Where do I begin…WOW! , what a fantastic way to start a vacation week. From my hometown of Pittsburgh Pa, you are about to meet and listen to Pachyderm. And if you are someone who has been wondering what ever happened to good old rock n roll, you are in for a treat. Pachyderm are the real deal, with hints of Dead Weather and Zep guitars, WDVE should be playing them on heavy rotation. From the organ to the drums, and back to the reverb, these kids are tearing it up. Not that it matters to how cool they sound but for gods sakes, their in High School. If anyone out there is looking for the next sound, start paying attention, Pachyderm has arrived to restore your faith in the power of rock n roll. Enough about how much I dig this Band…….
Questions answered by Max Klemmer, Ethan Mackowick, and Remy Erkel
Hi our name is….
People say we sound like…..
Led Zeppelin (We wish), Cream, Radio Moscow, Dead Weather, Band of Skulls, Wolfmother, Gary Clark Jr, Cage the Elephant
Remy Erkle (drums), Max Klemmer (bass), Ethan Mackowick (guitar), Samy Mally (vocals), and Nico Sleator (keyboards)
We are from…….
Edgewood, Swissvale, Regent Square, Squirrel Hill, (East End) and Peter’s Township
Do you think growing up in Pittsburgh has helped you in your journey so far and if so, how?
M: I think it has, there are a lot of good bands around here. The only issue is meeting everyone and getting yourself known. It really just takes some figuring out though.
R: Growing up in Pittsburgh has been great. While it’s true that in America rock music has taken a backseat to other genres. Pittsburgh has always felt like an old-school kind of town and it definitely still has a core of old-school fans who are still ready to rock.
E: I think it’s helped a lot. We have a nice community of local teenage rock bands that help each other out. We know it’s hard to make it in this scene, but when we work together, it gets a lot easier. The venues in Pittsburgh that let younger bands play also help a lot, from Mr. Smalls to the Altar bar.
Who are some that have an influence on you
M: Personally, I try to get as much out of Led Zeppelin, Cream, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience as I can.
R: We’re influenced by a lot artists who have build their sound from a foundation of blues and their own unique flavor. Led Zeppelin did it with hard rock, Hendrix with Psychedelia, and the White Stripes and Black Keys did it with garage. We aspire to be bluesy but also unique, so we’re influenced by bands who have done the same
E: Music wise it’s a lot of old blue/classic rock bands from the 60’s and 70’s, but then mixed with more modern blues rock/alternative bands. All of us are huge Led Zeppelin fans, but we don’t have five minute guitar/drums solos. We just pick and choose what fits best for us. We have blues influenced guitar solos, but our keyboardist is a synth guy. We use plenty of weird sounds that you wouldn’t hear in old records.
How old were all of you when you started to play and who plays what in the band
M: I’ve been playing an instrument of some sort for seven years. I picked up bass like two years ago and joined the band a few months later. Remy asked if I could join as a rhythmn guitarist and I was like, “I can’t play guitar but I’ve been playing bass for a little bit and I could do that.” At the time there was another singer, who left a month after I join and then we brought in Samy.
R: Pachyderm in its first incarnation began early in our freshman year of high school, so we we’re mostly 14. The band consisted of Nico, Ethan, and myself along with our original singer, one of our friends. We played a lot of cage the elephant and white stripes covers, that was actually the lineup for about 4 months until we added Max on bass and then another month until our singer stepped down and Samy joined.
E: I, the guitarist, was about ten when I started playing. I only really started getting into it however in the last couple years. Max, our bassist, has been playing for a little over two years and was about 15. Our keyboardist Nico is definitely the most knowledgeable on music theory and has been playing for almost 11 or 12 years. Samy has been singing since she was born, and Remy has been playing drums for about 6 years.
Can you tell us about the process you use, from writing the songs all the way through getting the songs out
M: In general, one of us will come up with an idea and bring it to the band. Sometimes we’ll bend it a little and sometimes they know what they want it to sound like and we like it. We’ll all add our personal touches. Personally, always write words separate from music but I think everyone else writes them together.
R: Since four out of our five members write songs the process varies from person to person. Ethan and I usually come up with lyrics and a riff or chord progression and then take it to band practice to flesh out the arrangement, while Max and Nico tend to fully finish their songs before taking them to the band. We usually will be working on 2 or 3 new songs at any given point, so we usually try to give our live sets a good mix of new and old material. In terms of recordings though we just released our first EP, and for that we did all the recording ourselves with like 3 mic’s on a $30 budget, plus Nico mixed and produced the whole record. It was a lot of work to do the recording ourselves but it was really rewarding to hear the final project at the end of it all.
E: Usually one person has a basic idea for a song. They usually write a verse, ,chorus and bridge for their instrument. Sometimes we have words, but that takes the longest usually. The other band members then just build upon that foundation to create that song. It could take an hour or months. It depends on how creative or inspired we’re feeling. Getting the songs to the public is extremely hard. It took about 6 months to to record and produce out recently released 4 song EP.
what are some of the challenges you face as younger musicians and how have you overcome those challenges
M: As younger musicians, our biggest challenges tend to be doing a good job of promoting for shows since most people we know may not like the music we play. Also, we don’t have licenses and we have busy school schedules so we really rely on parental support.
R: A lot of smaller pittsburgh venues are bars and other over-21 spots so we either have to make our own shows or do pay-to-play gigs at Mr. Small’s or the Rex Theater with big promoters and lose some money. While it’s pretty exhilarating to play those bigger venues we’ve come to find a lot of enjoyment in putting together diy shows, especially with this awesome community of teen bands like Chase the Monkey and Nox Boys.
E: Well sometimes it’s hard to get taken seriously or find gigs. You can’t play in most bars because you’re under 21. The hardest part though is getting people to be interested. You have to start somewhere and we started at our schools. People in the beginning didn’t really seem to care though. It’s gotten better, but getting anyone to come to a show used to be a huge hassle.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it ….
M: Definitely the late 60s, I mean you have some of the most powerful influential musicians playing at this time. Woodstock was ’69, everyone was finding their paths and listening to anything they liked. If you were good, you were successful and you had a great crowd of support.
R: I think the late 60s/early 70s would be amazing. It seems like back then the bands that rocked the hardest could make it big. And to be able to see Hendrix and Cream and Zeppelin live would be unbelievable.
E: I would travel back to 1969. Led Zeppelin I just dropped and Marshall stacks were the biggest things in music. Jimi Hendrix was playing Woodstock, and a band like us might be able to actually get off the ground. It was the peak of music.
Who are all of you currently listening to and who would you like to see in concert
M: I really want to see Alt-J live for sure. I’m getting into jazz right now. I really like Jobim, though I am often listening to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, or the Grateful Dead.
R: Personally I’ve been listening to Portugal. The Man and Tame Impala a lot lately. I’d love to see Hanni el Khatib live, or My Goodness.
E: My favorite bands right now are The Orwells, Cloud Nothings, Wolfmother, Radio Moscow, Nox Boys, and Royal Blood. I would love to see the Orwells in concert because they just go insane on stage, it’s a blast to watch.
What tunes are on heavy rotation for you…
Girl From Impanena- Jobim
Shakedown Street- Grateful Dead
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes- Paul Simon
The Teeth- Hanni El Khatib
Best Friend- Foster The People
Around Town- The Kooks
All of “In The Mountain In The Cloud by Portugal. The Man
Send The Pain On- Chrome Sparks
Figure it Out- Royal Blood
Band Breaker- Skaters
Off & On- Findlay
E: Stay Useless and I’m not part of me by the Cloud Nothings seem to be on heavy rotation recently, but Ten Tonne Skeleton by Royal Blood has just caught my eye.
If you could open for any Band right now who would that be and why?
M: Sleigh Bells, we saw them live a year ago and they blew my mind. That would just be such an awesome show.
R: Opening for The Orwells would be awesome. They’re such a badass garage punk band but they’re also teenagers who just graduated. They’re changing the face of under-21 music right now.
E: I would want to open for the Orwells, because they all seem like the coolest guys to hang out with. They’re music also mixes with our fairly well too. Not too similar and not too different.
My youngest son is 13 and in a Band, what advice would you offer him…
M: Stick to it. Don’t take yourself too seriously, except in the amount of work you put into your instrument and promotion.
R: Keep chasing the spark that makes you passionate about music. Don’t be afraid to change your sound or even your genre, just do what makes you happy. Also pay-to-play shows are good at the beginning to build a fanbase and get some great experience playing live, but make sure you ween yourself off once you can draw a sizable crowd. Your art has value, don’t just give it away for free.
E: Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid to go crazy on stage. Turn the gain down and turn the volume up.
The one thing we want you to remember while your listening to us….
M: Nico mixed the entire EP and did a lot to make us sound better, so we may sound a little different live.
R: Ear protection
E: Sometimes you have to be patient. A lot of our songs build up, and I don’t think people give them a chance to fully play out.
Our plans for 2015…..
M: Hopefully play a lot more shows with our friends Tulpa, Facebox, Chase the Monkey, Nox Boys and La Huesda.
R: Write more music, play more shows. Hopefully our EP will make its way into the right people’s ears, but for now we’re just enjoying the journey.
E: Play more shows, make more music, melt more faces
listen to their excellent debut……
you can follow/like keep up with Pachyderm…….