EN: Pardoner is one of the jewels of the American scene. As it prepares to release a new LP that is about to kill 2021, I sat down with the band’s members—Trey Flanigan (guitar/vocals), Max Freeland (guitar/vocals), Colin Burris (bass), and River van den Berghe (drums)—to talk about the importance of the nineties, California, the best albums of recent months, fun conspiracy theories, and more. The band also put together a 30 track playlist for us! This is a landmark interview.
FR: Pardoner est l’un des fleurons de la scène américaine. Alors qu’il s’apprête à sortir un nouvel LP qui va tuer 2021, je suis revenu avec les members du groupe—Trey Flanigan (guitare/voix), Max Freeland (guitare/voix), Colin Burris (basse) et River van den Berghe (batterie)—sur l’importance des nineties dans sa musique, la Californie, les meilleurs albums de ces derniers mois, les meilleures théories conspirationistes, et plus encore. Le groupe a également composé une playlist de 30 morceaux pour nous ! Cet interview fera date.
Let us start with a playlist curated by
Pardoner for Still in Rock
How are you? What’s up with you these days?
Trey: We’re doing alright! Getting ready to put out our LP and talking about recording more music this summer.
I can’t wait for this album! Tell me, if you had to summarize Pardoner in just one sentence, what would it be?
Trey: Guitar rock music that is both nasty and nice.
And what was your intention when you created the band? Has it evolved over time?
Trey: When we started, we wanted to rip off 90’s alt-rock bands like Polvo, which we still do. But yes… I think it’s evolved over time and we pull from lots of different influences.
Max: I would agree. Now we want to rip off 60s and 70s rock bands too.
Haha, excellent. Polvo is such a good band, I can hear the influence, but there’s definitively something more in your music. But… how important remain the nineties to you? I hear Further in your music, but maybe it’s just my personal obsession with it?!
Trey: We like a lot of 90’s bands… Are you talking about the Phil Lesh/ Bob Weir band Further? If so… I prefer the earlier stuff. I miss Jerry.
This one, precisely! Happy to hear the nineties are so important to you. Same here!
Now, how different is Came Down Different from your previous LP?
Trey: I think it’s a lot more succinct and works better as a cohesive piece of music.
Fair enough. Can you tell us about the stories behind two or three songs of your choice (on this LP)?
Max: Not a ton to report on this front… Donna Said was fleshed out during practice with our good friend Eva Treadway from SF legends The She’s and Pllush on 3rd guitar. We originally had wanted to do this record as a 5-piece, but we dropped the ball on that… Trey and I had written Broadway together a long while before the album was recorded and forgot about it, and then taught it to the rest of the band like a day or two before recording if I’m not mistaken? Kind of dry anecdotes honestly, sorry about that.
Haha, no need to be sorry. It’s actually interesting, your music is so well fleshed out, one would think you are spending quite some time in the studio… Trey?
Trey: We named the last song “Fuck You!” because we were all gonna yell “Fuck you!” at the end of the song but we forgot to do it in the studio.
I’ve recently conducted a short empirical study on garage rock and post-punk. I found out that more and more albums are labeled as such, but that the number of Google queries tends to decrease. Overall, it seems like DIY rock music (generally speaking) is losing ground. What’s your impression from the inside? Do you find it more and more difficult to get support from playing shows and releasing music?
Colin: I don’t think we’ve ever felt a lack of support. The Bay Area has a ton of guitar-based music at any given time, and the tours we have done have all been booked by connecting with other city’s guitar-based bands. There are certainly ebbs and flows of attention paid by like magazines and stuff, but generally, DIY rock seems to do just fine.
Max: Just seems like rock music has shifted out of vogue as far as most of this generation’s pop-culture consciousness is concerned. But that’s kind of cool that it’s moved out to the fringes a little.
I agree with that, yeah! And so… are you part of a “scene”, and if so, which one?
Colin: Dumb talked about it in their interview with Still in Rock [here] that they felt a kinship with the West Coast and I would agree with that. Maybe it’s just exposure but there are a lot of bands up and down from us that I feel very close with.
I think I actually got deeply into your music after this interview with Dumb. Speaking of the West Coast, tell us about the music scene in San Francisco. Is it going in the right direction? What would you like to change?
Colin: It’s okay! Unfortunately, it’s very hard to live here, financially speaking. I would like to see that change. I want it to be cheaper and I want more venues to open up.
Max: Music in SF is typically good in my opinion. Paisley Shirt Records seems to be putting out cool new stuff.
River: There is always so much great music happening in the bay. New band called Almond Joy rocks. Toner rocks. The Umbrellas rock. Wyatt Smith band rocks…
Well… it might become cheaper. Should the Silicon Valley slowly disappear now that devs’ are working from home… the rent might become affordable again…
What is your favorite album of the last few months?
Colin: I have been personally very into the Smirk LP, and Stare Into The Sun by Shine, as well as getting Trey to recommend me his favorite Neil albums.
Max: Little Demoed by Lalonde, just heard this album Paisaje Interior by Mundo Primitivo and it rocks, and the final (?) Modern Needs album of course…
Trey: Gunn – Peace Love and Heavy Weaponry 7”
River: I’ve been listening to this album on Iron Lung called “Nada Es Sagrado” by Mentira a lot… Also Philharmony by Haruomi Hosono goes pretty beast…
Excellent, lots of music for us to listen to! OK… we all have theories. Can you elaborate on one of your theories about music, whether it’s about a scene, a band, a conspiracy…
Trey: El Duce wacked Kurt Cobain.
Max: Clapton whacked Hendrix.
River: Vinnie Barrett is God.
And now… here is a (very) complex question 😅: what important truth do very few people agree with you on (whether it concerns music or anything else)?
Colin: I believe you always Pepper the Mac.
Max: “All Sideways” by Scarce is one of the best alternative rock songs ever released.
Best tour memory?
Colin: Playing in Reno for a free hotel room and then slipping in vomit in a casino Daffy Duck style where I flew completely onto my back. I then ate steak and eggs at three in the morning with my penny slot winnings.
Max: Encountering The Cult of Shaggy just outside of Portland OR.
Trey: Playing beer wars with Dumb, playing to literally zero people at a bar in Houston, TX.
Haha, this must be fun. River?
River: Getting stuck in stop-and-go traffic somewhere between Houston and New Orleans in 100-degree weather to find a swarm of millions of bees on the interstate. We rolled our windows up and the AC didn’t work and we were afraid the bees would crawl through the vents. People driving near us had their windows down and didn’t seem to care. Felt like a hallucination. Oh… and also meeting Narduar at SXSW.
One movie I should watch?
Colin: John Carpenter’s They Live.
Max: Save the Green Planet.
River: Fantastic Fungi.
Trey: Troll 2.
Troll 2? Haha, will do. How do you imagine your discography 20 years from now?
Colin: Long and pretty good!
Max: Full of records.
River: Hopefully long and kind of punishing.
I love to hear that! OK, last question: is “rock’n’roll dead”?
Colin: God I hope so.
Trey: I guess so.
Max: I don’t know.
River: It was dead, but then Vinnie brought it back.