Hailing from Brooklyn, the progressive/technical death metal act Pyrrhon re-released their debut album An Excellent Servant But A Terrible Master earlier last year via Selfmadegod Records. After reviewing this material, our dear contributor – Dave – took a huge liking of this band and asked them a few questions. In the words of Dave: “Pyrrhon has set the bar high with An Excellent Servant but a Terrible Master and that’s a good thing. There is no reason to be skeptical about this debut release.”
Below you may find the answers of vocalitst Doug to Dave’s questions. Topics raised in this interview: formation/origins of the band, influences, debut album, touring plans, next album and “future of extreme metal?”. Stream Pyrrhon’s music at the bottom of this page.
Dave: Rumor has it you guys all met on a subway, what happened?
Doug: Our guitarist Dylan and our original bassist Mike did meet by chance on a subway platform, and the band formed as a direct result of that encounter. Mike knew our drummer Alex through college, and Dylan and I have known each other since high school.
Dave: Where did the name Pyrrhon come from?
Doug: Pyrrhon (or Pyrrho) was an ancient Greek philosopher; he’s considered the first member of the Skeptic school. The name was originally something of a compromise for us, and I don’t directly discuss Pyrrhon’s philosophy in my lyrics. Nonetheless, we think it’s a fitting moniker, given our themes and sound.
Dave: How long has the group been playing together musically?
Doug: A little over three years. We formed in November of 2008.
Dave: The debut album rocks and has been met by positive reviews, how does it feel to find success at such an early stage in your career?
Doug: Thanks for the kind words. We’ve been flattered by the positive critical response to the album. That said, we expect a lot of ourselves as a group. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we’ve “succeeded” just yet. That album is only the beginning for us.
Dave: Is your musical style the future of extreme metal?
Doug: We’re certainly interested in exploring metal’s boundaries and liminal areas, and in pushing those boundaries at times. I’m not arrogant enough to describe our approach as the future of metal, but I consider Pyrrhon part of a broader effort to expand and develop the genre. Metal has historically served as a haven for heretics and iconoclasts. In order to honor that legacy, you have to continue to break its rules. “Kill Yr Idols” is a big part of Pyrrhon’s spirit.
Dave: Has the recent re-release of the album sparked attendance at live shows?
Doug: To a degree. Our live performances continue to draw more people, and there was a noticeable increase around the time of Selfmadegod’s reissue. But, as many other New York musicians have pointed out, it’s almost impossible to ‘break big’ in this town if you’re local. New York City’s music scene is so vibrant that you could probably find exciting live music every night of the year, if you were willing to look hard enough. Under these conditions, it’s tough to draw a lot of bodies unless you’re a touring band or a very established local act. We don’t worry about that sort of thing too much, though—we’re paying our dues and grinding out new material in the practice space. That’s good enough for now.
Dave: What are your touring plans?
Doug: We’ve barely played outside of New York City, and our individual non-band commitments make extended touring a dicey proposition for the time being. Our current plan is to put together some out-of-town dates during this coming summer, but we probably won’t be doing a big national or international tour for some time yet.
Dave: Has the band ever performed outside of the United States?
Doug: No, though we’d like to. If anyone is interested in booking us for a festival date or two, feel free to get in touch with us.
Dave: What are some of your musical influences?
Doug: We’ve got a bunch of obvious metal influences—Morbid Angel, Death, Gorguts, Atheist, Deathspell Omega, and so on. Outside of the metal realm, our influences range pretty broadly across the genre spectrum. Everything from Black Flag to Ornette Coleman to King Crimson to Bartók to Swans is fair game. I could rattle off influences all day and still miss some.
Dave: Have you ever played a show with a group you idolize?
Doug: Not with anyone that we ‘idolize,’ per se. We did play a show with Misery Index, who are a band favorite, in 2009. Ironically, that gig was a disaster for us. We had only been together for about a year and had just undergone some lineup changes. At the time, we were playing a much more conventional widdly-widdly brand of technical death metal, and we just choked—tempos were off, sticks were dropped, vocal cues were missed, and so on. It was a really humiliating experience and we almost split up afterwards. Sparky Voyles said he liked our set, though, so maybe it was all in our heads.
Dave: What are the aspirations of the group?
Doug: As I said earlier, our primary concern is expanding the definition of metal, and especially death metal, without losing its fiery spirit. More concretely, we just want to release a shitload of cool albums and touch people’s lives with our work. I’ve been a serious music fan since I was 13 or 14, and I’d like to offer other fans the same mind-expanding experiences that my favorite bands have offered me. We’d also like to tour the world as soon as we have an opportunity to do so without mortgaging our futures.
Dave: When can fans expect a follow-release?
Doug: We hope to record our next album some time in late 2012 and release it in 2013. It’s a bit of a wait, but songwriting is an intense and exacting process for us. We’d rather take our time and produce work that meets our standards than rush some bullshit out the door.
Dave: Thanks for your time!
Dylan DiLella – guitar
Doug Moore – vocals
Alex Cohen – drums
Erik Malave – bass