Pallbearer & Pinkish Black members release debut EP as Information_Age, discuss every track
Pallbearer bassist Joe Rowland (who also makes synth music as Hosianna Mantra) and Daron Beck of Pinkish Black have teamed up for a collaborative EP as Information_Age, a gothy synthpop EP that takes inspiration from artists like Suicide, Depeche Mode, The Chameleons, Patrick Cowley, and Giorgio Moroder. "I’ve been an Italo Disco enthusiast for many years, and had always wanted to take my own stab at creating some with a dark and gritty psychedelic edge, and having Daron along with me in this project totally completed the vision," Joe said.
Daron added, "When Joe approached me to sing for some new music he was writing, I was very excited and totally surprised by what he had in mind. Both being fans of electronic music and the two of us coming from much 'heavier' music backgrounds, this has given us a vehicle to do some things that we've both wanted to do for some time. For me personally, what we're doing invokes a lot of music that made me want to be a musician in the first place and lyrically, these songs meanings have changed and evolved over the last year. We weren't planning on writing anthems for a worldwide catastrophe, but over time that is what they have become."
As Daron said, both musicians come from heavier backgrounds, but Information_Age doesn't feel totally out of left field. Pallbearer's music has always had an underlying pop vibe, and some of the melodic work on this EP recalls that band's catchiest moments.
The EP is out today on Laramidia Records, and in celebration of the release, Joe broke down every song for us. Stream it and read on for what he had to say...
TRACK-BY-TRACK BREAKDOWN BY JOE ROWLAND
All the instrumental parts of the album were recorded chronologically, so I’ll provide a little background, then proceed with the breakdown. It had been a long-term personal goal of mine to make some sort of Italo Disco release. I wasn’t sure what form it would take, but I’d been a huge fan of the style for many years, practically running in parallel with my interest in heavier music. I had acquired a decent arsenal of synth gear over the years, but had no reliable recording setup. I finally remedied that after purchasing a newer laptop and small recording interface, and at the end of a lengthy and exhausting stint of touring in Europe with Pallbearer in 2018, I arrived back home to my tiny Brooklyn apartment and began feverishly working on a new recording with one goal in mind: MAKE ITALO (or die trying.)
In order to spice things up I completely eschewed the use of any programming via the computer and played everything by hand or sequenced via external hardware. It was laborious but exhilarating, and the song that became "Innerspace" felt like it was practically flying out of me. I remember at points being like “is this too over the top…? NAH!” and then just plowing ahead. It’s still one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. It’s one of only two songs on which I took point on the lyrical end; it’s basically about becoming a prisoner within one’s own decaying mind and being forced to journey inward as the ability to explore outwardly fades away.
#2 “Searching Now”
After coming off the high of working on the first track, I tried to ride that with a little darker tone for the second. This song leans a little less Italo and more into the coldwave/goth-y sort of territory to me. It took me a long time to really come around on this song for some reason, but I love it now. This song has the most vocal interplay with Daron and myself; perhaps a touch of Depeche Mode worship?
#3 “Borrowed Time”
I was really on a roll at this point, and had upgraded some of my recording setup, gotten even more synths and had moved into bigger space that enabled me to feel even more ambitious about what I could do on the project. This was also when Daron got involved and I was able to hear how much further he was going to elevate the ideas I had, which was super exciting to me. I think this is still my personal favorite track on the record, maybe for that reason. I also loved having the song bust out into the more house-style breakdown at the end. I played the synth solo during the outro using a bass guitar that triggered a synth pedal just to do something with a totally different flavor, because why the hell not?
#4 “We Were Alive”
Since I was feeling more savvy about sounds and technique, it was a great place to shake things up with this one. I worked out some fairly tricky patterns on a few of my sequencers, and I remember spending literally hours playing some particular parts by hand to get them to fit around the sequences just so. But, after all the fairly robotic sequences were committed, things got interesting. I was laying down some lines with one of my older analog synths and for the life of me, I could not get it to stay in tune with the other gear. I was so in love with the sound that I decided to run with that and let the song “melt” at the midpoint and lose its polished sound as it veered towards something weirder, instead of pushing forward with a standard verse/chorus structure like the previous three tracks. Daron ran with this and did some really vocal lines that helped ramp the momentum up even more towards the explosion of non-linearity.
This was another track that felt like it was writing; I wanted to have a slow jam to close out the album and this song just sort of popped in my head shortly after finishing "We Were Alive." I had been reading The Shallows by Nicholas Carr near the writing of this song, and the lyrics are loosely inspired by some of the concepts laid out in that excellent book. I was mortified to discover later that QAnon (which I barely knew of beyond the absurd “Pizzagate” events) had taken to using the phrase “great awakening” in regards to their ideology. It troubled me for some time that people might make assumptions about the usage of the phrase in the lyrics — but the irony isn’t lost on me that a song depicting facets of the internet leading to humanity’s downfall wound up having real world parallels well after it was completed.