Category Archives: Local

‘We’re the only band in Southampton that sounds like us’ – Interview with Pivotal


Pivotal are that rarest of beasts, a local band that is just as exciting as any touring one. Ahead of their EP release gig at The Cellar on 19th July, they sat down with Anywhere in Albion to talk recording, influences, lad bands, girl drummers and being from Southampton.

Pivotal Interview

So you’ve just finished recording, will this be the first proper release from the band?

Lee Pearce (vox/guitar): Yes. Lots of the people who like us live just keep going on at us to go and record, go and record. We’d done a little bit of recording but we weren’t very happy with it to be honest but I think this one will be a lot different. We all enjoyed doing it and you’ll hear that when it comes out. We’ve done 5 songs, a couple of old ones, some really new ones. ‘Spitting Rivets’, ‘Lost Alliance’, ‘Messner’, which is new, ‘Division’ which is new, and ‘Mia’ which has been around for a while but I don’t think anyone’s heard it recorded.
Ben Johnson (bass): It’s a tough one cause we’re quite a live band, it’s very much about the live sound rather than the stuff we commit to recordings.
Lee: I think we’d all be happy if we just got put in a room and just played live and got recorded.
Lucy Pearce (keys/synth): We like it to have quite a lot of emotion. It’s hard when we record because sometimes it feels like we lose the emotion that we have live.
Chloe Elliot (drums): We recorded two of them without click because we decided that we enjoyed playing them with feel too much and when we tried playing them with the click it was just so different.
Lee: I think that’s quite a special thing though. For us, we really get involved in those breakdowns and feel the music and playing it with a click just takes all of that out and it just feels unnatural to play. We didn’t go crazy on the takes though, if there was something a little bit off, we left it in.
Lucy: There’s a few imperfections but it’s nice to have that, it’s more natural.

Who are your musical influences?

Ben: Interpol, a bit of Joy Division. Who else do we like? It’s quite diverse really, everyone brings their own bits to the bag.
Lee: I think our new songs are bringing that out as well, where everyone’s got more of an input I think.
Ben: The Walkmen as well
Lucy: People always say Editors but I think that’s because of Lee’s voice.
Lee: Yeah, we get put in that genre.
Ben: What did that guy just say? Simple Minds?
Lucy: ‘Like a New Order and Simple Minds love child’ wasn’t it?
Lee: Never heard that one before.
Ben: I can see New Order.
Lee: I love Warpaint. They’re a really good band for me at the moment.
Lucy: Maccabees?
Lee: I don’t think it comes out massively in our music but I think we’re all influenced by them, a lot of our breakdowns are a little bit similar.

Like Interpol it seems you have a kind of darkness in the music.

Lee: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s the sort of feel we’re going for.  A bit dark and a bit more depth with the lyrics just to carry it across and feel, this sounds a bit weird, the pain of the song or the emotion of the song maybe.
Chloe: Lee’s heartbreak!
Lee: Not always, there are happy moments! I think when you relate to a song most is when you can relate to the lyrics and you can understand what’s coming through and I think that’s what pulls it, especially for me.

Who are the bands that you go to for that kind of thing?

Lee: Paul Banks has got to be one of the best lyricists, Stevie Nicks. I don’t know who else.
Lucy: You like lyrics that don’t make sense completely.
Lee: Yeah, I like lyrics that you have to put a puzzle together to understand. That’s not just in your face ‘I love you’, that sort of shit.
Ben: We’ve got some interesting sort of subject matter though, haven’t we, pensive lyrics. What was the story behind ‘Spitting Rivets’.
Lee: Yeah, basically we had a song called ‘Tupolev Relay’ and some of us didn’t get on with it, so we just picked it apart so the whole song was basically the chorus of that old song.
Chloe: Aren’t there stories about your old drummer? That’s what I heard.
Lee: Basically the drummer and Lucy were moaning about the song and stuff so in the end I just started writing some lyrics just sort of taking the mick like how we didn’t like the song so it goes ‘Spitting rivets writing this song just for you / We’ll go round writing it only for you’ . I wasn’t really that angry! Then the chorus is like ‘Pick it apart, pick it apart / Grit your teeth and take two’. They’re not the best lyrics to be fair!

You’ve got a mixed-gender band which is a bit unusual because most local bands seem a bit laddy.

Lee: When you say laddy you mean quite butch and a bit more attitude? I think most bands are like that in Southampton. I’m not into music that’s bullish and all really arrogant and stuff, but I don’t like all music just because it’s by women.

Do you feel that Pivotal move away from ‘LAD’ music?

Chloe: I don’t think you could tell just by listening to it, unless you’ve got a female singer I don’t know how you’d tell.
Lee: I think a lot of people are surprised when they find out there’s two females in the band because, I don’t know, it’s just usually there’s not.
Chloe: Maybe the synths might sound a bit ‘female’, do you think? There’s that twinkly stuff you do in ‘Messner’ that’s pretty girly.
Lucy: Yeah, I suppose.
Lee: I just think that sounds loads like The National.
Lucy: There’s a few little piano arpeggios in there.
Ben: It’s definitely a good gimmick having that gender split.
Lee: Anything that gets you talked about is a good thing.
Lee: I’ll be honest I was quite reluctant to have like, when me and Lucy were starting out I was a bit ooh… but I sold her my Juno [keyboard], we cracked out some tunes and then it’s built from there. It wasn’t something we looked for with a drummer to have another female in the band.
Chloe: But you couldn’t say no!
Lee: We tried out a few drummers and Chloe was the one that just fitted the bill basically.
Chloe: Some girls are good at drumming, did you know?
Lucy: Guy drummers are shocked that Chloe’s a drummer, it cracks me up.
Ben: Yeah it’s very rare to have a really good female drummer.
Chloe: Thanks, Ben.
Ben: Not saying that you are, but when you think female drummer you think like Meg White, really simplistic.

Didn’t Meg White ruin it for girl drummers?

Chloe: No, she was great because all I have to do now is play one thing and everyone’s ‘wow, you’re amazing!’
Lee: It’s quite a good balance we have, we have a good laugh which is important. We all get on.
Lucy: It’s quite nice to hear the guy views on things and the girl views on things
Lee: We were having a funny conversation just a minute ago actually, but we won’t go into that.
Lucy: Rude stuff always comes up
Lee: Rude stuff, yeah, naked pictures and stuff, shenanigans, who’s sending who – Not within the band! But yeah we have a good laugh.

Do you feel that you fit into the local scene?

Chloe: Not really. We get asked that question quite a bit, and I think there aren’t any bands we’ve played with that we’ve felt particularly well aligned with.
Lee: I think that’s quite a beautiful thing about us, is that we’re the only band that I’ve heard in Southampton that sounds anything like we do.
Ben: I think there are some good bands knocking around Southampton.
Chloe: We all decided we liked, well they’re from Portsmouth so it’s cheating, but Kassassin Street.
Lee: They were really good, we played with them the other night, they were on after us.
Chloe: Do we like any other bands? I’m sure there’s loads we just haven’t seen them.
Lee: There are good bands they’re just not our bag I think.
Lucy: We’re not really in the scene as such.

What about the influence of Southampton as a city on the music?

Chloe: The girls of Southampton!
Lee: Most of the girls that come through the lyrics aren’t from Southampton to be honest.
Ben: Mia’s a foreigner isn’t she
Lee: Yeah, she’s a foreigner, let’s leave that there…
Lucy: There’s some lyrics about the city, ‘Social Minefield’, that’s about Southampton
Lee: Hold on, I can’t remember the song
Ben: It’s got those elements of Southampton nightlife.
Lee: Yeah we’ve got a song called ‘Social Minefield’ which is pretty much just like about the bullishness of how people can get when they’ve had a few drinks and how things get out of hand, shit like that.

All the big grey buildings make it seem a bit industrial.

Lucy: Post-war really.
Lee: I think that comes through, I want that to come through in our artwork in a way, I think our music’s quite industrial and cold in that sort of sense. I tried taking some pictures of the docks for some artwork but they haven’t come out very well.

How did you end up with the artwork for the ‘Within Circles’ EP?

Lee: We basically had the dandelion from an old picture Lucy had taken. We then worked on the idea of it falling apart or dying, or is it starting new beginnings? It’s open to interpretation… Basically, it works well with the songs which are about the same things but in life.

Within Circles Cover

Pivotal release their ‘Within Circles EP’ at The Cellar, Southampton on Friday 19th July. The group for the event is here, you can buy tickets here. Like Pivotal on Facebook here and follow them on soundcloud here.

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21/2/13 Public Service Broadcasting (+ Pivotal), The Railway, Winchester


Last night I headed to Winchester to have a go at actually being a proper music journalist for once. The main attraction was Public Service Broadcasting, a duo that merge archive films from WW2 and after with music that references Post-Rock, Radiohead and Krautrock. If you’ve ever wanted to boogie to the blitz this was your gig. Unfortunately unless you’d booked in advance you weren’t going to get in, the 6music favourites had managed to sell-out the venue completely and it was packed tight, a good friend even informed me Matt Horne was there. While I got to pretend to be Lester Bangs going backstage and doing interviews with PSB as well as support band Pivotal (watch this space!), I managed to miss most of the opening act Iain Cooper, who seemed a pleasant enough acoustic guitar man from what I heard.

Pivotal

While I snuck to the front of the ever-expanding crowd, second band Pivotal gatherered themselves on stage. I had caught them once before, supporting Slow Club last year at The Joiners. Back then I’d been mightily impressed and particularly taken with the song ‘Spitting Rivets’, so when frontman Lee announced “Hi, we’re Pivotal and this song’s called Spitting Rivets” I was both pleased and impressed by them throwing their apparent best track up first. Their music is a dark post-punk sound where synth-keys, bass, drums and reverb-laden guitar swirl together while singer Lee Pearce’s vocals alternate between a brooding Ian Curtis-esque baritone and and a powerful anguished shout. Often the transition between these two styles can make for the most captivating moments in their music. They’ve just finished recording a bunch of tracks for an EP, and if they’ve managed to capture half of how good they sounded last night then it will be an incredible record. Their songwriting has improved drastically since they impressed me over a year ago, and their level of performance was astounding. They benefitted from an unusual stage layout whereby drummer Chloe Elliot and keyboardist Lucy Pearce were on the sides allowing Lee Pearce and bassist Ben Johnson to play off each other and the crowd. The new songs they’ve written all sounded fantastic with highlights being a song that moved between being in 3 and 4 (scoring huge drumming nerd points) and their closing number which featured some impressive musicianship from each member. I wasn’t the only one impressed though, as the crowd grew ever more responsive to the songs. After Lee aplogised for having broken his E-bow for a track, its end was met with a shout of “You should break more E-bows” from a man near the front. I have no fear saying Pivotal are absolutely my favourite band to come out of Southampton, their sound doesn’t match any of the music other local acts are making and their songs are pretty damn fantastic. Which makes the wait for their EP pretty exciting. Go like their facebook page here, you won’t regret it.

After Pivotal were a band called JayetAL, an electronic post-rock band who made some damn impressive sounds by merging dense electronics with live drums, keys and bass. The only problem being that with so much of their sound coming from pre-recorded loops and samples it was difficult to connect much to what was going on aside from being fairly impressed at the skill on display. Realising it wasn’t quite my thing meant I decided to head to the bar to grab a drink before the main attraction, Public Service Broadcasting could get on stage. Which they did, to huge cheers, once they’d constructed their set with an enormous projecter dead centre, the two members, J Willgoose Esq., wielding synths and guitars alike, and Wrigglesworth on drums and triggers (Roland SPD-SX, tech-heads). The crowd was packed out and I paid the price for not sticking with JayetAL as the small size of The Railway left much of the projected screen blocked by fans in front. Nevertheless I had enough vision to enjoy the gig and what struck me most was how faultlessly Public Service Broadcasting bridged the gap between their recordings/videos and the energy of a live show. Their intensely crafted music builds and rises wonderfully, the climax of ‘New Dimensions In Sound’ (a track they decided not to add to their upcoming album) was phenomenal, testament to the fact that even without the samples that give the band their name, their music can stand alone.

Another highlight was the way in which Public Service Broadcasting engaged with the audience. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who is yet to see them, but we were laughing and cheering in equal measure. The virtual frontman engaged the crowd better than most rock bands I’ve seen. Their music has found a subtly powerful edge in the way it uses these broadcasts, and a particularly fascinating moment happened with the close of ‘If War Should Come’, where the last seconds of the song announced that war had indeed come, and the audience that was whooping and clapping after every other song, fell akwardly silent, hit by the sheer significance of those words. It was a touching, human moment, and gave a great amount of weight to the (previously thought) tongue-in-cheek motto of ‘Teaching the lessons of the past with the music of the future’. Other highlights were a song which had their name as its main sample and a song about fashion that had great music. The arrival of ‘Spitfire’ gained instant cheers, no doubt due to it’s success on 6music, and new single ‘Signal 30’ went down incredibly well, its heavy rock flavour causing a vast proportion of the crowd to begin to bust a move.

With more of PSB’s unique stage banter signalling the close of their set, the audience resolutely demanded more. In good fashion the duo launched into the optimistic ‘Everest’ for their encore. And as the thronging masses filed out I don’t think there was any doubt that Public Service Broadcasting lived up to their challenge of making their live show far more than what is on the record. Their debut album, Inform Educate Entertain, is fast approaching, and at this rate is going to make quite a splash. Do not underestimate Public Service Broadcasting.

Public Service Broadcasting

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Pick of the best upcoming gigs in Southampton and Winchester


Things are starting to settle down after the end of year rush, and I’ve noticed that a number of really good bands are out and about on tour at the moment. So I’m using this post as a heads up for those people who would like to see some good music coming up, but don’t want to find out about it the day after tickets sold out, or have to go round venues picking up leaflets. Also these are gigs I will actually be trying to go to, so if anyone wants to go, I’ll probably be there too.

Public Service Broadcasting

14th Feb – Swim Deep @ The Joiners, Southampton

Let’s kick things off with a show on TONIGHT! Don’t worry, though, it’s sold out online (sorry, they might have some on the door), but I thought it would be nice to begin with something immediate. Swim Deep have been gaining traction recently thanks to a group of fairly decent singles, and videos that could put them up as breakthroughs in the slacker rock department, hot on the heels of Peace and Palma Violets. With support from strong locals New Desert Blues, this should be a great gig. Here’s the song of theirs that most caught my ears thanks to the line ‘Fuck your romance, I wanna pretend that Jenny Lee Lindberg is my girlfriend’. And you can’t argue with that.

18th Feb – Villagers @ Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Villagers’ new album {Awayland} got them wide respect and a larger fan base, and my vague support thanks to the Sparklehorse-y ‘Nothing Arrived’. Fans of folk-rock can’t afford to miss this, even if it is in a rival town, Wedgewood Roooms is a good venue and support is coming from Stealing Sheep, fresh from their own support slot on the recent Alt-J tour, and whose debut album is a fantastic under-the-radar gem.

21st Feb – Public Service Broadcasting @ The Railway, Winchester

Now for this one I AM GOING, I’VE EVEN BOUGHT A TICKET, so you should all join me. Public Service Broadcasting are a duo that merge WWII era public information films, be it about the blitz, spitfires or technology, with Amnesiac-era Radiohead-esque instrumentals. They make a tasty, tasty sound and a live show that combines video footage with great rock is something I don’t want to miss. Also one of the support bands is local group Pivotal who are probably my favourite local live band after seeing them support Slow Club last year.

23rd Feb – Wilko Johnson @ Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

For those who don’t know, Wilko Johnson is a guitarist who was in iconic proto-punk band Dr. Feelgood. His guitar sound has been one of the most iconic ones around, and he is also one of the most thoroughly likeable musicians around. So when news came that he had terminal cancer the music world waws pretty depressed. But what was more stunning was Wilko’s reaction, declining Chemo and choosing to go on a ‘farewell tour’ to say goodbye to his fans. He also gave an incredible interview to BBC about how great he felt having received the news which is pretty damn awe-inspiring. This last chance to see him is pretty damn unmissable: “Every little thing you see, every cold breeze against your face, every brick in the road, you think ‘I’m alive, I’m alive’ – I hope I can hang onto that.”

28th Feb – Burglars of the Heart (and CIRCUS) @ The Joiners, Southampton

Now I know very little about the headliners on this day except that they’re an indie-folk outfit who have an album on bandcamp. But I hear that support band The Circus are some sort of amazing new rock band that blow everybody’s minds or something, and that in no  way are a band that I play in that I’m shamelessly plugging, but seriously do come it will be fucking amazing. Here’s the facebook event.

7th Mar – Stiff Little Fingers @ The Brook, Southampton

Legendary Northern Irish punk band, currently having a film made about their earl scene. They re-united and have come on tour. Punk fans should not miss this chance to see such an iconic group.

11th Mar – Tom Odell @ The Brook, Southampton

SOLD OUT but man would I looove a ticket. The winner of the Brit’s Choice award (not an award I’m a fan of tbh), but he’s got some style. A potential british piano Jeff Buckley, he gets all the hype at the moment. Steal and scrounge your ticket if you can.

11th Apr – King Krule @ The Joiners, Southampton

King Krule has to be the single coolest young musician out there. A scrawny ginger with a ragged bass voice, he’s got the most incredible musical talent around. Recent single Octopus showed that this is a kid who has been listening to the right kinds of music for years, the strong dub influence coming through magnificently. Catch him now before he gets turned into some sort of cool version of the Jake Bugg working-class-hero bollocks.

21st May – Lucy Rose @ The Brook, Southampton

Another gig I already have my ticket for, Lucy Rose had an epic 2012 and powers through 2013 with another tour. This time not the tiny Joiners but the more expansive The Brook, well worth getting tickets for the woman who has now outshone her early backers Bombay Bicycle Club. She’s a great live host too with charm in abundance and the tunes to match it.

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