It’s taken six years, a couple trillion EPs and more than a few false starts, but Detroit indie pop provocateurs PAS/CAL are finally releasing their endlessly-anticipated full-length, I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura — July 15th at iTunes, everywhere else on July 22nd. Recently the Rind caught up with P/C impresario Casimir Pascal to get the skinny on the new record, soundtracking commercials, and superhero pseudonyms.
What is your creative process, with the band not all being located in the same city?
For IWROMML&L, beyond a couple of the songs in the Cherry suite, I wrote the bulk of the tracks locked up & alone in my lil’ private studio. Songs tend to begin by a string of words that are often tethered to a melody which happen to pop up when I least expect it—sometimes I’ll be in a bakery grabbing Syrian bread or perhaps in the midst of a good shampoo. I’ll try to rush home or leave a voicemail for myself so that I do not lose the lil’ bit of something that came to me. From there it is like an exhaustive trip with a guide that gives few hints to what is coming around the corner. I’ll sit at the piano or with an acoustic guitar and see where the song wants to go. The lyrics, melodies, and chord progressions are written hand-in-hand, each contingent on the other. I think this why my tracks don’t typically follow the verse-chorus-verse-chorus tradition. Furthermore, the songs are composed over a goodly span of time—often months versus hours or days; this process is definitely the culprit in terms of my meandering arrangements. I tried the “template method”, but I am never happy with the results. I spent a bunch of time transcribing the song structures of Bowie, the Beatles, Prince, Broadcast, Gainsbourg, Smiths, et cetera and attempted songs based on their style. What a waste of time! This may sound a bit “wizards & unicorns”, but I believe in personal muses… and the trick is getting yourself to a place in which you are open to hearing what they are trying to tell you. They speak rather softly, y’know…
You wrote all these short EPs – was filling up a full length an issue at all? Or were you just as comfortable?
Song collections (EPs & LPs) are fine, but I only write one track at a time. In some way I am happy that the the Album of the late 60s to late 90s is a dead way to package an artist. I love the idea of writing, recording, producing a song and immediately giving it to the world, only to jump back in the studio to give them another. The concept that one needs to wait until he has a dozen or so songs before he debuts his music is as old & tired as most music journo’s In Utero tees.
What’s the deal with Suite Cherry? It’s our favorite part of the record. Where did the theme come from?
Munch said that when he painted he never thought of selling. I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly, but times have been hard in Motown since we can’t seem to figure out how to sell (or make) cars like we used to. We’re all finding ourselves disheveling sofas looking for loose change nowadays. Thus when a certain innertube-shaped candy company called saying they needed a theme song for the launch of their new cherry flavored product we all scattered to three separate recording camps with the hopes of tripling our chances at earning some lifesaving green. Of course none of the tracks were used nor were any of them probably appropriate for the spot, but they all did have the word ‘cherry’ somewhere on their lyric sheet and more importantly I thought each were exceedingly great. A suite is born: Gene and his wife head up the first movement, Trevor Naud’s brooding baritone carries the insatiable second part, and I hold up the rear with a synthetically orchestrated ode to aging with the one you love.
Do you get picked on in Detroit because you aren’t a garage band?
We do, but because we are much younger than those dudes we can take ‘em!
How did you feel about your song being in a Saturn commercial? Did you get free cars? Can we have one?
I wasn’t happy with it until I received the check. Then it took on a certain unrecognized beauty. Bikes are the new car, I’ll help you finance one.
Aren’t, like, most of you engineers and HR execs? And if so, do your coworkers know about your musical pastime?
We use fictitious names at work… quite like Clark Kent except Panic’s boss calls him Superman.
Are you guys ever gonna go on tour?
Is that an invite? No one’s ever asked…
Do you think you would win Best Dressed Band if there were a contest? We do.
Definitely. Especially our drummer, LTD, who has hands down brought the wear-all-white look back to the runways.