“During the whole lockdown thing it’s been kind of hard to put an original stamp on a set or a piece of live music; everyone’s been playing from their living rooms, everyone’s playing next to the f—ing fridge, so we had to come up with something new.”
The end result, an hour-long live-streamed performance at Spitbank Fort, was broadcast in October and also heralded the drum ‘n’ bass outfit’s first new material in a decade; the double-A side Driver/Nothing For Free.
Not being able to perform live has other pitfalls; even with their show at Spitbank Fort and a well-received global release, the group’s new material still hasn’t been tested in front of crowds.
“When we’re getting ready to release something always a huge component of it is playing it to small audiences, or sometimes even big audiences, and getting a lot of feedback from that, especially when it comes to Rob doing final mixdowns and stuff,” McGrillen said.
“That’s one thing we’ve definitely missed.”
Pendulum will be able to break free from the bonds of live-streaming soon and give crowds a full dose of new music with a homecoming headline slot at Perth’s Origin Fields New Year festival.
Billed as ‘Pendulum Trinity’ the group’s founding members – Swire, Gareth McGrillen and Paul ‘El Hornet’ Harding – are the first headliners announced alongside Australian house heavyweight Dom Dolla.
Based in the UK, McGrillen and Swire are very much ready to “do the whole quarantine thing” and fly to Perth to join Harding, who lives in the group’s hometown. With coronavirus cases soaring around the world, it seems there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.
“Perth’s the safest place in the world right now,” McGrillen said.
It’s been a long time between drinks on the new music front, with Swire and McGrillen splitting off to form the electro/bass-driven Knife Party after Pendulum’s last album, Immersion, was released in 2010.
Pendulum shows continued, primarily driven by Harding, and when live shows returned in 2016, so did the ideas for new music under the Pendulum banner.
As with anything released in 2020, it’s tempting to read into the new tunes as inspired by the trash-fire year that was, but Swire said the roots of Driver/Nothing For Free came as early as 2016.
“I think current events might have added 20 per cent angst to the sound,” he said.
“Ten years is a nice round number and I sort of feel if you get away longer than that, you may as well not bother … we’d been doing the Knife Party thing for about 10 years, we always feel like switching it up.”
And while 2020 marks the first new Pendulum music in a decade, it is also another milestone; 15 years since the group’s explosive debut album, Hold Your Colour.
The release still holds a special place for fans and the group alike – “the tracks on it still feel kind of magic,” Swire said – but at the time the trio didn’t know whether they had a hit or a flop on their hands.
“It was a weird time for us, we’d only been in England for about two years when we wrote it. In retrospect, it’s kind of the sound of culture shock and sleep deprivation,” Swire said.
“I think the first time we knew this whole thing had some longevity to it was when we made the next album (2008’s In Silico).
“We sort of switched the style and it still works and we thought, ‘Well, we’re onto something’, because we’ve brought all these new fans in who don’t even like drum ‘n’ bass.”
There’s a temptation, listening to Driver/Nothing For Free, to draw parallels between the tracks and the distinct styles between Pendulum’s earlier releases.
Driver, as the name suggests, is a fast-paced drum ‘n’ bass anthem; a heavy, rolling beat setting the pace for buzzsaw basslines interspersed with breakbeat clatters. Nothing For Free, on the other hand, features sing-along hooks rising to a rocking, headbanging crescendo, reminiscent of the outfit’s later albums.
So, is this a conscious effort? Or a by-product of almost two decades producing forward-thinking, genre-blending electronic hits?
The latter, largely.
Swire and McGrillen agreed they never intended to follow their earlier work too closely, but when inspiration strikes, well, sometimes it just pans out that way.
“It somehow just organically falls into either [style]; you get a sense halfway through, you get a sense like, ‘This sounds like kind of a Hold Your Colour tip’, or you can tell it’s a new style,” Swire said.
Pendulum will perform at Langley Park on Perth’s foreshore on New Year’s Eve. Tickets and information at originfields.com.au.
From partying at Dan Bilzerian’s mansion to hanging out with Instagram Influencer Alexis Ren, Chris Birdd is living the celebrity lifestyle – but nothing compares to his latest project.
The Maltese rapper has just joined forces with Mike Tyson’s team (yes, the legendary boxing champion) to mix and produce audio for his upcoming commercials.
“My close friend became his videographer not too long ago and asked me to do all the audio engineering for Mike’s adverts,” Birdd told Lovin Malta.
The project has been in the pipeline for some time with Birdd sworn to secrecy until the first advert was released which, in fact, was just a few days ago for a Thanksgiving special which has since been aired on TMZ and Fox News.
“The video was shot and edited by my close friends Mike Angel and Dray Millz,” Birdd continued. “At the moment I’m working project by project.”
Despite continuing to work with Tyson’s team, the Maltese rapper has yet to meet the boxing champion who is set to make his first appearance in the ring after over two decades this evening against Roy Jones Jr.
But he’s hopeful that one day he will, once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.