Before Australian electronic trio PVT were announced on the bill for Small World Festival, alongside The Church, DZ Deathrays, Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders and Palms among others, it had been awhile since we had heard from the band.
Ahead of their highly anticipated return to the live music scene, we had a chat with Laurence Pike to get the latest on what the boys have been up to, as we eagerly wait for new music to be released.
PS: PVT were on quite a long hiatus up until now, where you seem to be slowly getting back into it again. What have you all been up to? Have you started recording any new songs yet?
LP: There was never an intention to take a hiatus as such, activity just slows down a little with Rich living in London and Dave and I in Sydney, and then things like ‘life’ need your attention. We’ve actually all been incredibly busy despite our absence from the live scene.
Personally I’ve never been busier! I’ve probably been involved in seven or eight albums since our last live show for Homosapien. Recently I’ve been touring with Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders supporting the latest album, Playmates; had the pleasure of working on Sarah Blasko‘s new LP; in March I went to Oslo to make an album of improvisations with the pianist Mike Nock; and while I was in Europe, I also made an album with English electronic musician Luke Abbott too – just to name a few, so yeah, there’s lots going on.
Most importantly though, amongst it all we’ve finished a new PVT album, so we’ve been far from inactive. It’s being mixed in UK as we speak by Ben Hillier, who we worked with on the last one. Hopefully we’ll have some new music out before the end of the year.
A few years ago, you collaborated with Modeselektor on their track ‘Green Light Go’. How’d that come about?
Szary from Modeselektor is a fan, and we’d had the chance to hang out with them on a couple of festival gigs in Europe where we were both on the bill. They asked us to collaborate on a track and we obviously jumped at the chance. Rich spent a bit of time hanging with them at their studio in Berlin. It’s nice to be on a record with Thom Yorke too, it should be said.
Did you get to catch up with them while they were in Australia earlier this year?
No, unfortunately I was out of the country when they were here, but I know Rich catches up with them pretty regularly in London.
On Facebook you posted a screenshot of what’s on your 10 year old hard drive. I noticed there were a few live recordings on there. Can you tell us when and where these shows were recorded?
There’s all sorts of shit on that old hard drive by the looks of things (it’s actually in London with Rich so I can’t tell you the specifics). In the very early years of the band we used to improvise entire gigs, so we were in the habit of recording shows a lot more, just in case some magic happened. Eventually we started developing these improvisations into more concise, produced tracks, which is how our first album really came into being. One thing we did find on that hard drive was a bunch of b-sides and demos from that early period, which may see the light of day shortly.
One of my favourite films of last year was ‘Whiplash’, which tells the story of an emerging drummer in a music school studio band, being pushed to the limit by his aggressive instructor. You’ve been drumming for a long time now, so I was curious to know what you thought of the movie and if you were able to relate to it, or were inspired by a particular scene?
FBi Radio asked me to review the movie when it came out actually. It obviously resonated with me, having gone straight from high school as a 17 year old into a pretty competitive environment studying jazz at Sydney’s Conservatorium.
There’s definitely an element of truth in jazz to the young gun being blooded up by the mentor/veteran. Certainly learning quickly about listening and awareness, and being prepared for all possibilities is a huge part of that musical language, but I don’t think throwing chairs at people is necessarily the way to achieve it and I never experienced physical violence like in the movie. I was pretty driven though, I could empathise with that part of the lead character. People keep asking me if your hands bleed from practising like his did in the film, the answer is only if you’re doing it wrong.
I definitely enjoyed it as theatre, and I’m a believer in not letting the truth get in the way of a good story. However, It didn’t really do much justice to the experience and kinship of being amongst like minded musicians and interesting personalities at a top flight music school, nor was the music in it particularly interesting or inspiring for me.
If you could be the drummer of any current band who would it be?
Probably that band in Whiplash.
This year marks the 10 year anniversary of your debut LP, Make Me Love You. Can we expect to hear a few more songs than usual from that album during your set at Small World Festival?
If by ‘more than usual’ you mean ‘more than none’, then maybe. We haven’t played anything from the album in nearly a decade. To be honest we’re not that nostalgic, we’re generally restless about moving the music forward. I think being that way keeps us honest and relevant.
Having said that, I think we’re up for the challenge of revisiting a couple of tracks and seeing what they might have to say after 10 years in the shade. Who knows.
Apart from your enjoyment of the beer, PVT and the festival organisers Young Henrys have shared a bit of history together. Can you please explain this for the people who don’t know about it?
Little known fact is that, along with making a fantastic beer, Richard Adamson (founder of Young Henrys) is an electronic music enthusiast. Around 2001 he and his mates used to run a club night as an excuse to get together, drink and play Autechre at extreme volumes. He booked us for some of our first gigs in Sydney as part of that, so he’s been a supporter of the band from the very beginning. In 2013, Young Henrys also made us our own beer to coincide with the release of Homosapien, which was a delicious cross of English and German influences (like our music, so he told us). Ask him to brew some more for the festival! It was bloody good.
Going by the quantity of names on the line up for Small World Festival, it appears as though it’ll be just one stage again like last year. Do you feel as though you have to try harder to prove yourselves to the punters who are watching you and don’t know your music?
Nah. We can only try and put on a great show and enjoy ourselves. If we do that then everybody wins hopefully.
Over the past decade, what have been some of your favourite festivals to play at and why?
We’ve played some great European festivals like Pukklepop, Bestival and Lowlands. Glastonbury was awful, but an experience. Getting asked to play Splendour in the Grass after our fourth album came out was really gratifying and a lot of fun. Being invited by Brian Eno to play at the inaugural Vivid festival at the Sydney Opera House is definitely up there for me. He’s been a massive influence on us; his own music, and production with people like Bowie and Talking Heads. Getting a chance to hang out and speak with him on multiple occasions over the course of that week was something I won’t forget.
Similarly, opening for Yellow Magic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall in London as part of Massive Attack‘s Meltdown Festival was pretty special. Drinking an Asahi with Ryuichi Sakamoto after the show seems like a bit of a weird dream now.
One of our most memorable gigs was in 2008 at a festival in St Malo, France called La Route du Rock. It was the very first show of a European tour. We got off the plane from Sydney in London, caught a ferry straight to France and found ourselves closing the stage, completely jet lagged, with a 1am set directly after Sigur Ros in front of about 8000 people. The gig was filmed for French TV, so we ended up using it as the video for the track ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’. If you’ve got a minute have a look on YouTube with all of that in mind. Righto, enough of that, I feel like a jerk.
If you were given the opportunity to curate your own festival, which five acts would you have absolutely no hesitation of booking for the line up?
Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders
Finally, after Small World Festival what’s next on the agenda for PVT?
New album coming out soon!!! And everything that goes with that. I’m really excited about this one. It’s a sizzler. It’ll be great to get our heads back in the game.
PVT are playing at this year’s Small World Festival on Saturday 19th September in Sydney Park. Tickets can be purchased here! And in honour of the 10th Anniversary of Make Me Love You, the band have Re-Issued the whole thing. Listen to it below:
Words by Tony Kingston