All posts tagged dave-miller

  • A Conversation With Dave Miller of PVT, Sydney electronic rock band

    Sydney, Australia-based electronic rock group, PVTI spoke with Dave Miller [pictured far right] – one third of the Sydney-based electronic rock act PVT – for Rolling Stone on May 11. At the time, it hadn’t yet been announced that the band were changing their name from Pivot to PVT due to legal threats. I’d been listening to an advance copy of their third album, Church With No Magic,  for a couple of weeks. Dave and I spoke about the new songs, the addition of Richard Pike’s vocals to their formerly instrumental-only approach, and the name change. (In either case, the name is still pronounced ‘pivot’.) Our conversation is below.

    Andrew: I’m not sure what’s the most obvious question to begin with, Dave: the name change or the presence of vocals on your new album. Let’s go with the name change.

    Dave: We got issued a cease and desist letter by a band in America, and it was just one of those things where we could have been clubbed. It was probably going to be extremely costly, and the potential of losing a court battle was not really worth the money and also it would have just held the album back a year or something while we had to do this. We figured we’d kind of do a cut and dry type thing.

    It’s just one of those things, where if we want to keep this name so badly, it could cost us loads of money and we would have to put the album back a year because of some righteous American emos who think they deserve the name more. That was just one of those things, so in some ways we kind of saw it as a positive thing, and kind of shedding some old baggage and moving onto new things. That’s how I’ve eventually thought about it.

    Do you think that thing’s been a long time coming? I’m sure you guys were aware that there were other bands called Pivot?

    Yeah, we kind of thought they’d go away and the one band that was issued the court stuff was – they’ve never played outside their hometown. They’ve never put out a record on a label. We’ve played 10 times more places than they had in their own country, yet they still wanted to hold onto their dream of making it big time or something, I don’t know. We kind of gave up on guessing what the reasoning for it was. It could have been money or whatever, but regardless we’ve let the babies have their bottle.

    When you put it like that, it’s a drag, man.

    Yeah, it was a drag and we found out when we arrived in America, for SXSW, which was really bad timing. But as I say, we’re kind of seeing it as a step forward for our band, rather than a step back.

    Do you think your fans will understand the change?

    I don’t know. As far as liking the new name or something, I hope that they’ve all realised that sometimes these things happen. It’s happened before, loads of times before. There’s sometimes stuff like that happens, and on the Internet everyone in this sort of Internet world, everyone is just as important as each other, or seemingly as important as each other.

    I saw that the name has been changed briefly on your Facebook page, and a couple of fans picked up on it.

    I didn’t see that. Did they like it?

    Dave Miller of the Sydney, Australia-based electronic rock group, PVTYeah, the comment was “Good work on the name change PVT. It’s way more efficient now.”

    Okay, yeah it’s more efficient, like Kraftwerk. [laughs]

    Moving on to discussing the addition of vocals. Who argued loudest to include them?

    It was just a thing that when we first started jamming our stuff and recording in studio, a lot of the ideas were vocal ideas rather than guitar or keyboard or something. We just rolled with that. Richard’s always been able to sing and it was just one of those things where we thought, “Well, why don’t we do this? We can do this.” It was a challenge and we could’ve quite easily done another instrumental album like the last one – O Soundtrack My Heart II, or something – but that would’ve been done in 3 months. It was a sort of challenge and we kind of realised, being in a touring band for 18 months altogether, we realised we don’t really listen to much instrumental rock music at all, and a couple of times we were like “If we don’t listen to it, why are we making it?” That was just an aside. It was more about the fact that we wanted to progress, I guess.

    Is it just Richard singing on the album?

    Yeah, it’s all Richard.

    His vocals in ‘Crimson Swan’ are excellent.

    Yeah, thanks [laughs] I’ll pass it on to Richard. That was one of the songs where we sort of wrote and recorded it in the same room in a couple of days. It was one of those things that was really organic and felt right straight away. We didn’t really work on it a great deal. It was just like “okay, we’re done. Let’s move on.” We don’t want to add to it too much and we don’t want to over think it.

    Is there a particular track on the new album you’re most fond of?

    Probably ‘Crimson Swan’ the most at the moment. It will probably change. I like playing ‘Timeless’ live, that’s really fun at the moment, when we’ve been playing it at the shows. But I guess it varies, as what happened with O Soundtrack. Those changed throughout the time. Sometimes you get bored playing certain songs or whatever, but I think ‘Crimson Swan’ has been a favourite of mine for a while.

    The album is a bit of a brief affair. It’s 10 minutes shorter than O Soundtrack. Do you have many outtakes and B sides from that recording session?

    Yeah, we’ve got loads. [laughs] We have about almost another album actually, but there’s just some songs that didn’t fit in with the [hearing] of it and other songs that were better – fit the general overall feeling of the record, that it just didn’t feel right. Like I said, there was maybe one song that might have gone in or might not, so we just decided to leave it out, as far as the continuity goes, and flow of the record.

    Is the album’s title of particular significance?

    It’s just a phrase I had. I kind of caught an idea that Laurence and I recorded, ‘Church With No Magic’ and I liked the symbolism of it. Richard decided to use the phrase in the chorus of the song and then it turned out to be the title of the record. It was just one of those things. But it was just something that I picked up.

    When recording O Soundtrack you were in London and the Pikes were still in Sydney, most of the time. Did the process differ this time around?

    Yes, it was entirely different. We recorded almost everything in the same room, and it was recorded and edited everywhere. It was recorded mostly in Sydney but some parts in London, and edited when we had some time off on tour [laughs] in London, and France, and Sydney, and it kind of was a moving project as we were touring around the world. Any time we had a small chunk of time off we’d start working on it again. I guess that’s one of the reasons why it has a real live feeling about it; it sounds like 3 guys in a room, and I like to think it sounds like all our live shows have over the past year. There’s mistakes, and there’s bombastic drums and lots of air in the room. That was my thing, we kind of wanted the record to sound a bit more – not “garagey”, but like 3 guys playing in a room.

    Dave Miller of the Sydney, Australia-based electronic rock group, PVTI was re-reading the interview with Richard Ayoade from a couple of years ago. During that discussion you were talking about the advantages and disadvantages of using digital gear. One of the quotes was “Inconsistencies are great. Mistakes are good, and to have rough edges is kind of important.”

    That’s what we made sure, that we… we didn’t focus on it, but that was another thing that we kind of made a point of in this record, to not sand off the edges and to keep it a bit more live and raw.

    So it’s less reliant on the cut-and-paste style of digital recording?

    It was recorded digitally, but not anything like chopping up drums and guitars so that everything fits perfectly, and sounds like fucking U2 or something. We didn’t want to do that. We just wanted to leave it as we played it. That’s basically it.

    From that same interview there’s another quote one of you said, “we’ve seen a lot of live electronic music and been very bored, so that’s something we wanted to avoid – we don’t want to be cold and faceless.” Have you got anything special in mind for the next album tour?

    I don’t know. I’m not sure if we’ve thought that far ahead, but one thing that we have realised makes a big difference is lighting. I know that’s not a new thing but it makes a difference as far as the audience’s interaction with the show. I think when we’ve had good lighting, it seems like it’s given us a far bigger boost. It’s like the comparison between having bad sound and good sound, having no lighting versus lighting makes a massive difference. If we can find the man who’ll make us light up well, we’ll take him on tour.

    But I don’t think as far as live or electronic music, I think there’s probably a big difference between solo electronic stuff that I’ve seen, and what we do. Just because there’s a guy that plays electronics doesn’t mean that he’s an electronic act. There’s always exceptions to the rules as well; Jamie Liddell’s solo live act is absolutely amazing.

    As a musician, do you find that an album release is less exciting in 2010 than it was a few years ago, given how easily accessible and traded music is these days?

    People don’t really know when release dates are, do they? And they don’t really care for them. They just kind of want it as soon as it’s available, which is kind of… that’s the ‘me’ generation, which is not really my feeling but I understand it. Life moves on and society moves on, but I’m still totally excited about the record gig. I kind of wish that that particular date was a big deal. I remember when I was much younger, waiting for the date that the new Nine Inch Nails record would come out and go to the record store, and buy it that day. I wonder how many people do that anymore. [laughs]

    But I’m excited, and I know Richard and Laurence are. It’s just a matter of… I’m more excited about people hearing this record than the last one, mainly because it’s a bigger progression, maybe, for us.

    I’m interested to know how many labels these days have contingency plans in place for if an album leaks, or more accurately when it leaks?

    Yeah, I don’t know; I think it depends on the band and the manager and the label and everyone else. It’s not just the label I don’t think. Everyone kind of has a say in it. You’re right, it makes a big difference as to when it happens and stuff. I can’t answer that question.

    As I understand it, you’ve been a part of Pivot for 5 years now, Dave, is that right?

    Maybe a bit less than that, 3 or 4 years probably. I’d probably played the first gig with them in 2006, so 4 years now.

    At this stage, is there a particular band leader or do you all have equal input into what goes on?

    [laughs] I think it’s pretty democratic. Any sort of ideas, being musical or otherwise, anyone can kind of shut down and anyone can get a ‘thumbs up’ too. Yeah, it’s good having a 3-piece group. There’s always a majority.

    Dave Miller of the Sydney, Australia-based electronic rock group, PVT. Photo by Glen WilkieFrom what I’ve seen of you playing live in Brisbane over the last few years, the audiences keep growing and growing. I’m curious to know how you feel about where the band fit into the Australian musical landscape.

    I don’t know, to be honest.

    I find that at festivals, people know the Pivot name by now and they know you’re pretty different to everything else that appears on festival line-ups. They’re drawn to that.

    Yeah, if people are open-minded like that, that’s great. [laughs] It’s just a matter of getting the gigs in the first place. That’s probably the main problem.

    Was making a living from touring outside of Australia always the goal for the band?

    Making a living any which way we can as far as the band goes, whether it’s playing in Europe, Australia, or America, or whatever. It’s not really – like lots of territories and lots of places you don’t really make any money. It’s more about the fact that you’re playing to a new audience and they’ll get excited and next time you might make money. It’s a slow process, but we played loads and loads in Europe over the past 2 years and I’m hoping it’ll come out to something next time we tour there as well.

    I gather from your mailing list that the live video for ‘O Soundtrack My Heart[embedded below] was recorded for a French TV show. Is there any chance it’ll be released as a whole performance on DVD or something eventually?

    Yeah, when we got sent the DVD of the show, it was actually the first time we’d ever seen us videoed before, in decent quality, rather than just off our phones or something. It couldn’t have been a better situation and it was like an amazing lighting show and playing in front of 5,000-10,000 people in an outdoor festival with night time in France. It was pretty amazing. [laughs] Everything kind of fell into place.

    I don’t know; it’s been a while since I looked at the video. I guess eventually maybe. I can remember there being a few duff notes that Richard was blushing about. But other than that I think we’ve got the whole concert. It’s just the matter of whether.. I guess it’s all in good time.

    Final question, Dave. You’re a professional touring musician in a band that’s appreciated in indie circles throughout the world. What would you be doing if you weren’t a musician? Was there ever a plan B for you?

    I used to do programming for websites and stuff. I’d probably be pretty bored of that by now and would’ve turned to something else. I don’t know, it’s never bothered me before, but maybe I’d be a florist or something, I’m not sure. [laughter] It’s best not to think of at the moment!

    ++

    PVT’s third album, Church With No Magic, is released July 16 2010 (today!) via Warp/Inertia. For more information – including links to buy the album – visit their website. Video for the first single, ‘Window‘, is embedded below. You can read my album review for Mess+Noise here.

  • Rolling Stone story: ‘PVT Lose Vowels, Add Vocals For Third Album’, July 2010

    A story for the August 2010 issue of Rolling Stone Australia. Click the below image for a closer look, or read the article text underneath.

    Rolling Stone Australia story, August 2010: PVT Lose Vowels, Add Vocals for Third AlbumPVT Lose Vowels, Add Vocals For Third Album

    International success brings up a few new challenges for edgy Sydney trio
    By Andrew McMillen

    For an international touring act, one of the unfortunate side-effects of building a respected profile is an increased likelihood of coming to the attention of those opposed to your ascent. Sydney-based rock/electronica hybrid Pivot became familiar with this situation first-hand upon arriving in the United States for SXSW in March. Ahead of the release of their third album, the trio were forced to either rename their band, or face a lengthy court battle to determine the rightful owner of the Pivot name. Their solution? Drop the vowels. “It’s more efficient, like Kraftwerk,” jokes the band’s synth/electronics manipulator, Dave Miller.

    He rationalises the decision to become PVT. “We were issued with a cease and desist letter. It was probably going to be extremely costly to fight, and the potential of losing a court battle was not really appealing. If we wanted to keep the name so badly, it could have cost us loads of money and we’d have to put the album back a year because of some righteous American emos who think they deserve the name more. We figured we’d do a cut-and-dry type thing.”

    Church With No Magic – out on July 19 via Warp/Inertia Records – will be their first release under the PVT moniker. It’s a departure from their 2008 album O Soundtrack My Heart, as the trio have opted to include vocals, courtesy of Richard Pike. Miller explains: “We could’ve quite easily done another instrumental album like the last one – O Soundtrack My Heart II– but that would’ve been done in 3 months. To write with vocals in mind was a challenge; after being in a touring band for 18 months altogether, we realised we don’t really listen to much instrumental rock music at all, so we were like, ‘If we don’t listen to it, why are we making it?'”

    The Church recording sessions differ significantly from the band’s previous experience, wherein Miller contributed to O Soundtrack remotely while living in London. This time around, he and the Pike brothers – drummer Laurence and guitarist, producer, and now vocalist Richard – recorded “almost everything” in the same room. “It has a real live feeling about it; it sounds like three guys in a room, and I like to think it sounds like all our live shows have over the past year. There’s mistakes, there’s bombastic drums, and lots of air in the room. For this record, we made a point to not sand off the edges, to keep it a bit more live and raw. It was recorded digitally, but we weren’t chopping up drums and guitars so that everything fits perfectly and sounds like fucking U2. We didn’t want to do that. We just wanted to leave it as we played it.”

    Listen to PVT on their MySpace; view the video for the first Church With No Magic single, ‘Window‘ below.