Pelican – Interview with Bryan Herweg

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Rocksins has been very lucky to have a chance to interview Bryan Herweg, Pelican’s bassist. Here are his thoughts on recording their new album, touring, and “really strong pot”.

Rocksins: Did you have a set musical direction you wanted to take with your new album (What We All Come To Need) before you started the writing process?
Bryan: It was similar to the approach of City of Echoes. We wanted the new album to be more straight forward, and in more in a “rock” kind of vein and I think we achieved this. The songs, to me, have a lot more to grab on to for the listener than our past recordings.

Rocksins:Did you do anything differently approaching this album that you haven’t done on the previous three albums, or does your writing and recording process change every time?
Bryan:Yes, the writing approach was very different. We are living in different cities, my brother Larry and I live in Los Angeles, and Laurent and Trevor are still in Chicago. So, the exchanging of ideas happened over the internet, or when we had rehearsals before tour. I think it gave everyone a chance to really reflect on their parts, alone. I think it ended up working out well.

Rocksins:This is your first full length release for The Southern Lord label, what prompted the switch from Hydra Head to Southern Lord?
Bryan:We were really just looking to try something new. Our relationship with Hydra Head is still very strong. We think it’s a great label and so far they haven’t let us down.

Rocksins:I know you unfortunately had your van broken into about 18 months ago and you lost a lot of equipment and some recordings, did the band ever recover any of what was stolen/did they catch whoever did it?
Bryan:Yeah, that was awful. We were in Rome and decided to take a few minutes to check out the Colosseum. We left the van parked on a busy street in broad daylight and left for roughly twenty minutes. They didn’t get any gear, but all personal things like computers, passports, cell phones, and digital recorders were gone. It was a nightmare, but fans donated a bunch of money and we were able to recover very quickly. We’re very thankful that our fans did that for us.

Rocksins:Do you have any plans to tour Europe (and the UK specifically) in 2010? I’m sure there’s a lot of Pelican fans who would love to see you on the festival circuit.
Bryan:Yeah, we actually are trying to make sure that that happens. Maybe late spring, early summer.

Rocksins:Do you have any favourite tracks to play live? (Drought was a personal live favourite when I saw yourselves in Islington in 2007)
Bryan:All of our new songs…isn’t that the answer you get from every band you interview? Actually, “Dead Between the Walls” never seems to get old for me.

Rocksins:Following on from the last couple of questions, do you have a favourite or most memorable venue anywhere?
Bryan:One of my most memorable was Primavera in Barcelona. We got to play to quite a few people and we were right next to the Mediterranean. I finished the night drunk, watching Sonic Youth and Battles.

Rocksins:You’ve toured the UK with some very diverse acts (High on Fire, These Arms are Snakes, Cave In), do you have any favourite bands to tour/travel with?
Bryan:I’ll tour with any of the three bands you mentioned, anytime. Those are my top three favorite tours. I have some of my best memories of my whole career from hanging out with those dudes.

Rocksins:What are you guys listening to at the moment? Is there anything in particular you would recommend to the readers?
Bryan:I’ve been listening to Santana “Abraxas” and a bunch of Killing Joke. Also, Grails “Doomsdayer’s Holiday.”

Rocksins:Finally, what do you think has been the defining rock or metal moment in your career so far?
Bryan:Probably arriving in London for the first time and playing to a sold out crowd at The Underworld. I think that was 2004, and it was probably one of my absolute favorite shows to play.

Rocksins:To finish the interview on a lighter note, how strong was the “really strong pot” Laurent makes reference to on the DVD of the special edition of the new album?
Bryan:Well, I do live in southern California.

Pelican’s most recent album What We All Come To Need is out now on Southern Lord records. For more interviews with rock & metal artists such as Pelican please make Rocksins part of your daily Internet browsing routine as you never know what we will come up with. Pelican can be followed on Twitter at @pelicansong.

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