This week we’re shining the Meet The Band spotlight on the UK mathcore trio Pupil Slicer. Their debut album is Mirrors. Vocalist/guitarist Kate Davies, bassist Luke Fabian and drummer Josh Andrews introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Pupil Slicer.
Luke Fabian: Kate and Josh started as a jokey death-grind band filled with high hopes of underground stardom. There were a couple of configurations of members. I joined about three years ago. Kate then had at her disposal the ideal set of players to fulfil the bands mathcore destiny. Many shows, riffs and mixes later, here we stand with our debut LP – Mirrors.
Describe the songwriting process for Mirrors.
Kate Davies: There was no one method to writing songs on this album besides that it was mostly written in chunks. A specific riff or drum pattern would be written by either Josh or myself individually or through jamming and then different things glued together to make up the songs from the resulting sections.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Luke: A blazing-hot, sweaty, uncomfortable and challenging summer weekend recording bass. Spent at my house with Kate and Adam C Taylor (of Everest Queen – who kindly engineered the bass) and cooking lots of vegetarian food for the Slicer-bass-team.
Josh Easter: The last moment of recording drums! We tracked “Collective Unconscious” last in the studio and it was a massive emotional release, not only because its an emotional song but because it felt great to finish tracking everything on our debut album.
Kate: For me it was probably the grueling vocal sessions. I wasn’t really prepared for them and ended up only being able to track one or two songs per session before my voice was completely gone and unusable since I haven’t ever learnt to sing properly – something I hope to address before we next play live!
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
Luke: For me it’s a blend of metallic hardcore, Dillinger and Converge worship with some self-loathing and a healthy serving of musicality.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Kate: The album covers a range of topics, but the general theme is of personal introspection into my mindset and reflecting on depression, anxiety and other struggles I face personally, and discrimination that affects people in general in a wider sense, all through the lens of extreme metal and the hyperbole that entails.
How did you come to sign with Prosthetic Records?
Josh: We’re all fans of Prosthetic Records for a number of reasons. We sent over the record to them via email and instantly struck up a conversation on the same day. We really enjoy working with Prosthetic and have a great relationship already.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Kate: We don’t really have any. We had some mild ones around maybe being able to sell all our copies of the album on vinyl eventually, but we’ve already had to order a larger pressing due to the overwhelmingly positive reception we’ve received! We honestly are just along for the ride and want to keep making the music we love and hope people will enjoy the rest of the album as much as they did the initial singles.
How did the pandemic affect the band and album release?
Luke: From the standpoint of the actual LP release, not too much as everything was recorded and mixed before the pandemic. In terms of playing shows, well……
What has been your most memorable Pupil Slicer live show?
Luke: Every Slicing is memorable – as Kate is liable to either come flailing at me, or an audience member and everywhere in between.
Josh: Definitely playing with Frontierer. That was a crazy show and very scary as it was Kate’s first time doing vocals with me (I have since stopped doing live vox). We had a great time and then got to see one of our favorite bands after, a win-win!
Kate: Probably playing The Old Blue last in London at like 1am. It was a really weirdly timed show and we were the last act of the night, most of the people had gone home but the ones that remained were all moshing like crazy. I jumped off the stage at one point and ended up falling over on landing, and breaking all the knobs off of my guitar.
When do you think you’ll be able to play live again?
Josh: Who knows? We’re hoping to hit things big in 2022, though!
How did you get started in music?
Josh: I started with an old drum kit my dad had in our loft when I was about 10. He liked a lot of heavy rock and cool music so that really kickstarted my interest in drumming and music!
Luke: After rinse repeating Maiden’s Live After Death and RHCP’s Off The Map concert videos, I got a short scale beginners bass from Normans Music in Eltham – South East London. It’s one of the oldest music shops in London, and opened in 1914. I was about 14-15. With the bass came an old-school instructional VHS “How To Play The Electric Bass.” I taught myself using that and the concert videos mentioned.
Kate: I had a very cheap (like £15) nylon string guitar when I was around 8 but never really learned to play anything on it. My mum encouraged me to join a local fiddle orchestra and I ended up playing violin for 10 years instead. Once I started getting into metal when I was 18 I bought an electric guitar so I could try learning Deafheaven songs and had a couple lessons to learn the basics.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Luke: Steve Harris, Flea, Fieldy, Cliff Burton – these beasts made me want to slice the bass, and still continue to today, 15 plus years after I started playing!
Josh: As a young drummer, John Bonham, Lars Ulrich and Keith Moon. Thinking in terms of Mirrors and Pupil Slicer I would have to say Chris Pennie, Paul Seidel and Elliot Hoffman.
Kate: Kerry McCoy, Kurt Ballou, Scott Hull, Ben Weinman and Todd Jones were probably my primary influences on guitar playing, at least theirs are the songs I learned to cover the most.
What was the first rock/metal concert you attended?
Luke: Mad Capsule Markets – a Japanese band that played a mix of punk/electronic/nu metal, in the early 2000s at the Mean Fiddler (part of the Astoria – RIP) in London, with my dad. What a mad show.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Luke: Humanity’s Last Breath and Abiotic both put out some great death metal recently. In the longer term, I have really been enjoying label mates Exists latest LP Egoiista.
Josh: I’m enjoying the new Genghis Tron singles a lot! I’ve been digging into some MF Doom deeper cuts since he sadly passed away last year. I have also been really enjoying the latest Myrkur record, I slept on it for a while but it’s nice company in the winter months!
Kate: For me it’s the new releases from Hazing Over and for your health, as well as the new single from Mouthbreather. All of them are killing it right now.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Luke: Dan of Trepanation Recordings (and Mastiff) has put out the LP on a limited run tape. He has always been a supporter of the band, which is much appreciated. I recommend checking out the wide variety of heavy and experimental music the label puts out.
(interview published March 12, 2021)
Watch Pupil Slicer – “Wounds Upon My Skin” Video