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Interview: JS Clayden of Pitchshifter

1 February 06 interview: Alasdair Catton

We had a chat with the leader of the local industrial metal lads...

If you’re not familiar with Pitchshifter, they are probably the biggest rock band Nottingham have ever produced. Their sound is drum and bass much darker than anything you’ve heard down at stealth, but with heavy metal licks and aggressive in your face vocals. They spit out their music like propaganda and blend it with stunning visual artwork and live visual effects, adding a third dimension to their live shows.

They use digital effects to create amazing sounds with guitars and use interesting samples to add depth; it’s unlikely that there’s a single pedal or FX processor out there that these guys haven’t tried. Regarded by critics as way ahead or their time, the band has a huge cult following of fans that see Pitchshifter like Marmite; if you like it you will love it! If not you’ll probably hate it and be quite afraid that this kind of music exists, there’s no in-between really. We put some questions to frontman and Notts lad JS Clayden…

What made you decide to reform Pitchshifter?
Well, technically we never actually really split. We all just got caught up in the madness of our own lives. None of us fell out with each other. No musical tantrums. We just kind of expanded. We are 'back together'? Because we fucking love it. Pitchshifter has given me personally some of the best things in my life. I love it. We all love it. I can't think of anything we'd rather be doing than playing live for a room full of ferocious lunatics. It's a long-standing addiction we all have. Playing live is our crack-cocaine.

So you live in LA these days… what have you been up to out there?
Putting music into movies and TV, managing bands, writing my own music, shooting guns, sitting in traffic, sunbathing, doing interviews.

Is Nottingham well-known over there?
All Americans genuinely think Nottingham is a myth, a story-tale. Highly amusing when you show them pictures of it.

What do you like to see and do when you come back?
England is fucking freezing. I forget that each time until I come back. I see my family and friends mainly. I always go to Rock City and see my buddies there. What would Nottingham be without Rock City!?

Is there going to be a new album?
It would be incredibly naughty of a band to clandestinely create new music and not let their fan base be privy to its existence until a new tour. I have no idea what kind of immoral heathens would commit such a foul act! is an incomparable record and very ahead of it’s time, how did you come up with that sound?
Many bands have 'bolted on' electronic elements to their rock music. The whole premise of Pitchshifter was to make each part equal in the whole. I.e. the electronic and analog elements should share the stage, neither taking precedent. Bands paid DJs to remix their music at that time. Pitchshifter sounded like it was 'pre-mixed' that way, not 're-mixed' that way. We mangled our own music digitally to start with. We had a lot of fun seeing how far we could go with that.

You're renowned for using computers. What hardware are you running now?
Mac G5's. Noded. The latest OSX Tiger. Tons of Ram, terrabytes of drive space. wifi. 2 laptops. Logic Pro 7. RME Fireface 800 soundcard. Universal Audio 6176 pre-amp. SE Electronics z5600A mic. Sans Amp RBI. Damage Control USA Guitar pre. Pods. Waldorf Microwave XT synth. Korg Prophecy synth. Dunlop Crybaby Wah. ProCo Rat. Tube Screamer. PSP Vinatge Warmer. IK Multimedia T-Racks. Strobosoft Tuners. We could go on for ever here . . .

Can you relate to the Gallagher brothers?
Well, the current line-up of Pitchshifter is actually 2 sets of paternal brothers. Myself and Mark (pictured rocking out right) and Dan and Tim Rayner. We are the band of brotherly love. Yes, Mark and I do occasionally fight, all brothers do. But we kiss and make up pretty fast. We live so far apart we try not to waste time being hard-asses with each other. Life's too short for that shit.

Have you ever played at a free party? What would you say if you were asked too?
I have DJ'ed on occasion. In fact Jim and I used to DJ drum and bass at Rock City for the rock kids. They loved it. Pitchshifter would scare the living hell out of true raver high on E, but I think we could DJ without too many hospital cases. I remember the days of the free festivals i.e. in a field, bands like Torquemada would play in masks. Intense days.

Pitchshifter website

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