. There’s stuff we’ve already written that I’m certain is going to be on the next album that’s like notably different than anything we’ve done before but also sounds like Pallbearer.
With the soundscapes are you going to use a guitar synth or use a keyboard player?
B: We’re going to alternate keyboard duties throughout the band. A lot of the shit will be on guitar. We have lots of effects pedals and loopers. A lot of the atmospheric stuff is guitars and keyboards. We haven’t gotten to this point but we’ve had conversations about parts where me or Joe switch to keys in the middle of a song.
D: Our trajectory is to be as good as the 70s bands were. Where like everyone sings and is a multi instrumentalist. To get big in those days you had to be a badass motherfucker. We’re not there yet.
B: We want to push ourselves to the limit of what we can do.
D: My favorite bands can do shit that still blows my mind and without PA’s or wedges. Those bands did that shit 40-50 years ago.
B: Uriah Heep was doing huge harmonies without monitors! We should be able to do stuff at that level.
Do you already play keys?
B: I played keys on the first record.
What’s your musical background like?
B: I grew up going to church and all the music was vocal stuff so I learned about harmony. That was the only good thing I got out of that. I was in band and stuff in school. I’ve been into music since I was a kid. I was into classical music early on and then in my early teens I got into metal. A lot of metal has this pathos and I got into country and blues for the same reason. I liked the really complicated arrangements. Metal is such a huge thing and so many different styles can converge with it being distinctly metal. I listen to virtually every kind of music.
D: All of us listen to everything. That’s part of what I love about playing with these dudes. If there’s something new that drops from a band that we listen to it but otherwise…
B: Generally we listen to metal on headphones. It’s hard to take a nap when the speakers are doing blast beats.
To what extent has mental illness impacted the band?
D: None of us are technically mentally ill but the band is therapeutic. Anyone can go into a dark space though and playing our shows helps. I’m not clinically diagnosed but…
B: I’ve had that too with anxiety and depression. I’ve never been diagnosed because I never looked into it and tried to deal with it myself. My main way of fixing that was this band. I’ve been able to deal with anxiety and depression more since getting into this. It’s a positive thing. It’s dark music with a positive goal.
D: You don’t listen to metal because you want to kill yourself. That’s some kind of Tipper Gore bullshit. We listen to this shit because it makes you feel good. It’s kind of an escape.
B: It’s about confronting the bad parts of your life. Happy music doesn’t do anything for me. That kind of shit is ignoring the cleansing aspect of music. Pallbearer is essentially supposed to be a psychological cleanse.
That’s where you get the sense of triumph?
B: In a sense maybe.
D: We’re not dead yet, there’s the triumph.
B: It’s about the struggle. We’re just surviving.
D: The value in life is pushing through. Everyone has bad shit and I’m not against killing yourself at all. That’s probably how I’ll end up. It’s worth the fight if you have something to fight for.
B: The world is too fascinating to give up on completely.
D: Every day I get a weird story. I see some dude in a Big Bird outfit yelling at kids in front of my hotel. If I had killed myself I would never have seen that. You’re going to laugh again eventually.
B: If you’re so fucked that you hate your life then change your life. It may be hard. It’s not going to be easy but you can do that. You can sit and complain or do something about it.
D: Life sucks but you keep going on.
You want to kill yourself Devin? That’s a heavy thing to drop…
D: It was an offhanded comment. I understand it though. Making sure you check out when you want to check out and not when your biology wants you to check out. I’m not going to check out now, things are going alright. I’m not saying when they get bad that I will. You have to ask yourself “Am I living for every day or just getting by?” I don’t have enough fun getting by for it to be worth it. You just have to read a good book or do anything that interests you. Music helps with that. If it existentially invigorates you it’s valid. If you can’t soak that shit in then sure check yourself out.
B: If you get to the point that you’re not experiencing joy at all then I can’t really fault you for doing that but you should at least fucking try.
Thanks for talking with us! Keep up with Pallbearer on Facebook.