When forming a band the temptation to base your sound on an already established band or keep your influences that close that you sound like a miniature clone would be hard to resist.
In a sense, you would be riding the coat tails of someone who has done all the hard work and in theory, it would give your band an added advantage early on, but according to vocalist Nikki, from Melbourne metallers Pagan, it is quite the opposite.
“We’re not really trying to sound like anything,” she stressed. “We have certain musical influences, but it’s hard to explain what our sound actually is. We’re not the band who says we wanna be this genre of music or sound like a particular band. When we first started jamming the guys came up with some riffs and made songs out of that and then I came along and started writing my lyrics and the melodies for the songs. We’re not really any specific genre, but we do have influences like rock and roll kind of stuff with a more blackened sound.”
Since forming two years ago, Pagan have quickly established themselves on the local circuit, reaching #1 on the JJJ punk/metal charts with Heavy Repeater and selling out their first ever live show at the Tote in Melbourne, and Nikki says it is important for a band in the early stages of their career to have a plan in place.
“I think…. We definitely wanted the band to be successful. We all love playing music, and we all love being in the studio and recording, and we all love doing the creative side of things like photo shoots or videos or marketing ourselves or coming up with ideas for t-shirts. We’ve always known that we wanted the band to be something more than just playing to five people – there’s nothing wrong with that; you have to go through that as a band – and I believe if you can’t play in front of five people and be amazing you don’t deserve to play in front of a packed room and be amazing. All the guys have been playing in bands for years. Dan used to play in a band called Cavalcade and Matt and Dave used to play together in a band called Kill the Matador and those bands had a degree of success but they never really took off and I think they were all a bit reluctant at the start to do it again just because they’d been doing it for so long and they were a bit over it, but because they were really good friends they started jamming and had such a good time playing together and then I came on board and I must say I felt like a little bit of a fourth wheel for the first time getting to know Matt and Dave properly, because I already knew Dan. Straight away we became really good friends and just had a good relationship to work in a band together, and we made it fun. We all love what we do so I think in the long term it’s going to work, and it’s working already. We take everything seriously as a band from photos to recording a song to even a Facebook post; we think about everything we do because we know how we want to market ourselves.”
As a female front person in a metal band, Nikki feels that although the role of women in music is gaining traction, there is still a long way to go.
“If I’m going to be honest I still think it’s a pretty sad state of affairs the lack of women in the heavy music scene,” she hissed.
“I know that it is a boys club. I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people who don’t stereotype women and don’t make you feel like an outcast. I think I purposely associate myself with these kinds of people, but it’s really sad because there are so few women in the scene because they do feel genuinely intimidated. I think there is judgment, and I feel like people can be really harsh when it comes to criticising a woman in a band.”
“I have girls come up to me all the time after shows and say ‘I really wish I could do what you do’ and just the fact they even say that makes me realise they do want to do it, but I think they’re scared, and I know how that feels. Since I was young, I wanted to be in a band, and it took me to really grow up and mature to be able to do it because it’s really scary. It’s such a boys club, and I just feel like it needs to change and what I realised was if you want something to change you have to be the person to change it. I want to be the change. I’ve had enough of seeing just men doing this and why? It’s so backwards; it’s ridiculous in this society that we can still have those problems. I don’t feel there should be any difference between a man or a woman up there. If you think you’re a good performer, and you’re a good musician – I don’t mean you have to be able to shred or anything like that – but if you’re genuinely gifted with writing music or performing or telling a story then you deserve to be on stage, and you deserve all the success in the world, regardless of gender.”
PAGAN ARE SUPPORTING TOTALLY UNICORN ON THEIR DREAM LIFE TOUR
Friday 23 September – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Saturday 24 September – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
Thursday 29 September – Newtown Social Club, Sydney
Friday 30 September – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Sunday 2 October – Yours and Owls Festival, Wollongong
Friday 7 October – The Foundry, Brisbane
Saturday 8 October – The Great Northern, Byron Bay
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