Band in change - PALLAS present themselves fresher than ever after long musical wanderings

24. February 2015

Pallas Neoprog

Band in change - PALLAS present themselves fresher than ever after long musical wanderings

When the Scottish neoprog band Pallas was launched in 1980, nobody suspected that four years later they would create a work for eternity with their debut "The Sentinel". With Marillion and IQ she belonged to the spearhead of this genre. Their concerts were and are a truly pompous pleasure for the senses. But their winning streak was short-lived. When the singer Euan Lowson left the band in 1986, it was over at first. Not until 1999 did Pallas reappear, with Alan Reed on the mic and Colin Fraser on the drums. Three studio albums followed, which from a commercial point of view couldn't reach the beginning, but are considered absolute insider tips of the genre. In 2010 Reed went his own way again, and Paul Mackie joined them. Pallas recorded two records with him, most recently "wearewhoweare". 2015 the band consists of the three original members Ronnie Brown (keyboards), Niall Mathewson (guitar) and Graeme Murray (bass) as well as Fraser and Mackie.

eclipsed: 2014 was an eventful year for Pallas. What were your personal highlights?

Ronnie Brown: 2014 was an extraordinary year because we didn't play gigs, but we spent a lot of time in the studio. It's fun to dedicate yourself to the creation of an album and concentrate on just one thing. We all had a general vision of how "wearewhoweare" should sound.

Niall Mathewson: My personal highlight was the recording of "And I Wonder Why". I still wonder today why it felt so different than anything else I created with Pallas. Another highlight was when I first saw the graphics from the "wearewhoweare" album. Just beautiful.

eclipsed: With this album you have gone even further away from your old sound. How did this change of course come about?

Brown: "wearewhoweare" I feel much more than a kind of development within the band. But I think I'd say that with any other album in mind. Paul is a refreshing new element in the band. He has an almost perfectionist way of approaching things. It's like he wants to put a seal of quality on every song.

Colin Fraser: It was the first album where Paul was involved in the songwriting process from the beginning. So in the end there was an album where everyone contributed his share to the creation.

Mathewson: Paul certainly brought a breath of fresh air into the band. But we have all developed enormously, both individually and as a group.

eclipsed: How big is the difference between the songs during the writing process and those of the finished product?

Fraser: Massive, for me anyway. Sometimes for the better, but sometimes you have the feeling that something got lost on the way.

Brown: I rather think that most songs don't change at all during the writing process. Some may differ a little.

Mathewson: I think that all songs change until they are finished. Some more, some less. You can't generalize that like that right now.

eclipsed: Your music has always been very emotional. Which emotions best describe your music?

Paul Mackie: From the point of view of music, as opposed to poetry, one could say from dramatic to opulent.

Fraser: Bombastic. It is a state of mind and heart.

Brown: For the first time, "wearewhoweare" has no basic mood. It focuses on issues that affect us all, such as love, aging or loss. But also an important part of our own life is involved, for example fear, self-doubt and of course current topics like power and politics.

Mathewson: I'm not so sure if I can ascribe a certain feeling to our music, but if the word satisfaction is a feeling, then that would be most true. Does Pallas actually make decisions democratically?

Mackie: I always have to bring Niall tea and cake first, after a while he finds my suggestions interesting. (laughs)

Brown: Clearly democratic. But like in every band there are more dominant personalities, and they get their suggestions better pushed through. We certainly do not always agree, if this is the case, we have conversations and usually meet in the middle.

Mathewson: Pallas are a democracy. But sometimes even the one who screams loudest wins. (laughs)

eclipsed: If you've been making music as long as you have, how do you avoid ideas being recycled?

Brown: That's very simple. We are five completely different individuals. I always tend to say that there is no typical Pallas sound. There may be people who see it differently, but for me every Pallas album sounds different.

Mackie: I often have problems with the melodies until someone presents me with some solid riffs, from then on my inventiveness shows up.

Fraser: Sometimes we unconsciously used older ideas in our songs. But I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing.

Mathewson: I think that the way we grow as musicians keeps the music fresh. Rule number one: never stop learning. Rule number two: Don't be afraid to take musical risks.

Interview: Mike Dostert