Pallbearer’s Brett Campbell: It’s Important to Produce Art Even Through Dark Times
Pallbearer's singer/guitarist Brett Campbell was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend show. The band issued their Forgotten Days album back in October and Campbell took some time to discuss the record and what it means to stay true to their artistic nature, even in the midst of the pandemic.
Campbell also discussed creating their album in a studio that also housed Picasso and Dali paintings, the band's experimental nature and trying to tap into the emotion needed on personal material penned by one of his bandmates. Check out the chat in full below.
Brett, although Pallbearer is generally considered doom-metal, there are quite a few contradictions to that categorization in your songs. What's fun for you about disregarding musical expectations?
I think it gets us more excited as songwriters to just kind of disregard conventions of the genre and it helps us find our own musical voice. I think so much of what makes music exciting is to sort of "bend the rules" or disregard them altogether. I think there is definitely a strong doom-like element in our music even thematically and also just in our sound but I think we are more challenged and more excited by the possibilities that lie outside of the mixture of doom genre.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the schedules of so many bands. Why was it important for Forgotten Days to still be released, regardless of the disruption of a pandemic?
Well, just because the world has kind of stopped doesn't mean that we could stop being what we are, I suppose. We still gotta live and it's been a year with a lot of struggles for everybody but if we could release our album and that would give fans something to enjoy in a year full of difficulty then why not?
Whenever we can tour again, whenever that is, these songs will still be there and people will have even more time to get to know them. I think it's important that we all still produce art throughout even dark times such as this because we have this going on right now but who knows what the future may hold. Things can get darker and if you just stop producing art then the world would be pretty intolerable.
Pallbearer, "Forgotten Days"
Compared to the previous use of overdubbing, the songs on the new record seem much more sparse. How deliberate were you about making this album more suited to being performed live?
Well, throughout all of our previous albums we've relied pretty heavily on multi-tracking even just doubling or tripling rhythm guitar sounds. I think as time has gone on we've really honed in on what works and instead of kind of wasting time on experimenting or adding layers that end up barely even being recognized on the final mix. We wanted to focus more on just the essence of the songs and we treated overdubs as color rather an essential part of getting the sound.
Having Randall [Dunn] produce everything was really helpful in that regard because he was able to achieve the kind of massive bass line sound that was what we sound like as a band live. He was able to capture that massive sound really effectively and then we focused on overdubs as atmosphere and kind of like I said coloring everything else. Whenever we play these songs live it's going to be relatively close to how the album sounds which I think is a big benefit to the material.
Some songs on the record are reactionary to unresolved grief over the death of Joe Rowland's mother. What was your greatest responsibility when it came to singing those lyrics?
It's pretty daunting to try and translate something that's so important and personal to someone else, and to bring their words into life I guess, and into music. Joe actually sang bits and pieces on the songs that he wrote. He sang pre-verses or verses on certain songs and I think that's something that he really wanted to do because I think he felt that he wanted to say those words himself. They're so personal to him. But on the parts that I sang, my strongest goal was to try to capture that feeling of how he must - like empathize with him and put myself in his shoes and ask how I would feel in that situation. I tried to do the best job that I could in order to convey the emotions that he was translating into words.
Pallbearer, "Rite of Passage"
This was recorded in Texas at a studio that also happens to house Picasso and Dali paintings. How do different art forms like paintings influence and affect your musical creativity?
I think art affects our general perception of things in general. Not in terms of writing music but just in how we perceive the world and interact with it. I think art is one of the most important human endeavors but being in an environment where we were creating our own artistic expressions while being surrounded by the work of some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, it's really inspiring.
It's interesting to see the variety of work that particularly Picasso and Dali did. They produced a wide variety of work. They might be known for certain things but if you delve into their output, there's actually quite a bit of variety in their work. I think it was reassuring in a lot of ways because we have the tendency to experiment and try to approach our sound from different angles and it's reassuring to see those very respected artists in a different field had the same inclination and that willingness to try new things, I think that's really important.
Thanks to Brett Campbell for the interview. Grab your copy of Pallbearer's new album, 'Forgotten Days,' here (as Amazon affiliates we earn on qualifying purchases) and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.