How did PAS/CAL form?
PAS/CAL had its beginnings in a bet. Gene Corduroy (Lead Guitarist) would come around to my house and hang out whilst LTD (Drummer) and I would work on recording improvisations. We were part of a musical community within Detroit whose heroes were Can, Stockhausen, John Cage, Steve Reich, Neu!, Terry Riley, Amon Duul II and other avant-garde composers. We were attempting to make the inaccessible accessible; we were trying to form formless music. Although, we had some moments it never really worked. Gene was much more pop influenced and when we would take breaks from our “serious” pieces he would pick up a guitar and we would have a lil fun improvising pop music. We all began to notice that these impromptu pop tunes began to sound very promising. One day Gene asserted, “Let’s see if we can completely write and record a poppy piece by 10pm tonight.” That gave us 4 hours’ LTD and I was used to spending 4 months on a song, so this was a definite dare. When 10:30pm came around we were recording the final vocal tracks for a song that was released “as-is” on Le Grand Magistery”s METAMORPHOSIS sampler.
What is a group from Detroit, USA doing playing such pretty pop music? How did you develop your sound?
I tend to be a fan of music in general encompassing a myriad of genres and eras, both pretty and “ugly” sounding. Truthfully, I believe that no matter what the genre or sound of a song is, if it is a good one, it is always pretty, that is, aesthetically beautiful. We are all influenced by all music and as our moods and tastes modulate so does our songwriting. It is both a natural and a conscious process to write music eclectically. My favorite albums are never those that are easily classifiable under some generic term such as electroclash, psych, garage, et cetera—that is just too dull for my palate.
Your ep, The Handbag Memoirs EP, has been very well received. What was the recording process for this cd like, and are you pleased with the way it turned out?
I have been recording myself for years starting with handheld tape recorders to four-tracks then to computer-based, hard disk recording. I am incredibly interested in the production side of the musical process. I read through loads of recording periodicals and I am always experimenting with microphone placement and techniques. To me, the writing process and the recording process are one. I would never let another person write a lyric for me or tell me how to sing a line in the same way that I would never wanna take PAS/CAL into another person’s studio and let them have their way with our music. When I am writing songs I am also considering what I can/will do with the song in the studio; often I am writing and recording simultaneously. When I wrote THIS AIN”T FOR EVERYONE I knew exactly how it should sound, what microphones I wanted to use on the guitar, how the drums and the whole recording should be expressive of the room it was recorded in, et cetera. I am very pleased with how the recordings for The Handbag Memoirs turned out. However, I am not content, I never am. That is a musical folly mine. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I don’t always know exactly when to quit. However, that same anomaly is the thing that pushes me to strive for the perfect song, the perfect lyric, the perfect melody, the perfect snare sound!
You’ve just started working on a full-length. Are you approaching this project in a different manner?
The main difference with recording the new album is a change of address. Our former studio was basically the living room, dining room, bedroom, and bathroom of LTD”s upper flat. I have since bought an old home and converted the garage into a studio. The approach is always different for writing and recording for us. We don’t have a standard way we work—and I hope we never develop one. The songs are different, perhaps not as “poppy”. Some are uglier whilst others have been beautified by fanciful string arrangements and such. With the latest batch I had the idea to take what I learned from my years of improvisational and “difficult” music and see if I could blend it subtly in the nooks of the pop hooks. So far, I am pleased.
How did you get hooked up with Darla records?
Actually, Le Grand Magistery is hooked up with Darla…and we are hooked up with Le Grand.
What musical influences have affected the way PAS/CAL does music?
In truth, any and all music has influential power on me. Sometimes it is rather embarrassing what or who influences me. When we started to perform live I was quite shy and fancied the idea of singing to LTD as opposed to the on looking audience. After paging through a local magazine I found myself reading an article about Diamond Dave (Lee Roth) regarding his days as a performer. He said some seemingly disposable pablum regarding performing, but, later I found it haunting me, and then pushing me. In short, he said the audience came to see a show—give “em one!
How has bringing PAS/CAL’s music to a live format worked?
Performing live has truly influenced the band’s musical direction. The rawness that is the soul of live playing is coming across in my current writing. I actually imagine myself performing the songs as I write them using the piano bench as a stage. I get excited about the effect of certain lines of verse or melodies. We do come across more gruff live—many would have you believe that we are fey dandies—and they would be right!—but, with the adrenalin and the nervousness and the sweat of live performance there is a certain beastly esprit that possesses us.
What is the music scene in Detroit like? Are there other great pop bands coming up out of motown that we should know about?
As with many cities, there are a million bands in Detroit, however, what may be unique here is that there are only 11 musicians!—and each of these musicians are in—on the average—32 different groups. PAS/CAL is a group of misfits; we are only in one band, which is a very unorthodox thing in our municipality.
Okay, enough on that!
Great “pop” groups, um, there is a group called Showdown At The Equator that I do like. Also a burgeoning band calling themselves Sports & Leisure sound pleasant. I recently heard a practice tape of theirs and I was quite impressed.
Have you been involved in any other music projects that we should know about?
None that you should know of! I was in an improvisational group for a few years and we put out an album of sorts and tour a little. The group was rather musically unimportant to world at large, but, to my development as a musician/composer it was paramount. I really learnt a bit about musical subtlety, the randomness of creation, and the importance of melody. Our pianist, Richard Panic, is a recording artist in his own right with a few singles under his white patent-leather belt.
What is in the future for PAS/CAL?
We are currently in our REC/ORD/ING/S West studio working on what will be our debut album. We are hoping for a Fall/early-Winter release. We are planning on performing all over the globe in support of the release. We have had to turn down a lot of kind offers to perform in order to have the time to write and record. So, I know when are all through we will be oh-so ready and willing! I am really excited to perform our new pieces.
Who is your all-time fave Detroit Piston?
Any other comments?
Il buon tempo verra!