You can spend as much time discussing what exactly Pendulum is as you can saying how good, exciting and refreshing they are. Tonight Pendulum does what they do best: Whip the crowd up into an absolute frenzy. Exhaustion and overheating is a problem but this is a young crowd with as much enthusiasm to rock as anything we have witnessed before. This was the fastest selling gig at Liverpool Music Week and as the crowd filter in to the Carling Academy, the dancing gets underway.
There is always more of a club vibe than a gig when Pendulum play and the warm up DJ here is either clued up or short on CDs as he pumps the crowd full of energy, dropping track after track from the Prodigy, Fat Boy Slim and finally RATM but little else.
Practically worn out before Pendulum take the stage, these guys who have all bought tickets for this massive event have more stamina than that, and as Pendulum walk out they erupt like nothing before, a sound greater in volume than their combined number of 1200. The scene is awash with phones and cameras as the hardest, fastest electronic act take the stage for Liverpool Music Week 2007.
Earlier in the night we caught up with Rob and Gareth from Pendulum for an exclusive interview on what it’s like to be part of this massive festival. What we really want to know is who gets the most out of a Pendulum show, the band or the fans?
“I guess the fans,” explains Gareth, “we all have very specific things we need to concentrate on, so yeah the crowd definitely, as we’re more focused. It’s great fun though.”
In truth Rob and Gareth ain’t got a clue about Liverpool Music Week at this point, (just as we don’t have a clue that Pendulum have been living in London for the past three years rather than Perth, Austraila, what most of the press says.) To them this is another date on their biggest UK tour to date, Liverpool is the final night of this live extravaganza which has seen Pendulum take it up a notch before the release of their new album, expected to hit shops in March next year. What can we expect? “Writing wise, the album is finished. All it needs is mixing and I still have some vocals and shit to lay down. It’ll be out on Warner in the UK and Atlantic in the US.”
So what have the highlights of the tour been so far? It seems Bristol was Rob’s fave show. There was also that gig in a car park in Manchester. “Walking in there for soundcheck, the fumes were terrible.” Rob mimics covering his mouth and nose, the comedic impossibility of trying to play and not be suffocated at the same time. Glasswerk.co.uk was there also for that wild night under Piccadilly station but the only things we could smell were room aromas and house plants.
It’s not the first time in Liverpoool for Gareth. “My first gig was up here with Brendan [Collins] from Futurebound.” Collins is born and bred scouser and resident at Liverpool’s monster club night Chibuku and when not touring as a band, Pendulum can normally be found stringing DJ sets together across the country, something they will continue to do immediately after this tour finishes.
As for first impressions of the city, its Rob’s first time in Liverpool. “I don’t really have any impression yet as I’ve just woken up, walked off the bus, soundchecked and in here.” As we chill in one of the side rooms of the mazy Carling Academy it’s pretty relaxed and warm. We duly expect things to heat up later when Pendulum take to the stage.
“We’ve had some pretty fucking hot ones so far,” Gareth is keen to share with us. “Our guitarist [elhornet] has a humidity and temperature gauge on his effects pedal. The record is 95% humidity up there. Literally everything is dripping.” Rob isn’t convinced it works, “it only ever shows two numbers 50% or 95%.” Things can be dangerous for the crowd but Pendulum, with plenty of fluid intake manage to keep cool on stage. “Sometimes I’m playing,” explains Rob, “and I look at the people at the front and think “Fuck they’re not into it” but they're just exhausted.”
It’s a gruelling affair enjoying Pendulum a live show. There are few more energy sapping sets and it seems Pendulum attracts the wildchild or at least brings it out in all of us. “The female component of our audience seems really keen and run into the venue first but as soon as the first note hits, they all get fucking crushed, then its all guys.”
And we’re back to the original question. What is this band Pendulum? Rob clears it up for anyone who has been trying to pigeonhole them. “We stopped trying to be part of a scene, ever since we started putting the live band together. Every step of the way in the D’n’B scene you can get shot down for something not even as far removed as this band thing but I mean just for dropping a breaks track. People are like “What the fuck?” but it's just one track. It’s pretty insular thinking. We just wanna be thought of as electronic music. We didn’t come from DnB, we came from electronic music in general and the rock stuff we were doing before that so us sticking to our roots is us doing what we are doing now.” End of!
You should be sticking to your roots, so what are Pendulum’s roots? Read the biog and you’ll find comparisons to the likes of, Tool, Timbaland, Zeppelin and Soundgarden but as they explain to us, “It’s less about us trying to be like any of those bands listed but rather taking very basic influences from all that stuff and trying to connect it to what we are doing. A lot of people read those influences and post on massage boards “your stuff doesn’t sound like that”. It’s not supposed to appeal to Jimmy Page.”
One of the new tracks from the album is already part of the setlist. Propane Nightmares is the band’s secret new track that is blowing the crowds away. There have been no leaks from the album as yet, because its not finished, but this song is already a vital part of the live show as is their crowd teaser MC Verse who has the crowd eating from the palm of his hand, “He [Verse] has been with us for a long time and we’ve worked with him on the DJ side of things.” The guys cannot say whether a live MC is something that will always be part of the Pendulum setup. Gareth explains, “[there are] always improvements we can make to the live show. Without blowing our own trumpet its leagues ahead technology wise. There’s an awful lot of shit that goes on behind the scenes.” Rob expands, “The original idea was to get the band and musicians so tight that eventually we can drop into Rage Against The Machine type riff, ravey shit or just straight out rock at any time. I don’t think that tightness is there yet.”
Most of Pendulum’s time is spent in the studio, literally. “We have a good setup in London, where we’ve been for three years. We don’t get much chance to go back to Austraila. It’s too far, too many changes of flights.” And so we presume they are constantly on drugs. A diet of amphetamines is surely necessary to produce an album of such sheer unbridled energy. “A lot off people would be surprised by how normal we are,” explains Gareth. “We drink a lot of caffeine, red bull and coffee.” Rob adds a slice of wisdom, “I heard a good quote by another engineer. If you’re constantly on any kind of drug to make the music, you better hope those drugs can be sold with the music otherwise people aren’t gonna understand.”
“Yeah, include a few tabs in the inlay,” jokes Gareth. But the message is sensible one. “Stay away from drugs, stay in school and be nice to your mothers.” This is the motto and why these guys can be role models for years to come. Where do they see themselves in ten years? “Hopefully still alive,” says Gareth. “Hopefully dead” says Rob, “or vice versa” they joke.
By this time all seriousness has evaporated from the interview and so here ends our enjoyable time with Rob and Gareth from Pendulum.