Pagan have been slugging it out for a long time and their hard work has finally paid off! After recently throwing a party to celebrate the launch of Death Before Disco, they’re celebrating two huge milestones before long; the launch of debut album ‘Black Wash’ on July 6th and hitting the road on their first headline tour in August.
Catching up with bassist Dan Bonnici during the chaos period before the release of ‘Black Wash’, the first topic of conversation was about his excitement levels regarding the July 6th release date:
“I feel like I’ve gone through a bunch of emotional waves! We only recorded it in November but it just feels like I’ve been sitting on this big secret for a while; I’m kind of relieved to finally be able to get it out. It’s really humbling and beautiful that people have reacting positively upto this point!
Even though I’m excited, I’m also past that point and have moved into the stressful patch because it’s out before too long; if people think it sucks, it will be a big letdown not just for us. Plus I can’t wait to move on from it and move onto the next chapter.”
Taking time to talk about the excitement levels for the upcoming headline tour, Bonnici explains “we’ve only ever done one proper headline show which was the Death Before Disco single show and playing that was amazing! We had all the time in the world to do whatever we wanted, so we could take some liberty into putting together the full Pagan experience. This time, we’ll get to do it five times! Hopefully we can put together a night people remember for a long time after they leave the venue!”
After discussing both upcoming firsts for Pagan, Bonnici was made to choose between the two and explain why that one excited him more. Bonnici quickly stated “I don’t even think that’s too tough for me; the album coming out is definitely more exciting!” before going into greater detail:
“It’s because you tour a lot and even though it doesn’t make it less fun, you don’t get to put out an album very often. We’ve done a bit of touring over the last twelve months and whilst it’s cool that it’s our first headline tour, it’s not every day you get to lift the vail on this thing you’ve spent the better part of two years creating. Plus there’s also a lot of stress with the logistical side of touring and it feels like work!”
Over the last year, Pagan have supported huge international bands such as Pennywise and Rise Against. Talking about the difference between supporting and opening, Bonnici quips “when you’re an opener or a support band, you don’t get the luxury of doing a proper sound check! On this upcoming tour, we’re getting to the venues early to make sure that everything is as it should be; that way we can put on the show of our dreams! It also helps with my mindset, as I have a process I need to go through before playing a Pagan show; I need to be in the right frame of mind so I can give it 110%.
Thankfully there weren’t too many hiccups during the creation process of ‘Black Wash’, as Bonnici quickly points out it was a long, but very fun and smooth process, when it comes to writing and putting it all together.” However there was one small hiccup that did take place, as Bonnici gave further insight:
“Without getting into too much detail, our producer Mike Deslandes had a lot going on personally. That just meant we had to chop up the recording sessions and stagger them out instead of being able to get a full week in the studio to live and breathe Black Wash. Mike was so amazing in making it work and everyone wanted to make it as easy for him as possible! He pushed so much adversity and there’s a little bit of all five of us in this record; even though four of us wrote it, I can’t be more grateful for the amount of love he put into it!”
Being asked to deliver yet another personal insight, Bonnici was faced with talking about his favourite song on ‘Black Wash’; this is where Bonnici threw a curve ball of his own responding with “I have two favourites! They are Holy Water and Year of the Dog. I don’t know if they’re the best songs on the record, but I like them for a few reasons. One of the major reasons is that the skeleton parts of those songs were written on bass before anything else was written, as I usually write on guitar. I sat there, wrote this bass lines and came in, which meant it was a backwards way for writing for us; it turned out to be Matt make drum beats to this, Xav write guitar parts over the top of this! Because bass is a pretty one-dimensional sounding instrument for the most part, I had these ideas in my mind…but when Xavier started playing what he was hearing and Matt threw in drum beats, they turned out so different and so much better! Those are really good examples of us playing to our strengths musically speaking; then you add Nikki’s vocals at the end and she’s just so amazing.”
Whilst delivering his final words, Bonnici was very passionate and emotive as he declared “all I can really say is thank you to anyone who cares enough to listen to or buy a copy of ‘Black Wash’! If anyone wants to go the step further and come to a show, we appreciate it so much! I know it might not sound very sincere through an interview, we started a band we kind of assumed no one would ever care about and would be over within a year! To be at the point of selling tickets to a headline tour is insane and we can only do that because people buy them; it’s very humbling and very flattering!”