INTERVIEW WITH... IDLEWAR
It was an absolute honour to spend some time chatting with the lovely Pete Pagonis from IDLEWAR on the final night of their recent UK tour, to have a bit of a catch-up and see how the UK has been treating the guys. A couple of days after we chatted, Pete posted a very detailed and honest tour recap, which is both entertaining and enlightening. Should you fancy a read, the link is below.
Firstly, we were interested in knowing how the tour had gone, was it everything the guys had hoped for? Pete is ever the optimist. “As you can imagine there have been highs, lows and in-betweens. Lows might be more interesting for the readers but let’s be glass-half-full. Seeing friends that we have made from the first tour we did three years back is definitely part of the highs. Playing music for those who have been so passionately trying to help us spread the word is also a high.
Meeting new fans and band members from those playing the shows with us have also been great. It’s been a 9 shows in 10 days tour. That and the jet lag can be a bit tiring. Luckily we planned this tour without too much travel between the dates. That makes a difference. It allowed us to get to our hotel before the gig to check in and sometimes even shower! Also, we have one of the best drivers in the biz: Mister Markie D!”.
That definitely sounds like a glass more than half full! The guys from Idlewar have such an organic approach to playing and, it seems, to life. They are some of the most genuine, down to earth people you could ever wish to meet. For a band not on their native soil with a punishing schedule of 9 gigs in 10 days, the UK must have passed by in somewhat of a blur, so it’s lucky they had the reliable Mark as their driver/merch guy. Pete, James and Rick have got lots of time for their friends/fans and aside from performing, seem to love nothing more than meeting the people that support them. As tonight in Cardiff is the last stop on their tour, they are heading home, and will be definitely be looking forward to some home comforts. What is Pete thinking longingly about the most? “I’m not sure we have been out long enough to say things like ‘my own bed’ but that will be nice. Seeing loved ones of course”.
The band’s third album ‘Fractured’ has been out for several weeks now and has received some rave reviews. Pete had this to say about the release and reviews. “This is the first time we have not used a PR company with an LP release. So we sent the record to the people we have a history with. That’s code for saying people who seem to like the band. So you aren’t as scared as to what they may write. It might seem like a cop out doing so; maybe it is. We just got really tired of seeing some reviews from previous records where it was clear that the reviewer was not going to like what we were doing from the get-go. You could tell that it was a superficial listen and lazy journalism. I’m all for criticism from a person that is articulate and you can tell they took the time with your music. The ones I couldn’t stomach were the ones that sounded like it was somebody’s snotty kid brother and had the musical comprehension competence of a dodo bird. I think that because there is such an obscene amount of music being released, from the guy/gal in their garage to major label artist. The outlets doing reviews both big and small are beyond crammed with requests for reviews of records. What I believe is happening is that just as you have to sift through a lot of that music to find the real gems. You have to do so with the reviewers. It used to be that you had to really earn your place to write reviews for say Rolling Stone or much smaller outlets. I don’t think I answered your question. I will now step down from my soapbox. It feels great when someone really gets what you are trying to do musically from the more broad strokes to the subtle nuances. Yes, IDLEWAR does have subtle nuances!."
Concerning some of those subtle nuances then, is the songwriting in the band approached as a collaborative effort? “Yes and no. Rick and James have been working together musically for quite some time. I came into the fold 4 years ago. They had what are two of what many consider IDLEWAR’s best songs. ‘Eleventeen’ and ‘Glory’. If memory serves me correctly. Rick wrote the guitar riffs for both with James covering melody and lyric. However since then I have been writing a good deal of the music with James and I sharing the melody duties and James writing the majority of the lyrics. That seems to be the formula that gets us to the most unique place that we feel is IDLEWAR”.
Idlewar certainly seems pretty unique, so what of the name, where did it originate?
“When I first met the guys their band was called Chieftain. Once things got more serious from the initial casual get together I suggested a name change. Mainly because there is a really established band called the Chieftains. “Coming up with a band name is awful. There are so few good ones out there as far as I’m concerned. I don’t have a good story other than. We started putting words together that aren’t normally together. When Idle War was connected, we liked the contrast of the two words and the flow of how it sounded. Although we still have people who haven’t seen the name pronounce it as two words”.
The rock music and live music scene in the UK is pretty good, we wondered how it compares to the scene back home where Pete lives? “I don’t really have much insight into the scene to be honest. I know that there isn’t a fraction of what you have going on in the UK for support of new original hard rock bands. If you’re a national act like say Rival Sons, Royal Blood etc. people will come, otherwise you’re usually subjected to having to bug your friends to come to a show. That’s a drag and not usually worth the effort. So as a result we don’t play out here much. Hence, flying over to the UK”.
Finally, what’s next for IDLEWAR? What does 2019 hold in store? “That’s a good question. These past 3 months have been quite eye-opening for us. It’s too long of an answer to really get into. Although I did bring it up in the UK tour recap on our Facebook page a bit. What I can say is that the creative part is good and enjoyable and there are plenty of ideas for the next record. The business part is mostly shit. If you don’t have competent and trustworthy people handling your biz and are left to do it on your own it can poison the creative enjoyable part. Even with those trustworthy and competent people it’s tough in this biz. Keeping a band going is not easy in any shape or form. Many folks, especially those that follow us on social media get the impression that the band is booming and we are rock stars. When I talk to them I usually respond by saying it’s mostly smoke and mirrors. But that’s what you are supposed to do on social media, right? I mean Facebook is notorious for people posting photos and entries showing us how great of a life they are living. It’s usually horseshit. Many of those folks are miserable. I guess perspective plays a big part of what you view as being successful. We are lucky to have the fans that we do and the opportunities we have been given. We have been quite proactive these last years with some chances being taken. I think we need to change our game plan a bit. I think the short answer is that we will record and see what might come our way in terms of gigs that make it worth our while”.
Pete’s UK tour recap: https://www.facebook.com/pete.pagonis/posts/10215437215462022?__tn__=K-R