Meet Pilgrim, a three piece doom metal band from Rhode Island who have absorbed the powerful, fuzz-laden might of acts such as Black Sabbath and Reverend bizarre to create their own unique spin on the down-beat doom genre. Theirs is an unforgiving, impenetrable brand of doom that will appeal to fans of the aforementioned acts and Pilgrim’s appearance on the scene will undoubtedly give solace to the legions of Candlemass fans dismayed by the news of the band’s impending demise.
With Pilgrim’s ‘misery wizard’ debut readily available via metal Blade (and specifically Alan Nemtheanga of Primordial’s Poison Tongue imprint) we felt it high time to pose a few questions to Jon Rossi to find out more about one of the doom scene’s newest and most exciting bands…
1. Could you give us a brief introduction to Pilgrim?
Hello Sonic Abuse, I’d like you to meet PILGRIM.
2. You’ve all assumed names for the band – what was the inspiration behind taking stage names and the actual choices you made?
All the best black metal bands have stage names. Some of our favourite doom metal bands use them too. In this day and age, only a fool would not have them. Lady Gaga is a stage name, so is Ke$ha, and just look at how much money they have. Be sure to look out for the PILGRIM / Ke$ha split, 2012, Warner Brother Music.
The names are all related to various fantasy outlets and endeavours that we’ve either played or created when we were younger.
3. Your debut album, Misery Wizard, is out on Metal Blade in February – tell us a little about how you developed the record?
Alan Averill signed us to his label Poison Tongue Records after hearing our demo in 2010. He told us to get the record recorded. We decided to do it ourselves. We recorded it in my mother’s basement on a digital 8 track, and when it was finished, Alan told us “excellent material, but it’s not perfect enough”. So he threw down fat stacks of cash and we went into Emandee Studios in Brooklyn, NYC (highly recommended) and recorded the whole thing on tape.
The material was written over many, many months, maybe two years time, they are the earliest songs PILGRIM has. It’s a good documentation of the birth of our band.
4. Your sound is very much inspired by the Doom of Reverend Bizarre and their ilk – what turned you on to such music in the first place?
One day I was raking the leaves with headphones on. Someone recommended The Reverend to me, but I had never gotten around to listening to it before. I listened to their first demo and head banged the rest of the leaves into my neighbour’s lawn. It was the style. It has an excellently pure style, a style that I personally can regard as true doom metal.
5. And what do you consider for lyrical inspiration – is there any form of art or literature that you turn to?
Some songs are about personal reflections or worldly observances, but more often than not I derive a lot of the fantasy inspiration from old Japanese video games, like Dragon Warrior and The Legend of Zelda. I’ve always loved them since I was a child and I’ve always been drawn to the idea of “the hero”.
6. When making music, do you jam out tunes in the studio or is there any one member who develops songs away from the band and then brings them into the studio to work on?
I write all the riffs. I bring them to practice and we make a song out of them together.
7. Given that you’ve developed your own strain of a classic genre – what are your thoughts on the various trends and vagaries of the modern metal scene?
Fuck scenes. I sick of hearing about them. I’ve never been interested in scenes, just the music. The music is all that matters to me. I’ve never experienced a scene, and if I have, I didn’t realize it. Maybe this is why.
To me, more than scenes, music lovers tend to break down into two categories of people, one group that loves to seek new and prolific music, and one group that doesn’t actually care about what they’re hearing, but care more about what the bands look, dress and act like, although they would never admit it. Fuck those people.
8. How long did it take to develop and record ‘Misery Wizard’
The songs came together over a period of 2 years of unsteady song-writing. When we went into the studio, it took us three days to record it and three days to mix it. Then we had to sit around for nearly half a year and wait for it to be finished, oh gods, the agony.
9. Who was responsible for the artwork on the album – did the band have a hand in it? It’s really cool!
Thank you, it was done by Paul McCarol of Unhinged Art. Check out his gallery online, it is some really amazing stuff. We are totally honoured to have someone like him do our artwork! He’s a great artist and a great person.
The piece is based almost exactly off of a painted called “Jesus Heals the Sick” or something like that. Jesus is partying hard with some lepers in the scene. We wanted to make it our own, so we implemented characters of our own choosing and added some landmarks in the hills and distance. Originally it was intended to be more fantasy, but Paul had his own ideas for it and we rolled with it.
People have been accusing us of imitating the Cathedral art style! Blasphemy! I can see how you would say that, but it was never intentionally made to be similar. We don’t really listen to Cathedral after Forest of Equilibrium.
10. How did you come to be signed with Poison Tongue?
I briefly mentioned earlier. Alan found us on MySpace back around early 2010 I believe. He really liked our demo and decided to give us a chance on a major label. What a nice guy.
11. It must be a big boost for you guys to be able to get your CDs out to a global audience?
Yes. As we are quickly learning, the Europeans have a much more refined taste for metal and music in general as compared to us disgusting, filthy American swine vomit. It is amazing to get our record out to them. From what we gather, a lot of our fans are European. Fucking Europeans!!!
12. Now that ‘misery wizard’ is complete what are your goals and ambitions for the band?
We’ve pretty much met all of our goals and ambitions. We’ve gotten to speak with mighty doom metal legends, in a few months we’re going to Europe, and we’re touring next month.
I guess all that’s left is we’d like to sustain ourselves on our music, financially, and also we’d like to visit Japan. We fucking love Japan.
13. Any plans to appear in the UK at any point or is it too early to tell?
We’re trying hard to make it to the next Live Evil. I have a funny feeling the UK might see us before this year is through.
14. Any final words for your UK fans?
I love you, PILGRIM loves you, your country is better than the US. Thank you for the excellent horror cinema and metal musicians.
Many thanks for taking the time to look at these questions!