Pelican is an instrumental rock band from Chicago. I’ve seen them a few times live and they always thrill the ears while causing heads to bang in hard rock ecstasy. I sent guitarist Trevor de Bauw some questions and he got back to me while on the road in England on his way to the Roadburn Festival in Holland, where Pelican will be performing on Saturday along with some of the best rock bands of the modern era. Trevor is looking forward to seeing the band Sleep. Pelican’s latest release is the Ataraxia/Taraxis EP, so named for the two tracks that begin and end the CD. The EP showcases Pelican’s new-found focus and shorter songs that don’t skimp on ideas.
In 1979-1980 Rush, another band known for longer songs, made the decision to shorten their songs yet still retain some of the more progressive elements previously heard in much longer compositions. Is shortening your songs something you plan in the future? The tracks on the EP are quite compact yet moving.
The move on our part toward shorter songs has mostly been an unconscious one. We tend to not overthink things when it comes to songwriting and I think the gradual move in the direction of concise compositions has been a matter of us learning how to do more with less.
Who are some guitarists you admire and why?
I’ve always drawn towards guitarists’s sense of creativity more than technical proficiency, though sometimes these come hand in hand. A really important guitarist to me is Blake Schwarzenbach from Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil; he took the punk rock form and ran with it, creating beautiful mini-epics where melody and disharmony clash gloriously. I’ve always been really enamored with the Kadane brothers, Matt and Bubba, who are the creative backbone of Bedhead and the New Year; their sense of melodic interplay is amazing and they know how to utilize restraint and minimalism to tremendous effect.
What are some of the guitars you use now or have in the past? Do you have some you hang on the wall and some you abuse the heck out of all the time?
Since starting the band the only guitar I’ve really used is my Gibson SG. It’s from the 70s, but has an untraceable serial number, so some strange things may have happened in its past, or it could be a hodgepodge of sorts. It’s been through a lot of times, both good and bad, but we have a very tight relationship.
At what age did you start with Pelican and how was it different from what you’d been doing before?
I was 21 when Pelican got started. At our incept the band was a bit musically different from stuff we had been doing, which was essentially a long run of different hardcore and punk bands, but we were still playing to that scene; pretty much playing whatever basements or DIY clubs we could get into. At some point in the first couple of years things clicked locally and we were getting offers from all kinds of different venues in the city and we ended up crossing over into the burgeoning Chicago metal scene as well as the city’s thriving indie-rock scene. The point where things started really taking off is when it finally sunk in that we were doing something really different than before as it was genuinely clicking with people we’d never reached before in our other bands.
When not touring the world with Pelican what occupies your time? Other jobs, exercise, family, World of Warcraft?
We all have full-time jobs, a couple of us have families. Normal stuff.
Some of your members have moved to Los Angeles. How does living in separate cities affected the band?
In 2006 Bryan and Larry moved to LA, while Laurent and myself stayed in Chicago. Operating the band long distance meant that we could no longer take the time we spend together for granted, so ultimately we’re a lot more focused when we do get to work on stuff.
What city do you especially like to perform in and why? Is there a fave restaurant, crazy fans, places to see?
I really love playing in Seattle – we’ve had several great shows there and the espresso is unparalleled anywhere in the world, as far as I’m concerned. We just had an amazing show in London this week, which was super super fun. Wish we would have had time for record shopping since it’s a great town for that. As far as crazy shows, I think the crowds in Wroclaw, Poland and Athens, Greece were by far the craziest we’ve ever played for; people were just going ballistic
Lastly, when can we hope to see Pelican on tour in the states and Los Angeles especially?
The band is in a phase where we have to work it around our jobs and personal lives. We’ve already committed to overseas touring for this year, so there’s not much we can make happen in the states for the time being. We do have a Pomona date in June that falls on a weekend, but as far as full scale tours it will likely have to wait until 2013.
Visit Pelican HERE.