I’ve been a fan of Pelican since the first time I heard their self-titled EP some time around 2002 or 2003, and each album since has been personally meaningful to me – kind of like the soundtrack to different parts of my life. I’ve had the chance to chat with all the members of Pelican here and there over the years, going to their shows and it’s cool to know they’re all super nice dudes.
I had a chance to interview guitarist, Trevor DeBrauw, about their latest EP, “Ataraxia/Taraxis”, which is out this week (4/10/2012) on Southern Lord Records.
Check out what Trevor had to say:
Let’s start with the canned question and go from there: How does “Ataraxia/Taraxis” differ from Pelican’s previous work? As far as the songwriting process and the band dynamic goes.
Trevor: “The goal was to craft an EP that had a sense of trajectory from start to finish. We knew it had been awhile since our last release and that we’re still a ways out from a new album, so we tried to make something that felt like it played as a whole and covered a lot of territory in a short time span. Thence the songs are shorter and more direct, but cover more sonic territory than before. The last song on the EP, in particular, was a big experiment for us as we built it up from a home-recorded demo that started as an acoustic jam and gradually turned into something completely different.”
About the band dynamic: how have things like each of you living in different places, or going through different things in life shaped the music that you make together in Pelican?
Trevor: “Living in different cities has been an interesting challenge for us, but it’s made us more focused. Now that we have limited time with each other it makes the time we share more precious, which, in turn, means that we work harder when we have those opportunities. At the end of 2009 we kind of took a step back from the band as we needed to recharge our batteries a bit – having the time away gave us some perspective and I think all of us have a newfound respect and gratitude for this creative endeavor that we share together.”
What can you tell us about the meaning behind the name, “Ataraxia/Taraxis”? To be honest, I had to look up the meaning of ‘ataraxia’ and what I learned was pretty cool, but what about ‘taraxis’?
Trevor: “The terms are references to the Epicureans, who believed that the goal of life is to live pleasurably, free from anxiety. In many ways the source of anxiety is investment in civic life, politics and the like. In the information age the onslaught of anxiety is unending and overwhelming – the EP is about the dual instinct of trying to find peace in life by escaping the anxiety, but also the realization that in trying to escape – bliss in ignorance – you are only empowering those sources of anxiety.”
Does this meaning reflect the direction that Pelican has taken in its work since “What We All Come to Need”? It seems like there are a lot of potential interpretations for what “What We All Come to Need” means. You guys have always had some interesting titles on your albums.
Trevor: “The two releases are somewhat related – the last album was about hope in the face of futility, about seeking solace in friends and family when the knowledge that humanity’s course of self-destruction is inevitable and seemingly impossible to stop. The new one is similarly about this course of self-destruction, but it’s tone is a little darker because it is about facing that abyss and choosing your course in how you face it.”
What are some of the advantages Pelican has on Southern Lord? What are some of the things you enjoy about working with them?
Trevor: “Southern Lord is a really well run label with an excellent musical reputation. The biggest advantage of a label like Southern Lord is that they are artist-run: Greg Anderson knows exactly where we’re coming from and wants to make things as artist-friendly as possible.”
Would you like to say anything about the other projects that each of you are working on, outside of Pelican? I saw that Let’s Pet has been pretty busy lately. How’s that been going?
Trevor: “Next week Larry’s band ÆGES are releasing their debut full length on Mylene Sheath – they’re an excellent melodic post-hardcore band with Mark from Undertow, Tony from Cutthroats 9, and Kemble from The Rise. It’s a fucking great album. Then April 30th my power ambient band Chord are releasing our third full length GMaj7 on MIEMusic; it’s essentially two side-long compositions focusing on different expressions of one chord. Let’s Pet is my motorik goth pop band, or something – I don’t really know what we are. Anyhow, we’re halfway through recording a full length, though we have no label or anything worked out. I’m also self-releasing the Teith LP; which was basically a former incarnation of Let’s Pet. I’m really proud of that one and we sat on it for a little bit, but I want to get it out there; it’s a noisy experimental pop record and I’m stoked on it. On top of these I’ve also started playing solo shows. Pretty busy these days…”
What are some of the bands that you’re looking forward to playing with on Pelican’s upcoming tours?
Trevor: “We’re, of course, really excited to be hooking up with Tombs on our current tour. We love that band and we’re good buddies so it’s going to be fun sharing time with them. We’re playing Roadburn with Sleep this weekend, which we expect will be a blast. Also we’re playing with Om and Barn Owl in Paris, both amazing bands that I’m thrilled to see.”
The full “Ataraxia/Taraxis” EP is streaming via AV Club:
4/06/2012 Dunk! Festival – Zottegem, BE
4/07/2012 The Garage – London, UK w/ Chelsea Wolfe
4/08/2012 Vudu Club – Birmingham, UK w/ Chelsea Wolfe
4/09/2012 Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
4/10/2012 Stereo – Glasgow, UK
4/11/2012 The Ruby Lounge – Manchester, UK
4/12/2012 The Haunt – Brighton, UK
4/13/2012 The Cooler – Bristol, UK
4/14/2012 Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, Netherlands
4/15/2012 La Maronquinerie – Paris, France
4/16/2012 Jubez – Karlsruhe, Germany w/ Tombs
4/17/2012 Bad Bonn – Dudingen, Switzerland
4/18/2012 Magnolia – Milan, Italy
4/19/2012 Feierwerk – Munich, Germany w/ Tombs
4/20/2012 Cassiopeia – Berlin, Germany w/ Tombs
4/21/2012 Nosturi – Helsinki, Finland