One of my favorite Chicago bands, Pelican is now on tour in support of their new album Forever Becoming which came out October 15th. They have a ten date tour and one of the places is Atlanta, Ga at The Masquerade where punk band Coliseum will be joining them along for the ride. I got a chance to catch up with Trevor de Brauw before he hit the round to see where his head was at before the tour and to talk about the new album and how it was working with new guitarist Dallas Thomas since Laurent Schroeder-Lebec left the group back in 2012. This will be their fifth full length album which took longer than the the rest of the albums they produced in the past. If you are in Atlanta then be sure to catch them at the Masquerade and if not, you can read the interview below to get a hint of whats to come.
Art Nouveau Magazine: This is your first LP in four years since What We All Come to Need… What made it take four years as opposed to two years for the previous albums?
Trevor de Brauw: At the end of 2009 we made a collective decision to stop pursuing the band as a full time enterprise. To keep ourselves afloat we were touring about half the year and scrounging for part time work whenever we weren’t on the road; which was beginning to feel like an untenable arrangement. Rather than crash and burn we figured we needed to take a step back, develop healthy home lives, and find a way to pursue the band as a passion rather than as a career. Larry lives in LA and the rest of us are in Chicago, so it took awhile to figure out a way to move forward with composing material, but after recording the Ataraxia/Taraxis EP in 2011 we developed a routine of recording home demos and sending them back and forth. From there the momentum picked up and the album came together over the course of 2012.
AN: How does this record differ for you from the past albums and EPs?
Trevor: We brought the same seriousness of intent to this album that we brought to the others, but insofar as we’re pursuing the music for its own merits rather than as a career the whole vibe is a little different. As a result I think the performances feel more relaxed and fluid. It’s some of the heaviest, darkest material we’ve written so far, but I think we approach that heaviness with a sense of restraint that might have been harder to muster when we were younger.
AN: How did you guys come up with the name Forever Becoming for the new LP and how does it describe the album?
Trevor: The album is about learning to accept one’s mortality and recognizing the beauty of death’s role in the eternal cycle. It’s both literal and figurative – literal in the sense that we all return to the earth from which we came and from which more life then springs; but also in the sense that every chapter in life must have an end for the next chapter to begin. Forever Becoming seemed to sum that up pretty succinctly.
AN: Since Laurent Schroeder-Lebec departed from the band, how has the writing and music creating process changed?
Trevor: Laurent was responsible for a lot of the material, so it was definitely a major change losing his contributions as a writer and a musician. In general we’ve always written in duos and brought ideas to the larger group when we have a coherent song structure to hash out. Somehow over the course of 10 years we’d written in every possible permutation except Bryan and I writing directly together. So this album represents Bryan and I forging a new creative partnership together; it lent the material a familiar sound (since we’ve both been contributing writers for the band), but also a new energy. As in the past when Bryan and I got some song ideas together we’d meet with Larry and hash out final song structures and drum parts. After those sessions Larry would return home to LA and record his parts so we’d have a foundation to build the final song arrangements on top of. It was sort of a slow, meticulous process, but every step felt necessary to the whole.
AN: What energy or or creativity does the new guitarist Dallas Thomas bring to the table and how is it working with him? Did he have any input on the new album?
Trevor: Dallas is an actual musician and knows what he’s doing. He’s detail oriented and has a habit of asking questions about the songs that are thought provoking and usually force me to figure out not just what I’m doing, but why I’m doing it. We recorded nine songs for the final album, eight of which made it on. I think we’d roughly finished seven of them when Dallas joined and he helped finish the last two, The Cliff and The Tundra, and helped tidy up the loose ends in the other tunes.
AN: I know that you’re on tour with Coliseum in support of the new album… How do you feel about the upcoming tour?
Trevor: Excited and trepidations in equal measure. I’m looking forward to the camaraderie of being with friends and the exhilaration of performing, but I am not looking forward to the crushing boredom of spending all day waiting to play, sitting in a van for countless hours, or being separated from my family.
AN: I see that most if not all of your catalog are finally on Spotify… How do you feel about music nowadays and the easy access to your music through such services as Spotify?
Trevor: I have very conflicted feelings about it, quite honestly. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy Spotify and I enjoy having instant access to things I’m even just mildly curious about. But there’s a very specific relationship with music that’s lost when it is not a communion between a physical artifact and the listener – the physicality of that relationship implies a deeper potential investment. I have a whole bevy of records that I didn’t care for when I first listened to them that I went on to have deeply meaningful and intense relationships with. Who knows how many records of that variety I’m discarding now because I give it a cursory listen on Spotify and am not wowed. And to carry that line of thinking our band makes records that are intended to be listened to as a whole and reveal themselves more with repeated listens, so again that physical communion would play an important role. Which is not to say one can’t get that out of listening to us digitally, but I understand the impulse to skip and move on only too well.
AN: If you could do anything else besides music in a non-capitalistic world, what would you do?
Trevor: I’m not good at it, but I’ve always enjoyed interior painting. I find something very soothing and meditative about it. So maybe I could do that if all the people who are actually good at it get busy or something.