Sweet Billy Pilgrim are currently on a UK tour following the release of their fourth album – the critically acclaimed masterpiece Motorcade Amnesiacs.
The new album sees the band stepping away from their previous electronic / acoustic experimentalism into a thriving accessible record. Not ones to respect musical boundaries, the band have thrown every ounce of their belief and passion into the creative process resulting in the genre spanning excellence of Motorcade Amnesiacs.
Front man Tim Elsenburg’s unique musical worldview has resulted in yet another masterpiece; an album of adventurously inspired melodies, intertwining riffs and eclectic rhythms, heavenly harmonies and thought-provoking lyrics.
Andy Howells chats to Jana Carpenter of the band
You’ve been together ten years as a band, how do you think you’ve progressed in that time?
It’s been a process of opening up, in many ways. We’ve learned to communicate better, and the songs have opened up sonically and lyrically as a result. We love the first two records, but they were the sound of a band always looking inwards, and shows were difficult because we just wanted to get the notes and the sounds right. Then Jana joined, and through her background in acting and improvising, showed us how to tell stories; how to look outwards and invite people in. Yes, the notes and words are important, but now we share them, where – in the early days at least – we might have just performed them.
Can you tell us more about how your new album Motorcade Amnesiacs came about?
There was a time, following the release of Crown and Treaty, when we were in a kind of no-man’s land, and there was a strong temptation to give in to cynicism and call it quits. We soon realised, however, that we weren’t going to stop writing songs, and in fact, that process had already begun, almost without us realising it. But the writing was fuelled by an altered intention: the songs were written to be played live. And once we acknowledged that, the joy of it carried us through the rest of the process.
What was the inspiration behind your new single Just Above Midtown?
It began as a challenge to write something fun. And as it unfolded, it kind of became about how it feels to do a thing you love with people you love.
Do you get inspired by other artists and are there any particular favourites you are enjoying at the moment?
Oh yes, although we try to avoid listening to anything vaguely similar during the writing process, for fear of subliminal imprinting! Tim mostly listened to hip hop and angry metal throughout. But more recently we have been enjoying the new albums by Everything Everything, Field Music and Thumpermonkey.
What can people expect from your forthcoming Cardiff show?
Hopefully, a beautiful noise interspersed with soppy sentimentalism and plenty of dicking about.
- Catch Sweet Billy Pilgrim at Clwb Ifor Bach on September 5. Visit sweetbillypilgrim.com for further news on the band.
- A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells, appeared in the South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on September 4, 2015