High five, swan dive, nosedive seems a pretty apt way to introduce PABH a band with a penchant for loud music, incessantly gigging and injuring themselves. I managed to catch up with James, Tom and Rob during a quick schedule break to find out a bit more about this non-stop Leeds based band.
Described loosely as ‘an alternative rock’ band, PABH have seen a cultish rise in their popularity in the last two years, so what has been going on?
‘We’ve been on the road since day one really’ starts James. ‘We started off diy-ish, doing whatever really, didn’t look at is as something that would end up with a record contract, just wanted to gig and have some fun’. Tom continues ‘I think that’s why we’re seen as what we are and what our sound is, cos we didn’t start off with a goal as being a massive band We wanted to write a lot of songs, play a load of gigs but we’ve kind of developed along the way and things have kind of picked up more and more, we still don’t know what the hell is going on…whatever it is it’s an awesome ride.’
“We started off diy-ish, doing whatever, and didn’t look at it as something that would end in a record deal, we just wanted to gig and have fun.”
Having racked up an amazing number of gigs in their first year, which Rob declares was ‘pushing 300’, it’s hard to estimate how many they have done in total. Rob admits that they’ve ‘played a lot of gigs where there’ve been 2 or 3 people in the crowd, but they’re sometimes the best gigs. People remember it and go and tell others. I guess that’s why we’ve built up a bit of a fan base’.
When it comes to playing their hometown of Leeds, Tom admits that they’ve ‘had to stay away from Leeds recently, just so when we do play its more special and we get a better crowd’, James follows this with ‘it’s easy to get trapped in one sort of city or county’. ‘It’s great when bands have a strong local following and sort of a team behind them, but you can use that as bit of a safety net, that kind of glory being seen as a hometown band. You see a lot of bands when you’re touring around the country, and the majority of people there are for the support band. Its like the country is a lot bigger than that’ asserts Rob.
Although it’s not just about playing live, especially when starting out, acknowledges Tom, ‘thanks to James we’ve got a big presence when it comes to the internet cos when any band starts out no one knows who the fuck you are. You’ve got to try and make a mark and get out there somehow. We recorded a demo for £50 and put everything online in as many places as we could. It all kind of snowballed and went on from there.’ Snowballed it has, with the recent release of their self-titled debut album, how has the transition from taking their live sounds into recording happened.
Rob tells us that when they first started basically we had a set of 4 songs that were recorded for a reference point. Through playing them so much and going off on the road they got better and changed and got faster or heavier. So the album is very different also, more realistic account to the live show. James adds that it’s ‘rough around the edges, the early stuff were lo-fi recordings but, I guess it’s more of a true representation. When we play live it can be a bit sloppy as we’re running around and stuff, but with this album we tried to capture the live set, the essence of that set…the manicness around the edges.’ They all express that a lot of people have reacted really well to the album, luckily. Tom confides ‘we were expecting it to be, obviously, not as good as live, but people have actually got it. We’ve heard it a million times, so when everyone started listening to it, it gave it a kind of second life really, rather than just tormenting us in our heads’.
By acknowledging their development over the last couple of years and having played a shit load of festivals and gigs with top names, it’s great to hear a band who are played on radio one and have multiple press attention be so humble about it all. Rob explains how far PABH have actually come ‘when you first start out you’re not really in control of how you sound live, like it’s down to chance with the PA, the soundman and whether he thinks you’re a dickhead and sound crap on purpose. Meet amazing guys along the way, soundmen who say you’re really good and help you out on the way. The one thing about being in a band is, you learn how you sound, for a long time we didn’t know we couldn’t afford to buy nice equipment so it was about more just about putting as much energy into it as possible, so only really our live sound is kind of recently becoming what it should be…’
So we’ve discovered that PABH are loud, messy, accident prone and very much a live act, so what does one expect from them…Tom quickly states ‘randomness and chaos’, James ‘depends how the crowd are’, Tom again picks up with ‘we feed off the crowd, if they are up for it, it makes us up our game.’ Rob simply declares ‘nothing is staged or planned.
The crowd is divided into two sections:
– Those who are scared of their own health
– Those who are scared for our health.
Having seen them live I understand this. It’s certainly an experience, a good one at that. There aren’t many bands out there these days that simply tear it up without a shred of hesitation.
In summary, it’s pure rock and roll and probably trip in the back of an ambulance.