Agoraphobic News: Pyrrhon is band that emerged from the NY death metal scene and yet, it sounds nothing like Suffocation or Immolation for instance. Can you name the bands that helped Pyrrhon develop its own style big time?
DD: We have a huge source of ever-changing inspiration. We’re definitely influenced by classic New York death metal bands like Suffocation and Immolation…along with other classic death metal like Gorguts, Morbid Angel and Death. Every member of Pyrrhon listens to a wide variety of musical styles, including free jazz, hardcore, grind, hip hop, noise, classic indie rock, modern classical, and a lot of other stuff. We don’t necessarily pinpoint this style or that style to channel, we mainly just try to let our influences meld together and see what happens. We keep our creative formula relatively open-ended, which allows us to grow and change in a natural way.
Agoraphobic News: What in your opinion separates Pyrrhon from the rest of death metal bands?
DD: I guess the main thing that makes us stand out is our use of improvisation. As far as I’ve seen, it’s pretty rare for a death metal band to improvise extensively. We have many passages in our music that are freely improvised, and other sections that utilize loosely improvised ideas to string different themes together.
Agoraphobic News: Who are your favorite non-metal artists?
DD: The list is always changing, but a few of my longtime favorite artists that don’t fall under the metal umbrella include Sonic Youth, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Aphex Twin, Ornette Coleman, Kevin Drumm, Slint, Bela Bartok, Mission of Burma, Shellac and more. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of the new Kendrick Lamar album, Black Dice, Last Exit, Dalek, Cecil Taylor, Mobb Deep and The Birthday Party.
Agoraphobic News: Pyrrhon played with Misery Index, Decapitated, Castevet, Psalm Zero and others but I really think that sharing the stage with Gigan, Artificial Brain and Baring Teeth is something over the top because those 3 bands including Pyrrhon have the same vision of chaos embeded through their music. I can even dare to name it „Big four of death metal underground“. Do you agree with this thesis ?
DD: I don’t think the comparison is too far off. We actually made the same joke when we found out about the tour with Gigan and Artificial Brain. Obviously the original “Big 4” was potent and innovative as hell, so I don’t think it’s really the same thing. But it’s funny to joke about.
Agoraphobic News: What are cliches that irritate you the most when speaking of death metal?
DD: I don’t spend much time dwelling on music that I don’t particularly like, I’d rather use my time and energy on music that I enjoy. That said, the current old-school death metal revival gets kinda tedious. There are lots of new bands these days that sound strikingly similar to Incantation and other similar bands. And I love all sorts of old school death metal (including Incantation), from the under-the-radar stuff like Incubus, Massacra and Solstice, to the more popular stuff like Pestilence and Grave. It just seem like there are a lot of death metal bands these days that are sheerly regressive, whereas the genre was founded upon being extreme, innovative and unfamiliar.
Agoraphobic News: Is it hard to be original nowadays?
DD: In some ways it’s easier than ever to be original. Because of the digital/online revolution, it’s impossibly convenient to listen to almost anything that you could want to listen to. In the past, it was much more difficult to discover and listen to newly discovered music. Nowadays, as an avid music fan, it’s become necessary to pick and choose what you want to listen to. The conflict of choice exists on an infinitely larger scale than it ever has. I find that I have to consciously limit the amount of new territory that I cover when discovering new music, because otherwise I don’t take enough time to process everything. On the other side of the coin, it does seem like some genres have kind of painted themselves into a corner. There’s a lot of fresh innovative music coming out these days, but also a lot of stagnant, regressive stuff. I think you really need to meditate and make a conscious effort to evolve in order to be original nowadays.
Agoraphobic News: Your debut album „ An excellent servant but terrible master“ was a big leap forward when compared with the previously released „Fever Kingdoms“ EP. The overall sound of the band has changed drastically. What inspired you to do so?
DD: When we wrote the Fever Kingdoms EP, we were just getting our bearings and learning how to play our instruments in a death metal band. Pyrrhon is the first proper band that I’ve ever played in, and I did not have much experience composing before this band started. Most of my experience playing guitar up to that point was limited to playing jazz, classical, doing rock and metal covers, as well a little free improv. I was honestly kind of shooting in the dark at the beginning; I’ve become a lot more comfortable in my ability to generate ideas. Also, Pyrrhon initially started with us wanting to create a modern spin on the classic offbeat death metal stuff like Death, Atheist, Gorguts, Suffocation and Cynic. So the earliest Pyrrhon material reflects the spirit of those bands. We’ve always been eclectic listeners of music, so other influences crept in over time.
Agoraphobic News: Do you think that music is a language known only by a few?
DD: I think that music is a language that few truly master, but there are many many people that are highly fluent in the art form. You can spend years studying music in a conservatory, but unless if you can implicitly create ideas in your head and translate them to an instrument or paper, I’d say that you don’t truly grasp the language of music. In my opinion, training can help you up to a certain point, but the ability to transcend the moment and channel your pure musical vision is something that you can only learn for yourself.
Agoraphobic News: Lyrics shocked me even more than Pyrrhon music did. How do you deal with ,,All the debased logic, The spent, weathered values“ of this world ?
Doug Moore (vocals): By being in Pyrrhon, haha. Seriously, playing music is an important psychological safety valve that helps all of us find meaning amidst all the confusion and turmoil of contemporary life. I'm not sure any of us would have gone down this path if we thought that we'd find more conventional paths through life more emotionally rewarding, since playing in an aggressively non-commercial band is a tough lifestyle to maintain. Everyone in the band has other ways of coping with the mental strain we find ourselves under, ranging from drug use to rigorous exercise routines to conventional therapy, but I suspect that we all share music as our chief outlet.
Agoraphobic News: Which is worse: Always being watched or never been seen?
Doug Moore (vocals): If I knew I'd tell you.
Agoraphobic News: Are the lyrics of ,,Flesh Isolation Chamber“ connected with Orwell’s 1984?
Doug Moore (vocals): No, not directly. I've read a lot of Orwell's work, and I can certainly see how a lot of the imagery in that song might feel reminiscent of 1984, but I didn't really have such a literal interpretation in mind for the lyrics. That song came out of feeling trapped in my own body as much as out of concerns regarding the surveillance state we live in.
Agoraphobic News: The majority of present-day population is brainwashed. . Jim Morrison once said – “Do you know we are ruled by TV?“ I must commend the band's way of approach, because a lot of your lyrics are about raising consciousness. But, the common problem for all death metal bands are vocals, and I have a feeling that the message that bands want to convey to the fans is recieved by a few, right?
Doug Moore (vocals): Pyrrhon isn't really intended as a vehicle for a lyrical message. I put a great deal of time and effort into the lyrics, but ultimately, the music itself comes first, and lyrics will be the icing on the cake at best in any extreme metal band. That being said, I've been pleasantly surprised by how much interest the lyrics have generated. Frankly, I suspect that the audience enthusiasm for our lyrics has as much to do with the shittiness of most average death metal lyrics as it does with the quality of ours. Anyone who works hard on their lyrics is bound to look pretty insightful next to the Satan and/or gore-themed dreck that most death and black metal bands fall back on.
Agoraphobic News: Where did the band get inspiration for a song ,,Balkanized“? Both “Lemmings suicide” and Yugoslav Civil War are atrocities made by men more who are more savage than any animal.
Doug Moore (vocals): I became familiar with the term "balkanization" during my political science studies at college. The song itself deals with what I regard as the very real possibility that internal political pressures and conflicts over resources will cause the United States to collapse into civil war or to fracture into several rump states. Most people here don't seem to take that risk very seriously, but then, most state collapses in recent history came as surprises to the citizens.
Agoraphobic News: Pyrrhon has something to do with ancient greek skepticism philosophy called Pyrrhonism. Now, spill the beans about it.
DD: We decided upon the name Pyrrhon by trying to make a unique word out of the phrase “pyrrhic victory.” In short, a pyrrhic victory is when the victor of a battle suffers great casualties. We slapped the word Pyrrhon together, then later discovered that Pyrrhon was an ancient Greek philosopher…the father of skepticism. Pyrrhon professed that nothing can be known for certain and that one’s senses can be easily fooled. Constantly questioning things around you and striving to understand things on a deeper level are tenets of Pyrrhonism. We don’t take the band name super seriously, and don’t consider ourselves to be “Pyrrhonists,” though we are skeptical, inquisitive people by nature. The bottom line is we thought that the word Pyrrhon looked cool, and it has a cool double-meaning that is pertinent to us as people and as a band.
Agoraphobic News: Who is your favorite writer? (And please, don’t tell me it’s Lovecraft. I expect something different from a band that knows that people like Pascal or Baudelaire even existed.)
DD: Although I don’t write any of the lyrics for Pyrrhon, I am a major fan of fictional literature. I don’t know if I can pick one favorite writer, so I’m going to go with Cormac McCarthy and George Orwell. In particular, McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” is one of the most artfully written books that I have ever read. The way that he describes such hideous things in mind-bendingly beautiful prose is really breathtaking. I also love “Suttree” and “The Road” from McCarthy. Both novels have a bleak simplicity that I’ve never encountered before. I also listed Orwell because 1984 is probably my all-time favorite novel. I’ve read it several times over the years, and I take something new away from it every time I read it. The novel culminates in one of the most psychologically horrifying ordeals ever put to paper. Also, the accuracy with which Orwell painted the future is highly disconcerting.
Agoraphobic News: ,,The mother of virtues” has a pretty brutal album cover. What does it stands for?
DD: The cover art features an outline of a pregnant woman striking the classic Virgin Mary pose. The body is overrun by cockroaches, sickly eyeballs and a disorienting, foreboding atmosphere. Much of humanity glorifies procreation without thinking twice about the potentially fatal repercussions. Down the line, overpopulation could have dire consequences for humanity as we strip the planet of its natural resources and dump pollutants into the atmosphere without thinking twice about it. I’m personally not opposed to people having children, but so many people pop out kids with complete indiscretion and then want to act like they’re doing something to benefit the world. Having children does not automatically make you a virtuous person.
Agoraphobic News: What are the aims of your music?
DD: We don’t have any explicit goals as a band. We mainly just want to challenge ourselves as musicians to make disturbing, passionate, cohesive music. With every recording we’ve done, I feel like I’m physically and mentally pushing myself to the brink. I guess that is probably our highest priority.
Agoraphobic News: Some people label your band as “Gorguts worshippers”. Is that offending?
DD: If you like weird death metal and you don’t worship Gorguts then I think you’re doing it wrong haha.
Agoraphobic News: Tell me as much as you can about Steeve Hurdle (I will write a big article about him in the future)
DD: I don’t know a whole lot about Steeve Hurdle. He was in touch with us online shortly after we released “An Excellent But a Terrible Master.” He told us that he was a big fan of our music and that he was inspired by our album. As one of the primary creative forces on Gorguts’ “Obscura” record, this was insanely flattering to us. We were actually even thinking about trying to get him to do a vocal spot on “The Mother of Virtues” but it didn’t come together and he ended up passing away. His death was a huge loss to metal and experimental music. I heard a rumor that he was thinking about moving to New York City to pursue free jazz and experimental music. It would have been mind-blowing to see him making sounds next to some of the guys in that scene in New York.
Agoraphobic News: Pyrrhon was dropped from Relapse Recods. Why?
DD: “The Mother of Virtues” didn’t sell well enough for them to want to continue working with us. It’s not a huge deal, we’re going to keep doing our thing regardless of how our music is being released.
Agoraphobic News: Can you share some detals about upcoming EP “Growth without end” ??
DD: We wrote the material for the “Growth Without End” shortly after we finished “The Mother of Virtues.” The writing sessions for “The Mother of Virtues” involved a lot of revision and hashing over. We wanted to do something more spontaneous and immediate after that experience, so we intentionally wrote the material for “Growth Without End” in a quicker and more improvisational spirit. We just wanted to make a ripping, brutal, strange album. I think we succeeded.
Agoraphobic News: Song “Terrible Master” has a pretty cool outro. Are you determined as Fitzcarraldo was when it comes to Pyrrhon??
DD: We spend a lot of time and energy playing this music. I play guitar almost everyday, I have a need to pick up the instrument and express myself on a regular basis.
Agoraphobic News: Last question must be goofy – family guy or south park?
DD: South Park without a question. I love all of the eras of the show, but especially the early grittier stuff, before the show become more of a political satire. Even the new stuff is impressively funny though. I especially love the “Creme Fraiche” and “Jersey Shore” episodes from more recent seasons. I really don’t like Family Guy and would rather not watch it haha.