Ahead of their first Australian tour in six years, I caught up with Pelican’s guitarist Trevor de Brauw to chat about their changed approach to the band & life in general.
Aspiring touring musicians, this is one you might be particularly interested in this one.
Hi Trevor, nice to speak with you.
Thanks, it’s good to be speaking with you!
So, the obvious question, what’s taken so long for you to come back to Australia?
Haha. We went through a series of transitional periods for the band which made it difficult to go to many places – so it’s not just Australia, but the length of time is consistent with other places too. It was like a folly of errors but generally we don’t tour as much so that’s the reason.
So what led to those changes?
Well we are back to touring now, but do it in reserved quantities. Last year we did 2 sets of 2 week tours and this year we’re doing 2 sets of 2 week tours. We approach the band in set quantities, pockets of time, in a way that helps us maintain our sanity – and by that I mean, we used to approach the band as a full-time living and it required extreme amounts of time for touring, which we came to realize was not sustainable personally or economically
Now we all have normal lives, we do it when we can fit it in.
That’s an interesting term for a musician to use – what do you mean by normal life?
Well I have a desk job, a house and a child haha!
So, now that Pelican have been around the world, released several records and experienced that time as a full-time band before paring back, what are the band’s ambitions?
I think that sort of like we just want to continue to push ourselves, innovate and be better at what we do. We want to keep playing all over the world. You know, we still find ways to play places we haven’t been before, we played in Turkey and Finland for the first time. We tried to line up some South East Asia shows which would have taken us to some new places, but it’s always a balance between wanting to play for people who have seen you again, or someplace new, or places where people haven’t had the chance to see you.
Going back to the approach to the band, what were the reasons for the shift in ambition?
It’s more like – I struggle to find the right word for it – it’s not a hobby because it’s something which is very important to us and we all put a lot into. We reached a point in 2009 when we stopped touring full time. We were doing it so much, we were losing the magic of how meaningful it was to each of us. Part of what motivated us for the new album was recapturing that magic and electricity – which it why it’s the most cohesive record I feel we’ve done – we finally tapped into that magic we had when we were younger again/
So given you move into this new system where the band fits around your lives, how do you know when it’s album time?
The last record we set out writing it was because we knew it was time. Brian and I started meeting up regularly – our drummer Larry lives in LA which is not near all of us so we’re not like a normal band who rehearse every week.
And Brian and I started germinating some ideas and we just knew – it’s go time. That electricity was there again.
So, going into this phase of your career and coming back to Australia after so long – what do you want people to know about the band at this point ahead of the shows?
I think just something we touched on earlier – which I think about a lot.
The show to us, we know now how fleeting all of this is. When you tour all the time, there’s always a next show. Now, each show is incredible precious experience to us.
When you’re young you know you can’t wait till next time. But when you’re in your mid-30s you get a sense more and more of how impermanent everything is – we’re excited to have the opportunity to share our show with people and encourage them to come to the show and turn yourself over to it.
Well said! So, something our readers are often interested in are what kind of new stuff you might be listening to.
I’m always listening to new stuff, the new Swans album is great. Earlier today I listened to Cloud Nothings, whi are really really good.
Their album is structured in a way that each song seems better than the last, so on repeat listens you go back and think ‘oh yeah this is pretty good’ then by the time you get to side two you just go ‘this is fkng awesome!’
I listen to all kinds of music not directly related to Pelican – I heard the new Nicky Minaj track and that got stuck in my head for a while too.
And what are you looking forward to in Australia this time?
It seems like all the bands who go down there get some hang time with koala bears so if I don’t get my photo this time I’ll be disappointed!
Also seems like craft beer is really blowing up, last time Cooper’s was cool, we couldn’t get it in the states, but now we can, so I’m interested to check out that scene, what’s going on.
Pelican play Australia this week:
Thursday, July 24 – Brisbane, The Zoo
w/ hazardsofswimmingnaked & theseashallnothavethem
Friday, July 25 – Melbourne, The Hi Fi
w/ Mushroom Giant & Fourteen Nights At Sea
Saturday, July 26 – Sydney, The Manning Bar
w/ Mish & We Lost The Sea
Sunday, July 27 – Perth, The Rosemount
w/ Chaos Divine & Foxes
Tickets ONLY $45 + booking fee’s available from http://