Interview with Jon Rossi of Pilgrim

Bringing forth the essence of “true doom metal”, Rhode Island metalers Pilgrim are about to unleash a brute of an impressive album in the shape of Misery Wizard. A monster of a release it is an intense assault of black dirges, resonating ravenous riffs and blistering caustic melodies that feeds and excites the senses. We had the pleasure of asking Jon Rossi from Pilgrim about the band and Misery Wizard.

Hello and thank you for taking time to talk to The Ringmaster Review.

Hails, and you are very welcome.

Could you please first introduce the band and tell us how you all met and the band started.

We are PILGRIM, a doom metal band from Rhode Island, USA. We all met in high school and bonded over good art and music.

What was the inspiration to start the band and for your music as a whole?

We all loved doom metal and wanted to start a project of our own, something that expressed ourselves uniquely but also paid tribute to our favorite bands. PILGRIM was born fairly quickly.

Your sound is fuelled by and the band’s intent is to ‘resurrect’ true doom metal. Firstly how do you feel about modern doom metal then?

Don’t get us wrong, there are a lot of great ‘doom metal’ bands around now, but we feel like, ESPECIALLY here in the States, ‘doom metal’ has become a blanket term to describe everything from stoner metal to funeral metal. We feel like we have a very good idea of what real doom metal should be and what it sounds like. In that regard, we are very unhappy with the current state of doom.

So is this intention as much down to your unrest and disgust at the way the genre has gone as it is simply music that you enjoy and are inspired by?

Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better, thank you.

Are you finding a ready audience for true doom metal or most need reminding of and showing its might first?

It seems like Europeans really love it and understand it and people here in the US are a bit… taken aback? Perhaps they are frightened and insecure about the fact that I am not fucking screaming into the microphone. Or maybe their fragile ears can’t handle a note suspended for more than a few seconds. Most DEFINITELY need reminding. Forgive us for not conforming to an over-popular norm.

Are there any current doom metal bands you would spend time on listening to?

Sure. Good old Pentagram and Saint Vitus are still kicking, touring and releasing new records. We love Electric Wizard and Blood Ceremony. Ramesses are godly as well.

Has doom metal always been the direction you had as musicians even before the band?

Not quite. We always wanted to make heavy, powerful, dark music, but before we found doom metal we really had no direction. My guitar playing and song writing really took off after I discovered bands that I finally could to relate to.

You are Rhode Island based, is there a vibrant metal scene there or do you have to generally travel further afield for gigs etc?

Rhode Island is a joke, generally speaking. Don’t get me wrong, some amazing bands have come from Rhode Island, but currently it’s “music scene” (if you could call it that) is a bit… I can’t quite find the word. Perhaps “boring” is a good choice.

You are about to release your impressive debut album Misery Wizard, what are the emotions on the ‘eve’ of its release?

I can’t wait to hold a copy of the vinyl in my hands. It’s taken so very very long. We are just excited the process is over with and we can continue to look forward to our new projects.

How long has the album been in the making?

It is a collection of our earliest songs, so probably about two years, since the beginning of the band. We weren’t sure what exactly we’d be releasing for the first record, it sort of just fell together on its own.

Is there a particular track or moment on the album that gives you the deepest satisfaction?

Although it is the least “doomy” track on the record, I love the song Adventurer. It’s a fantastical auto-biography of the band and our adventures and creeds. It is just so powerful to me.

Can you give us some insight into the band’s writing process?

I get inspired by a particular idea and I try my best to make a riff that represents the feeling of that thought. It’s like painting with music. Then I bring it to practice and the guys help me make it into a song by giving it backbone. I enjoy the process. They give me feedback and constructive criticism. I value their opinions highly.

The songs within Misery Wizard are epic in length and stature, how much is predetermined and how much is it a songs natural evolution that gives them this grand imposing feel?

You are an observant listener! I always say, the songs aren’t REALLY that ‘long’, on paper they are quite short, it is just the speed and style that make them come out so lengthy. It’s an acquired taste. A lot of old secular music was like this. It didn’t feel long to them, we just think faster today.

Lyrically the songs are diverse, what are the things that inspire and trigger the lyrics?

I am inspired by a lot of fantasy, whether it’s games or movies or books. Some of the lyrics are introspective, but I prefer songs that paint beautifully epic pictures. Sword and sorcery is my favorite domain! I suppose some of it also comes from a love of the occult and magic ritual, but recently we’ve been moving away from this style because of its redundancy in doom metal today.

One imagines live your sound is even more powerful and overwhelming than on the album, how easy was it to get that intensity on the recording and still keep the clarity too?

It was easy! Making the music intense and full of emotion is something that PILGRIM is exceptionally good at. A lot of it has to do with Krolg’s drumming, he is excellent at building walls of feeling and then smashing them down. When we recorded the record, it only took us three days (the first day being mostly drums). We are (usually) very well rehearsed.

Could you tell us about the excellent artwork on the album?

It was done by a wonderful Englishmen named Paul McCarol. We wanted to a parody of a Renascence-style painting using elements and themes from the record. We worked really closely with Paul to come up with that image. A lot of people claim that we are attempting to rip off the Cathedral style artwork. This simply isn’t true. We can clearly see how someone would think this, but it’s pure coincidence. We don’t really listen to very much Cathedral.

Does 2012 have dates and tours ahead to help promote the album etc, and any chance Europe will see Pilgrim this year?

Europe will see PILGRIM this year, we will be playing the “Heavy Days in Doom Town” festival in Copenhagen, Denmark and also a prior show in Oslo, the details of which are a bit hazy as of now.  We will be hitting the road here in the states starting March 1st, hoping to wind up down in Dallas, TX to play the SxSW festival.

What are your plans beyond Misery Wizard?

To go to Japan. We fucking love Japan.

A great many thanks for talking with us, have you any last words or thoughts?

Only Reverend Bizarre is real. Fuck everyone.

And finally can you give recommendations to Doom Metal fans of whom other than Pilgrim they should check out to explore the true doom metal sound?

Reverend Bizarre, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, Revelation, Ramesses, Electric Wizard, The Wizar’d, Black Hole, Witchfinder General, EARLY Cathedral, EARLY Warning, and check out some newer bands Ice Dragon and Windhand.        

Misery Wizard is unleashed via Metal Blade Records on February 14th

Read the Misery Wizard review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/pilgrim-misery-wizard/

Ringmaster 10/02/2012

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