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After a couple of Milwaukee bands splt up, Scott Schoenbeck and Chris Rosenau both started playing with Jon Mueller and eventually incorporated ex-Promise Ring bassist Scott Beschta. Beschta moved on to join another band that he'd eventually leave as well, and Schoenbeck followed to fill on bass with the Promise Ring, which he would eventually leave too. In jumped a big teddy bear of a bass player, Matt Tennessen, rebirthing Pele as the trio most of us have come to know and love.
As the saying goes, the current lineup of Pele continue to take their music further into solid territory. They are forming a sound rooted in multi-genres, but defined by their own brand of experimental catchiness. This new recipe, combining elements of experimentation and improvisation with the intentional melodies heard on their records, is cooked clearly live. Indeed. After catching the band a few times last fall and winter, I decided to track them down for an interview, but it wasn't until the other day that an email from Jon Mueller, Pele's fanatical drummer, popped up in my inbox with the following correspondence.
Jon Mueller: Hi. This is Jon Mueller from Pele. Since [Chris] has been too busy to answer your questions, I took the liberty of answering them all. Hope this is ok, and sorry about the delay. Thanks for inviting us to talk. Sorry you'll only get one side of the story.
LAS: Well, Jon, how have things been in the Pele camp as of late?
The world is a mess and that affects everyone. We've brought in our friend Jon Minor (who was also on the People Living With Animals album) to play computer. This will make our music even more of a mess and will hopefully create a double negative.
What's up with this Rhythm Of Black Lines split? How did that come about?
Jason at Sixgunlover Records was kind enough to ask us to take part. It was a nice chance for us to work on some new stuff with Minor. It's a nice diversion from the all out rock of the live shows, but still very Pele sounding.
Are you excited about Pele right now, or are you just going through the motions? Give me some insight on the current condition of the Pele psyche.
It would be difficult to go through the motions with this band because we only do what we can and want to do anyway. Anything we do, we're into.
What was the last band/performance that really marked your musical identity? I guess the last time that you saw something you'll remember like yesterday, forever. When was that?
Seeing Axel Dörner had a great affect on me. It was a great example of someone playing an instrument really well, though totally unlike most would expect a trumpet to sound. That inspires me to get more sounds out of my instrument, and to work on method and control, to make it not an experiment, but a technique.
Your website is pretty interactive. What's the deal with all the movies?
The movies are a small glimpse into what happens when we're not playing, which is also a big part of the fun of touring. They might not make any sense out of context, but hopefully people will find humor in them. Can we make it any easier to laugh?
How much of Pele's character is a publicity stunt and how much of it is true color?
What the hell are you talking about? A publicity stunt? We just do what we do. I didn't know we had a collective character either. Please don't associate my personality with that Tennessen person.
How does Pele relate to or filter through to your various other projects?
The Collections of Colonies of Bees stuff that Chris does has some connections to Pele in songwriting and structure. But otherwise, a lot of the other stuff we do actually filters more into Pele, rather than Pele filtering through to them.
What happened to Paris, Texas? Did Matt ditch them?
No. Matt is still with Paris, TX. They are working on a new record and touring as usual. They're great guys.
What is the recipe for your favorite drink?
Black martini (vodka and chambord), although after the other night, I won't be having those anymore. Chris and Tennessen love the brown liquor (whiskey) with 7up.
In all honesty and sincerity, what have you learned from Pele?
How to play rock music with very open rules. This has also taught us all how to listen more to each other and think on the spot, to change things and have everyone else understand (or at least know how to react). That's why we don't fall into categories beyond rock music. We play our songs and we play them how we want to.
What are the pending future plans for Pele?
We're working hard on the new full-length, which is pretty near being done and will be out on Polyvinyl Records this fall. We also are working on a remix for Salvo Beta, which will come out on Some Odd Pilot Records this summer, I think. Hopefully, we'll also be going to Japan this year, when the new record comes out, and of course more shows here then too. After that, who knows? SEE ALSO: www.jonmueller.net
SEE ALSO: www.polyvinylrecords.com
SEE ALSO: www.croutonmusic.com
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.
See other articles by Eric J Herboth.
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