Take an embittered music school dropout. Add two spoonfuls of faintly balding neurotic. Add heaping handfuls of dark-eyed love prince. Add antidepressants, a piano, small noisy crowds, unsatisfying sex, a wheelchair, a lamp. The band is called Pale People, and one of their songs contains this phrase: “Fetish food play–babysitter wet dream.”
How would you describe your music?
It’s piano rock with kind of a punk edge and kind of a cabaret edge. We’re terrible at describing the sound, so we rely on eccentric analogies. Imagine a baby laughing very slowly.
Tell us about how the history of the band?
So Mack Gilcrest (piano, vocals) and Kurt Skrivseth (bass, guitar) met in the University of Montana’s Jazz Band I, and bonded over a liking for Rush and a distaste for the University of Montana’s Jazz Band I. Both were composition majors, and both grew increasingly disillusioned with contemporary classical composition…so, when Mack discovered the Dresden Dolls and began experimenting with cabaret-rock, Kurt was a natural choice for collaborator.
Austin Graef is our second drummer–he and Mack have been friends since high school, and he stepped in to fill the role when our previous drummer left the band for personal reasons. He’s very good. Ladies.
What are you influences/ musical heroes?
We’re pretty heavily influenced by the Dresden Dolls, Blur, the Velvet Underground, Pixies, Primus, and Talking Heads. And the Mountain Goats. And Patti Smith.
What inspires you?
Eccentric passions and obscure woes!
Do you write on the road? or do you prefer to write in the studio?
Mack likes to write lyrics while he’s bored at work. The juxtaposition of dirty dishes and Shakespearean homages is a strange one, but there you are. If you’re waiting to write when you’re in the studio, you’re potentially wasting a lot of money.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
Oof…Maybe this one song called Mister Squishy. It’s a mid-tempo shuffle in E minor, featuring a really fast schizoid rap about irony in advertising. We also love playing one called Steven, which is about Fred Phelps (of Westboro Baptist infamy) (youtube.com/watch?v=uGPRKD-FI1Q)
What would be your dream tour to be a part of?
A hundred cities in Europe, opening for Death Cab, during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
What are you current thoughts on the music industry?
Honestly, we’re not in favor of it, but we’d exploit its resources any day. That said, we like being able to go down into a basement and make a record, for free, on our own time, answering to no one.
What is the funniest/weirdest experience you have had on tour?
There was a woman in Eugene OR one time who insisted on buying one of our CD’s, and in the middle of the next song she began screaming these death howls at us and everyone in the venue. She was promptly escorted out by security, along with her suitcase (we didn’t ask). Granted, it might not have helped that the chorus to the song we were playing is Mack singing “You are going to die” seventeen times.
What are your future plans?
We’re finishing up our third album, The World Is Yours, which should be out sometime in August; following that, ideally, would be a month-long tour along the Pacific coast. The upcoming album as well as our previous work is available at palepeoplemusic.bandcamp.com. It’s a pay what you want situation and we can use all the help we can get. If you dig our stuff, we also have a Patreon page at patreon.com/PalePeople. Excelsior!