On doom metal band Pilgrim‘s first stop in Philadelphia on their U.S. east coast tour with Heavy Temple, I was able to talk with The Wizard aka Jon Rossi, frontman of the band. We discussed their tour, influences, and new material.
Spencer: You’re touring with Heavy Temple, is this your first headlining tour?
Jon: This is our second headlining tour, but we’ve done so many tours. Last year we did the Age of Taurus tour, we’ve toured with Windhand in the United States and Europe a couple times. We did some one-off U.S. tours in the past with bands like Castle.
Spencer: Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to on this tour?
Jon: I’ve been friends with Elise [of Heavy Temple] online for like years.
Spencer: Yeah, she’s cool.
Jon: Yeah she’s really cool. We’ve never met and we always were like we want to do a tour and we’ve been saying that for like literally five years so it’s finally happened. So it’s cool.
Spencer: Yeah, they’re probably one of my favorite bands in Philly for sure. And you guys are from Rhode Island, is there any doom scene at all in Rhode Island?
Jon: I don’t even know if I’m qualified to answer that question anymore. Every time I say something about it I always get in trouble. But there’s definitely a music scene in Rhode Island. I’d say people like doom in Rhode Island too. I guess the answer is yes, technically there is. I think a lot of people in Rhode Island really into hardcore and there’s a lot of people that are into super artistic far-out kind of music more so, but people still like doom.
Spencer: Awesome. Reverend Bizarre seems to be an influence on you guys, what’s your thoughts on them?
Jon: They’re my favorite band. I love them. They’re one of the biggest inspirations for us to start a band. Me and Nick [drummer] have been playing music together forever and it could have been anything. We used to listen to the Melvins and we used to always want to play heavy music but we never really knew what and after listening to Reverend Bizarre and stuff like that we were like “Oh, shit, ok, we want to play doom”.
Spencer: Yeah, they’re one of the greats for sure. Do you have any influences outside of the obvious like Black Sabbath or the typical big doom bands? Any kid of weird influences maybe?
Jon: Yeah I like a lot of weird English stuff like Gong is one of my favorite bands. All those weird like Canterbury jazzy… Magma. That kind of weird experimental stuff. When I was a kid, I listened to a lot of Nirvana and through them I got into a bunch of grunge bands like Tad and stuff. I started listening to the Melvins and from them, I started to listen to a bunch of heavier music. That’s how I got to listening to a lot of stoner stuff like Acid King, Electric Wizard and [it] spiraled downward til eventually Reverend Bizarre was down there somewhere.
Spencer: Do you have any inspiration for your lyrics in particular?
Jon: All of our music is really fantasy-based, we all grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons and playing video games. Super nerdy, but we still do it today, so that’s where most of the inspiration comes from. I kind of use it as a means to express other things. So a song might be about maybe a wizard casting spells – ooooo. And it’s actually relate-able to like things that we’re feeling, depression, all that kind of fun stuff.
Spencer: Interesting. You guys working on any new material?
Jon: Yeah, we’re halfway through writing our third record right now. We always write so slowly and then all of a sudden, bang! out of nowhere it’s just finished and then we rush to record it and get it out there. We’re hoping by the end of this year it’ll be out or at least be in the process of recording it so that it can be out as soon as possible and close to the new year.
Spencer: Nice. Do you know how it’s going to sound compared to your other material?
Jon: We’ve been playing a lot of the music live and people say it’s faster. It’s more intense, a little more upbeat. Still heavy, still doomy, but just a little less punishing overall for the listening. It’s a bit more of any enjoyable listening experience. We didn’t go out of our way to punish anybody this time. On the first record it was like two minutes of feedback into a really, really slow riff. There’s not a lot of that but the songs are more complex, they’re more interesting, they move a little quicker.
Spencer: Ok, so you want to emulate your live setting a little more?
Jon: Yeah, definitely. We play like that live anyway. And that’s just kind of where we’re moving towards. We’ve been touring and playing slow heavy music for six, seven, eight years. So you get sick of playing some stuff. It’s a little faster I think.
Spencer: Nice, interesting. All right man that’s cool. Thanks, really appreciate it.