Melodic doom and heavy metal band Pallbearer recently released their new album Heartless, through the excellent Profound Lore Records, but also through Nuclear Blast Records. In a sense this is the band’s first release on a major record label. The band is currently on tour in Europe and they’re also playing Tilburg’s Roadburn Festival as part of John Dyer Baizley curated programme. They will play the 013 Main Stage on Sunday at 16:30. 

We asked guitarist and vocalist Brett Campbell about the 3 records that have influenced him as a person, but also Pallbearer as a band. 

Rwake – If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die

Rwake’s If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die is actually influential in a multitude of ways. I’m from a suburb of Little Rock, which is already a tiny city. It’s a pretty bad place. It’s all just fast food and Walmart. I was on the Internet, which is how I discovered all of my music because there’s no culture there. There was a CD store there that my buddy (who was one of the few other people that were actually into metal, not just emo or metalcore and stuff that was popular in the early 2000’s) picked up this CD from, by a band called Rwake, and it was If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die. It was in the local band section of this music store, through which I actually discovered a lot of cool stuff, like Boards of Canada, Primordial and some other cool stuff just from browsing through there. We put it on in the car as we were leaving the music store and we were thinking ‘holy shit, this is obscenely heavy!’, and they’re from Little Rock. So we were blown away that something like that could exist in our town or very close to our town. Some time passed before we got to see them live, it was a game changer.

Fast forward a few years to my first year of university where I met Joe. He sent me a message on early Facebook, because he’d seen me wearing an Anathema shirt around campus. We met up to have a jam with a couple of other guys at this warehouse. The other two guys who were playing with us weren’t impressed by me, they were a little bit older and I guess they thought I was some kind of loser, I mean I guess they weren’t wrong. I think they were some post-hardcore guys. I started playing the final massively heavy riff from the end of ‘Dying Spiral Galaxies’, first song on that Rwake record. Which is still the heaviest riff of all time, stupidly heavy. Joe recognised it and started playing that riff too and we were both like ‘fuck, you know Rwake?!’ We’ve been playing music together since then and that was in 2005, so essentially Pallbearer wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Rwake. So that record and band are very influential to us.

Yes – Close To the Edge

I guess another really influential album would be Close To the Edge by Yes. When I was teenager getting into metal and experimental music, prog rock and stuff, that one really blew my mind. Particularly the title track, which is such an epic piece of music that contains so many moods and textures – this crazy explosive musical interweaving. It’s a side length tune, but it doesn’t ever seem as long as it actually is. The time flies by because there’s some much going on, and it flows so well, it doesn’t seemed pieced together. There’s such bombast, but also moments of intense quiet. It’s an incredible piece of music. Ever since hearing it though, it’s ruined me as a musician because I’m now determined to write something that’s that epic and well put together – despite being incredibly long. A lot of Pallbearer’s lengthy tendencies probably arise from that.

Red House Painters – Rollercoaster

As for another album, I could easily name a thousand albums, but particularly in the realm of what’s directly influenced Pallbearer as a project and me as a person, the Rollercoaster album by Red House Painters was a hugely important album to me, especially as a teenager during a very angst filled time. A cripplingly depressive album, unbelievably sad and personal, but also beautiful. It’s generally sparse and quiet, but then they’ll be these huge bursts of guitar noise. On the surface it’s spaced out singer songwriter stuff, but it’s this weird bridge between shoegaze and acoustic music with all of these noise elements and heart breaking personal lyrics. I’ve always felt like those songs are just so beautiful, sad and personal, so I’ve always been interested in writing music that’s so emotionally affecting in the way that album affected me. I’m not quite as much into the more recent Sun Kil Moon stuff, but the Red House Painters and the early Sun Kil Moon stuff is pretty golden to me. The emotional heft of that is a big goal for me in a personal cathartic song writing sense.

In the three albums that I mentioned, Rwake is a very absurdly heavy but also interesting, weird band. Their arrangements are bizarre and fucked up. Then Yes, their progressive symphonic tendencies, massive vocal harmonies and instrumental interplay. The melancholy and personal nature of Red House Painters, that sparse sadness and slowness. All three of those I think are heavily present in Pallbearer and my overall musical inclinations whenever I’m writing a song. There’s many others, but those I think are all three very prominent influences on my work.

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