ArcTanGent Spotlight: Pelican Interview

PELICAN_by Kenneth Thomas

Chicago based Post-Metal pioneers PELICAN play the Arc stage at this year’s ArcTanGent Festival. We caught up with guitarist Trevor De Brauw to ask about how life in the band is going.


It’s been five years since your last album ‘Forever Becoming’ [on Southern Lord] was released, do you have a new album in the works?

We’ve slowly been making progress on a new album. We’re entering the studio later this year for what will be a mid 2019 release. We can’t wait to finally share some new music with the world!

We understand that some of the band members have moved away from Chicago to different parts of the US. Are you still living far apart from each other, and has this slowed things down when it comes to writing new material?

It has, but to be clear, all four members of the band haven’t lived in the same city since 2007. Every album since ‘The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw’ [2005, Hydra Head Records] has been written long distance, so it would be disingenuous to say that’s the only roadblock to making progress on new songs. Other factors that have slowed things down have been band members starting families and having careers outside the band.

But moreover, we’ve just had to develop a new working method. In 2013 [guitarist] Dallas Thomas joined Pelican and we’ve tapped into a new energy playing with him; its most potent manifestation is when we are on stage playing live. It was really important for us to try and capture that energy in the new songs, but it meant our old working method of writing at home and meeting up to finalise arrangements for mostly finished songs wouldn’t cut it. Almost all the new material was written in the practice space with all four of us jamming together. The fact that we’ve spread out and practices are few and far between definitely held things up; but I think the new material is much stronger for it.

You’ve carried on touring the world even without a new album to promote. Do you feel that you have that freedom and lack of pressure to be able to take your time between releases?

It would probably benefit us on a business level if we put out records more frequently, but Pelican is only a business as far as the taxman is concerned.

Post-metal/atmospheric sludge metal is still a very relevant sound with great new bands emerging (especially in the UK). Is this a term Pelican comfortably embrace, and do you feel proud to be considered one of the “big four” of the genre?

I guess so? We’ve always approached the band with the mentality that we create the music that comes out of us naturally. And once it’s out we don’t have much control over how it is labelled or interpreted. We’re very humbled that people engage with our music and that it means something to them. As for the “big four”, to be quite honest I don’t know who this consists of [Editor’s Note: For those at home, it’s Neurosis, Isis, Cult Of Luna and Pelican]. Our music seems to cross boundaries in such a way that we’re as comfortable touring with Cloakroom as we are with Inter Arma. We’re very fortunate to be able to exist in many sonic worlds and play for many different scenes.

Your seminal debut album ‘Australasia’ is now 15 years old [Damn, I remember buying it in college!] Are there any special plans to mark the occasion?

Funny you should ask! Last week we played Migration Fest in Pittsburgh, PA. The organisers initially approached us to perform ‘Australasia’ in its entirety as a celebration of the album’s 15th anniversary. We politely declined and asked if we could perform a set consisting mostly of unreleased, new material. We were very fortunate that they consented!

To us the best way to celebrate ‘Australasia’‘s legacy is to continue moving forward. Pushing ourselves to create music that carves out new sonic territory for us as musicians. We’re very proud of the work we did in the past, but we’re very different people and a very different band now. It felt like it would be a misrepresentation of the album to try and present it in some sort of nostalgia embracing live performance.

Soon you will be playing ArcTanGent Festival. Are you excited to be on this amazing lineup, and what kind of show can we expect from you?

At least half the set will be comprised of unreleased material. Our songs tend to evolve and settle into a comfortable groove the more we play them live. So it will benefit the recording of the new album to play these songs in front of people as much as possible ahead of hitting the studio. We hope the crowd enjoys our new songs as much as we do.


Words: Chris “Frenchie” French
Photo Credit: Kenneth Thomas

Thank you to Trevor De Bruaw, Pelican, ArcTanGent and Lauren Barley at Rarely Unable for this interview!

ArcTanGent Festival takes place on August 16-18th. There are still tickets available here:



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