Piroshka on “Brickbat”

New Beginnings

May 03, 2019 Issue #65 - Mitski and boygenius
Bookmark and Share


In 2016, U.K. shoegaze four-piece Lush reformed, 18 years after the band's dissolution in the wake of the suicide of its beloved drummer, Chris Acland. The band, featuring original members Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson, and Phil King, and with former Elastica drummer Justin Welch in place of Acland, released an EP, Blind Spot, toured the world, and generally basked in the excited response from critics and fans alike. Then, as quickly as it had reemerged, Lush dissolved again, after bassist King announced his departure. The band would play one final concert at Manchester Academy, with Modern English's Mick Conroy in place of King. In her lifetime, Berenyi had never played in any band other than Lush. Yet, from the ashes of the reunited Lush, a new band, Piroshka, was born.

"It was never really intended as a long term thing," says Berenyi of the Lush reunion, citing the demands of parenting and day jobs that made logistics challenging from the start. "There was a big fall out, or at least I fell out with the other two."

Berenyi, pausing to choose her words carefully, describes Lush's end as "a bit of a fucking disaster."  "But that was why Piroshka started," she continues. "It was like, 'Well, that was a bit of a shame.' We spent all this time rehearsing for this one gig in Manchester and then it's all over." 

Ultimately, it was Welch who spearheaded the new band. After encouraging Berenyi to pursue a solo path, something she says she never considered, Welch eventually convinced her to listen to some tracks he put together and perhaps lend some vocals. "I thought, 'If I don't do this, I'm never going to do any music ever again probably. So I might as well have one last throw of the dice,'" says Berenyi.

Featuring Berenyi on vocals/guitar, Welch on drums, Conroy on bass, and Berenyi's longtime romantic partner and former Moose guitarist, KJ "Moose" McKillop, on guitar, Piroshka has a very different sonic feel to Lush. The songs on the band's debut album, Brickbat, were composed across miles, with band members swapping sound files, each member adding his or her part and passing it along. With band members living in separate areas across the UK, Piroshka would take its songs to the studio three days here, four days there, and eventually Brickbat was born.

Mixing electronic flourishes with moody, orchestral textures and as much vocal melody as any Lush record, Brickbat saw Berenyi careful not to repeat herself.

"I didn't want it to be Lush mark 2," she says. "There were certain songs that I had to write the lyrics about three or four times, because the first time I tried to get so far away from what I'd done with Lush and make it really overtly political, and I thought it just sounded really bad. At the end of the day, I had to swing the pendulum around a bit. It's a different band, and the atmosphere is different."

As she mentions, some of Brickbat deals with the political. "What's Next" and the jaunty, jagged "This Must Be Bedlam" were inspired by Brexit, and the electronic-tinged "Never Enough" addresses greed and inequality.

But Brickbat also contains one song, "Blameless," which was born from the breakup of Berenyi's other band. It's a stark, affecting piece that combines all that Piroshka has becomepercussion-led, orchestrated, melody-driven, and enchanted with guitar. As Berenyi sings, "I can't be sure I remember the stories I don't want to tell/Rewrite the past 'cause I find it too hard/The endings don't come out so well," one can't help but think of Lush. But in the ultimate irony, that band's second demise has birthed, phoenix-like, the band that currently endures.

"A lot of the stressors [of the Lush reunion] were not great, but none of them made me feel that I wished I wouldn't have done it," says Berenyi. "And that's the momentum that carried on into Piroshka. I'd forgotten how exciting it can be in a band, how rewarding it is, and how brilliant it is to create music and play music. I'd forgotten what that was like."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 65 of Under the Radar's print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.bellaunion.com/artists/piroshka/

www.facebook.com/piroshkaband/

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.