After a few mishaps, scheduling conflicts, and the bands travels from the UK to Los Angeles and back again, I finally connected with J.S. Clayden (vocals/programming) of Pitchshifter and asked him about the latest with the band. ‘J’ gets my vote for the ‘Most Enthusiastic Answers’ award. If you’re a true Pitchshifter fan, I think you’ll learn a lot from this interview…
So fill me in on what’s been going on with the band.
We have completed a full new LP with producer Dave Jerden. It took us 3 months and it’s all in the bag and mastered. We are very happy with it and can’t wait to get it out there for everyone to hear. The website has been steadily growing and so our adventures into multi-media are coming alongwith that. Expect a new screensaver very soon. Jello Biafra dropped into the studio to do a tune with us called ‘As Seen On Tv’ and it turned out great. It’s on the lp. For the live drumming on the lp we teamed up with drum monster John Stanier from Helmet. It was great to work with a drummer ofJohn’s caliber and power. The drums sound amazing. Also Nosaj from New Kingdom recently did a tune with Pitchshifter called ‘Voted Least Likely To Succeed’ which will be mixed and mastered soon. So quite a lot going on really!
Tell me a story or two that know one else knows.
One time I was waiting for an aeroplane to come home to the UK from France. We had been on tour or on a press trip or some shit, I can’t remember. But anyway, I was reading Bukowski’s ‘Women’. It’s an enthralling book and Iwanted to give it my full attention. But the airport was hell. All screaming kids and continual announcements for lost fat american passengers. A Shaolin master couldn’t fucking concentrate in that place. I had to find a placeto read this great literature from this drunken lunatic. Wandering around, I found the chapel. Every airport has one. so I snuck in there. No-one was there. I read Bukowski for an hour. No kids, no fat people. On my way out I spotted it. Sitting there in the middle of the chapel was this HUGEcrucifix. A giant white thing leering over me. God. From the floor I could see that it was held to the wall by one central bolt. You know what I had to do. I climbed over the altar and the chairs and turned that damn thing upside down onto it’s head. Rroissy Charles du Gaul Airport had the sign of the devil at it’s head. I quickly scurried away down the corridor back into the hell of the waiting lounges – the priest passed me on the way. God.
What’s something you can only find back home that you crave when you’re away?
Marmite. I miss Marmite when I am away. Marmite is this thick black vegetable spread that we ladle onto toast in the UK. It has the consistency of molasses and tastes like pure salt. You either love it or hate it. Most people hate it. It’s hard to find in civilised countries. Sometimes fansbring us a jar on tour and I love them for that. Maybe we should put a call into the company and see if we can get an endorsement. I would do an advert for Marmite if they gave me the stuff free. I love that shit. It’s the punkof foods. Strong obnoxious and hard to swallow. Yum.
Anyone in the band married? Kids?
Our new drummer, Jason Bowld, is married and has one baby daughter of 5 weeks old. He is over the moon. The rest of us are a collection of degenerates and layabouts and probably don’t have high enough sperm counts to get a woman pregnant, and are too difficult to live with to get married. God help us all.
What is God?
“God is Dead”
Any changes in the band line up at all?
Yes. A big one. Johnny Carter (rhythm guitar/programming) and D Walters (live drums) have left the band. They just decided that it was time to call it a day. We have been playing a band for a very long time together (10years with johnny) and so it has been an odd time recently. there has been no big split and no falling out. It was just time for people to move on and travel other paths. We all still live in the same town and go to the same bars. When Johnny Mark and I started laying together all those years ago, we never thought it would last this long anyway. it has been a real blast with those guys uo until now and I hope the fans can stick with the band and enjoy the ride with the new line up. On drums, we have Jason Bowld. Jase was the drummer in ‘Stimulator’ and will be joining us for the year’s touring ahead. On rhythm guitar, we have MattGrundy. I used Matt for guitars on the ‘Stereophonics’ remix Pitchshifter did, and he was the bass player and programmer in live drum’n’bass band ‘Catfish’ and he also joined ‘Bivuoac’ for a stint on rhythm guitar some years ago. They are both welcome additions to the band and I would hopethat the fans can welcome them into the fold.
Any specific details on the new recording that you’d like to share? Sneak peeks? What can the audience expect?
The audience can expect a more organic sound with more emphasis on the guitars. We really just went to town this time around. Jim and I went into our small studio at home and spent 3 months writing tunes we thought it would be fun to play live. We really experimented with different flavoursand simpler beats this time. Obviously having a guitarist as good as Jim in the fold then you would be insane not to experiment with the guitars. Also this time around I did the majority of the programming and so there was a different feel to that too. I went for a fatter, simpler approach withmore flavour than trickyness. I am sure we will be sneak previewing a track on the website, or on a magazine cover CD before the release of the lp. Keep your eyes peeled!
Do you ever do any secret shows under another band name to ‘test market’ your material?
We have never done that. I would love to do that actually. I have guested with a few bands on stage before, but never a secret gig. Maybe we will try and do that this year! We need a secret name though. Any ideas? ‘The Supergents’? ‘Shabby Road Allstars’? . . . .
Where were you at midnight on New Year’s Eve?
I was with Jim. We snagged free tickets to the Red Hot Chili Peppers show at the Forum in L.A. It was a real blast, actually. I really like the Chili’s new lp. They didn’t play track 11 though, which was a bummer. I love that tune.By midnight, my date had passed out and managed to grab a cab to Sunset Boulevard. I then went to a party in a million dollar house in the hills with some pals and woke up later in my clothes. Very nice.
Who named the band and what was the origin of it?
The band name comes from a guitar effects pedal. A guy named Saul came up with the idea. He turned out to be a real fuck up and none of us like him at all now. Pretty funny, huh? To have your band named by a guy you don’t even like and to have it after something as banal as a guitar effect pedal. Man, we’re deep.
In your opinion, which of your CDs has been the most definitive of the band to date – and is it the one you would recommend someone buy if they have never heard the band before?
The last CD was the most definitive (until we just finished this new one). I think up until that point it really showed what we were trying to do with loops and breaks and samples AND heavy guitars. I think it was a little too far ahead of the ‘scene’ in that respect though. Only now are bands likePowerman 5000, etc. coming forth with that much technology involved in heavy music. I really liked the pitchshifter.com lp. I think it’s a good one. Of course the new one is more developed and I see it as an essence of pitchshifter lp. We distilled away all the extra parts and arrived at theessence of Pitchshifter. The lean meat. I think the new lp is our most accomplished feat to date.
What is your favorite Pitchshifter song?
My favourite Pitchshifter song to play live is ‘w.y.s.i.w.y.g.’ because it’s just a real laugh all the way through and the fans love it. It always turns into some mad pogo-fest and there are always bodies flying everywhere.most times when we play that song in the UK, I can’t actually hear myself singing because all the fans know all the words and all sing them together louder than I do! I love that!
What have you been listening to for the past few months?
I have been listening to the new damn tunes in the mixing room studio for 3 months!!!!!! Apart from that, I have been getting into the new Red Hot Chili Peppers lp. I think it shows a real return to form for them. Rage AgainstThe Machine have hit the jackpot again, too. other things that have been on the turn table: Led Zepplin, NAS, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus, Consumed, The Vandals, Public Enemy, DJ Shadow, The Who, The Jam, Filter, TheBeastie Boys, nofx, I could go on all day . . .
Have you bought any new equipment for this CD?
Yeah. Each new lp sees us get some new toy to fiddle with in the studio. This time around we bought a Waldorf microwave xt synthesiser. It’s just a big orange box with 42 buttons on it that can pretty much make any noise you can’t think of without you needing a degree in nuclear physics to operateit. We also bought a new Apple mac compter (sorry pc owners) and ‘borrowed’ a ton of new software to use on it.
Where do you see the band headed over the next few years?
Plummeting downward in a spiral of despair. No, seriously now I think we will do at least a year of touring on this lp and then see what happens. The new Pitchshifter sound is more organic and live and it’s a lot more fun to write and play. So I am sure if we are given the opportunity to make more lps then we will explore that avenue. The website is getting bigger and better and we will push more into multi media hopefully live and on the CDs.
What section of the record store should Pitchshifter be found under?
Any bands from back home you’d like to plug?
Yeah. there is a local band called ‘Consumed’ who are great. they are on ‘Fat Wreck Chords’ (yeah the guy from nofx’s label). consumed are like a punk version of ‘The Jam’ with a little American melodic hardcore thrown in. You should check out there latest lp. I really like that band … and I’mnot being paid to say that!
Who would you like to tour with this time around?
Rage Against The Machine, Static-X, Korn, Filter, Incubus, Primus, Atari Teenage Riot, The Deftones, Quicksand…
Do you hate interviews?
I enjoy doing interviews with people who are genuinely interested in the band and have some intelligent intuitive questions pertaining to that. Of course it can get a little tedious when people ask you the same questions all year. But mostly I get very good interviews and I really enjoy them.it’s nice to be asked what we think about stuff!
Ask me an interview question.
You just did.
A huge THANK YOU to Jon for the great answers, and to Erik Stein for his patience.