Australian synth affectionados PVT (Formerly Pivot until some stupid US band threatened legal action) have released one of the best albums of the past year in the form of Church With No Magic (Warp). We talk to drummer and percussionist Laurence Pike about sending a Hot Dog to the head of Warp, how their latest effort is like an episode of Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job and Brian Eno's mind powers. Who are your biggest influences? We all seem to admire people who are willing to creatively put themselves out there, not be afraid to try new things, or have strong opinions. I tend to find the most significant influences always come from my immediate creative community; friends and colleagues, there aren’t that many more people whose opinions really matter, despite what the internet keeps telling me. Do you think Sydney or London have big effects on your sound? Which one plays a bigger part? The experience of living in both places certainly plays a part in our music. How an environment directly affects a sound can be hard to gauge though, really. I think Australia definitely has an overwhelming feeling of physical space and possibilities that you don’t tend to get elsewhere in the world. It’s a very isolated place, and that effects people’s artistic outlook. For some it’s a matter of the grass always being greener elsewhere, but more positively it can be a license to really find your own voice, which I feel was the case for us. Sydney will always be my home, and I love her. You really do feel as if you are in one of the main hubs of the universe in London, and its energy is very immediate. You tend to have much more access and opportunities as a band, and be able to absorb a much wider breadth of sounds and ideas, and without the lag that we tend to get in Australia.
Being signed to Warp is pretty incredible, how did that come about? Who contacted who? Dave was living in London, I had just finished a UK tour with another band I used to play in, and Rich was there on holiday, we were about to head to Chicago to mix our previous album ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’ with John McEntire, and we had an invite to a Warp after party through a mutual friend. We went and got drunk ‘til the wee hours and I met a couple of the guys from the label and we kept in touch, I sent them the album and they dug it. Warp boss Steve Beckett contacted me via email and said ‘let’s do it’ and I said ‘righto’ and we sent them a hot dog from Sydney to London in the mail to say ‘Thanks’. True story. What is your favourite piece of kit that you own and what instrument would you like to own? This is probably more of a question for Dave or Richard I suspect. They tend to get most of the gear-nerd questions after the show. I’m a pretty big fan of the Roland Juno 106 synthesiser, we seem to end up using that one way or another on a lot of things. If I could own any piece of gear it would probably be a Yamaha CS80. It’s the monolithic Synth that Vangelis used to make the ‘Blade Runner’ soundtrack. They are rare as hen’s teeth. I had the pleasure of using one on the album running through a lexicon reverb unit, and, I am not ashamed to admit that I actually wept. I’ve only ever had one person ask me about drum gear after a show. I’m not much of a drum nerd. I suspect people are absolutely terrified of me or I am a complete bore, either way I am happy for the others to cop the technical questions while I have a drink and relax. What are the subjects on your new album? I guess it’s an exploration of how people connect with each other, or perhaps disconnect, and the great divide between form and function that we see everywhere. It’s a bit like an episode of Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job in some ways. It can appear raw and electronic but live and intimate at the same time, is this something you aimed for? Yes, in a sense. Ultimately our aim is to write songs that provoke people emotionally, make something human. We’re a slightly unusual beast set up wise, but at the end of the day we use electronics as a means to present our ideas and compliment us as performers. It’s an exploration of the possibilities of the two I guess, which is very much become the norm now in indie music. We’re live musicians before electronic musicians. We wanted to be in a rock band when we were kids. Here we are. What was it like meeting Gary Numan? We’re all fans of the Tubeway Army stuff, so it was pretty cool. He’s actually a bit shy and a really sweet guy. His wife was hilarious I should say, she was like the Sharon to his Ozzy if you know what I mean. It was a weird couple of shows and a lot of fun. Having now met both of them, who do you prefer out of Numan and Eno? And who would win in a fight? They are both very affable chaps. Gary was like a cool uncle, while Brian is more like the wise university teacher or school headmaster/mentor who you secretly wished was your dad. Brian Eno’s work has been a much more significant influence on the three of us. Out of the two of them, I suspect Brian Eno is far more likely to be trained in the dark art of sensory suggestion and manipulation. He’d probably have Gary beating himself up with a wave of his hand. He knows things we don’t. You can visit the band by heading to Church With No Magic is available now via Warp Records