Interviews

An unexpected turn – an interview with post hardcore band PSSGS

PSSGS live
Featured on IDIOTEQ in 2014, German screamo inspired post hardcore band PSSGS (est. 2013 in Darmstadt), have once again teamed up with us to give you a special coverage on their newest work, which happens to provide more solid reasons why you should give them a listen and find their art really tempting. The band has just released 2 new tracks, an unrelenting, thoroughly amazing duo of songs – smartly crafted and really well arranged. Serving the first effort released without one of the band’s guitar players and singers, “II” opens a whole new chapter for PSSGS. They are seeking a replacement that will help them restructure the band and were so kind to give IDIOTEQ a follow up interview, explaining the story, their current approach to songwriting and shooting some predictions for the future.

The new natural, cinematic record from PSSGS is called “II'” and was recorded and mixed by Lari Eiden at Lunar City Studio in January 2015 and then mastered by Will Killingsworth at Deadairstudios. Originally planned as a one-sided colored 12“, then designed as a unique handcrafted book, “II“ is preliminary released digitally. It marks the final recording featuring René Tillmann, who has parted the band, whose remaining members are: André Liegl (bass), Mathias Bros (guitar/vocals) and Steffen Andrae (drums).

Hey there guys! Thanks for joining us again for another interview and an update on PSSGS. It’s been almost 1,5 year since we last met and discussed your debut record. Now you’re back with some new tunes, but also with some solid changes in the band’s line-up. Tell us what’s changed and what’s the current status of PSSGS.

S: Hi Karol, thanks for doing the interview! Of course the most recent and important change is that one of our members – René, who was one of our two guitarists and vocalists, decided to quit the band. We have had some kind of a crisis after our tour with LIE AFTER LIE in Poland in October, musically and organizationally, and this termination was one of its outcomes. I think the main reasons for René to quit were time considerations on the one hand and the musical direction which was on the horizon on the other. A lot of the stuff that we were and are working on right now is pretty quiet and almost some sort of jazzy and that just wasn’t in accordance with his ideas. We were frequently joking about what we called his “Initiative for the preservation of Hardcore in PSSGS“, but in the end that turned out to be a real problem. It’s a pity, also because it naturally puts us back, but then again this break absolutely makes sense and might even be productive for the band.

A: Regarding our current status there are two things of importance: releasing the two songs that we recorded last year on the one hand and closing the gap that René left on the other. Normally this would mean to look for a new guitarist and vocalist but we feel like it might also be a good idea to look out for someone who can play other instruments as well, maybe that might add some new facets to our sound.

PSSGS Andre

Despite these changes and a bit different musical direction, sonically, do you still feel that same energy in your music? Personally, how do you feel these new tracks?

A: I would say that the new songs, especially „A choir/A home“, have more room to develop, more space to be filled with emotions. They may seem less hard and complex at first but have a bigger affective deepness.

M: Yes, they are definitely less constructed and feel more emotional and natural than the old ones. The title „II“, among other things, derives from the fact that the overall structure of the songs is similar as they are dramaturgic and lyrically divided into two parts. I think they’re both very tense in their own way. The first track leaves a lot of space, stays rather light and feels almost solemn in the end while „An Appearance/A division“ is very compressed and explosive but kind of releases you in the end, allowing you to leave.

A: Playing them live is more captivating and gripping for me and that applies maybe even more to the songs that we are currently working on. I really look forward to finding a new band member and incorporate new influences into our sound while following this new direction.

S: Maybe one could add that we recorded these tracks about a year ago and we’ve been playing them live for at least six months, so they actually don’t feel notably new any more. I like the more recent stuff that André talked about better, but I guess that’s a typical musician scheme.

Playing different styles of music and being more and more skilled at all of them is a pretty difficult task. How do you try to develop this ability in the most efficient way?

A: Since we write most of the material together in the rehearsal room while jamming and finetuning, there is no real „masterplan“ or purposely development that we would be impelling. But our ability to put the musical ideas that we have into practice grows naturally with this process. I think, right now, we begin to understand that sometimes writing music that is less complex in its overall structure and concentrates on fewer parts requires to work harder on each and every part. The quieter and more delicate it gets the more focus you have to put on every single note. I guess that’s the challenge we are facing at the moment.

M: I personally don’t think about it and definitely not about ‘efficiency’. For me, the music still has the same feeling, we are just a bit deeper in it. This ‘new’ stuff has always been seething in us and now, looking back, it feels as if it always wanted to come out.

PSSGS live

Lyrically, is there a certain message behind these tracks?

A: No.

S. Haha, André is right, there is no message in the strict sense of „a message“. Personally, I think lyrics that intentionally create messages often end up in creating phrases. I don’t like being given messages. Anyway, our lyrics mainly deal with personal experiences. In „An Appearance/A division“ these experiences are rather left in their immediacy – the lyrics basically reproduce the perception of the concrete situation. They deal with alienation and overstraining in social interactions, with feeling insecure, fearful or disintegrated. With the lyrics of „A choir/A home“ that is somewhat different. Here, the actual experience is reflected in a rather enfolding sense, it is embedded in a broader horizon of questions or ideas. The subject of these lyrics is rather difficult to describe though. If you experience a moment with music, dance or other forms of art that is joyful to a degree close to salvation and afterwards you compare it with the very different reality we face most of the time, one could say that these experiences are some sort of an indication of what might be possible. That’s what the term ‘home’ stands for, which I took from Ernst Bloch. Nuff said.

PSSGS (4)

Now that these new tunes have been released, how do you feel about it? How tough was your music’s ways to our ears? Also, why did you decide to release it digitally?

M: They haven’t really been consciously present since quite a while as we recorded them about a year ago and the last show also feels very long ago, so listening to them now with a bit of detachment really makes me feel them again. Still love them and still feel them – maybe even more than before. Also, they mark a transition, of course, to our more recent sound. And I like transitions.

S: I’m just really glad that they’re finally released. To make a long story short: their way to your ears was really tough. Originally we planned to release these tracks in summer 2015 as a Split Record. After some deliberation and advices we opted against that and for a 12“ with the two new songs on side A and the 2014 debut EP on side B. Finding a couple of small labels from different countries who were inclined to support the release turned out to be rather difficult, firstly because we wanted to release asap and that didn’t fit with the schedule of a lot of labels, and secondly because a lot of the smaller labels we asked seemed to be on their last legs, financially and organizationally. After finding a couple of great labels willing to participate (Fear of Heights from Germany, Boslevan from England, Pifia from Spain/Germany and Apoth from Poland) we figured that the production costs of the release as we planned it were extraordinary due to all the details and special wishes, and thereby hardly sustainable for everybody involved.

A: Yes, the 12“ was supposed to be packed in a folded cardboard with our logo punched out of it so you would be able to see the artwork printed on the inner sleeve. Plans were to have coloured vinyl and embossed titles on the back of the cover. We spent a lot of time figuring out how this would work out best, because after the wooden cases of our EP we wanted to create something special again. As this didn’t work out we decided to make a virtue out of necessity and release the songs online, accompanied by a handcrafted booklet with the envisaged painting, the lyrics, some explanations etc. A friend of us is a bookbinder and would have helped us with the whole production. We liked the idea of mixing digital and analogue, distributing the songs digitally for free and selling the book with a download link at shows. But after René quit the band we decided to abandon that idea too. As we still wanted to offer more than just the two songs in digital form we put the artwork of the book on our website (www.pssgs.com) so that people could flip through the pages and have the lyrics and ideas behind the songs at hand. Maybe we will realize one of the original ideas in the future, that depends on the inquiry and feedback. We also asked Max, a friend of us who is doing music videos, to produce a trailer [watch below] for the release what turned out awesome.

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