Features

PVT: ?We?ve Never Been A Dance Band

They’ve signed to Warp and take a noticeably electronic approach to their craft, but PVT’s Dave Miller tells DOUG WALLEN they’ve never considered themselves a dance act.


The [name change](/news/3956209) isn’t the only thing different about PVT and their third album Church With No Magic*. The trio’s second release for Warp Records, it scrambles the band we last heard on *O Soundtrack My Heart* (2008), establishing a new focus on vocals and lyrics. Multi-instrumentalist Richard Pike sings on many of the new songs backed by brother Lawrence (drums/keyboards) and laptop wizard Dave Miller. While there are immediate thrills in the deconstructive single ?Window? and the stretched-bubblegum soul of ?Crimson Swan?, *Church With No Magic is every bit an ominous grower. It quietly covers such uncertain terrain as the prog delirium of ?Timeless? and the blown-out Radiohead shadowing of ?The Quick Mile?. All of which speaks to an ongoing musical evolution that Miller says is the only way that PVT operates.

I was wondering whether the band is based in Sydney or London now.
Two of us are in Sydney and one in London at the moment.

And that doesn’t interfere with the band too much?
All the times that we spent recording and mixing and mastering have all been in the same city. We’ve been travelling around enough together to do that.

You recorded the new album in Sydney with Burke Reid.
That was the majority of it, yeah. Bits and pieces of overdubs were done elsewhere or on the road.

How easily did the record come together in the studio?
It varied, actually, song to song. There were initial sessions where we’d jam on ideas and come up with either loops or structures and stuff from there and chop things up. There’d be other times where we’d be writing a song in the same room, like I guess a normal band. [Laughs] And there were other times where we’d demo things and just go into the studio and record it there.

Were there a lot of songs that didn’t make the cut?
Yeah, there was. The way the record turned out, because it’s a quite dense live thing, it made sense to keep it not brief but sort of tight and compact. And there’s bits and pieces that’ll become B-sides and that type of thing.

These days lots of local acts are doing live electronic music, from Midnight Juggernauts to Cut Copy and The Presets. Has it been interesting to watch that spring up?
We don’t have any affiliation with those guys at all. Or that scene, to be honest with you. It’s more a dance thing, and we’ve never really been a dance band. [Laughs]

How do you classify yourselves then? Obviously being signed to Warp?
I can understand your link but it’s not really – Most of Warp’s electronic music isn’t really danceable either. [Laughs]

Did you ever sense any added scrutiny being the only Australian act signed to Warp?
I don’t think so. When we put out the first record on Warp, I think on the whole people were excited for us and proud of us. If people were [scrutinising it], it means more people probably either took notice or heard it. That’s great. That’s what being on a more established label is all about.

?Some of my favourite bands are the ones that are constantly changing and moving forward or even moving sideways.?

The band has an interesting dynamic between effects and instrumentation, and now this record has more vocals interplaying with that. Is it hard keeping all those balls in the air?
I guess I see it as an evolving thing. Some of my favourite bands are the ones that are constantly changing and moving forward or even moving sideways. I can’t imagine being in a band that sticks to the same palette forever and ever. I think we’ve got too short attention spans for that to happen.

There’s a dark, almost industrial feel to parts of the new record.
All of us have listened to that stuff in the past. Bits and pieces of that come out. It depends on the mood at the time. Writing it over the past 18 months, different moods come out. It’s not like we wrote it in five days at the beach. [Laughs] Some bits were written in gloomy London on a winter’s day. It varied.

I find ?Window? really interesting. It’s an obvious single but quite weird at the same time.
That was the thing. We didn’t really know how singles work, to be honest. It’s something we’ve never had to place much emphasis on because of the previous records being instrumental. Singles are neither here nor there as far as that goes. But Warp thought it would be a good thing to tell people something new is happening. It’s quite a weird pop song but that’s a good thing in my book.

The (/tv/3995605) is a bit disorienting, with so much POV footage of you playing live. It almost induces motion sickness. I found that when I listened to the song later on its own, I felt some of that queasiness return.
Really? [Laughs] That probably means the video did a good job.



So you just recorded that on tour?
We did. We had a little sort of extreme-sports camera [on each of us]. We actually did it across America when we played South By Southwest and did a bunch of shows as well on the way there and back. We played a couple of shows in Sydney and Melbourne in April and took as much footage from that song as possible. I think it worked out really well.

How was it performing at the Luminous Festival last year with Brian Eno curating?
It was amazing. We got to meet the man. He comes up to you before the show and says he’s excited to see you. He said he heard the record and liked it. It was quite mind-boggling, actually, and humbling. It’s a guy who has had such a influence on modern music and made albums we love. For him to choose you to play and say he likes your record and loved your set – it was a pretty nice thing to happen.

Being in a trio with two brothers, do you ever feel like the odd one out?
Not really. On the whole, it has more positives than negatives. It means they know what each other is thinking or feeling better than I do. They can kind of read each other’s minds, both on stage and off, which is a positive as well. And y’know, if they are pissed off at one another for whatever reason, they’ve got someone to side with or empathise with as well.

Is the band’s name now pronounced ?PVT? or still ?Pivot??
Legally it’s PVT. [Laughs]

How are you finding the transition so far?
I don’t know. The reaction has generally been pretty positive. I think most people have seen it as a good thing. It’s [a sign of] moving on. And confusion with a horrible emo band is not such a good thing. Avoiding that is good.

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PVT’s Church With No Magic is out now through Warp/Inertia. For launch dates click [here](/news/3956209).