By Sebastian Mackay
There comes a time in every band’s life where the members need a change. Michael Owens has left Secrets, Mötley Crüe have signed a binding legal document forbidding them from ever reforming when they break up, and Amanda Palmer’s Dresden Dolls called it quits and Palmer kicked the music industry aside in favor of crowd funding.
That doesn’t mean every change needs to be an end or, indeed, a complete rebirth. It can be remodel, a building on the old foundations and a desire for something new. That’s the way Pounders have headed and their new song, “Separate Ways,” is a hint at what’s to follow in the new album.
The new track, they tell me (and for those of you who haven’t heard it), has “a really cool dance chorus with a nice reggae pre chorus that gives it groove.” Let’s be absolutely clear about one thing: Pounders haven’t dropped their instruments in favor of a DJ set and they certainly haven’t stolen Skrillex’s mojo. Their punk-rock ideals are as tried and true as they ever have been.
“Our music is certainly drifting away from a traditional punk-rock sound but we maintain the punk rock ideals.”
Their ideals are the DIY mentality, the “us against the system” attitude and that love for local bands and the hustle. To Pounders, that’s true punk-rock. With those ideals at the very core of what they do (their musical idols are what they call “true punks”) they want to push themselves musically and, frankly, expect more from themselves. They’re not knocking punk-rock, they’re expanding their horizons (those horizons all ready include Misfits, Fleetwood Mac, Joy Division, 311 and The Smiths).
While the track has been praised highly (Purevolume said they “hit the nail right on the head”) they didn’t simply turn up to work one day and hammer out a new sound. Work. That’s the key word.
“We believe that hard work pays off. Simple as that. We bust our ass to create the best music, best show, best marketing, best experience for our fans.”
I bet your band isn’t that punk rock.
“We always want the music to speak for itself,” they continue, “but Pounders is all about the full experience.”
That hard work resulted in a lot of songs that simply didn’t cut it. At last count there were 30 that had been worked out for the album but the band were willing to try anything and everything to get it right. In the end they decided on a simple rule, “there’s no room for songs we weren’t 100 percent excited for”.
They quote jazz legend Miles Davis after he was asked why he stopped playing ballads, the type of song he was most known for.
“I stopped playing ballads because I love playing ballads.” Davis retorted.
For Pounders that means: “…he did all he could with the ballad form and that he was in his comfort zone. He needed to do something that was different to survive and thrive as an artist.”
Which is exactly what Pounders had in mind going into writing the new record. “Pop punk is a form we can have a blast playing all day, but that won’t help us grow as artists.”
Part of that growth was deciding what they wanted on the album before they’d started writing it and not slipping into the all too easy old habits. The sound of the album, while “Separate Ways” is a good hint, is going to be more dynamic. In the band’s own words, “what’s the point of releasing 12 songs that all sound the same?”
“When you limit yourself to one specific genre…you put a limit on yourself creatively. We hate limitations.”
There are no limits with honesty (though perhaps in some cases there should be) and that’s something that Pounders hold in high regard. It’s a case of coming from the heart (they quip that makes them truly different is that they’re one of few bands who play their own instruments and write their own songs) because, let’s be honest, music that doesn’t sounds boring, forced and contrived. Which is something that they want to stay well away from.
“Honesty is everything. People can tell when you say something from the heart…music is about conveying emotions and feelings to people as a way to evoke emotion from them. Touching people’s lives is what music is all about.”
No matter what comes out of Pounders musically, how they evolve and what they explore, there is no doubting that their commitment to honesty and their love for what they do will come through in any song. They’re committed to playing from the heart and they stress that makes “team DTP so great” is how receptive they are to band’s growth.