Interview with Jim Paradise and Andrew Schneider of PIGS

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Interview by Jason Guest

Thanks for taking time out for this interview. To begin with, can you tell us about why and how Pigs was formed?

Jim Paradise (Drums): Well I really dig writing and playing with Dave (Curran – guitar). Whether it’s guitar or bass, I understand what’s in his head. So I played with Dave in Players Club together and the band broke up around end of 2004. During the next couple of years, me and Dave talked about something new and Dave was recording songs himself. Eventually he sent me those songs and we got into the studio and worked it out.  We asked our friend Bob (The Brought Low) to play bass and Cooper (who was also in Players Club) to play second guitar. We rolled like that for a little bit till we had a tour that Bob couldn’t do and Dave called Andrew to fill in and he worked out perfectly.

Why did you choose to work with Andrew Schneider? What did he bring to the band in terms of musicianship and production?

Andrew Schneider (Bass): I was working with Unsane producing Visqueen and Dave had mentioned the possibility that Pigs might need a fill in on the bass maker for a tour.  I was a big Players club fan and had heard some Pigs demos flying around and knew I wanted in. It is hard to find the right people to make wrong music with so When we got back home I just kept showing up to practice.   I figured if they really didn’t want me there they would have to change the locks. When it came time to do the record we all knew we wanted it to be a loud mess and we wanted to do it quick so we just grabbed off hours at my studio Translator Audio in Brooklyn.

Jim: I did not know Andrew before this, but I knew the bands he was in and liked how he played. Andrew is a bad ass bass player and swell dude that instantly got the style of band and sense of humour of me and Dave. Like I said, he’s a great player with a dirgy sound. And of course he made the record sound amazing.

Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to achieve when you started out writing for Pigs?

Jim: We didn’t think too hard about what it is or where it’s going. We initially just had fun working on the songs that Dave wrote and went from there.

How has the band evolved since its inception?

Jim: Besides some member changes, I guess we all write together.  Also, it had a bit of a project feel in the very beginning, but turned into more of a working band vibe.

Andrew: …also, turning the band from a four piece into a three piece definitely refined the music’s trajectory somewhat.  We all know what we have to bring to keep the thing from sinking.

How do Pigs work together to create songs? Is it a collaborative effort or do you write individually? Do you discuss ideas about what you want each track to be about or is it an evolutionary process?

Jim: As I mentioned earlier, as we were getting everything together Dave wrote everything, but it wasn’t long that we were working on songs all together.  For years now we have been a collaborative effort. It might start with a guitar riff, bass riff or a drum beat. It’s really an organic process.

Andrew: Yeah, really we just get into a room together when we can and walk out with songs.  It really isn’t a heady process. There are usually no preconceived ideas of where we want to go with a song etc., we just play off each other’s ideas for a while and usually something sticks. If anything takes too long to work out it just gets left on the practice space floor.

How does the approach to writing differ from writing for your other bands? What’s different about working in Pigs than with your other bands?

Andrew: Like I was just saying it is really fast and organic.  There is no time in Pigs to labour over anything.  It is great to have found people to write and play with in this way.  I think the conceptual
element in a lot of heavy music has gone way overboard anyway … just turn on yer god damned amp machines make noise.

Jim: It just doesn’t ever feel labour intensive. Even if some of the songs seem that way. I think our three personalities just work well when writing.

Can you tell us about the lyrics and subject matter? What inspires them? Is there a common theme or concept that ties the tracks together?

Andrew: I am guessing Whiskey has something to do with it ….

Are there any tracks on the album that stand out for you? Do you have any favourites?

Jim: ‘Give It’ and ‘Outburst Calender’

Andrew: Agreed.  I love ‘Drained’ too.  They wrote that before I was in the band and it is just a great stupid piece of music.  The two parts are the same part and then to break it up … well … howsabout a drum solo.  That’s how songs should be written.  Also ‘At least It’s An Ethos’ was put together completely the studio and features the crazy knob twiddling of noise act SEAGULL.   We put the music down live just cueing off each other and hoping for the best and then those guys took the tracks and brought it to another level entirely … good stuff.

The artwork for You Ruin Everything is the best I’ve seen in a long time. Who came up with the idea? Who’s the artist?

Jim: Me and Dave sat around coming up with graphic ideas that weren’t working. Later that night Dave sent me a photo of a photo he had framed on his wall. It was perfect. Our friend took the photo at Coney Island many years ago. It is a perfect visual image for the record. It works great with the title. The inserts are some images/drawings I did and silkscreened.

How did/do you work around the scheduling for your other bands to get Pigs together to write, record. and play shows?

Andrew: That is one of the best parts of PIGS.  We do things when it is right to do them.  We are all pretty busy with bands, businesses, the label we started (Coextinction Recordings) etc., so we just don’t force it.  We scatter off for a while with our other projects and then when we start to get hungry for PIGS we just make it happen.

Do you have any plans to tour in support of the album? And will we get to see you in the UK?

Andrew: We are going to be writing and playing a couple shows this summer when Dave gets back home and then hopefully making it to your part of the world at some point early-ish next year.

What’s the future for Pigs? Will you be writing, recording and releasing more material?

Jim: Yes, definitely more writing and recording. There should be touring in the future as well.

What’s your opinion of the internet and its impact on the music scene?

Jim: It’s strange, but I guess it’s a big part of how you get music to people these days. I know we live in a time where it’s totally cool to record a record in your bedroom and post it on the Internet, but I
have so say I think it’s kinda boring. I think bands should always have a “physical” product when releasing a FULL album. We (Pigs) have an Internet label called COEXTINCTION that I think works cuz it’s a sessions label. It’s getting bands in for quick session and recording at Andrew’s studio, warts and all and releasing it on the Internet as an “one off” EP. In that context I think it works.

Do you think that because of the ease of making music available, the internet has affected the quality of music?

Andrew: Of course. Our digital culture has changed a lot of things. I think it is a good thing that there are different ways to get music around now and I like that there are alternatives to the old idea of
getting on a label and hoping they do a good job etc. Obviously audio quality is compromised with mp3’s and mp4’s and a lot of people don’t care which is sad to me.  Also, with the stealing of music
everywhere, budgets for recordings are down which has affected the process of making records for good and bad I think. I also personally think music is more exciting when people don’t expect to
make a lot of money at it which is happening now…  And then there is digital recording which now gives the opportunity to anyone to fix themselves into perfect musicians which has affected the uniqueness and quality of music in my eyes… Yup…Good and bad and constantly changing

Which medium do you prefer: vinyl, CD, or MP3? And why?

Jim: I prefer vinyl. It sounds better and obviously it’s more fun to have nice big artwork.

Andrew: Agreed… it smells better

Many thanks for taking time out for this interview. Do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?

Jim: Thank you. Much appreciation.

Andrew: Thanks for asking us stuff and for the interest.

Thanks again. I hope we get to see pigs in the UK soon.

Andrew: So do we!

And you can read Jason’s review of You Ruin Everything here as well as Unsane’s Wreck here