Monday, February 14, 2011

Scars To Prove It: Pristina Makes Brutal Art Out of Life's Hard Times

Pristina's music plumbs the dark side of the human psyche. Since forming in 2003 the band has a waged a war against generic trends in heavy music forming their own sound, that is equal parts hardcore and metal, while mixing in vertigo inducing samples, and a noisy aggressive streak that would make them the perfect match for the Amphetamine Reptile record label of the mid 1990's. It is aggro as hell, and takes no prisoners.
According to bassist/vocalist Brendan K Duff the band formed with very simple goals.
"We formed as a reaction to what the trends were at the time. All these bands were out trying desperately to be the next Killswitch Engage or Atreyu or bands like that. The scene was getting really lame. We were trying to be the complete opposite of whatever was popular," said Duff.
But their arrival at their sound, didn't happen overnight and it took a lot of trial and error.
"To be honest, in the beginning we were a mess. Very obnoxious music for the sake of being obnoxious. It took a couple of years in the practice room and playing out to find ourselves and our sound. We really just stopped caring what was going on outside of our own band and started to evolve into what we are now. I know we aren't and probably never will be for everyone. However, I think we are truly doing something pretty unique in the sense that are no bands out there who sound like us," said Duff.
This evolution of sound is most apparent on the band's newest record, "The Drought (Ov Salt and Sorrow)", released late last year on Trendkill Records, it features the best parts of hardcore and metal combined into a living breathing beast of a record, that culminates in the epic 23 minute album closing title track.
In a world where singles rule, the band, which also features JP Fernandes and Mike Ratboy on guitar, as well Michael Banfield on drums, shows its dedication to its art, by crafting this monstrous epic. Combining fuzzed out hardcore and metal riffs, creepy spoken word samples, raw throated vocals, a freaking drum solo in the middle as well as a clean sung coda. It's controlled chaos at it's best and shows the band at the height of their creative powers.
"The concept of a 23 minute song was born out of a desire to write something challenging and different from anything any of us had ever done. I honestly feel that these days music is losing itself and many people seem to forget this is an art form. Even heavy music. The industry is so concerned with "units" and singles and above all profit. I personally find that more often than not, what's out there is really just disposable media. In all genres. We really just wanted to do something completely different. I mean, bands writing really long songs has been done before, but as I said, in the end we simply wanted to challenge ourselves and make some real art. The song means a lot to us. We honestly spent almost an entire year writing it, " said Duff.
But just because they had a kick ass sound and a swirling monster of a song, it didn't actually translate into interest from the get go. It took a while for labels to get interested and realize they had an excellent record on their hands. It was a struggle.
"Oh man, there were problems from jump street. Very long story short. As I said, it took almost a year just to write the thing. We had no real label interest at the time so we had to save up the money to record ourselves. When the title track was done, we shopped it everywhere and no one was interested. They basically all said that they liked us and what we were going for but they weren't interested in releasing a 23 minute, single song EP. The title track was originally meant to be a stand alone piece. In that time, we just decided to record more music we had written. By coincidence all of them together sounded cohesive and decided putting them all together would be a really strong LP with the 23 minute song as the coup de grace. After shopping the LP version, we found labels to release both the CD and vinyl versions. Unfortunately from there, there were more problems with delays and all other kinds of bullshit. At least it finally came out, but from conception to completion it was a four year ordeal, " said Duff.
This shows that sticking you guns does pay off in the long run for a band. But as much as this was a success, Duff faced other challenges in the form of an addiction to heroin, it started out slowly, but soon he became a full blown addict. And he learned a hard fought lesson.
"It's not that it was a secret at all, but I only started opening up about it in public very recently. I figure that maybe somehow it can possibly stop some kid out there from following that path because it's a bad scene and never ends well. Ever. It changes you. It really changes you," said Duff.
It started simply enough.
"Basically I fell into the trap that a lot of people who use heroin do. In 2002, I blew out my back really bad and became addicted to pain killers. I was abusing them so heavily that in order to get enough I would have to lie to doctors about losing them. Filing false police reports all over the country saying my bag was stolen that had the pills in them. At one time I was seeing three separate doctors who were all prescribing me pills. Eventually I couldn't bullshit them anymore and found I could get heroin cheaper and easier. From there I started to spiral down," said Duff.
From there he became a full blown addict. His whole life revolved around finding enough money to get his daily fix before he would get dopesick. Everything else became secondary at that point, including family, friends, love, sex, passion and music. His health started to decline giving him liver problems that he has to this day. His skin and eyes turned yellow and he had bruises and stretch marks all over him. He spent most of his life drooling, sleeping and puking. It took his life completely over, but he eventually did have enough.
"Every bad thing you've heard is true. At some point I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize myself anymore. I had to make a change or die. So I entered recovery in 2007 and have been clean since. Aside from falling off a few times in the beginning, I've been clean since. I'm on a drug called suboxone and couldn't have made it without it. Also my wife and my band helped greatly," said Duff.
The band and it's front man have fought various battles and have come out on top, or at the very least with a kick ass new record and a senses frying live show. So come down to Cherry Street this Friday and witness a band that wears it's scars proudly, yet uses the experience gained from those scars as the impetus for some kick ass music. You will be glad you did.

Manic Productions In Association with Goatcult presents:
Revocation, Pristina, Scaphism, Katahdin
Friday, February 18
Cherry Street Station
491 N. Cherry Street Extension
Wallingford, CT
8:00 pm - 21+ - $8

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