Pillarcat
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Pillarcat

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Folk Avant-garde

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Feb
08
Pillarcat @ The Slaughtered Lamb

London, England, United Kingdom

London, England, United Kingdom

Jan
13
Pillarcat @ The Gipsy Hill Tavern

London, England, United Kingdom

London, England, United Kingdom

Dec
11
Pillarcat @ Dusk Til Dawn

London, England, United Kingdom

London, England, United Kingdom

Music

Press


Acaba de llegar 'Weave', primer disco de una nueva banda de Londres llamada Pillarcat, de folk experimental, de la que destaca la presencia de Pablo Tato, el excelente guitarra y vocalista de nuestros queridos Psicotropia.

Pillarcat está concebido como un proyecto en solitario en torno al vocalista, compositor y guitarrista Stephen Hodd. Pero Hodd conoció en Reino Unido a Pablo Tato, guitarrista de Psicotropia y al batería Alberto Voglino como estudiantes del Instituto de Música Contemporánea de Londres. Desde ese momento el proyecto Pillarcat nació como banda y en esta mitad de año de 2011 el trío terminó contando también con la vocalista Gitta, el violonchelista Alex Eichenberg y la bajista Svetlana Vassileva.

Su formación ya se mueve en directos y desde enero ha tenido aproximadamente una decena de actuaciones en Londres. Musicalmente no tiene fronteras, y no presenta miedos para tocar y moverse entre varios géneros e influencias, huyendo de etiquetas predefinidas. Pillarcat hacen una música propia de la guitarra acústica, la guitarra eléctrica con ritmos progresivos, de soundscapes o folk experimental.

Su debut ha llegado a finales de junio con 'Weave', un ambicioso primer álbum que tiene influencias de los Radiohead más experimentales o de los Sigur Rós más incisivos en el post-rock.

El disco se puede escuchar gratis en la página web del grupo (http://www.pillarcatmusic.com).

Título: 'Weave'

Autoproducido (20 junio 2011)

1.falls of the sea
2.amy
3.reflections of airam
4.pages of people
5.the fragile and the few
6.crossbones graveyard
7.thumbdrumfingersnare
8.vultures

Duracion total: 42'00''

Escrito, producido y grabado por Stephen Hodd.
Masterizado por Dave Greenberg en Sonopod. - Portal Esquizofrenia


The album opens with ‘Falls of the Sea’ which starts out with a acoustic guitar plucking away. The melody’s sounds like a dark discovery of something looming ahead. Then there comes in the bass guitar and drums with a violin. Those instruments make the song more of a journey of discovery that the unexpected is near. The smoothness as the voice is portraying the sea. At the end it sounds that the listener is at the edge of the ‘Falls of the Sea’ and has actually fallen down.

The second song starts with a short acoustic guitar riff. Which then is accompanied with vocals that stay throw out the song and he sounds a bit like Caleb from ‘Kings Of Leon’. ‘Amy’ is a woman that has moved on and there are clear references that the he is in pain. It’s a song to grab the listener’s attention. The message is sung in a mellow voice and the acoustic guitar riff. At times there is an electric guitar to remind the listener of the pain which words cannot describe. He tries to do all sorts of things, but it shows that ‘Amy’ is gone. One last big shout comes for ‘Amy’ at the end with adding drums and bass guitar.

The song starts of with the echo sound that clearly says it in the name ‘Reflections of Airam’. Then a beautiful plucked Acoustic guitar sound joins in. A bass guitar comes in to make the sound more full and it sounds more of ‘Reflections of Airam’ the sound then gets more instruments and becomes more of a rock song. It even gets vocals to add harmony to it. This is a good song, due to the changes and they fit well together. The violin adds the right dramatic effect needed.


‘Pages of People’ starts of like the others with an acoustic guitar. The song quickly becomes full with brass and background vocals. Also there is a nice electric guitar lead, which reminds me of a car on the open road of the south in the USA. Then a beautiful delayed electric guitar melody completes the song. The drums are good accompaniment to really give it a last filling kick. The melody is really in my head, which you will fall in love with, and the song.

‘The Fragile and the Few’ is clearly a more said song, due to the name. There is a similarity of sound with the acoustic guitar. The song has a nice mix between male and female vocals, which then collide together. The lyrics have indication of things that happened to people in life and they should not show it to others. The song gets completeness with the bass guitar, drums and the violins making it as the other songs more dramatic. The song has a nice echo sound at the end, which fades into the next song

‘Crossbones Graveyard’ song starts with an electric guitar, which is different in a nice way. The style of the song goes into a nice upbeat tempo. There is also a really heavy bass guitar in it, which is nice. The song then ads heavy stadium drums which make it a nice rock song altogether. It changes beats sometimes but manly the styles stay the same. Rock which I like and, as a song that flows from ‘The Fragile and the Few’, ‘Crossbones Graveyard’ is really an enjoyable song, which is more an interlude than an actual song.

This song starts of in a more retro sound due to the effects used. The song instruments sounds are modern. The style of the drums though sounds Indian, Which ads a kind of nice and different grove to the album. There are two acoustic guitars that fit well together and with the violins and cellos the sound is felling complete. Then the electric guitar makes the song have vocals. It’s a really nice experimental track called ‘Thumbdrumfingersnare’ that makes the album have a different, but the echo part is familiar to the listener and that is a similarity throughout the album.

The last song ‘Vulture’ starts with strong male vocals, which later are accompanied with a woman. There are two electric guitars that make it a good match. The song has the similar echo feel. It’s a song about people having trouble with love. It’s a nice slow end to an incredible first journey that last around 42 minutes from ‘Pillarcat – Weave’. - AAA Music


Still hanging in there as one of the ‘newly commercialised’ and ‘of-the-moment’ musical styles, folk has brought, or perhaps rejuvenated the appreciation for bands delivering their music through live instrumentation. This is not to say that bands, irrespective of style, have been gasping for breath up in the ether as ‘über produced pop’ takes over the Radio One airwaves, it’s more that the introduction of ‘folk’ as a commercially relevant genre over the past couple of years has stimulated a new fan-base. The classic case-in-point must be Mumford and Sons who have sold over a million copies of ‘Sigh No More’ in both the UK and the US.



“LAMB are touring again, have you heard much of them” was my opening gambit to Stephen Hodd, lead singer of the band ‘Pillarcat’. A particularly prudent opening line as the retort was something along the lines of “yeah, Lou Rhodes (one half of LAMB) recorded on one of our tracks”. A cracking start. They were playing a short acoustic set at Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the Festival of Britain and I was lucky enough to catch them out sound-check.


The fist thing that struck me was the quality of Hodd’s voice. It reminded me a little of Ray Lamontagne mixed with a slightly less gruff version of Aaron Lewis from Staind and a teaspoon of Leonard Cohen. The contrast of his vocal with the fine, delicate guitar lines worked well, it would have been a strong offering in its own right without the other instruments, however the lift that the second guitar gave the track, ‘Amy’, was executed very well; never overplaying or dominating the track simply acting as a supporting role and allowing the song to build while the vocal remains the focal point.

I was pleased that the band were, well, a band! This could have very easily been the project of the lead singer with the other musicians simply providing the backing to his creative voice. That was, however, not the impression I was left with. The guys gelled together well and no more so than when they started layering the vocal with some really well placed harmonies. It was also refreshing to see the cajon played with musicality, it’s an all too familiar sighting nowadays when someone introduces the ‘South American rhythm box’ to their arrangements that it’s played with little finesse and musical understanding. This was not the case with Pillarcat, a feather touch when needed while rendering a driving beat to thunder the songs through giving a real sense of dynamics.


The real surprise with Pillarcat is when you check out their other work online. This was an acoustic only stage so it was interesting to learn that they normally incorporate electric guitar and a cello into the mix. Some of their tunes are also quite rock/electro something that I didn’t expect but I thought actually gave the bands a really interesting edge to their music. The one thing I would say however is that the band do face a slight danger of losing familiarity in their sound. There is nothing wrong with a band’s sound developing and changing with time, that’s part of the appeal of ‘following’ an artist, however there really are some diverse offering s from Pillarcat including a couple of instrumental tracks. That’s never a bad thing, but they have to be careful not to lose the continuity of one of the strongest hooks they have, and that’s Stephen Hodd’s vocal combined with well thought out and delivered vocal harmonies.

Unfortunately the band haven’t allowed people to ‘embed’ their Soundcloud tunes so I can only provide you a link to check out their stuff, what a pity. Click here.

This band could have an exciting future, especially in the current climate and other bands such as The Staves, Daughter, Dry the River, The Webb Sisters, Fleet Foxes and LAMB themselves all either climbing up the ranks or coming back with strong albums and new tours.

We hope Pillarcat make it in to that mix!

MT - Music Travels


1) You mention that Weave has influences from folk to sonic soundscapery. Was this sound influenced
by specific bands and songs, or more of the environment you were writing in?

A combination of both I guess. I grew up in rural Ireland surrounded by mountains on a diet of Slayer
until one day I found myself playing folk music in the style of John Martyn. As a consequence I was
always looking for ways to incorporate alternative elements into the acoustic songs. I could always
hear strange rhythms and the sounds of imagined places in the music. When I moved to London I was
all of a sudden surrounded by noise. The noise of the underground and sirens and all types of sub-
musical background noise. As a result of this I had even more sonic reference points to infuse into my
music. There are a healthy amount of bands doing something slightly different these days. Canada
has its’ fair share. Bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor do it so well. And, of course, Sigur Ros
bringing that unique slice of Iceland to our ears.

2) The album titles are very poetic, does each one tell its own story?

Yes each one has a meaning to me. Music suggests a journey quite readily and the titles are the frame
for that journey. Each one has a specific place in my memory. For example track one, ‘ falls of the
sea’ , is the name given to a trickle of water at the top of a mountain near my Irish home. The music is
inspired by the change from trickle to stream to river to sea and back to the mountain again as rain. The
cycle of water. The music follows the process.

3) Your music requires such a clean precise sound thats highly influencial in quiet settings. Do you find
it difficult performing the same sound in large audiences in noisy venues?

It is a bit of a problem to find the right venues for our sound. Ideally we need a folk venue that is not
afraid of rocking out. I have yet to find the perfect venue. We are not loud enough to rock an indie
crowd nor are we quiet enough to soothe an acoustic crowd. However, a healthy mix of emotions can
create a beautiful live experience.

4) You showcase a lot of images on your website, do you believe in sound/image partnership? What
are the mental images you wish to create in others minds as they listen to your music?

I love that partnership. I find that many non-musical events trigger musical events in my
consciousness. Images and music both possess incredible powers of suggestion. I am always intrigued
by journeys and motion. My desire with ‘ Weave’ is that it takes the listener on a journey. Each song
has a power to put the listener in an environment where elements weave together and change into
something new but somehow familiar. I am fascinated by nature recapturing cities. Old buildings
covered in moss and trees pulling the developments back into the earth. If we can remember how
transitory our existence is then we will maintain respect for the following inhabitants and trail blazers.

5) Being able to play a song in its acoustic, original format is rare on stage. You wrote that you decided
to amp up the production on some songs, why did you decide the change?

I love paying acoustically and in some environments it really works. I write songs all the time in this
acoustic fashion and for a song to be strong it needs to work acoustically. However when it came to
making an album I had to think about the whole picture. As a result the album dictated the size of the
production to a certain extent. Also the fact that I recorded the album in my bedroom in East London
meant that capturing a performance with no external sound leakage was impossible. It was hard to
make this record in the manner in which I did. Sometimes elements occurred because I had to cover up
a siren or something. I am a big fan of embracing the accident so the challenge on this occasion was
enjoyed.

6) Do you find it difficult but necessary to keep up with all the digital social media outlets today such
as twitter and facebook? Do artists today need to be just as tech savy as they are musically creative?

Yes. I mean I do not know where to start or when to stop. I can mange flourishes of twitter activity
but it does not come naturally to me. I believe that artists must find their own way of being open and
productive in order to survive in the current environment. For me this does not mean being a constant
blogger in the traditional sense. I function much more fluidly as a musician. Therefore my blogs are
music. We are currently building a new outlet for all our activities. These will be musical and not the
traditional social media manner of constantly trying to seem interesting in order to sell records. This
works for some people but it is not how my personality naturally is.

7) On the road what are your top five most played songs on your ipod and why?

Led Zeppelin – Babe I’ m gonna leave you. This song has a gentle start and becomes a massive rolling
event. That sense of journey all over again. It reminds me of what’ s to come.

Sigur Ros – ( ) song 3. This song is called Samskeyti and takes me to a place from which I can re-
energize and compose my thoughts.

Radiohead – Nude. A beautiful piece of music. Production, playing, the voice. I was touring the states
when I first head this album and it always reminds me of how good things can be.

Dirty Three – Indian love Song. Relaxing after a performance and gearing up for a long drive to the
next destination.

John Martyn – Over the hill. Again the voyage. This time going home.

8 ) What are the future plans for the band, any new tour dates added or material being written for a
future album?

We are in the early stages and trying to figure out how we can get this album to as many people as
possible. I spend a lot of time looking for press opportunities. We have no budget for PR so this will
be a low-key release. I am seriously considering making this album a free/pay what you like download
as I just want the album to get to as many people as possible (In June). Music is first and foremost
supposed to be listened to and hopefully enjoyed. When it comes around to our second album there
should be greater opportunities to promote our music. We are in this game for the long haul. We are
working on an unusual website which will allow us to put all of our musical ideas forwards under one
roof. We are aiming for a proper launch sometime in early autumn when we can play the entire record
from start to finish. This will mark the completion of two years Journey. Then yes, we will make
another record. I am constantly producing and writing new ideas.

9) In an industry that is thriving on digital instruments and technology based sound production, do you
believe in the importance of keeping real musicians in the recording process?

I believe that we must embrace all means of technology. The one rule that I try to adhere to is that the
performances must be done in one take where possible (The outside world can seriously damage this
aspiration). I will always favor real musicians over the synthesized equivalent for traditional parts, but
sometimes it is not possible to record an entire orchestra so we must allow ourselves to be creative.
A happy marriage of both worlds is interesting in that suggestions of real elements can occur using
synthesized means as also real instruments can create noises that are not traditionally attributed to
them.

10) Have you ever been to Canada? If not any ideas of what you’d want out of coming and performing
to a new audience?

No I have never been to Canada. I would love to visit and tour if the opportunity arose. I have a feeling
that Canada has a very open minded audience. If we could find an audience for our music and even
collaborate with some Canadian bands, well, that would be amazing. I love Domakesaythink and
would love to play some guitar with Ohad Benchetrit. I would love to take a trip into the wilderness
to write some songs and incorporate some of that wilderness into the music. The land must be full of
incredible inspiration. I always like to soak in the ambience of the places in which I tour. Meet the
people, eat the food, see the city, take in the air and try to capture some of the essence of life and nature
in a composition.

Think Quick!

1) If you could be a superhero you would be: Spiderman
2) Favourite book: London A-Z (I know it is a strange choice but I know every page in the book
and have walked a lot of the streets of this town)
3) Worst subject in school:Chemistry (a dangerous subject to be bad at)
4) Favourite restaurant/hang out spot?:Broadway Market/London Fields, Hackney. London.
5) Saturday night or sunday morning?:Saturday night in London, Sunday Morning in Ireland.
6) Signature drink at the bar?:Guinness in Ireland. Staropramen in London
7) First time you picked up an instrument?:4 years old (a piano delivered on a forklift truck so not
exactly picked up)
8 ) Ipod or walkman?:Walkman
9) Acid City is:A sharp burst of joy to the senses. Thank you for your quiziness - Acid Magazine


Listen to this track by London-based experimental chamber folk-pop collective Pillarcat, joined on this track by Lamb vocalist and solo artist in her own right, Lou Rhodes. It’s “The Fragile and the Few” as taken from the band’s full length album Weave.

Pillarcat is led by singer-songwriter Stephen Hodd, who seeks to mix the textures of John Martyn, Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, Sigour Ros, and beyond into his work. The title Weave then is honestly come by, and the resulting sound is at once cinematic, pristine, atmopheric, and evocative.

Hodd wrote and produced the record himself, drawing on a pool of guest talent that includes the aforementioned Lou Rhodes, but also violinist Ben Lee, virtuoso drummer Emre Ramazanolgu, and vocalist Gitta. Spanish guitarist Pablo Tato and Italian drummer Alberto Voglino round out the regular membership of Pillarcat, making the band something of a cultural amalgam when joined with Ireland-born Hodd.

I spoke with Stephen via email about recording an ambitious record on a limited budget, about experimenting with sound while getting an accessible feel, and about what comes next for the band.

***

The Delete Bin: This song has a very accessible feel to it, and yet it is also a pretty densely textured recording. What was the process of making the record?

Stephen Hodd of Pillarcat: It was a joy to be able to weave together the influences that have made an impression on me in my musical development. I shut the doors to the outside world for a year. There were no rules. The main idea was to create an album that would reward a solid listen. I remember listening to my old vinyl records all the way through and I loved the voyage.

DB: Your music has a lot of stylistic threads running through it. What are some of the big ones that served as starting points for you?

SH: Everything stemmed from the acoustic guitar. As a finger style folk guitarist, growing up in Ireland left me with a solid grasp of melody and rhythm. I heard darkness in the rolling guitar parts and really wanted to explore how heavier styles of music could be incorporated into the melody. Over the years playing live I would increasingly find myself experimenting more with loops and sonic experiences whilst also trying to fit a song into the flow. This was what I have brought into the studio. It was an in depth learning process. I spent a few years playing guitar with Lou Rhodes from Lamb and learned a lot from her producer, Emre Ramazanoglu. It was great putting this into practice.


Pillarcat, from left: Alberto Voglino (drums), Stephen Hodd (guitar, vocals), Pablo Tato (guitar)

DB: What were some of the major challenges you face as a group, since the band is not easily pigeonholed stylistically?

SH: The single biggest challenge seems to be getting exposure and finding fans within the media. The fact that we cannot be pigeonholed is a disadvantage for the music press as it makes their job harder. But I see it as an advantage as we are offering something new to the listener. In a live environment it will become clearer as you can be more sporadic in a live setting than on record.

DB: You mentioned that you used some of your favourite records as a guide to how to approach the recording process, which perhaps informs your output as a producer. Were there any specific artistic goals you had in mind for this project?

SH: I wanted to make a concept album that took the listener on a journey rather than (creating) a bunch of singles. I feel that there is a lovely flow to the peaks and troughs on this record. The title Weave points to the many threads on this album. If I can open some doors and get some fans onboard that enjoy this record before progressing towards the next one, I will be happy.

DB: You managed to create a very textured record on a limited budget. What are your plans now that it’s been made?

SH: As a new band with no money or a record label behind us it is going to be hard to raise any awareness of the project. The album is coming out on our own label, Savage Acoustic Records and I am learning the industry as I go along. I am very happy to connect with bloggers, radio people, and promoters. We have lots of gigs coming up and the band is coming together live really well.

We are doing the usual free download in exchange for your email address. The real challenge is to come up with a new original concept that drives traffic to our website to help spread the word about our music. The most important thing for Pillarcat right now is to get our album out there, and for people to enjoy it.

***

Thanks, Stephen!

For more information about Pillarcat, check out the Pillarcat official site.

Also, be sure to ‘like’ the Pillarcat Facebook page. From there, you can read a full bio, and join the email list.

Enjoy! - The Delete Bin


Discography

Weave
(released 20th June 2011)

1.falls of the sea
2.amy
3.reflections of airam
4.pages of people
5.the fragile and the few
6.crossbones graveyard
7.thumbdrumfingersnare
8.vultures

Album Duration: 42 mins

Written, produced and recorded by Stephen Hodd.
Instruments and programming by Stephen Hodd except:
the fragile and the few
- vocal - Lou Rhodes, violin - Ben lee
crossbones graveyard & vultures
- drums - Emre Ramazanoglu
vultures
- bass - Jon Thorne, backing vocals - Gitta

mastered by Dave Greenberg at Sonopod

Photos

Bio

Conceived as a solo project in an East London basement, Pillarcat was set up by singer songwriter and guitarist Stephen Hodd. Originally a solo artist Stephen had a chance meeting with Pablo Tato (electric guitar) & Alberto Voglino (drums). From this moment Pillarcat the band was born. The London based experimental rock band have now been joined by Moby bassist, Svetlana Vassileva.
Pillarcat are not afraid to cross boundaries & genres, defying labeling. They combine elements of finger style acoustic guitar, progressive electric guitar rhythms, sweeping strings, wide cinematic soundscapes, experimental folk & finely crafted songwriting to create an impressive musical tappestry.
Their debut album Weave is an ambitious record wearing its influences on its sleeve. A nod towards John Martyn, Radiohead, Domakesaythink, Sigur Ros and Steve Reich combined with Pillarcat’s definitive sound give the songs an epic quality. Weave is an eclectic & heartfelt album. It’s dark and uncompromising at times taking you on a magical journey. This wonderful combination of sounds can be heard on the hauntingly beautiful track ‘Fragile and the few’ which has a guest vocal from Lou Rhodes of Lamb.
With all the wonderful influences & talent that each member of the band brings to the table Pillarcat have a very interesting dynamic future ahead of them & are fast becoming a formidable brave live act. They are putting together a live show where they will play the album from start to finish. This is not to be missed.