Over 12 short, but high-octane months, Melbourne band Pagan have caused a tonne of noise. Whether it was on stage for a headline show, or on stage supporting some of the biggest bands in the community (i.e. Rise Against), or on stage for packed out industry events. Now, the noise continues to spread like the best goddamn rash you’ve ever had, with a brand-new single from the band, Death Before Disco, and talk of a full-length album to come.
Death Before Disco is unashamedly fucking wild and guttural. On top of that, the track is a worthy contender to run for Mayor of Riff City. If there was any doubt in the minds of listeners that this band was onto something great, Death Before Disco will well and truly beat it out of them.
A song this good deserves plenty of attention, and the band have delivered, announcing a launch show The Holy Communion which sees some of the nation’s finest musicians gather a night that’s beyond just a local gig – this is a straight up event.
To learn more about this crazy wave of success the band is riding, we spoke to vocalist Nikki Brumen…
Nikki: It’s been amazing…It’s been pretty crazy over the past few weeks trying to get the song out, and thinking about our show coming up. But, it’s been great. It’s been received really well and we weren’t sure how people would take it, because it’s different from our older stuff, but it sums us up as a band perfectly. It’s got the blast beats with disco beats, the screaming that I do…it’s just a perfect example of what our band is, which is why it’s our first single.
The Neversphere: That sounds like an incredible place to be at this stage in your career as well. I’d love to know, how did you get to that point? Or to be clearer, how did you know you’d reached that point?
Nikki: It was something that none of us had ever thought of. Then EVP Records approached us and asked us to do a record. So, we threw ourselves in the deep end. It was really good because we had a timeline. I think when you have a timeline as an artist it really helps you produce good stuff, quite quickly. So, we forced ourselves to meet up every Monday night to start writing.
The three other guys in the band have all done records with previous bands. For them, it may have been a bit less daunting, the idea of writing 11 songs. For me, I’ve played in a band before Pagan so I’ve done lots of recording, but never an album or EP. It wasn’t as daunting as I expected…It was really fun for the most part. We all loved working with Mike [Deslandes, producer/engineer], who was the producer, and as a team – It was really more fun than anything.
The Neversphere: That’s interesting. I speak to a lot of artists who have just finished albums and the word fun almost never comes up. It feels like you had a pretty unique experience recording this.
Nikki: It was really good. We all trust Mike so much. At the end of the day, we knew we’d done as much as we could and we were so happy with what we came up with. We were ready to go into the studio open minded, and not too precious and open to Mike’s suggestions. No one was getting annoyed or angry. I know that our drummer Matt, he loves recording, he loves being in the studio. Dan and Xav seem to enjoy it…there were times when it got stressful and things would feel frustrating but for me, personally, I loved it.
The first day of vocals I did 10 songs in one day…which is a little bit of a bragging right…And I didn’t need to but I was in the zone and Mike is so good to work with. He knows what to do, how to talk to us, how to get the best from me…before I knew it I’d tracked 10 of the songs…without rushing, it was totally organic. It was crazy.
The Neversphere: That covers the recording and technical side of things…I’d also like to know what interested you thematically when you were writing the record…
Nikki: I had just gotten out of a relationship, and it wasn’t great. There were lots elements that I think back on and wonder why the hell I stuck around for as long as I did. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and as an artist it helps create a lot of good content, so I have that break up to thank for a majority of the lyrics – It’s a break up album, I’m not going to sugar coat it.
It was really therapeutic to write it, without sounding like a total wanker. There was lots of stuff deep inside of me that I didn’t want to address and it really came up. I had a few revelations while I wrote the album about some of the things that happened in the relationship that I didn’t realise at the time. The lyrics can be quite metaphoric but if someone sat down and read them, they’d definitely know that’s the vibe I’m going with.
The Neversphere: What were some of the revelations you made? Without giving away too much of the album, save the rest of us broken hearted fools some of the leg work!
Nikki: [Laughs] One of the main things that I’m very happy to talk about, Death Before Disco is very much about being gas lighted in a relationship, where you’re made to feel like you’re the problem. Then when you look back on the situation, you see the person was inventing it, and you weren’t the problem after all.
There are a few topics within the album about female emotion and how our emotional landscape might be different to the way men’s emotions are…Just the way we deal with emotion, being a woman; our menstrual cycle, dealing with hormonal changes and how that can affect our emotion. Then looking at the way a man can take on emotion differently to a woman especially after something like a break-up.
That’s something I’ve addressed. Also, just being a woman, how I was made to feel, how I dealt with my emotion and how this person made me feel. It’s not in chronological order but the album does address the start of the relationship and how it ended, badly.
The Neversphere: While this sounds some serious healing for you, there’ll also be a lot of healing for listeners going through this stuff…
Nikki: I really hope so. They’re my favourite albums to listen to – when I can relate and get something out of it. That’s why I wanted to write this in the hope somebody out there will listen and go ‘Oh my god I can relate to this so much.’ All respect to the person who I’ve kind of written the album about but it’s nothing about them, it’s all my personal stuff that I’ve discovered, how I went through the break up, how I felt empowered breaking up with the person when they never thought I could.
I hope people out there can relate. In all honesty, I’ve had albums in my life that have gotten me through things like this…
…So I hope it turns out like one of those albums for someone.
The Holy Communion party
Friday, April 20
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
w/ Ferla, LOOBS, Lost Talk, Bad Batch
+ DJ Hayley Mary (The Jezabels) & DJ Ecca Vandal
Tickets: Northcote Social Club