Great Pagans – Interview – 2015

Great Pagans formed in Brighton in 2012, a project formed around frontman Alex Painter, co-founder of the Anti-Ghost Moon Ray collective. Their smooth ethereal vocals and beautifully layered post-punk indie pop sound has definitely impressed us at BrightonsFinest following the first listen of their self-titled debut EP in 2012. It grew into a love affair in October 2014 after the released their first album, Cupid In Error, which was very well received all around. I had a pint with Alex to discuss what makes Great Pagans.

How has music shaped you early life?
My parents are both music teachers, so music has always been around. I started playing the piano for a bit, then took up the saxophone and guitar. I now teach sax. I listened to a lot of nu metal when I was younger, but listening back, they are some of the worst lyrics ever. I grew up in Devon then moved up to Liverpool where I went to University to study music, then spent some time in Manchester, but when I moved to Brighton, it felt more like home so I stayed.

What’s the story behind the name?
I have always been fascinated by Dante’s Inferno, where all the Great Pagans live in this great castle, and I liked the idea of that.

How would you describe the Great Pagans influences?
There is a big influence from 80s indie, and a slightly jangled pop. A lot of post- punk pop, and people playing around with a lot of textures like Talking Heads, David Bowie, Brian Eno and David Lynch film soundtrack kind of stuff as well.

What inspires your lyrics?
The last album was mainly about a break up after a long term relationship, very much catharsis to getting it out of my system. Hopefully more of a warm melancholy than an utter bleakness. I also tried to link in the Great Pagans theme of religion and mythology as well.

How do you attack the recording process?
I write most of the music and put it together as demos. Then I bring them to the band and they treat them, adding their ideas and arrangments etc. The new stuff is a lot more band orientated, and will be more live recorded.

Is there a new album on the way?
We are just trying to raise funding so we can start recording. The last one pretty much cleared me out and I will be paying it off for a long time. We have got a load of new tracks ready and we are desperate to record them as soon as possible. We have a single that we are planning to release around September that we recently played live for the first time at Green Door Store.

If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they add?
David Byrne around the late 70s – I feel he would have an interesting angle on things and the way he would take things apart. He and Brian Eno would be a pretty phenomenal production team, they would be constantly turning themselves on their own heads to find new ways to do things.

What have you been listening to at the moment?
I’m currently listening to the new Jessica Pratt album, which I think its sunning. I listen to a lot of Minor Threat, regularly. I also just bought Slayers’ Reining Blood on vinyl that I found it in a shop in Worthing which I didn’t know existed

What has been a musical eye-opener?
I got to see Sonic Youth up in Minehead that absolutely blew my mind. Then I saw Deerhoof who completely opened my eyes to rock music, and is something I would love to emulate when playing live.