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The Comedy of Errors

Pitchshifter Are Reuniting for a Gig at Rock City

20 November 18 interview: Matthew Williams

Pitchshifter’s last shows together were over ten years ago. The band went through some stylistic changes in the nineties; moving from a heavy, industrial sound to summat more d’n’b influenced by the end of the decade. After many rumoured reunions and new albums, the band are finally touring again, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their classic album, wrapping up with a show at Rock City this month. We put a few questions to lead vocalist JS Clayden ahead of the gig...


Why did the band decide to reunite and why now?
The money finally ran out. Not really. We get gig offers all the time, but it didn’t feel right until now.  We just seemed to naturally coalesce around the twentieth anniversary of and DHP from Nottingham were kind enough to make that thought a reality. When Earthtone9 said they were in as main support, and The Blueprint said that they’d reform for the Rock City show, there was no turning back.

What have you been up to since your last shows together a decade ago?
No good.

Was playing together again difficult?
The band actually live in different cities and countries these days, so we’ll only get one rehearsal together in the same room before the tour. Death or glory!

Is there any hope of some new music? What would a 2018 album sound like?
Once we stepped out of our cryo-chambers on Ahch-To and resurrected our social media accounts, we started to receive a steady flow of requests for previously hard-to-find and unavailable material. To meet that need directly, there’s a Pitchshifter Bandcamp page with some previously unreleased demos and acoustic versions (yes, you read that right), as well as some new material from the band’s long-lost and unfinished seventh studio album from 2009.

What would you consider to be the band’s biggest achievements?
It’s amazing that we got to play main stage at Reading, and join Warped Tour and Ozzfest; recorded numerous sessions for John Peel, and even a tune with Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys; signed major label and publishing deals (Geffen, MCA, Universal, EMI); played in thirty countries; had our music featured in movies and video games; did remixes for Prong and Pigface; had our own crop circle, made by aliens, naturally; and met Noddy Holder.

What was the cause of the band’s change in sound in the mid-nineties?
Natural evolution. We were exposed to a ton of influences, both musically and in the wider world, and that crept into our own writing. We just progressed. I know there’s a divide in the fan base of those that like the heavier material (when the band’s logo was two words: “Pitch-Shifter”) and those that like the post-progression material (when the band’s logo became one word: “Pitchshifter”), but that progression was organic and where we felt the music was taking us. I prefer the newer stuff – it’s a bit more fun vocally for me than screaming my head off – but both styles have their charm.

We started in our teens, but we can still kick it live. The advances in pain medication are startling

You’ve been quoted as saying that your kids think you’re “tragic”. With this reunion tour do you hope to appeal to that younger generation and gain more fans?
Ha! Well, that quote’s a bit out of context from the original interview. What I actually said was that our kids think that having anything less than 1 million views on a video is sad. Our biggest video only has a measly 600,000 views, so we’re small-time compared to their heroes like Denis Daily, who has 6 million subscribers, and DanTDM with his 20 million subscribers. Kids today… no appreciation for the classics!

As for the demographic of the tour, we have no idea what that looks like; age data isn’t captured when people buy tickets. It’d be great if there were people experiencing us for the first time, but as ticket sales are solid, we have no plans to release an album or return to full-time touring, and we just don’t give a crap. Being grumpy old men has its distinct advantages. We’ll let the chips fall where they may and just rock it for whoever’s standing in front of us. Respect to all who come and join in.

Why did you guys choose Earthtone9 as main support for the whole tour and The Blueprint to support you in Nottingham?
All three bands are Nottingham-born. We couldn’t think of any better way to close out a short run of dates with an all-Nottingham trio after a decade off the road. The sons of Nottingham will return to her bosom! And it really is a return. Karl of Earthtone lives in Detroit, I live in Los Angeles, and the other band members are scattered around various UK cities. It’ll be the first time we’re all “home” together for decades.

What’s your favourite memory of playing at Rock City?
I know that I’m supposed to say “headlining upstairs to a massive crowd” but – and this is just for me, personally – I have fond memories of playing the small room downstairs. We had 400 people in that room one time with a line out the door; total mayhem ensued, culminating in the ceiling getting kicked in from stage divers. The atmosphere was electric, and it was at that time that I started to believe that we weren’t totally crazy, and that people were connecting with our music and ideas.

At that show, when we finished the last song, I picked my backpack up off the stage, ducked under the barrier, fought my way through the crowd and walked home. By the time everyone realised I was gone, I was home relaxing to an old Hammer House of Horror movie on TV.

What can fans expect from a live Pitchshifter show in 2018?
We’re older now, of course, which has its ups and downs in terms of emotional maturity and physical prowess. We started in our teens, but we can still kick it live... the advances in pain medication are startling. There’s no great plan for dancing horses, pyrotechnics, or pole dancers, but none of that is very punk rock anyway, so it’s anathema to us!

We’re just planning on coming home and rocking it as best we can with a crowd of people that have done us the courtesy of supporting us. It’ll be loud, energetic, fun, and maybe even a little emotional by the time we get to Nottingham, as we have no idea when – or if – we’ll ever be back.

Anything else you would like to add for our Leftlion readers?
Dust off your glad rags, fire up the chaos engine, stick a few quid in your pocket and come out for a once-in-a-decade night out. See you down the front.

Pitchshifter play Rock City on Saturday 24 November, 6.30pm. Tickets are £23.10

Pitchshifter on Bandcamp

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