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    Pray For Sound

    "These Songs are like a Therapy"

    Interview von Anne
    05.06.2020 — Lesezeit: 9 min
    Deutsche Version lesen
    Pray For Sound

    Today I have prepared a very special interview for you. None other than the wonderful post-rock band Pray for Sound answered my questions.

    The first time I've seen Pray for Sound live on stage was at the DUNK! Festival 2017. At least since this memorable hour, my heart has been beating for the band from Boston. Recently they released their new album "Waves". Now I had the opportunity to talk to guitarist Bruce Malley, drums and synthesizer representative Steve Aliperta and guitarist Nick Stewart.

    Anne: Hi! Thank you very much for this interview! I'm so excited about getting to know one of my favorite post-rock bands! How are you today?

    Bruce: Thanks for the kind words! I'm doing alright, considering all that's going on around us. None of my close friends or family are sick and I’m very thankful for that!

    Steve: Yup, it took a pandemic for me to realize how isolated I am regardless.

    "We usually make decisions together"

    Anne: You told me you usually do your band meetings on Wednesdays. What happens in these meetings?

    Bruce: We use an app called Slack to discuss things and organize ideas throughout the week (while we're not together). We usually make decisions together on Wednesdays, revisit our Slack conversations, work on things like this interview, and run our set/ jam out new demos.

    Steve: Once a week seems to be a good flow for us. Things tend to get busy for everyone, so it's been nice to dedicate one day a week to work on our music. It helps keep the set tight and gives us the time to develop new ideas for older songs.

    Anne: I would have seen you live on stage at this year's DUNK! Festival. Unfortunately due to Corona, it couldn't take place. Will we meet you there in 2021?

    Bruce: We're actively working on that. I don't know if we're supposed to say anything official, but it's something we're hoping will happen!

    "Working separately and then put it all together works pretty well for us"

    Anne: Corona is everywhere right now. We're all supposed to spend most of our time in our homes this time. How does this affect your work as a band? Do you meet remotely (besides your talks via Slack)?

    Bruce: We've done some Zoom meetings together, we continue to use Slack to discuss various ideas, and we're also working on new demos separately using our home recording setups. Working on demos separately then coming together to finish songs together has worked really well for us in the past.

    Steve: Plus as terrible as it is for every other reason, it's been nice to have time to relax and not worry about all the normal stressors of daily life. Just the overarching doom of the one big stressor.

    Anne: Does this have any effects on your creativity? I have heard from a few artists that they are having a massive output at the moment.

    Bruce: This definitely varies from member to member. I personally had a creative block when things first started, but I'm getting used to it now. I've come up with a few new songs since. I try not to dwell on creative ruts and just play what comes out. Sometimes, it's not really music that makes sense for Pray for Sound so I move on quickly…

    "First I had to figure out how to stay afloat"

    Steve: Yeah at first I wasn't focused on writing at all. Definitely wrapped up in the state of the world and figuring out how to stay afloat. But the time spent in quarantine since then has helped me evaluate my priorities more healthily. It's been good for creativity, there's time now.

    Anne: Your fourth album "Waves" is pretty amazing. What's the story behind it? Why is it called "Waves"?

    Nick : Thank you! We worked pretty tirelessly on it for almost 3 years, so I appreciate you saying so. Waves started without a definitive direction, but over the course of writing and re-writing songs it began to take on the ebbs and flows of a dark period in my life. I had been dealing with chronic back pain for almost two years, and I would have these high moments and low moments where it felt like I was making progress with healing and then I’d have a serious setback.

    Writing these songs felt like a sort of therapy for me, a way to take control back over something that felt very out of control to me at the time, and works through some of the more painful things I was feeling. There was a real essence of discovery and playfulness in the process of figuring out what kind of direction to go in with all of the songs individually, and then listening to them back to back to see what kind of arc the record could take.

    The name Waves was Bruce's idea, and it was born out of a comparison drawn between the way my recovery would ebb and flow vs. the way waves in the ocean come in and out. The title track from the record has a real sense of washing over you, and it felt like once we had the name for the record that song should become the centerpiece of all the music.

    "Music's ability to change your state of mind is very inspiring"

    Anne: What inspired you most when working on "Waves"?

    Nick : In a real honest sense, the ability of music and art to change your state and connect you to something higher than yourself was the real inspiration. Like I said before, the exploration of writing these songs was very therapeutic - I would get lost in the weeds of writing one particular song's intro or chorus and just really search for what the best way to fill it out was, but I was also trying to channel my pain frustration into something I cared about. I also took advantage of hiking what little I could and spending time outdoors as a way to clear my head, so the woods definitely served as a source of inspiration.

    We actually sprinkled some field recordings of the outdoors all over the record as a way to pay homage to the way the woods and moving in some sort of natural environment can open up your mind to be filled with some sense of creativity.

    I listen to a lot of music that primarily has vocals, and one thing that really inspires me about our genre is how open-ended it is - there are endless opportunities as far as how you can fill out the sound. One thing that feels important to me when writing our music is to always establish a sense of melody that guides the listener, similar to how the vocals would guide someone in music with lyrics.

    Anne: Your music is very creative. Are there any artists that inspired you and your style?

    "'Monophonic' was my fist post-rock record"

    Nick : I think everyone has their own inspirations that they bring to the table. We put together a Spotify playlist that features a lot of the artists that inspired this particular release. Everything from Pink Floyd, to At The Drive-In, to Tycho, ended up all over this record. What’s funny about this band for me personally is that the first-ever ‘post-rock’ record I listened to was the first Pray for Sound EP "Monophonic” back when the project was just entirely

    Bruce: It really introduced me to what the genre had to offer and helped serve as a launching off point for where everyone's role could be in the band.

    Anne: The analog synths you're using are characteristic of your sound. They can be fascinating. Did you always know that they had to be part of your music?

    Steve: Incorporating synths into our music had been something we had talked about for a while, but didn't have the know-how or the access. It's just such a rabbit hole, I feel like I know less than when we started haha.

    I worked for a production company called Bergsten Music that carried a wide library of synths and learned a lot about how they worked. They let me take them home here and there, and we learned a lot.

    Nick had also been messing around with synths a bunch on his own and came to us with full demos ready to go. I think there were a few pads that we took straight from Nick's demos - all softsynths. But we had a lot of fun this time around and spent a lot of time dedicated to the synth aspect of the record.

    We'd write and edit all of the MIDI, then run it back through a Voyager or a Sub Phatty and mess with the knobs in real-time. It added an extra layer of movement that was really cool. I feel like we've just explored the tip of the iceberg though, plenty of learning to do!

    "I'm happy when people seek out and listen to our music"

    Anne: Cool! Now I am even more curious about your next records! It seems you are pretty much into storytelling. Is it OK for you if people don't listen to your albums song by song? If they are consuming the singles individually? Does that sound stupid to you? This is a bit of a difficult question. I mean: If I take one of your songs and put them into a playlist for example...

    Bruce: I'm just happy when people seek out and listen to our music. I'm very realistic in that I know people won't listen to our albums front to back all the time. Our album concepts are nice for us, to create meaning when we don't have lyrics, and for fans who really want to dive deeper into our music, but they're not a requirement. By all means, please include any song you want in a playlist!

    Steve: What I like about music is that people can take it and make it mean whatever they want. While we might have an idea in mind that we put out initially, someone listening to one of our songs out of context could still have a meaningful experience that sticks with them. It's great because it's personal.

    Nick : When we sequence records in the particular order that we decide the songs should be in, we do consider how one song feels or sounds coming out of another, but what’s interesting about that is a song can have a completely different impact or mood when it's out of the context of the rest of the record - that’s what makes it so cool!

    "People at DUNK! are so kind and supportive"

    Anne: You are originally from Boston. Do you like your city?

    Bruce: I like Boston a lot, but just like any other city, there's plenty of bullshit here too.

    Steve: It's a cool city, lots of history and character, always plenty of things to do. You just better own a black pique coat for the winter if you want to blend in. That or those Canada Goose jackets apparently.

    Nick : It’s a good place to grow up near; people are tough and don’t take shit - you get a pretty thick skin, haha.

    Anne: You are one of the residents of my beloved DUNK! Festival. What is it that makes this event so very special? Tell me about its magic.

    Bruce: Everyone is so kind and supportive...it's like one big huge happy family.

    Steve: For real, the festival is just full of inclusive people that love music and want to have a good time. Plus the woods make anything more magical.

    "People are gravitating towards something physical"

    Nick : The people that put on the festival are really like family to us - it's been such a joy to work with them and be a part of what they’ve created for everyone. The folks that attend are also so respectful of the music, the art, and each other, and it's such a contagious feeling. We were glowing the whole time we were there back in 2017, we couldn’t believe it was real.

    Anne: Just a few years ago, hardly anyone was interested in records. In the meantime, vinyl is celebrating a great revival. What do you think are the reasons for this?

    Steve: I've seen a lot of people gravitating towards something physical. There's something nebulous about the idea of ownership when it comes to audio files on a computer. Plus the idea of a record is more ceremonial, you take it out of the sleeve, put it on the player, arm the needle, etc etc. The experience of looking at the art and reading the insert is one I personally enjoy. The whole thing puts you in a state of focus that you just don't get from shuffle on Spotify through phone speakers. Although I also do that.

    Nick : I think it’s important for people to be able to have something physical when they invest their money in an artist. It sort of acts as a symbol of an idea, aesthetic, or mood that you’ve decided to invite into your life, and you’re willing to exchange your time and energy for that. That’s really special to us - we spend a lot of time on artwork, the layout, and selecting the right design for the vinyl itself; we really want to be a worthwhile investment for folks.

    "We focus on what we can do at home"

    Anne: This stupid virus has stopped the whole music scene. No festivals and no concerts for a long time. You were also planning on a tour. Have you already considered any new dates?

    Nick : There are some small discussions, but like everyone else, we really can’t commit to anything and it’s very hard to project. It’s important for us to just focus on what we can do right now at home.

    Steve: Pray for Sound World Tour 2025 watch out!

    Pray for Sound was founded in Boston in 2011. They released their fourth album "Waves" in 2019 in collaboration with the labels A Thousand Arms, Dunk! Records and Post. Recordings.

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