Interview – Pilgrim

Rhode Island’s Pilgrim fit the mould of the classic Doom power trio, with their gloriously heavy sound echoing the likes of Pentagram, Saint Vitus and Witchfinder General, but with a personality that is all their own. M3 travelled far to commune with guitarist/vocalist The Wizard and asked about the origins of the band, getting fired for going on tour and today’s supposedly introverted generation…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
The Wizard – I am a wizard. I live in a tower. I wear long robes and I love to cast spells. I’m also in a band called PILGRIM.

What inspired you to form Pilgrim? What are your own musical backgrounds?
PILGRIM was originally formed as a bizarre experiment in which I combined the epic sword-and-sorcery feel of fantasy games and literature with the heavy doom metal that I love to listen to and play. I wanted to make magically-tainted music and do it better than the unimaginative masses. It eventually formed into its own entity.

Krolg and I have been playing instruments since we were young. When we were in high school, we listened to a lot of 90′s West Coast rock and metal, such as Nirvana, TAD and Mudhoney, which led us to discovering the Melvins. The Melvins opened the door to a lot of stoner and doom metal music that we’d never heard before, like Acid King and Electric Wizard. Down the rabbit hole we went.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Vinyl. Most would choose vinyl, I think, because the tonal quality is warmer and way better. I agree but I personally enjoy the fact that the artwork is large on a record. It’s much more significant and easy to enjoy the music that way, in my opinion. I love to listen to a record with the music in my ears and the artwork in my eyes.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
Yeah, I do think that a lot of people still do appreciate a record in this way — a whole lot do — but if you’re talking “general public,” then no. They’re fucking up big time, downloading a single song at a time, never even HOLDING or OWNING the music physically.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
I’ve been on tour and released a record and I haven’t made a dollar doing either of those things. I think underground music is more of an extreme hobby; a labor of love. We do it because we love it. Regardless, we haven’t toured enough or sold enough records to know anyway. We don’t know anything.

Similarly, do you feel that the abundance of recorded music that is easily available on the internet has led people to place more importance on the live experience as the ‘authentic’ way to hear music?
No — the authentic way these days is sitting in front of your computer speakers in the dark at 3AM while you’re really drunk or high and YouTube-ing your favorite records. This is how humans enjoy music these days.

My generation makes going to see shows uneasy for me. They’re so introverted; you can see them thinking about who’s there, what they look like and what’s going on instead of enjoying themselves or even really caring about what they’re hearing or what the fuck is going on around them. They care about what they look like and that they’re there and that they can tell people they were there. It’s like this bad vibe thing. What a nightmare.

All today’s true music warriors are sitting in their parents’ basement, in front of a computer and listening to the new Burzum record.

Do you think the digital age has rendered traditional concepts of copyright obsolete, or do you think they are still relevant?
I suppose so. I think it’s healthy. If someone hears your record on YouTube and really digs it, there’s no doubt they will probably go out and buy the record. I love that our music is available for free all over the internet. There’s no reason for someone not being able to hear music because they can’t afford it. Music, like any artwork, should be free anyway!

What would you say are the main challenges facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s cultural climate?
The biggest challenge is finding the time and the money for your band. Everything costs money. It costs money to record, to master, to buy merchandise, to pay an artist for that merchandise, to ship that merchandise, to go on tour, to eat on the road, to keep the truck fueled, to stay in a motel, to pay every speeding ticket, to replace every blown tube, to get guitar strings, to get pedal batteries, to get picks…EVERYTHING costs money — every aspect of the band. When you’re first starting out, no one can help you pay for these things. However, all of those things take time. Where can you get the time to go on tour if you’re working five days a week to pay for the tour?  True story: Krolg was just recently fired from BOTH of his jobs for taking two weeks off to go on tour with PILGRIM.

Finally, what does the future hold for Pilgrim?
We will be heading off to Scandinavia to Oslo to play a one-off and then to Copenhagen to play the Heavy Days in Doom Town festival. We’re currently working on getting back out on the road and explore the dark corners of the USA once again. And beyond.

Our world is doomed, thanks for your time.

Pilgrim’s new album ‘Misery Wizard’ is out now through Metal Blade Records, and you can purchase a copy here. For more information about Pilgrim, you can visit their official Facebook page and listen to and download their music via their Bandcamp page.

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About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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