“I’ll only do two-pieces now, I can’t be arsed with any more members,” laughs Wayne Adams – esteemed producer, member of projects like Big Lad, Death Pedals and Johnny Broke and now, apparently, a staunch duo-only musician. The reason? He and Iggor Cavalera, best known as the original drummer of Brazilian thrash legends Sepultura, have formed Petbrick, a psych-punk onslaught of industrialised noise. Meeting at Adams’ London studio, Bear Bites Horse, Astral Noize arrives in time to see the band taking some professional promo shots, and is soon asked to help out. What we didn’t yet know whilst we stood there holding a strange lighting device is that this kind of impromptu circumstance is exemplitive of the band’s journey thus far – their laid-back nature, offhand songwriting and genial origins are a key factor in their success. Indeed, it’s easy to see why Adams prefers the simpler setup of two-pieces.
When the duo first got together, they didn’t even plan on writing music. Iggor, now a London resident, was impressed enough by a Big Lad gig in Camden to email Wayne, after which the two stayed in touch. They bonded over modular synth gear, and eventually met up in the studio, where initial jamming sessions fueled by coffee unexpectedly morphed into a musical project in the making.
“We’ve tried to keep that process going,” Adams tells us. “Where there’s no preconception or anything. It’s very much like we get in the space and we just start. It might be a drum beat, it might be a synth-line, it might be a noise, whatever.”
“All those things, once we get together, they start taking shape and then at one point they become a song,” says Iggor.
This, it seems, is Petbrick’s process. As a studio-based project, the band don’t rehearse tracks, rather they write as they go, reacting to life and the world around them. And the lack of conflict, not to mention the fun the band have along the way, is integral to their creative process.
“You come to a certain age in your life when you don’t want to make music with people that you don’t really enjoy being with,” says Iggor, reflecting on roughly 35 years as a musician. “I used to do that when I was fifteen and all I wanted to do was play music. Now, I want to eliminate all the drama from music. I want to have people around me that I want to hang out with.”
His bandmate agrees: “Yes. It’s like, do I like this dude? Yes. Can this guy play drums like a motherfucker? Yes. Sweet, I’m in.”
The result of the pair’s creative harmonisation is debut LP I, a hyperactive burst of adrenaline fueled by jittering electronics, pummeling percussion and a hardcore punk attitude. The album’s accelerated, digitised strain of psychedelic noise seems tailor-made for 2019, a time at which things move faster than ever and the world seems to be helplessly barrelling through a series of major political upheavals, whilst the looming threat of environmental collapse becomes increasingly apparent every day. This reading of I is certainly viable – particularly once you reach ‘Gringolicker’, where guest vocalist Mutado Pintado seems to adopt the crazed persona of Donald Trump (“I’m gonna build a wall” acting as its mantra) – but it isn’t necessarily the band’s intention. The band do note that the world’s “going to shit”, something they acknowledge in their logo, which reads “Noise Against Nazi Scum”, as well as the video for ‘Coming’, which they call “a direct response to the current fascist-led government in Brazil”, and they also admit that the world’s sorry state has probably subconsciously fed into their music due to their reactive writing process, but that said, they’d sooner cite a particular beverage as a direct influence.
“I think the main inspiration for Petbrick,” begins Iggor. “It’s coffee, man. The first session that me and Wayne did together here at the studio, it was completely fueled by coffee. After that, every session we have done since, it has to be with a lot of coffee. It became our thing.”
“The ritual,” Wanye calls it. “If we come into the studio without any coffee it’s touch or go.”
The more you listen to the record, the more this statement makes sense. It’s a volatile thrill-ride that seldom operates at anything less than full speed, with rhythms that resemble your heartbeat after a tad too much caffeine.
Coffee is undoubtedly the fuel that feeds the band’s creativity, but with music that’s so reactive, it’s clear that the external influences of the city of London weave their way into the duo’s output as well. “It’s subconscious, but when you live in London, there’s always going to be something that pisses you off, or makes you happy,” says Wayne. “It’s a fucking city of extremes. We might have gone to an amazing gig the night before and just be like, ‘Shit, we gotta go to the studio’. Or an art show, or it could be snowing outside – ‘It’s cold. Let’s write some bleak music.’ For me, that’s the beauty of this project. I really want to make sure it doesn’t get pigeonholed at any point. It can just be what we want it to be.”
This desire not to be backed into a specific corner is clearly a driving influence behind the project for both members. The two have had very different routes to Petbrick, but they seem to both be seeking the same thing from it. “I think that me and Wayne really clicked because we both have different projects, different things going on, and then Petbrick was something where we could be a little more free not to fall too much into the little clichés,” says Cavalera. “It was a bit more free in the sense that we’re like, ‘Hey man, let’s just see what happens’.”
Even the band’s first live show was an off-the-cuff decision. Industrial noise rock outfit Uniform invited Iggor to open for them, giving him free rein to do whatever he wanted. “At the time, we had a few tracks for a little demo,” he says. “I was like, ‘Wayne, should we try to do this live and see what happens?’ At first, it was strictly a fun studio thing to do. We had no intentions of touring or even playing shows. It was one of those cool accidents that happen.”
Since then, the band have honed their live act, and with their diverse sound find themselves free to play on a variety of bills. This summer, they performed at experimental arts and music festival Supernormal, and earlier in the year they appeared at the prestigious Roadburn Festival in Holland, where they also did a collaborative set with Brazilian three-piece Deafkids. The band are soon set to record more collaborative material with the trio for a release of some sorts, and have splits lined up with the likes of Uniform and Whitephosphorus.
Collaboration, it seems, is a key aspect of the duo’s process. Not only is everything Petbrick do a product of the pair joining forces, but the album features a host of guest appearances as well. Full Of Hell’s Dylan Walker and Integrity’s Dwid Hellion show up on ‘Radiation Facial’ and ‘Some Semblance Of A Story’ respectively, with these two tracks unsurprisingly being the closest the band come to full-on extreme metal. Then there’s the aforementioned raving performance from Warmduscher’s Mutado Pintado which dominates ‘Gringolicker’, not to mention Iggor’s wife and Mixhell bandmate Laima Leyton, who contributes vocals on ‘Coming’.
Despite collaborating with others, though, the duo have maintained their laid-back approach to being a band. “The people that we collaborated with, they’re all amazing,” Iggor tells us. “We never had to be like, ‘Oh my God, that person was a nightmare but we got this done.’ No. Everyone was super cool.”
“Everyone was really enthusiastic and wanted to do it,” Wayne adds. “For me, running a recording studio, you see how to be in a band and how not to be in band and what makes a band work and what doesn’t make a band work. I’m around bands all the time. I can just see. I won’t play music now with people that I don’t get on with because it’s a waste of time and life and effort.”
Indeed, it is this very approach to operating as a creative unit that has inspired Petbrick’s music. It naturally, as Wayne says, “has all of our musical histories feeding into it,” as well as being carefree and allowing for exploration, but the sound that comprises I is very much an instinctive reaction to the world around them. Its chaotic sound feels apt for these chaotic times, even if the band didn’t intend to write it as such, and in its unbridled experimentation there is something undeniably primal and fundamentally human about it – it is a symbolic casting off of chains, a stand against depersonalisation, a rejection of unrestricted hegemony.
I is out 25th October on Rocket Recordings. Purchase here.