Dust off your spellbook, start researching your rituals and prepare to be enchanted by Melbourne rock cult Pagan‘s brand of ‘very heavy, gloomy rock and roll.’
The self-monikered ‘real-life/pretend vampires playing real-life/pretend rock and roll’ will bring you under their spell with Nikki Brumen’s engaging howled vocals alongside huge riffs from Xavier Santilli, booming basslines from Dan Bonnici and the driving drums of Matt Marasco.
As Dan puts it: “We make very heavy and gloomy rock and roll. We love black metal and are privy to the discothèque. The songs are best enjoyed on the dancefloor, very late at night under a neon light.”
The band will release their debut album Black Wash next month, on which Dan tells us: “We’re beyond excited to finally show off the fruits of what is ultimately the culmination of a couple of years’ labour. But I think as the release date looms closer, we’re also starting to realise that as of 6 July, this secret that we’ve kept between the four of us isn’t just ours anymore! I imagine it’s a similar feeling to how a parent feels when their child leaves home for the first time or something. The album will be out there for people to love or loath so there is this element of nervous anticipation, but it’s a nice nervousness.”
And from what we’ve heard thus far, the album promises to be something spectacular. Latest single Death Before Disco, released last month, opens up with a lively, almost punky guitar intro that drops into an opening verse of wild shouted vocals from Nikki. The guitars return with driving drums for support, then a huge drum roll gives way to a huge chorus. It’s fast, bouncy and brilliant.
While their previous single Imitate Me suggests an even heavier side to the band, again opening up with punk-infused guitars, then blasting into an almighty smash of terrifyingly huge vocals from Nikki.
The quartet are likely to be heading to the UK very shortly as part of a European tour and, when asked what we should expect, they tell us: “Loud, sweaty rituals of noise and dancing! It’s going to be a lot of fun when it happens. I would say that the majority of our conscious and subconscious influences are European, so we’re really looking forward to immersing ourselves in the many cultures that make up the continent.”
And if that doesn’t convince you, then how about the fact that they’ve just finished up touring with Rise Against? As Dan explains: “It was a pretty surreal experience, to be honest. We played three shows in some pretty huge venues. Like proper ‘concert’ venues. Despite being very green to being on a tour of that size, I think we managed to hold our own and play some pretty entertaining shows to the seas of humans waiting patiently for Rise Against to play and won over some hearts, which is nice. The band and their crew were all supremely lovely to us too! A few of us grew up and cut our teeth listening to Rise Against and a lot of Chicago punk rock bands, so we bonded a lot over some really awesome and nostalgic conversations.”
Dan tells us the quartet initially bonded over their familial heritage, as he explains: “Australia, and in particular Melbourne is a wonderful place because of its multiculturalism, but it’s actually pretty rare to find people who not only embrace the same culture and lifestyle as you but also share similar life experiences through ethnicity. So we really wanted to use the band to embrace, celebrate and showcase some of the traditions and cultural nuances – food, wine, dance, folklore and so on – that shaped us as people and made us who we are.”
And when it comes to influences, things get very interesting. As Dan explains: “Without diving too deeply, Nikki’s lyrics reflect on a lot of her personal experiences and she writes a lot about certain topics and situations from her own feminine perspective, which the rest of us co-support and think is very important, especially as a heavy band. She is also very influenced by true-crime novels, the occult, horror films and all of those nice, wholesome things.”
We’re loving what we hear from Pagan, so be prepared to be converted and go and give them a listen. As Dan says: “We’re very grateful to anyone and everyone who takes the time to listen to our band, let alone come see us play. Seriously, it is easy to overlook but in an age of 5-minute attention spans and Netflix it’s so amazing to have people leave their couch and brave the cold to support music and art, even with all the rad shit on Netflix at the moment. We are also very grateful when people buy us drinks at shows, but if you buy us a Prosecco or Campari we will be even more grateful.”
The band has a couple of festivals coming up in their homeland, followed by post-album tours both at home and hopefully in Europe as well.