A Healthy Slab of Metal: In the Studio with Pist

Go back to 2014’s Riffology and 2015’s Rhythm & Booze and you’ll find Bury outfit Pist to be a stoner metal powerhouse with an apparent fondness for Motörhead, but 2019’s Hailz set out to add more strings to the band’s bow. Building on their inherent knack for an infectious groove by weaving in elements of black metal, the album saw the band beefing up their sound and turning it from the riotous affair it once was into something darker – fitting for an album that tackled themes of loss, hatred and the horrid state of the world around us.

The band have returned to the studio this year, finding time in between Covid restrictions to record with Conan‘s Chris Fielding once again, and from what the band are able to unveil thus far, the progression seen on Hailz seems to have been ramped up even further. For a sneak peak into what might be on the way, we spoke to the band as they continue to craft their latest full-length.

It’s been a couple of years since Hailz. What do you think you learned on that album that you’ve carried over to the new one?

John Nicholson, guitars: I think we basically began to find our sound with Hailz and learnt how to add different styles into the mix whilst keeping it sounding like us.

Dave Rowlands, vocals: Yeah I think we were really starting to develop our sound on Hailz so for me this new one is a progression of that. I think we’ve blended elements of death, black, thrash and punk with a healthy slab of heavy metal on this new one – something we had started to do on Hailz.

What can you tell us about the new record in terms of sound? Hailz marked a change from Rhythm & Booze, can we expect more shifts in style this time around?

John: It’s as much of a step up as Hailz was from Rhythm & Booze, more of everything. The songs are more diverse and the album features both our slowest and fastest songs yet. With the addition of another guitarist, we have much more creative freedom which makes the songs better as a result. We sound like a much more mature and bigger band in my opinion.

Dave: For me this record is a step up from Hailz. I kinda view Hailz as our first proper record as it was a much more collaborative record than our previous releases, which were mainly just riffs John had written and pieced together. The style, similarly to Hailz, combines a variety of genres we love from across the metal board. I think this record will kick Hailz’s arse!

What sort of subjects are you exploring lyrically for this one?

Dave: Mostly about day-to-day shit, the way I’m feeling in myself, situations I’ve found myself in, mental torment – just some pretty miserable shit. I found I was writing a lot for this record, typing ideas on my phone, scribbling down in note pads etc. I had way more lyrics than I needed but that’s never a bad thing. 

Mike: There’s been plenty of fuel for angry and grim perspectives so when I started thinking like that, I’d try and run with it and get a line down as a base for something. The subjects for me were mainly vaguely political, or were perspectives on society and psychology, so just having a look at everything through a particularly miserable lens really. It feels pretty good to take a swing at something like that and turn it into something vicious, even if it’s insignificant. Me and Dave got together quite regularly with those concepts and fleshed them out into something (more) coherent.

Has Covid impacted the writing/recording process at all?

John: We’re always writing at home so we went into the practice room with plenty of ideas and luckily, we have our own private practice room which meant we could practice sooner than a lot of other bands. By the time it came to going to the studio restrictions had eased enough for us to record.

Dave: I actually think it helped in a way, like, we had just released Hailz and had some touring plans, festival slots and then boom everything was cancelled or put on the back burner and we were kind of like “what the fuck do we do now”. It was either wait for it to all blow over or crack on with writing. When rules had started to ease, we got back in the jam room and the songs just started flying out and they were good, really fucking good. We drafted in our new guitarist Jack, who we’ve all known for a while, and he brought something new to the table. It’s definitely giving us a bigger sound. By the time recording came about I think all restrictions had been lifted so there was no real impact there.

How is working with Chris Fielding again?

John: Amazing, he never disappoints. His ear, patience and skills always bring the best out of us. We get on too and have known him since the band began, which obviously makes the whole process more enjoyable.

Dave: Fantastic as always! Chris is great, he knows how to get the best out of us. He’s got a fantastic ear and picks up on stuff we would have missed. He offers ideas and his input is welcomed. I recorded my vocals separately to when the other lads laid their shit down, as I fell headfirst down the stairs at the studio when we were first there, managing to smash my face up pretty good, so I travelled down with Mike to finish up the vocals a month or two after all the instruments had been finished.

Pist’s new album is expected to be out in 2022 via APF Records.

Words: George Parr

Photos: Andrew Field

Pist with Chris Fielding and APF Records’ Andrew Field
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