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Cover Story: Pivot! The Puzzling Pulse

Written by Michael Carr on August 2, 2008

Pivot can be likened to those Magic Eye posters. At first things don’t make sense but as you squint and stare through the image, a rich three-dimensional picture appears. It is appropriate then that I find myself talking to Laurence Pike, the band’s stick wielding skin magician amidst the sprawling hedges and walkways of a Victorian maze.

Laurence seems almost oblivious of the maze, as he greets me warmly and tells me about the band’s move to Europe to tour in support of their upcoming album O Soundtrack My Heart. “I’m missing Australia but mainly because I haven’t seen my girlfriend in three months. We came over here at the end of March with some plans, but at that stage it was just to see what happened, and fortunately a lot of things have. We’ve ended up playing probably over 30 shows in the last three months, and we’ve been getting some good responses from audiences and press alike, so things couldn’t have gone better in that respect.”

“Richard fucked Peaches Geldof, and David had a spew on himself outside Ten Downing Street, so we’re doing ok.”

He leads me through the perplexing corners and turns, never missing a beat, walking with a purposeful gait as he tells me about what him and the band have been doing to occupy their free time. “Well, Richard fucked Peaches Geldof, and David had a spew on himself outside Ten Downing Street, so we’re doing ok,” he laughs.

“But yeah we’ve had a lot of time off, just hanging out in London where we’ve been sort of based, you know time to just get to know the city and get to know good people.  We’re generally pretty… militant isn’t the right word, but you know we work ourselves pretty hard. We’re always doing things you know, if we’re not doing gigs we’re organising other aspects of the band or working on new material.”

It doesn’t strike me as strange. We have now penetrated to the centre of the maze, in a time span I find incredible, but Laurence again ignores this fact and calmly continues. “This trip hasn’t been too gruelling as far as playing gig after gig after gig; we’ve had enough time off in between. It gets to you though, mentally, in terms of being away and it’s been a long trip and it’ll be four months by the time we get back. But it’s often easier if you are playing every night, there’s a direct purpose for every moment of your day, everything’s scheduled in some way when you’ve got a show that night.”

“From September onwards we’ve got something like two months of solid dates. I haven’t… ohhhh,” he groans, “I haven’t even seen that schedule yet, I think I’m going to cry when I do.”

We leave the maze and head over to a butcher’s shop where Laurence, again with no explanation leads me straight into the back where Richard (guitarist and Laurence’s brother) and Dave Miller (laptop) are hacking into raw flesh with cleavers. “I’m really excited about coming back to Sydney,” he tells me as his white apron catches its first splashes of red. “I mean, Sigur Rós, it’s going to be huge. What a great way to come home, ‘hey mum, I’m going to be back in town, come see me play at the Hordern.’”

Pivot will also be launching their album when they come over, with the event to be held at the Oxford Art Factort, where they played their sell-out farewell show.  “They like us there and they’re always asking us to come back, so we thought Ahhh ok we’ll do another one. We sold it out, so we’re hoping we’ll have a similar response for the album launch, and the tickets have been selling really well so it’s looking good. But I’m hoping the gig in Sydney will be a big party, with all of our old friends, and all of our knew friends actually, everyone can come, we can all come down and party in one big sweaty heap,” he exclaims slapping a fresh hunk of meat onto the chopping block.

The band have persevered through the underground Sydney scene since their formation in 1999, refusing to abandon their joyously mind jarring mix of ambient electronica and frenetic math-rock. “I don’t want to sound like woe is me, but we’ve always done our own sort of thing and we’ve never really been part of a particular scene, we’ve always sort of drifted between doing gigs in the electronic scene and gigs in the indie scene or what have you. But it’s funny because going to other towns, like Melbourne we’ve found we didn’t really fit in anywhere in particular there either, but that’s kind of cool we’ve always accepted that and just thought, well let’s just do what we do and if we do it well we’ll find an audience for it. And that seems to be happening slowly but surely.”

“It’s strange though, there’s another side to it, because I think that the fact we don’t fit in is one of the things that we have going for us. Elements of our music can appeal to a lot of different people, so hopefully it’s not as obscure as we might think. And the evidence is there, coming to Europe and playing in different countries, to different people and lots of different age groups as well, all responding to the music.  We’ve had a lot of older music fans, like guys in their 40s coming up who were obviously listening to a lot of the shit we’ve listened to as influences and it resonates with them in that way. But then we get a lot of indie kids that are impressed because there’s a lot of stuff they’ve never heard before, or there are things that are familiar to them which excites them as well.”

And it’s no surprise. If you’ve ever had the chance to see Pivot live, you will understand what I mean when I say their music bubbles the blood. The way they give birth to organic landscapes of twisting and intricate rhythms and riffs, before slamming into sinew snapping breakdowns is an experience as visceral as it is musical. It is filled with purpose, with a driving force. A puzzling pulse.

This is also felt outside their music, as evidenced with their ballsy move to Europe. “Doing things is often more important than anything, you know and it can be difficult, you’re always going to lose money on your first tour, but it’s all about doing it regularly and building momentum. Momentum’s the word. You’ve just got to be brave and do it sometimes.” He wipes the blood off his cleaver with his apron, and strides out the door once more.

Pivot will be supporting Sigur Rós at The Hordern Pavilion on August 2

Their album launch is at Oxford Arts Factory on August 8

O Soundtrack My Heart will be released in Australia August 9 through Warp Records

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