Pendulum Interview

Remember the good ol' days when music was all about getting hot and sweaty and served as a catalyst to mind blowing sex and drugs? If you've ever left an after-after hours club Sunday morning still dressed in your trampiest Saturday night gear rocking the old sunglasses, as the rest of the world headed to church, you know exactly what I am talking about. And so does Pendulum. And its bringing hardcore back to club music.

Pendulum, an Australian-British drum and bass electronica, read: rave, alternative rock band comprised of veterans Rob Swire, Gareth McGrillen, Paul Harding, Ben Mount, Peredur ap Gwynedd, and Kevin Sawka, who boast among them backgrounds as DJ's, record producers, and English rappers, formed in 2002. Since then, they have enjoyed a decent amount of commercial success, particularly in the UK, and have been signed to labels such as Breakbeat Kaos, Atlantic, Warner Bros Music, and Warner Music.

Their album, Immersion, released May of 2010 brings back the elements of classic dance music, teetering between synth-led and guitar led tracks. Traces of electronic are interwoven throughout the album, pinches of punk surface, and glimpses of rock round out their sound. Bottom line, its a sexy band to listen to. If you are looking for a band to make your pulse jump and the heat burn within your veins, or you just need a good song to have sex to, check them out.

antiMusic caught up with Bassist Gareth McGrillen for a little chat shortly after they came off their tour with Linkin Park.

antiMusic: Talk about this project in relation to other things you have put out? How is this a departure from your first two albums? What has remained constant?

McGrillen: On Immersion what's remained constant is that it's is influenced by the first two albums. It's influenced by rock, metal, and also influenced by drum and bass. We took what we did on the last two albums to the next level.

antiMusic: Immersion peaked at number 1 in the first week of release on the UK charts. Can you talk about how music differs around the world? Do you think there is a bigger market for your style of music outside of the Untied States? Why?
I think the same kind of people are all over the world. Everyone reacts the same. The only difference is America is bigger and it's harder to reach everyone.

antiMusic: What makes your album so DJ friendly? Do you encourage DJs to mix their own style into your tracks?

McGrillen: Yeah, we come from a DJ background. Pendulum started out as a dance group and DJing is a vehicle for us to test out music. The reaction helps develop the music.

antiMusic: Why did you choose "Witchcraft" as your official US single?

McGrillen: It crosses both realms of dance and rock very carefully and I think America will get that. It gets a big reaction when played live.

antiMusic: You've played both huge arenas and smaller venues. Are you more comfortable performing on a large scale than a more intimate setting?

McGrillen: Both. The headline shows are quite intimate and has been incredible to have the audience up in our face again.

antiMusic: Talk about the tour with Linkin Park. You subsequently kicked off your own headlining tour shortly after the Linkin Park tour ended. How is it going for you? What have been the major differences of carrying the tour on your own?

McGrillen: It's a massive challenge for us because Linkin Park fans might not have heard our music and they grew up listening to that band. It was a challenge.

antiMusic: How did you come to choose Innerpartysystem as your tour buddies?

McGrillen: They were recommended to us and I hadn't heard of them but I listened to them and really got into it. They definitely come from our world.

antiMusic: What were you listening to as a kid?

McGrillen: Everything from Led Zeppelin to AC/DC. And Pink Floyd on my dads vinyl collection. Then pop music influenced me for dance music.

antiMusic: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?

McGrillen: Staying alive and remaining sane. A lot of people ask what I could have to be upset about and it's unfair to make those kinds of judgments on people. Being away from home and your girlfriend every day can mentally drain you. The biggest achievement is having the stamina and composure.

antiMusic: With a generation consumed by immediacy and iTunes, where does your music fit in?

McGrillen: I don't know. If we wrote a conceptualized album where every track was essential we would have to submit to the possibility that we couldn't sell the entire album on iTunes. Our music as music is very instant I think.

antiMusic: You have a massive amount of instrumentals leading into nearly every track, giving your record a multi-dimensional, whimsical, seductive, passion-frenzy vibe. Talk about the arrangements on your album, how did you decide what goes where?

McGrillen: We use a lot of testing with other people and audiences. DJing helps as well.

antiMusic: What is most important to you as a musician when writing a song? Instruments, melodies, etc?

McGrillen: I think for us being producers, the quality of the sound is first and foremost then melody and instrumentals.

antiMusic: Your in-studio recording is quite extensive. Can you elaborate more on the recording process itself, how you lay down the tracks, maybe walk us through the recording of "Watercolours"?

McGrillen: There are a lot of ideas or demos while on the road we work through them and we sit down and start picking up ideas and going from there. Then we'll end up laying the tracks down and once they get more concrete we add more instruments.

antiMusic: Talk about working with Brain Gardner. What did he bring to the table for you, how did he freshen your sound, and what did he pull from the recordings that maybe another engineer would have lost?

McGrillen: He's a master engineer. We produce ourselves and are reluctant to let anyone else in. He put the final touch on with his mastering. We sometimes get our masters and send them back out again like people would in a restaurant but he was perfect

antiMusic: For those of us that don't know what the hell a Ztar is, can you talk about the mechanics of playing one, how its used on the album, and where on the album it is used most?

McGrillen: Rob plays the Ztar. It's a keyboard laid out like a guitar. It's completely modifiable. You can play drums, bass, anything on it.

antiMusic: Talk about your "Salt in the Wounds" video. Any other videos that deserve a mention?

McGrillen: It led to a free download; it was a fun promotional campaign. Watercolor, Witchcraft, island are some of our other videos.

antiMusic: I've read that you have used in excess of thirteen computers in the past to mix the sound in real time. Can you discuss this more and do you still employ that particular method?

McGrillen: Yeah when we play live we use 13. One for each instrument and a backup for each instrument. That enables us to carry all the samples etc from the studio into the live show.

antiMusic: I read an article where Swire had mentioned he'd like to go a different route in the future, using more punk sounds and abandoning the electronica. How feasible is this? Do you think your fans will take to the new sound?

McGrillen: That's incorrect. Punk as more of a production, not influenced by punk music. A raw, aggressive, less polished method of producing. We aren't abandoning anything.

antiMusic: A lot of fans want to know, is "Randsom" really lost?

McGrillen: Yep.

antiMusic: I'm partial to the song, "Set Me on Fire," can you talk about the inspiration behind this track?

McGrillen: We really love dubstep and are excited by it at the moment. We thought we'd do a track with a Pendulum take on it.

antiMusic: What was the benefit of working with Liam Howlett, Steve Wilson, and Swedish death-metal band, In Flames?

McGrillen: All of them were people we wanted to work with. It was incredible

antiMusic: Where are you headed musically?

McGrillen: I don't know right now. It all depends on the progression process. We are initially writing.

antiMusic: What changes do you foresee happening with your sound?

McGrillen: More raw and less polished.

antiMusic: What's next individually and as a group effort?

McGrillen: Maybe sideprojects and stuff like that. Robs getting into pop production. I don't know right now.

antiMusic: If you could shoot anybody dead or alive, who would it be and why?

McGrillen: Hitler. I don't think even that. Everything happens for a reason.

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