As Yet Untitled

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Pale

They used to be known as The Pale. Then copyright law got involved, and the band adopted a new modifier. So it is now the Pale Pacific that is fronted by singer/songwriter Gabe Archer, who started the band 11 years ago with his cousin, and guitarist, Cameron Nicklaus. Over the years, they've released four full-length records, including their newest, entitled Urgency.

Recorded on Orcas Island in a rented cabin, Urgency is the sound of four men writing songs with a strange and familiar sweetness, bounded by melody and melancholy. It's an excellent album.

M+F caught up with Archer by phone in Seattle.


At 2:50 PM, Blogger Tyson said...

First, and you've probably become very tired of this question by now, why the name change?

We didn't have the copyright for it. The bummer is that we've had that name for ten years. But I like the new name a lot. It sounds more like Bellingham, like where we're from.

Now you just put out a new album called Urgency. Is the name descriptive of the process, the songs, or just a really good way to title an album?

(laughs) I usually write lyrics last, but there were a couple of songs I'd demoed earlier and done lyrics for. It just got headed in the direction of stories about a family and what happens to that family. One of the songs was actually called "Urgency," and we stole the name from that and changed it to "Fall to Place".

Was there any change in the writing and recording process for this album versus your previous releases?

Cameron [Nicklaus], our guitarist, has recorded our last three full-lengths, and the EP as well, and that means we'd set up where his stuff was, either the practice space in Bellingham, or wherever. This time we hauled all the stuff out to Orcas Island in the San Juans, and recorded in a little cabin on the water there for three weeks.

You mentioned you started demo-ing songs earlier in the writing process, and that's where the lyrics came from. Is that unusual?

Well, it's a different tack. The lyrics are usually the last thing that I do. I get inspired when I have a finished song to listen to. That'll happen a little bit when I demo a song, or whoever demos a song, we'll start working on it and start piecing it together. It took
a little longer in the process, a little later in the game, when the album started to become a whole lyrically.

If I'm not mistaken, you guys are on a new label now from where you've been previously.

Actually, no. This one and the last one are the same. The one before that was without a label. It's still a pretty new thing.

How does it feel to be a labeled band?

It's really cool in that we were in New York for the CMJ music fest and we walked into the Virgin Megastore and they had our CDs on the shelf. That's pretty cool. It's good to have that kind of distribution behind it, that kind of support. It's also a good reminder that no matter how things change as far as labels go that if you want things to look and sound the way you want them to look and sound, that's still up to you to make sure that it happens. You can't hand it over to someone and expect it come out looking like you want. But it's definitely given us a lot of opportunities that we are thankful for.

I was going to say that the label has also probably been helpful in getting you profiled in Spin and The Rolling Stone.

That's actually our promotion company that did that for us. Our drummer got in contact with them through Nettwerk, a company that manages Coldplay and bands like that. It's definitively part of networking as the band, and that's increased through the label.

Is that strange for you, moving from a singer/songwriter into realizing that you have to make contacts to get places?

Yeah, we've been pretty idealistic the whole time as a band, and there have been little things along the way that remind me that you it's not just about writing great music or playing the best that you can and that's why you have to do... there are some necessary evils in there. Like, I'm just not a big fan of photo shoots, the things you have to
do to get noticed on a bigger level that I guess are just a part of it. The one thing I do appreciate is connecting with other bands, and just more word of mouth stuff, and hopefully through it all you maintain the idealism you started with.

I mentioned the write-ups in Rolling Stone and Spin. Is there another level that you want to achieve, or are you ok being where you are right now?

Well, you know we've been doing this for 11 years now, and we've all worked our day jobs that whole time. So, clearly, we aren't doing this for the money, it's because we love the music. We love touring, we love playing shows. But I mean we're all nearing our thirties, and I think we're all feeling like, to be responsible to our families and the relationships we're in, we'd love it if it were something more where we could quit our day jobs. At least at this level. I hope it goes to the next level, so that we can keep it doing it a level that keeps us happy.

Do you have a band in mind whose career path you want to emulate? I assume you don't want to be a Coldplay-like band. Or do you?

You know, the band that I would love to be like is Wilco. Making their music, and making it the way they want to, and having it be appreciated for what it is. I think that's really positive. And bands that have been around long enough that on major labels making big bucks, but they've earned the right to do what they want to. Like R.E.M. I'm definitively not as big a fan of the later albums as the stuff they put out in the early '90s, but I just love that freedom that they have. They earned it for sure.

Speaking of other bands, you guys have covered Billy Joel live, you've contributed to the Police tribute album, what song do you wish you wrote, or what song do you want to cover next?

That's a tough one. We're playing a David Bowie cover night, so I'm looking forward to that.

What songs?

We're going to do "Let's Dance" and I don't know if it'll work out, but we're also working on "Magic Dance" from Labyrinth.

That's beautiful.

(laughs) What a great movie.

In writing the new album, did you change influences? I know that when bands cover artists, they become part of their style, so was there a conscious change, or did it happen naturally?

There's definitively some influence there, in who we covered. Especially the "Walking on the Moon" by the Police, that cover. It showed us some new possibilities or ways we can head. For the most part, I think it was more a reaction to the last album, Gravity Gets
Things Done. It was more of a pop, summer, sunny record. We recorded it in the summer. When we were working out songs for Urgency, we were ready for something different. We ended up recording out in this cabin on the island and it was November, and it lent itself to some slightly darker, denser songs. It was probably more a product of our environment than anything else.


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