PSSGS are a new band from Darmstadt featuring members of metallic, crusty hardcore act ACHEBORN and their follow up, indie/post punks THE DATA BREAK. This post hardcore offering has just inked a deal with Fear Of Heights label, which will put out their debut release in October! The good people behind this project teamed up with IDIOTEQ to bring you a full stream of this interesting new offering and discuss it thoroughly.
Drawing from JR. EWING, AT THE DRIVE-IN and screamo legends like FUNERAL DINER, the band’s interesting new takes on post hardcore showcase the band’s ability to show restraint while simultaneously building intensity and carefully placing interesting twists and turns. Beautifully crafted, this won’t disappoint your taste. Launch the player and be the judge yourself.
The band will be performing live in their hometown with THE TIDAL SLEEP on October 9th.
Band photos by Abrossimow macht Bilder.
Hey guys! Thanks a lot for taking some time with us. Please introduce the band and explain why you decided to name it after Persatuan Seni Silat Gayung Sembilan Martial Arts Association ;).
S: We consist out of four members: Mathias and René both play guitar and do vocals, André plays bass and I play drums.
S: Great research!
M: I have always been into Kung-Fu and stuff like that.
R: Kung Fu?
A: Maybe we should mention that, apart from our common interest in far-east martial art, the band’s name is actually pronounced “Passages” and the name PSSGS is what was left after the process of creating the logo and getting rid of the vocals. But yeah, first of all Kung Fu rules.
Haha! Cool! Can you tell the readers a little bit about your inspiration for starting PSSGS? Was there a certain goal in your minds?
S: In the beginning there was probably just the wish and need to play music again, right?! All of us have been playing in different bands earlier but were not actively involved in any projects before we started PSSGS. Somehow the process of the band turned out to be more or less run by itself in the sense that one thing luckily always led to another, which turned out great so far. Musically I guess we all have slightly different directions of impact and what comes out in the end is somehow the mediated cross-section of our singular perspectives. But anyways, there was no specific genre or style that we wanted to achieve and I guess that’s what makes the whole process so interesting and productive but also very time-consuming.
A: Having no band after the end of former projects and seeing other bands play live always broke my heart. I said myself I wanted to start a new band by the end of the year by any means… In December I met Marcus and we started the whole thing together with Steffen – just in time. The goal can always only be to get together and have fun with each other through the universal language of music. Some guys in a practicing room creating something together, mainly depending on a certain vibe or feeling. Time will tell what comes out of this, but of course there is also a certain ambition of wanting to release songs and playing shows – reaching out to people from the depths of the practicing room in the basement.
R: Before I entered the band I wrote and composed a lot of instrumental songs or parts at home by myself. In the bands that I played in previously I was doing vocals, so it’s actually a novelty for me to play guitar with this certain approach in a band. I guess my inspiration to participate in a band again was to have a possibility to implement my ideas in a constellation with other musicians. It’s pretty difficult to find the kind of band where the chemistry is right so I’m really glad about how things turned out.
Considering the nature of your previous projects, you seem to hit a slightly different direction this time, right? How did you decide to create in this particular subgenre? How have all the lineup changes you’ve faced impacted your sound?
A: OK, I think I have to make clear that actually the only member of Acheborn or Data Break that’s in the band is me. So you probably can’t really say, we’re the the follow up of past projects but something new and independent as the four individuals we are.
S: Regarding this band there was only one bigger lineup change and the story goes like this: Our friend Marcus arranged that first constellation with him on guitar, André and me. That was almost two years ago. Our sound back then was pretty straight and kind of classical emo-like. Mathias joined the band after half a year, which had a huge impact, so the sound grew and became more and more differentiated. After some months it came into notice that it musically didn’t work out that well any more with Marcus, also because he was more into a straight and melodic kind of sound, so we seperated. After that the rest of us kept looking for another guitarist for several months, which was kind of a frustrating process. Luckily René answered to an ad that we placed on some randon FB group. After the first few rehearsals it was clear that he fit in perfectly. Until then we already had five or six songs, which in the following were either resigned or rewritten/rearranged. That was in the beginning of 2014.
You’re about to unleash your debut EP in early October. How come there are only 3 tracks on the record? Is this everything you’ve got so far? It’s really hard to be indifferent to this as these tracks right here are very intriguing. You definitely made a listener want more.
M: We spent a lot of time in arranging and re-arranging the songs over and over, René joined with fresh styles which were to blend into the songs and then we had to rehearse the songs so we wouldn’t play bullshit in the studio … But right now we are working on two more songs which will complete our first set.
A: As Steffen said before, it’s not a long time we’ve been together, but after finding our style we couldn’t wait and wanted to release a first demo as soon as possible with the three songs and an intro. But don’t mention the songs that got lost on the way, with these we could easily fill an album. But that’s survival of the fittest (song idea), I guess…
The self-titled record will be released on tape via Fear Of Heights Records. The wooden cases you’ve just presented are incredible! Tell me more about the idea of releasing it this way.
A: First of all, we were very happy, when Matin from Fear Of Heights approached us and honestly spoken, he wanted to release the tape before he even really heard us! If that isn’t a lot of trust being put into a young band. The idea for the cases came up when I talked to friend of mine, Mathias Knuhr, who is a carpenter and who does an incredible job in creating artworks for music related projects and he was eager to work with us. One sunny evening in a garden we got to talk and what came out of this (and hours and hours of work afterwards) is – I would say -a very special packaging for a tape…
Are there more labels involved? Will there be more formats available?
S: So far Fear of Heights is the only label involved. Matin, who runs it, luckily decided to release our music despite the fact that – until that point – he had only heard some recordings from our rehearsal, which were quite different from what we ended up recording. Originally we really didn’t think about a huge release or the like, we just intended to publish a simple ‘demo’. I guess it would be great to release the whole thing on vinyl but we’ll have to see how things go and if there’s a demand for that at all.
I guess you guys agreed that it is too hard to put time and effort into creative process and give the result away for free, huh? Are there any plans to release your music as free downloads?
S: I’m not quite sure about that. I’d say that there are two ends to this. On the one hand what we do creatively is not hired labor or something and thereby I think that there’s no needed financial equivalent to the “creative work” that we do. I also don’t think that it makes sense to immediately convert everything you do (time, effort, work) into a number. Anyways, in practice a band always has to become sort of a corporation in the sense that we have to pay for recordings or equipment or gas and that we have to earn money ourselves because otherwise the whole thing is kind of impossible. There are broad implications within that question, but however: we’re going to release the songs as free downloads, yes.
A: In the end everybody is going to be able to download the four songs from our bandcamp site. But we also think that owning a physical object that contains the music is a great thing, visuals, haptic, to have something in your hand. And also producing something that is more than the digitalised music was a great process for us, starting with the logo and the artwork to actually shaping the finished case out of blocks of wood with our own hands. I think people can feel that and that will probably never be possible by a mere download. But also, we’re happy if people just listen to our music and hopefully like it!
JR EWING, FUNERAL DINER, AT THE DRIVE-IN, … – there are some obvious comparisons in your official press release. Are there some newer influences that shape PSSGS’ sound?
S: We have different opinions about that band and it seems as if people are of two minds regarding them in general, but I’d definitely name ‘La Dispute’ as an important influence. I think that they are – lyrically and musically – one of the most advanced bands today. In general I guess we listen to a lot of different music – Indie-Pop, Jazz, Punk etc. – which more or less shapes our ideas or approach of making music. I listen to a lot of quiet stuff these days, like ‘The Dropout Patrol’, ‘Agnes Obel’ or ‘FKA Twigs’.
M: At the time when I stepped into the band I listened to a lot of ‘hardcore’-stuff like ‘Birds in Row’, ‘Tidal Sleep’, ‘Loma Prieta’, … and over the last months I have been listening to a lot of norwegian music like ‘Cakewalk’ or ‘Building Instrument’.
I guess you can tell that ‘Hyrule’ by ‘Radare’ – they are an amazing band from around the area and play sort of a jazzy Doom which I guess can be best compared with ‘Bohren und der Club of Gore’ – is also a direct influence as we often thought: “Damn, we need to reduce ourself and give the instruments more space”.
R: Years before I was listening to a lot of Incubus and some other Alternative Bands. Then I started to listen to more Hardcore and Screamo, for instance FUNERAL DINER or SAETIA. Right now I listen to a lot of melodic Post-Hardcore stuff.
A: I can’t really name a single band as an influence but I guess I have all that 90’s style Hardcore/Screamo in my blood and also a big love for Indie/Guitar music as a whole…
If you were to recommend a particular record or a band to someone getting interested in your music, what would you choose?
S: That’s tough. Perhaps ‘Maelstrom’ by the late JR EWING.
M: It might be something like that, yes.
R: I’d rather name LA DISPUTE.
How would you define the screamo genre? Do you have any opinions on this controversial and often misinterpreted label? Do you care?
A: I don’t think we care a lot about genres or labels put on musical styles. Sure we come from and will be moving in some sort of hardcore scene. We do love the music, the infrastructure that was built over the years is so great for a small band and it is where our music fits in best, I guess. On the other hand, our musical interests are diverse, to say the least. I think it is sad that so many people limit themselves through the very scenes that on the one hand help create a great community. But there is so much more music to explore than one or two genres and if “being in a scene” means ignoring a lot of the great stuff that is going on outside that little microcosm, that can’t be a good objective. So we would rather think outside those boxes and just say that we love music and a good community.
How do you feel about today’s music scene in Darmstadt? Can you share some informative insights about some of the trends and artists in your area?
S: So, the Oetinger Villa (a youth and cultural centre) plays a central role regarding the HC-/Punk-/Indie-scene, they organize shitloads of concerts with a lot of great bands from a huge range. For a city of that small a size I think Darmstadt is pretty alive in terms of a cultural and subcultural live.
A: There are a lot of bands, labels, shows and a quite vital music scene which is very inspiring and keeps you wanting to go on making music, which is a good thing. For example, I also do a small venue together with some friends the “Zucker” where I organise small shows with Indie Bands and Songwriters. For me this scene accompanies me for a long time now, since the nineties, when we had a very strong, uprising hardcore scene, that really opened my eyes and took a good share in my musical socialisation.
S: There are some pretty great bands from Darmstadt and the region. Besides RADARE, that Mathias mentioned, there’s a great Emo/Pop/Lol-Punk band called ROLLERGIRLS, three very nice guys who are on Fear of Heights Records as well. And then there are our friends from ‘Hans Dieter X’ who play fast and dirty Punk.
A: I guess SARRRG should also be mentioned as a great band associated with the Villa.
Alright buddies. Gig-wise, what are the future plans so far? Any chances for a proper European tour?
S: A European tour would be amazing! We didn’t really think about that, did we? Since we understand ourselves more as a small band in their beginnings that wasn’t a huge topic so far.
M: We are thinking about playing some shows around Germany in the next months, but sure, why not Europe?
Thank you so much! I wish you all the best and congratulations on the amazing work you’ve done so far.
A: Thank you for doing this interview with us, our first one, to be honest! See you on a show out there soon!