Pray For Sound is about to release their next album on dunk!records. It is now available for pre-order in our store. Everything Is Beautiful will be out on double 180g colored vinyl in a wonderfully designed gatefold. And this song will be on there!
A while back we had a chat with these guys from Boston to introduce themselves. We talked about changing band names, writing processes, the Boston post-rock scene and much more.
Bruce Malley (guitar) - BM / Steve Aliperta (drums) - SA / Nick Stewart (guitar) - NS
Hi there. Since this interview is your first appearance in Europe you may want to shortly introduce yourselves. Who are you? For how long are you playing together? Where are you based?
Steve Aliperta - Hi there, we’re Pray for Sound, an instrumental postrock band based out of Boston, MA, USA. Bruce originally started this band up on his own, then approached Nick, Chris, Joe, and I a couple years back to join. What originally began as a way for Bruce to play his songs live, turned into a full collaborative effort, and we’ve all been really excited with the work we’ve been doing together since.
Where does the band name come from?
Bruce Malley - I tried coming up with something for about six months before landing on Pray for Sound. It's a lyric from the song “Harmony Korine” by Steven Wilson, who is a huge inspiration to me. I'm not a religious person, and I’m deaf in my left ear. Because of those two things, I thought the name Pray for Sound perfectly represented my complete desperation of regaining my hearing.
Since bringing the other guys into the band, we’ve actually discussed changing the name to rid ourselves from the religious aspect of the name. It’s a tough decision to make…We’ll see what happens…
How did you get into the postrock scene? And what is it that keeps you there?
BM – I heard “Greet Death” by Explosions in the Sky in High School and was instantly hooked on the postrock sound. When I started Pray for Sound, I was doing everything myself. I don’t sing, so it made sense to keep it instrumental. Since a lot of the instrumental music I enjoy also happens to be postrock, I just naturally went in that direction. While I personally feel we’ve been slowly moving away from the typical postrock sound and are moving toward straight up instrumental rock with postrock influences at this point, I think the postrock label will stay with us just because it’s a sound I personally love.
SA - I myself was never particularly a postrock fan until Bruce opened my eyes. In particular, I love the level of artistry and experimentation involved in the writing. Plus, the sense of community rivals that of so many other scenes. Since playing in this band, we’ve been greeted with the most well-meaning, wonderful people. The scene itself doesn’t preach any certain agenda, just a perpetually large group of chill-ass human beings.
Your music is very intense and your biography mentions the intense live experience, monstrous sound and intricate light show. Does that mean you bring your own technical crew? How far do you go in preparing a live show? Have you ever played with violins on stage?
BM - We don’t have a technical crew, but that would be a huge stress relief if we did! I automate all the lights beforehand. Basically, Steve plays to a click track in Logic and the light changes are synced up to that click. I probably spend about 3-4 hours setting up a new song with a click track, backing tracks (if any), and program changes for the lights in Logic. From there, we play with the light show going in our practice space and I make tweaks as necessary. It’s a lot of work to initially setup, but it makes our live shows pretty intense without requiring a dedicated crew.
SA - I have friends from college that are incredibly talented and are gracious enough to come and hang out and track all of these string parts with us. It’d be great to get them on the road with us someday, but until then we’ll probably stick with backing tracks.
How does the writing and recording process look like? Do you lock yourself up in a cabin in the woods to write and record the music? Or do you book a studio and sound engineer and everything?
SA - Haha it’s funny you mention the cabin in the woods, because that’s exactly what we did for our newest record. While it’s by no means an original idea, it helped our focus more than we could have ever hoped. We’d wake up in the “morning”, drink some of Joe’s cold brew, then sit down and continue to write a record. To be able to leave the world at home and hone in on an idea with everyone was really incredible.
Nick Stewart - We're lucky enough to have Steve and Chris in our band, who own and operate Kennedy Studios, which we were able to take with us to Vermont. Bruce had a rough shell of an idea for a record, so we decided to start working on those demos ahead of time so we'd have a lot of material to work on once we got there. We really honed in on trying to give each song its own day and keeping the whole record in perspective throughout the writing process.
BM - It took a while, but I feel we’ve finally figured out a writing formula that works for us. For Dreamer, we had a couple of the songs written going into the studio, but for most of it, we finished writing as we recorded. This method of writing wasn’t ideal. For our new stuff, we eliminated all distractions and had a good rough skeleton of demos we worked out on our own, together in our practice space, and then again at the cabin. I think we’re all really happy with our individual parts, as well as how the new stuff is shaping up as a whole because of all the time we’ve put into it.
Could you point out where the inspiration and drive to write music comes from? I find it very interesting to see how bands are working so hard to get their music out there and travel the world to play for an audience.
BM - For me, it’s just what I like to do. I love the process of writing songs, trying to convey emotion through wordless music, recording those songs, releasing albums and playing shows. Even the business aspect of the music industry is interesting to me. I’m inspired by everything from music to books and movies and just life in general. For example, a lot of our new demos were loosely inspired by events in Stephen King’s book, The Stand.
SA - I agree with Bruce, writing is something I really have to do as a creative outlet. That’s a lot of why the idea of this project was so enticing in the first place. The nature of the genre doesn’t necessarily rely on any sort of formula or structure, or adhere to any set of rules. We all really like each other as people too, so we’ll take any excuse to get together and make music.
NS - Music for me is really all about creating something, which is what I've always loved doing. When I get really excited about something I'm working on, I really want other people to hear it and hope they get as excited about it as I do. And playing live is just straight up fun.
Any chance we’re going to see you in Europe soon?
BM - We really want to get over there. As you know, we were planning on doing a handful of shows in Europe, including dunk!fest, in 2016; however some family ties are keeping us from making the trip. It’s overwhelming to know people across the planet want to see us live, and hopefully we’ll make that happen in 2017.
Do you have a booking agency or do you book your own shows?
BM - To date, we’ve just been booking our own shows. We’ve played a handful of dates, including a North East US tour we set up ourselves, but as we start playing more, we’d love to maybe bring in a booking agency to help us.
How hard is it to get shows? Are there enough venues in Boston available and interested in this kind of music?
BM - We’re lucky that we live close enough to Boston to have plenty of venues accessible to us. There are a lot of colleges in the area which helps too.
SA - The Boston scene is interesting, especially lately. A couple long-standing venues just shuttered their doors, while others are expanding. I think it’s definitely going through a sort of transitional phase, where new venues are trying to find their place in the scene, and the old ones opening their doors to new bands. In general the Boston scene’s really supportive and we’re happy we’re based around here.
Is there an active post-rock scene in the US in general? Any dedicated festivals over there?
BM - It certainly seems like the postrock scene in the US is growing, but it’s still a pretty underground genre. Some of the more well known postrock bands (Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, Caspian, If These Trees Could Talk, etc) are all from the US, which I think helps. There are lots of great new postrock bands popping up too. This Patch of Sky and I/O come to mind. As far as I know, there aren’t any dedicated postrock festivals here yet, but with the way things are going, I can see this as a possibility in the future.
SA - Yeah there are a lot of great festivals in the US, but none that focus on postrock specifically.
Thanks a lot for the interview! We’re looking forward to meeting you at some point in the future!
BM - Likewise! Thanks for the questions!
Everything Is Beautiful by Pray For Sound is now available for pre-order. Release: Sept. 23rd. This is a first song from