TheVine interview: “PVT — ‘It got a bit weird for a while'”, February 2013

An interview for TheVine with Sydney and London-based electronic trio, PVT. Excerpt below.

PVTAbout a third of the way through my interview with PVT’s Laurence Pike, I make the slip of tongue that’s plagued me ever since the Sydney three-piece were forced to change their name.

I pronounce it ‘P-V-T’ and not ‘Pivot’, as it was originally spelt until a US-based band of the same name issued a cease-and-desist order. I correct myself and there’s little awkwardness, but it speaks to what has become of the band (featuring Laurence on drums, his brother Richard on vocals and guitars and Dave Miller on electronics) . Removing those two vowels in 2010 was talked about as being no big deal. It didn’t change anything.

But PVT were changing, and in 2013 are increasingly removed from the last time they packed a five-letter band name. The new album, Homosapien, was largely written before the band got in the studio. And guitarist Richard Pike, who started to sing fulltime on the last PVT record, has taken a further step to becoming a bona fide frontman, his vocals delivered with greater precision and purpose.

I caught up with Laurence Pike on the phone a week before the release of Homosapien. He was wandering around Petersham Oval in Sydney – “Apparently it’s where Don Bradman scored his first first-class century in 1928” – and we talked for nearly half an hour about his expanding role in the songwriting process, PVT’s work with British producer and engineer, Ben Hillier, touring as a more ‘traditional’ band, and INXS.

I like this quote in the presser throws out about you being a “futuristic INXS” –

Ah! (laughs)

I was wondering how you feel about that? They tend to be a divisive band.

I love INXS. Most people grow up listening to INXS, in my generation. I had my moments with them, but I think they’re a fantastic band. I think that came from our American label guy – someone maybe described us as that, and I think it’s a little tongue in cheek because that is going to be divisive for a few people; I think that was the point. I don’t mind it, I think it was really fun, I don’t really give a shit. I don’t like references generally, but they’re also a way of giving people the scope of what’s going on. So a provocative statement like that is fun, but at the same time might make a few people go, “Wha?!”

Well I think INXS sticking around for a long time put a hold on them being reassessed, in a sense.

I know what you mean. It’s hard to reassess the back catalogue of a band when they’re still opening for Matchbox 20. But if you listen to some of those early records, there’s no doubting that Michael Hutchence was a complete motherfucker. Such a good frontman and such a good singer – probably one of the best to ever come out of Australia. I think there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that (laughs).

I understand Homosapien was the first LP for the band where you wrote first, and then recorded: is that right?

Yeah, kind of. We’re a bit of an odd band, in that our process is always shifting – as does our sound. I think we’re always wanting to challenge ourselves to try new things and get better. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we’re separated all the time, with Richard living in the UK. In the past we’ve done writing in spurts and usually when we’re together in the studio. So often it’s been outputting a whole lot of information, pulling it apart and putting it back together. Whereas, I think we really wanted a different result with this one as far as there being a lot more space for the music, and I think when you’re working quickly and just throwing shit at the wall you tend to just throw everything you’ve got out and you can smother lots of ideas really quickly, piling them on top of each other. I think we wanted to avoid that.

So it was partly from being separated, and it was also the first big break we had from touring and being together, which was really great. And I think that whole experience: having a really busy four years, putting out records and touring constantly, and then just being at home and thinking, “Oh well, what’s next? Who am I? What is this place?” That flowed a lot into the music. I was writing a lot and demoing a lot at home, as was Richard, and we were sending things back and forth. So when we went down to record we had about twenty ideas, some more fully formed than others. So it was definitely the most pre-prepared we’d ever been for a recording.

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