This week we’re spotlighting the British trio I Am Pariah in Meet The Band. Their latest release is the EP Procreate/Annihilate. Vocalist Ben James, guitarist Steve Westerholm and bassist Dave Snell introduce us to their band.
Give us a brief history of I Am Pariah.
We got together from the ashes of a few local bands halfway through 2013, so we all knew of each other right from the word go. We gelled straightaway when it came to putting our first EP out, so that was a good indication that we were on to a decent thing. Over the years we have gone through some lin-up changes, and recently Ben has jumped off the guitar onto vocals, which has given us a new perspective of what we want to write and how we want to execute it.
For me (Dave) I can remember watching the Pantera home videos when I was in Year 9 of school and thinking “Holy shit, this is want I want to do! Seeing four guys doing something they loved and having the best time doing it!” That was the moment I picked up a bass and started learning Pantera and Slayer tracks and knocking about in a few college bands.
I (Ben) have to agree with Dave on this one. As a teenager, I watched my idols strut around on stage and challenge every belief my elders had about what was “normal” and acceptable. Music was provocative and scared people to the point where it was something other that sounds coming from a speaker. I think I can say we aim to bring that edge back in our delivery. Music is also coping mechanism for me, it’s that friend that is always there to talk to you, and tell you that everything’s fine. And a reminder that if everything’s not fine, times do change. I would like to hope people find similar comfort in our songs.
Describe the songwriting and recording process for Procreate/Annihilate.
We use online storage to bounce ideas about to each other, so that when we come together for a writing session, we’ve already got some solid ideas of where songs can go structure wise. Let’s say for example, if there’s a part of the song where there’s going to be a solo, Steve will go away and write that, then track it in the studio (under extreme scrutiny).
As we’re refining the structure of tracks, we think about parts of the songs that may weigh lightly and focus on certain elements such as vocals, to not over-complicate the experience for the listener. If one of us is a bit skeptical about a section of the song, we work on it until we’re all happy, there’s no compromise.
Two of us have Music Technology degrees, so during the recording we mix as we go along, and refine that until the very last bounce.
What inspired the lyrics?
Our lyrics are inspired by what goes around us as we lead our day to day lives. We usually bring an idea to the table of something that grinds our gears, and Ben goes off to form the lyrics.
How has your sound progressed from your debut EP?
Different lineup for a start. The songs are more straight to the point, but technically more demanding for the music department. We feel that they are more traditionally structured as songs, which comes from a lot of our older influences, a kind of tried and tested formula.
What led you to go the independent route?
We feel that nowadays it’s much easier to sell digital music off your own back. And as much as it pains us, the CD market appears to be dying. Support from a label would obviously be great for us, but for a young aspiring band these days, the tools are at your fingertips; but it’s important to offer something unique that catches people’s ears, without straying too far away from your roots.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We hoped to establish a baseline for our band with a new lineup, and we think we have achieved that. For us, things can only get better from this point onwards, we’re out to conquer and the best is yet to come.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We’re playing our last show at Christmas. However, we’re in the process of arranging shows for 2019. Exciting times are ahead.
What has been your most memorable I Am Pariah live show?
In the past we played our favorite local music venue The Rigger for our first EP launch. We had a great turnout, the place was packed and we sold all our merch.
How did you get started in music?
Dave: I was asked to play bass in a band while I was 14, and my friend gave me a tape of songs from MTV, and I went to an internet café to download some tabs, and it’s been a big part of my life since then.
Ben: I woke up in bed one night, about 14 years old, maybe 3AM with ideas for songs in my head. I got up and found an old keyboard that I had from when I was a young child, which eventually turned into my first record. A terrible relic, but it holds a dear place in my heart.
Steve: At 15 my Dad got me into rock and metal, gave me my first Slipknot CD, a guitar, and it was all systems go baby!
What drew you to metal?
The energy and aggression had a massive influence on us at a young age and helped to shape who we are today. The lyrical content was always no holds barred. I mean, listen to Black Sabbath, it will draw anyone to metal.
What was the first concert you attended?
Dave: Tattoo The Planet – Wembley Arena 2001
Steve: Iron Maiden
Ben: Cradle of Filth – London Astoria (Yes, in full makeup)
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Architects – Holy Hell, VOLA – Applause of a Distant Crowd, Stone Sour – Hydrograd, Avenged Sevenfold – Black Reign, Maximum the Hormone – Yoshu Fukushu, Marilyn Manson – Cry Little Sister.
(interview published December 8, 2018)