Rhode Island’s Pilgrim are a traditional doom metal fan’s wet dream. Tuning low and playing slow may be the genre’s unofficial catch phrase but this band, thus far, have made a seven year career of finding the heaviest riffs and making them sound larger than life. There has been a lot of progression and different roads taken in doom metal over the years but it’s refreshing when a band takes the original ideals and bends them to their will without losing anything in translation. With two full lengths, two splits and a demo Pilgrim has remained a pure embodiment of traditional and epic doom metal. Just ahead of a March tour with Heavy Temple we asked The Wizard our series of Profile questions, see what he had to say after the jump.
How did you first get into playing music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
Like most young musicians, we got our start by emulating our favorite bands and by wanting to be them. I remember the first time I heard The Melvins and how bad I wanted to be them, on a personal level and a songwriting level. We practiced songs by our biggest influences. We did cheap imitative versions of their music. It helped us grow as musicians and gave us the chops we needed to start our own band.Personally I’m very grateful of the level of success we’ve obtained thus far. For me, it seems like just yesterday that PILGRIM began. We covered a lot of ground in a very short time, and I feel fortunate. Having said that, I can see an even bigger and brighter future for us ahead. I can’t wait to get there.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
We’ve been lucky in that we’ve never really had to lower our standards or “suck it up” in recent years, but when our band first started, the bills that we would find ourselves playing we’re just absolutely ridiculous. Metal-core, screamo, post-hardcore, lame stoner doom, the list goes on. We would put ourselves on any bill we could manage, just to get our name out there. It was a rough, rough, rough start for us. I remember doing a “Fuse TV” metal fest in Providence back in like 2008 or ’09. It was so embarrassing. What a colossal waste of time.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
As far as metal in general goes, I really appreciate that everyone seems to be sticking to their guns and are continuing to pump out what they’re good at. Darkthrone is a good example of that. When they stop making records, it will be a cold day in hell.We get lumped into the stoner / doom / heavy psych world frequently and so that’s the realm I’m most familiar with these days. There obviously seems to be a lot of new “push ’em ’til they’re famous” kind of bands going around, which is a bummer. But that’s kind of how PILGRIM got our start as well, swooped up by a big label and pushed through PR. A lot of new doom bands are getting a ton of exposure and credit where it is definitely not due. I think it’s because doom is relatively easy music to learn and play, and if you’ve got the money for the equipment and the clothes then boom, you’re on the map. It’s discouraging to bands like us who rely purely on artistic integrity and song writing ability to prove our worth. But I suppose that’s always been the nature of this beast and complaining about it too frequently can leave you jaded.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music? (This question is especially appropriate for you since your music is quite an outlet for your physical and emotional pains).
Personally I’ve dealt with depression and apathy my entire life, probably the reason I got into doom music in the first place. PILGRIM is definitely an outlet for those emotions, it allows me to be cathartic and it also allows others to identify with and relate to these issues. I was the kind of kid who was in and out of therapy and saw multiple councilors and put on tons of different medications. I think a lot of people, especially millennial metal fans, can relate to that kind of childhood.In PILGRIM we try not to let any sort of political or social view points obscure the music in any way. We don’t like taking sides publicly, and although we’re just as opinionated as anyone else, I feel it would only convolute what we do to add these issues into it. PILGRIM has always been about fantasy and escapism.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
Speaking for Krolg and I, I think The Melvins were sort of the gateway into metal for us. They exposed us to “heaviness”, which became something that we sought out when seeking new music. “What else is heavy?”. That’s how I got into more stoner and doom stuff, searching for the heaviest bands.Bardic has been a huge death metal fan ever since he was young, he introduced me to Emperor and similar bands. He plays bass and guitar in our band but he grew up as an insane death metal drummer.Elric always tried to get me to listen to Ride the Lightning way before I was actually into metal. He got me into George Orwell but couldn’t get me into Metallica.I remember the day I started only wearing black clothes. I was 16. My mother looked at me like she was staring at a corpse. Sorry Mom.
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
We’ve talked about this on a few different occasions, but group orgies and bukkake have a lot to do with filling our free time. As such, I’ve been a lot stickier than I wanted to be on more than one occasion.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
I’m not sure. In our experience, critics have typically been pretty rough on us. Although, Kerrang Magazine gave us a full 5 stars for our first record, which I’m still in disbelief of to this day haha. I guess idealistically I wish that critics focused more on the sincerity and integrity of new, more unknown bands and focused less on positivity reviewing bands who are riding a trend, or who have generic music, or who are promoting an aesthetic.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Right now the goal is to keep truckin’. Any chance to get out on the road is a blessing for us and saved us from having to deal with the mundane reality of our daily lives. We’re going to keep lining up tours and dates and festivals until we physically can’t anymore.
Finally, when you’re not listening to, writing or playing metal, what are some of you favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
As asinine as it sounds, I’ve actually been trying to take a brief break from listening to most music. Instead I’ve been listening to a lot of sound effects, some drone tracks, and a lot of podcasts (people talking). There is so much music that after a while, for me, music looses its charm and I need a little break. I’m trying to refresh my ears for our upcoming adventures.
Many thanks to The Wizard for his time!