About Me

Interview with Pound

Pound is an American duo from Seattle that is about to release their second album “..”, the successor of “.”. Pound are quite unique and original in every possible way and that is why Metal Imperium decided to have a chat with Ryan Schutte, one of the minds behind this project.

M.I. - Please introduce POUND. When/who/where did Pound come together?

Pound is an experimental heavy music project between David Stickney and myself (Ryan Schutte).  We formed in 2008 in Missoula, MT, but we didn't become what we are today until we moved to Seattle in 2009-2010. Originally, being a band wasn't the intention. When we first started we were just trying to get better on our instruments by pushing ourselves and seeing how far we could stretch our limits. Neither of us wanted to deal with being in a band or playing shows. We didn't really even want to write music. We just wanted to get better so we put together all of these weird music exercises and we'd practice them and change them and drill them until we could do them. Those eventually formed into loose compositions. A few friends pressured us into playing a few house shows and that's what started the desire to be a band.

M.I. - Pound plays a mix of sludge, grindcore, d-beat, and mathcore. What else can you tell us about you?

We both have a very eclectic taste in music and do our best to channel that into Pound. I naturally gravitate towards heavy bands that are doing something new and unique, trying to blend in influences from other genres of music and I think that comes through a bit in Pound. The original desire to experiment purely for the sake of getting better is still there and drives a lot of our songwriting process. The more we can blend all of our different influences into one cohesive sound, the better. Sub-genre blending can be tricky at times. It can be difficult to take all of our influences and make them sound like a new, cohesive sound instead of individual segments with obvious influences. It took a lot of time and effort to achieve the cohesive sound that we have now. There are a few parts on the new album where there are sudden changes from one sub-genre to another, but that's very intentional. Back when we were first starting out, those things happened from a lack of songwriting experience. Now it's a tool that we can use. It's strange how music works like that sometimes.

M.I. - “••” is Pound’s second album due to be released on the last day of May. How are you feeling now?

In a word, I'm feeling focused. Once an album is mastered I just move on to the next one. We're already well into writing for the third album and all of my attention is on that. On our most recent tour we played two songs that we're in the process of working on for the third album. Playing the new material live every night gives us a chance to workshop it in a live setting. Then we make tweaks and changes once we're back home. It's an unconventional way to do things, but it works well for us. I get tired of playing songs very quickly and it helps to keep things fresh. It also gives the people that come to see us live a small glimpse of what we've been working on for future releases. I'd like to think that makes our shows a little more special. David and I enjoy touring, playing shows and recording, but we're happiest and most comfortable when we're writing new music. We have a few new ideas that we've been wanting to explore and I'm looking forward to having the time for that as well. Honestly, if I could just sit in my basement and write 24/7, I would. Sometimes all the touring, the PR campaigns, the merch sales and such feels like an engine to justify my desire to just sit and write.

M.I. - How different is this album compared to your first album? Was it instrumental as well?

We are an instrumental band, so yes, it was instrumental. Our first album was kind of an everything and the kitchen sink affair. For the second album, we tried to focus on adding more dbeat and grind influences. I'd like to think that came through a bit more. We try to pick a direction for our songwriting for each album in an effort to make the albums more cohesive as a whole. 

M.I. - Why the title “••”? What does it mean?

Our song titles are symbology representing drum tabs for a rhythm in each song. The "." is a kick hit. The album title is two kick hits.

M.I. - Who’s responsible for the melodies? Or how complicated is it writing a whole album based solely on your instruments?

All of the songwriting is a 50/50 process. I write the majority of the songs and then bring them to David to write the drums. Most of the time our songs are written one riff at a time and then arranged. Sometimes one composition will end up being two or occasionally three songs. Writing instrumental music doesn't feel complicated to us. It's just what we naturally do. If anything, writing vocal parts and lyrics would be more complicated because that would be adding another element and creating more work. There is a bit of a challenge in filling in the space that is left by not having a bass player or second guitarist, but that is something that we're used to tackling. Over the years, we've gotten better at trading off during songs to give each other breaks. If I'm playing an intense or physically demanding part for a section, the next section is going to be a bit easier on me and I'll let David do the heavy lifting and fill in space. The section after that, he'll do something a little less demanding and I'll fill in the space. It's all about making sure that the extra sonic space is filled and the other instruments aren't missed. We've also got the advantage of using customized instruments. David uses two drum kits with different sized kick drums and snares and I'm using a 300w guitar rig and a 6000w bass rig. I also use multiple gain stages on my pedal board to add more dynamics to the music. I can use them to emphasize different parts of the song. It's a trick I picked up from a Jay Mascis (Dinosaur Jr, Witch, Heavy Blanket) interview I read a long time ago. Using the specialized rigs, we can fill in a lot of the space that would normally be filled by other instruments. If we didn't have the specialized rigs, we couldn't make it sound as full as it does.

M.I. - All 8 tracks on the album are instrumental… your instruments are your voices… what are you trying to say exactly?

We're not trying to say anything. We're just writing music. By staying instrumental and avoiding more conventional song titles we leave it more open to the listener to apply their own meaning to the songs. They can mean whatever the listener wants them to mean.

M.I. - Where was the album recorded and mixed? Who did it?

The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero at Flatline Audio in Colorado. 

M.I. - The cover has some kind of mathematical code and the tracks have the weirdest titles I’ve seen with mathematical symbols… where does this fixation with maths come from? How did the idea of putting it into music come up?

The cover is a supposed to be a chaotic, crumbling cityscape but it's art, which means that it's subjective and open to interpretation. To us, the cover has nothing to do with math. Our song titles are symbology representing drum tabs for a rhythm in each song, which, yet again, have nothing to do with math. There isn't a fixation on math, but I can understand why the casual observer or passive listener might get that idea. 

M.I. - What response are you getting from the media so far?

I'm not entirely sure. I tend to avoid media coverage of our music. I'm sure there are plenty of folks that like what we're doing. Album and merch sales are going well, so we must be connecting with some people. I'm sure there are also plenty of people that aren't into what we're doing. It's art. Some people are going to like it, some people aren't. That's all part of it.
If the response was all positive it would be a sign that we were doing something wrong.

M.I. - The band is a duo… do you have a democratic take on things or is there a mastermind behind this project?

Everything is a 50/50 decision. I run most of the business side of things, but nothing happens without David's knowledge. This is a partnership. The music and songwriting process is very democratic as well. Most of the songs start out from riffs from me, but those can change fairly drastically once David starts writing his drum parts. For a project like this that is very rhythm focused, everything revolves around the drums. It has to be that way for the songs to stay interesting and make sense.

M.I. - Who runs Pound’s facebook page and other social media? Is it nice dealing with the fans directly and have their reactions straight away?

We both do. We enjoy interacting with the people that care enough about what we're doing to take the time to comment or post on our social media accounts. I always take the time to have conversations with anybody that wants to talk to me about Pound. This band is everything to me and it means a lot when somebody cares enough about it to reach out. I've developed a few new friendships like that and some of those have led to some interesting opportunities for us. 
I went to a Greg Bennick (Trail, Between Earth and Sky, xBystanderx) public speaking event a while back where he talked about the importance of not making snap judgments about people and being open when people take the time to reach out to you. I really took that to heart and try hard to apply it to every situation. If you're a small artist and something you've made has really resonated with somebody, the least you can do is acknowledge their existence. They took time out of their life to reach out to you. The least you can do is write a quick note back.

M.I. - What does Pound have in store for the near future?

We've got three festival dates coming up (Northwest Terror Fest, Armstrong MetalFest and Pain in the Grass). We're waiting to hear back about two different tours but those are both up in the air right now. Other than that, we're hunkering down and working on writing and practicing for our next album.

M.I. - Being Pound a band with a different sonority, is it too complicated booking concerts and all?

Not really. If anything, it gives us a bit of an advantage. We fit well on just about any heavy bill because we've got elements of everything in our music and no vocals/lyrics to allow people to pigeon hole us into one thing or another. Then again, we don't really completely fit on any bills for the same reason. It can be a double-edged sword. 

M.I. - The band will have a summer show with Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson and will be hitting the road this year… what are your expectations?

Playing an amphitheater is a strange thing for a band like ours. We're very aware of how odd our sound is and have very realistic expectations for what we can/can't do as an instrumental two-piece.
I think it's a little bizarre that so many people are focusing on that one show. We've worked hard for a very long time to be able to do what we do. Being on a small label with other like-minded musicians, booking our own tours and getting this band to a point where we're making enough for the band to support itself are all far greater achievements than playing one show on a big stage.
We're a band that started by playing house shows. A lot of the time while we're on tour, we play on the floor in front of the stage so we can have the audience closer to us, but we're also very comfortable on a stage. We've been doing this for 10 years now and have played over 500 shows as a band. A show is just another show, no matter how big the stage or audience is. Playing live is just part of what we do. I don't see any reason to treat an amphitheater show any differently than we would any other show.

M.I. - Have you played many shows? How does the audience respond to your sound?

We've played a lot of shows. Our first year in Seattle we played over 70 shows in the greater Seattle area. There were multiple days when we played two or three shows in a day. We were struggling to get better at playing live and the only way we could think of to get better at it was to go out and play as often as possible. We play live a lot less these days, mostly only when we're touring. We've got two more shows in Seattle and after that, I think it's going to be a long time before we play any local shows again. I often wonder if people are enjoying themselves while we play. Usually, they just stand there and stare and then erupt when we stop playing. As much as I enjoy mosh pits, I appreciate it when people take the time to focus and pay attention to what we're doing when we play live.

M.I. - Music spreads so fast these days because of the internet. Do you think technology and social media may have affected the essence of music?

I know they have. Different cities and countries used to have their own distinct sound. They still do to a degree, but far less than before the internet. That's a large part of how we ended up with so many different sub-genres. With the internet, art, music, and knowledge are readily available to most people. Artists all over the world are taking inspiration from other artists on the other side of the planet, allowing their styles to be influenced by a much wider array people as opposed to being primarily influenced by their immediate surroundings. It's resulted in a lot of new sub-genres and sounds and has created a global network of artists. We've lost a lot of the local identities that we used to have, but we've gained just as much, if not more in return.

M.I. - Please share a message with Metal Imperium’s Webzine readers.

Continue to support local art and music. It's very important to bring people that are outside of the heavy music community to shows and festivals. We need to all work as hard as we can to grow our heavy music communities.

For English version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca