Pelican brief - Band swoops up metal-influenced instrumentals

Jun 6, 2006 at 6:25 pm

When discovering the band Pelican, I didn’t immediately make the connection between their unique brand of trudging, metal-influenced instrumental numbers and the sea-faring, pouch-beaked bird from which the band takes its name. But after talking to guitarist Laurent Lebec, I suddenly couldn’t even remember what I was having trouble understanding. I told him it seemed like heavy bands tend to favor heavy sounding names, like Mastodon, for example. He agreed there isn’t “a more appropriate name for Mastodon than Mastodon,” but added that he and fellow band members, guitarist Trevor de Brauw and the sibling rhythm section of Bryan Herweg on bass and brother Larry on drums, were looking for a band name that “opened us up to new possibilities. We wanted no confinements as an instrumental band, being able to take on more metallic elements and also more mellow, soothing passages. We wanted something that would sort of reflect that, and the idea of flight and nature sort of came up.”

And although the word pelican would’ve before been much more likely to conjure in my mind images of cartoon package-carrying birds and seafood restaurant mascots, after hearing Pelican’s epic songs that effortlessly move from one tone to another — similar to how a pelican might move from sky to water to land and back to sky — it’s difficult to argue with Lebec’s explanation.

There’s been a recent rise in the number of instrumental bands in the world of independent music, but Lebec is quick to point out that hardly represents a movement.

“I think in this case … there’s just an alarming number of really bad, carbon-copy, cookie-cutter emo bands that are just so ridiculous and simplistic in their delivery that I feel like people are seeking out underground music more voraciously than before,” he says.

Although Lebec disavows anything that merits the term “movement,” he admits there is a certain degree of brotherhood among instrumental bands, where there are a few similarities in approach, but where differences are celebrated over similarities. Movement or not, Pelican are glad to have a receptive audience, and Lebec hopes that “presenting people with instrumental music is presenting them with the possibility of music weaving into their lives in a way that other types of music sometimes can’t, because without the presence of vocals, the possibility for personal interpretation and a subjective music experience is a lot easier.”

Pelican swoop into Louisville with instrumental brethren Mono and Russian Circles this Sunday.

Sex and rock ’n’ roll have been irrevocably bound since day one. From the day the mysterious new style of music took its name from a slang term for sex, the bond was made, and the rest, as they say, is history. Next Wednesday, June 14, sex and rock ’n’ roll are coming together again — in a considerably different way — at the Rudyard Kipling, where there will be a benefit show for Planned Parenthood.

Anyone who hasn’t already given up on society and become a hermit knows that recently there has been significant controversy surrounding the usually flying-under-the-radar state of South Dakota. The state passed a bill to ban abortion, which sparked all sorts of debates: the usual current ones about abortion, women’s rights, fetal rights and so on, and revived old arguments about states’ rights. Planned Parenthood denounced the ban and promised a legal battle to reverse it.

Several Louisville bands have decided to get together a benefit for the South Dakota branch of Planned Parenthood. Although we may be blessed with not living in South Dakota, we are in a state precariously tilted to the Right; if a ban like this remains in place in one state, it can be used to challenge federal law. Then it’s just a matter of time before it lands on the desk of the Supreme Court, which is decidedly conservative at the moment. And as the past has shown us, when regression becomes en vogue nationwide, it’s only a matter of time before Kentucky jumps on the bandwagon, if it’s not there already (see: Fletcher administration).

The lineup is Ayin, Manhatta and August Moon. Two things are certain: There will be plenty of bands to enjoy, and it doesn’t really matter who is playing because the money from the show is for a good cause.

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