2013 Artist Survey: Pelican | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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2013 Artist Survey: Pelican

Trevor de Brauw on Baby Steps, Cursing Like a Sailor, His Most Overrated Band, and How a Cartoon Character Broke His Heart

Feb 05, 2014 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 11th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the important issues of the last year, as well as some quirkier subjects. Check out our next print issue and digital issue for surveys from My Morning Jacket, Foals, Amanda Palmer, Local Natives, Wild Nothing, These New Puritans, Lanterns on the Lake, Xiu Xiu, and Summer Camp.

Here are answers from Pelican's Trevor de Brauw.

Top 10 Albums of 2013

1. My Bloody Valentine: m b v
2. Deafheaven: Sunbather
3. Black Boned Angel: The End
4. Jesu: Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from which I Came
5. Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge: Twelve Reasons to Die
6. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away
7. Mutoid Man: Helium Head
8. Chance the Rapper: Acidrap
9. Kayo Dot: Hubardo
10. Darkthrone: The Underground Resistance

What was the highlight of 2013, either for you personally or for the band?

We played two shows in Russia, which was our first time over there. It was a very quick trip and I was actually sick part of the time from food poisoning, but it's always really amazing getting to play shows in places we've never been. It felt especially monumental since we grew up in the '80s, when the propaganda machine was running in overdrive feeding us fear of Russia. It's one of those places I'd always wanted to see and never thought I would.

What was the low point of 2013 for you?

My son took his first step 20 minutes after I was dropped off at the airport for our European tour. Luckily he kept walking to a minimum until I was home, so it was still novel when I got back.

What are your hopes and plans for 2014?

We're working on tours on the west coast and in Australia. Other than that I'd like to get the wheels spinning on writing a new Pelican record. The four year break between albums felt like a pretty long stretch.

What are your thoughts on the passing of Lou Reed? Did his music influence you at all and in what way?

I was really taken aback. Although he'd had some trouble with his health that was somewhat public, I didn't for a moment think his time was close. I've been a longtime fan of much of his catalog, especially the early Velvet Underground stuff. They were so instrumental in introducing avant-garde minimalist techniques to rock music, which informs a lot of the foundation of the music that is my lifeblood. I thought Laurie Anderson's piece on Reed's final moments was so touching and beautiful.

What are your thoughts on the U.S. government shutdown and the debt ceiling debate?

I wish our government would stop embarrassing us on a global scale. Sad to say, but this is the inevitable endpoint of a deadlocked two-party system. I've been advocating voting third party for over 15 years and this is exactly why.

What are your thoughts on Obamacare, now that it's being implemented?

It doesn't nearly go far enough toward reforming our extremely fucked health care system. Insurance companies still hold all the cards.

What is your opinion on the extensive government spying on the world's Internet/phone usage? Is Edward Snowden a patriot or traitor?

It's unconscionable. Governments are meant to serve their people, but they often engage in pursuits that are contradict their citizens' best interests. Whistleblowers and investigators who reveal these violations of trust are, indeed, patriots.

What are your thoughts on music streaming services such as Spotify and Rdio? Are they good or bad for musicians?

Both. They've legitimized the cultural perception that music is not worth paying money for. This has been the direction in which audience perception has been headed for awhile, but for a long time it felt taboo as it was illegal. That said, I'd rather artists get $0.006 per play than nothing at all.

Who was the first person to break your heart? Whose heart did you first break?

I had a crush on Jem from Jem and the Holograms. It was pretty heartbreaking that she was a fictional character, but even aside from that she was way out of my league.

What was your most embarrassing moment in high school?

I don't particularly remember being embarrassed in high school. I was socially reviled for most of my school life growing up, but high school is really where I came to terms with being an outcast and started waving the freak flag. There were no more boundaries left to cross in terms of embarrassment at that point.

Do bad reviews bother you and which negative review has affected you the most?

Reviews are so clearly grounded in subjective opinion it would be silly to take them to heart too much. We've been subject to a lot of negative reviews, including pretty high profile takedowns from Pitchfork, the Village Voice, and Washington Post. I wouldn't say any of them have affected me, but obviously since I remember all of them they're clearly lodged somewhere in my consciousness.

What moment in history do you most wish you could've witnessed in person? 

The Ramones' first show at CBGB. Or pretty much any of the shows of that scene at that time at CBGB.

What is your favorite word and why?

"Funk." I like the style of music too, but there's something about the world in particular that is just really appealing.

Name one thing you do that's not socially acceptable.

I curse like a sailor in public. I am working to get it under control now that my son is starting to speak.

Who is the most overrated band or musician of all time and why?

I really, really, strongly dislike Coldplay. I guess I don't know if I could say they're the "most" overrated band or whatever, but they're definitely bad and they sell tons of records and many critics seem to like them. To me they embody manufactured emotion and feigned sincerity, which are the biggest crimes music is capable of. Of course, my opinion is hearsay since I do not know them personally, it's just how it seems on the surface.

What's the biggest scam in the music industry today?

Reunions.

What's your favorite record label, besides the one you're currently on?

So far SIGE has yet to put out a bad record. The Daniel Menche album they just did is divine.

Which line from a movie or TV show do you most quote?

"Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man" from The Big Lebowski seems suited for no shortage of scenarios.

What's the weirdest and/or worst place you've slept while on tour?

One time I was in a band that drove overnight for an in-store in Vegas (despite the fact that we had no other Vegas show to promote). We arrived at 7 a.m., four hours before the store opened, and "slept" in the van. It was cramped, hot, and awful since there were six of us competing for sleeping space. The bass player and I ended up getting in a fistfight when one of us rolled into the other's zone, but I can't remember who the instigator.

Do you have any other thoughts about the current state of the world or the state of the music industry?

Music is an important channel for self-exploration as well as a powerful tool for nurturing community. But it's also supposed to be fun, so I hope people can keep that in mind and lighten up about our doomed industry. The ship's going down but that doesn't mean we can't dance.

https://pelicansong.bandpage.com/



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Samantha Newark
February 7th 2014
10:36am

Hi from the voice of “JEM”!!! enjoyed the article xo