Last Saturday, Rhode Island’s new masters of doom, Pilgrim, came down to New York City yet again and shared the stage with fellow doom warriors Hour of 13 of North Carolina. It was the best I’d seen them and the sold-out crowd definitely shared my enthusiasm towards the band. BBQ Booking caught up with singer/guitarist Jon Rossi to shoot the shit about his band, video games and the future.
Poison Tongue Records — is it true?
Yes, Alan from Primordial contacted us via MySpace. He wants us to do a full-length for them.
How’d he hear about you guys?
The Internet is a weird place. You'll find what you're looking for if you look for it long enough.
Are you a Primordial fan?
I'd never heard of them until he contacted me. They're alright.
Tell me the story of Pilgrim thus far. I believe you founded the band?
I did. I met my drummer Nick in high school. We bonded over Nineties musicians like Nirvana and the Melvins. We used to be called Big Cheese. As time went on, we discovered doom and stoner rock and it resonated really well with us. We wanted to play music that encompassed our personal interests with the sound established by our idols so we started writing music about Satan, Dungeons and Dragons and The Legend of Zelda. It all stemmed from there. We are basement dwellers at heart. We like tabletop roleplaying games and video games — we’re not going to lie. Mixing that with Satan and drugs is the vibe we get.
Do you remember the first time you encountered doom metal?
I heard Electric Wizard by accident one day. I heard the Dopesmoker album and showed it to my friends. It changed our lives.
There's a variety of doom metal today, such as sludge, traditional doom, doom-death...which do you prefer? I get a very Reverend Bizarre sound from you guys.
Yeah, the traditional doom sound has found a way into our hearts. Reverend Bizarre is definitely one of our favorite bands of all time. They are fucking KILLER.
You guys played with Hour of 13 last weekend. How’d it go? You guys seem to play down here a lot.
Coming down to NYC is always a treat for us, although rather expensive, which is unfortunate considering we are all as poor as you can get. Seems like each time we stomp through the city we get a better and better reception. We're glad people understand what we're playing; something that people in Rhode Island can't fathom for the life of them.
How is the Rhode Island metal scene, anyway?
It is utter shit; complete garbage. I can name two or three bands that rule from Providence but other than a hopeful handful, there is a sea of screamo, emo, core, bullshit guitar-centered rock bands and kids that think it'd be cool to have a band – inspired by the worst of the worst — ruining it for the rest of us. It's truly a disgrace.
At least you guys have Armageddon Records.
Yeah, they're awesome dudes. Rhode Island is a place of great creative dominance. You can feel it in the air here. Unfortunately, I feel it is going to poor use.
"Forsaken Man" is the track that I feel best represents Pilgrim. It's epic and says "doom metal" all over it. How do you go about composing? Who are your influences?
Writing comes really slowly to us. I feel like it takes months of inspiration and emotion for us to conjure even a basic idea for a song. We don't like to play something unless we know Astaroth himself would be pleased. Seriously.
We sort of think of our songs as secular dirges; heavy, electric chamber music, if you will. They're not really written for our enjoyment, or for people listening. We write for the gods! And to name a few influences: Reverend Bizarre, Electric Wizard, Burzum, Acid King, Ramesses, the Melvins…anything huge, heavy and meaningful.
It's very interesting to me that you guys are so young, yet your musical tastes completely avoid trendy music that most people in your age group listen to. Not to mention the fact that very little goes on in Rhode Island. Care to explain how this is?
I think it stems from how we grew up. We were nerds, to be frank, one way or another. A lot of time reflecting, thinking and growing by your lonesome leads to a creative and powerful mind. I think each member of this band has done that. Also, growing up in the new millennium, we’ve had access to the Internet and have actively searched out — like a holy fucking quest — the best and purest music. A lot of it, in our opinion, happens to be doom and black metal haha.
Would it be fair to say that your involvement in roleplaying games and video games already set you guys apart from mainstream culture?
Most definitely. It’s never been something considered "cool," although recently we've been noticing a huge resurgence and interest in fantasy media, probably due in part to the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films.
What are some roleplaying and/or video games that you're really into, and did you like those Lord of the Rings films?
I personally love the films. Nick can recite the entire movie almost line for line.
I play a lot of old-school console and PC games. I love The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy: they warped my mind as a small kid. I still play them to this day, over and over. We play Dungeons and Dragons on and off, unfortunately not as much as we used to. Also, I think the group consensus as of this very moment is that The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is our current favorite game.
How about Star Wars?
Growing up in the Nineties, we got lucky with our lot of fantasy entertainment, but missed out on a lot of the old greats, like Star Wars. The band loves Star Wars, but I've never gotten to bask in its full, original glory.
You know, I'm shocked that you guys aren't into bands like Finntroll or that folk/battle stuff.
I am, too. There’s something about folk metal that we're not really into. We like darkness in music — dark music; evil music.
So I guess "party thrash" is something you will never enjoy, even at the least.
Hahaha, perhaps not. Maybe when we're older and not such strict critics.
Let’s go back to the full-length. What’s the progress report?
We're waiting to hear back from the big-wigs at Metal Blade.
They’re a big deal.
They scare us, but we know Alan has a good reputation. We trust him to not let our music disintegrate into a money trap.
Better get a lawyer ASAP.
We’re working on it.
I’m pretty much done with the questions. Any last words?
Fuck new metal, throw away your TV and shut off your radio. The Internet is a powerful tool — use it to go back in time and see what once was. There is a lot of good music you haven't discovered yet that needs listening, such as Nightlore. And HAIL ASTAROTH!
Download/listen to the band's latest demo here now. You will not be disappointed.