Although two members have studied jazz and another classical singing, the musical Wellington trio Pales produce is probably closer to art-folk than anything else.
Mike Isaacs, who plays guitar and woodwind, acknowledges local influences, lists Seth Frightening in particular for the first track on their new album, Right St. He also mentions Fuyukos Fables, guitarist and double bassist Scott Maynard‘s other band, along with the likes of Other, Tiny Ruins and Sheep, Dog & Wolf.
“Harmony-wise, jazz school probably didnt affect [me] very much,” Isaacs maintains. “But I learnt how to play all the woodwind doubles, and I try to use that quite a lot in what weve done so far. With rehearsing and learning how to write music, it definitely helps ‘cos the jazz stuff is quite technical, and this isn’t opposite, but is quite different.”
”Though it’s not necessary, it’s definitely a help – if we hadn’t studied at jazz school we wouldn’t be writing the same sort of songs, in terms of types of chords used. While it’s not intentional, it has some influence,” Maynard recommends.
The Pales album, titled ‘It’s Cold Outside’, was recorded last year, in Isaacs’ bedroom for the most part. Apart from one track which vocalist/banjo player Rose Blake and he did together, Isaacs also wrote the album and says that writing comes naturally. The plan is for the next release to be all of Blake’s music, and the one after that will be all Maynard’s.
‘It’s Cold Outside’ is lyrically strong, and needs to be given the spare and ambient nature of most of the album. Only Bad Luck features drums, courtesy of both Cory Champion and Alexander Green. James Paul adds electric guitar to four of the tracks.
Many of the songs are about things that were happening at the time – a relationship ended, a close friend died, he was trying to survive as a musician, finding a way to do what he loves. The last two tracks, It’s Cold Outside Part I and Part 2, are particularly powerful. They were about the same thing – the end of a relationship – but after the death of his friend he changed some of the lyrics in the second part, and now they read as a before/after story.
With each member writing their own album more personal touches are able to be added, and a follow up to ‘It’s Cold Outside’ is already in the works.
“Rose has written nine tracks, so we’re gonna start looking to record those pretty soon. We are trying to play as much as we can, we have to play heaps and try get up to Auckland as well.”