Pastel from Swansea have been building a reputation over the past year and we finally got to see them live at this year’s Rawfest in Cardiff. The music scene in Wales has always favoured the south and Cardiff in particular. However, alongside the likes of Bandicoot the band are proving that there are a multitude of acts in Wales worth seeing beyond the principality. Pastel have released several excellent singles and with their charismatic lead singer and an exciting stage presence they look set to extend their reach far beyond Swansea in the years ahead.
The band started in 2017. The members come from Dublin and Manchester as well as Swansea. How did you meet and end up as Pastel?
James and Jack are cousins from Manchester, and James moved down here with his family when they were going through rehab. Aaron moved from Ireland in August of 2013 and befriended James but it wasn’t until April of 2017 that they started playing music and looking to form the band. When Jack missed his train back to Manchester after a trip down here, he stayed and James recruited him to sing after hearing him sing hazy by shack. James then reached out to Rhys, who he knew from church, and to Jake who he met on a school trip to Israel and that was how the line up became what it is today.
You won Battle of the Bands with The Wave FM and Student Digz Swansea 2018 against some stiff competition. Tell us about how that was like as an experience.
That was magical. We’d only been playing for 3 months so when we saw we were up against experienced acts, we thought oh well we’ll just enjoy it. None of us expected to win, that’s why we’re going mad on stage when we won, it was shock more than anything.
You’ve cited influences from bands such as The Verve, Ride, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Stone Roses. Why those bands and why do you think a young band like yourselves has been influenced by bands from 20-30 years ago?
Part of it comes from our families; individually we’ve got tastes ranging all over the place, from folk to rap to psychedelic. But there are bands we can all agree are amazing, so it’s a good thing we were around when they made their comebacks. Another reason is that for the most part the music of the day didn’t really resonate with us but the passion for music was there which lead us to delve deeper to find what was right for us, but we feel there’s hope for the future of new “rock music” with some of the band’s that have started gaining some attention since half way through the 2010s whether they be abroad or local.
You’ve become quite well known in Swansea selling out headline shows etc. How are you going about getting known to a wider audience within Wales and into the rest of the UK?
Swansea’s home but we’re doing more and more gigs in Cardiff. We’ve done gigs in Wigan and Manchester, and we’d love to do a little tour, maybe with This Feeling or something just to get about and try gain a wider fan base around the UK.
You’ve released 2 singles so far; “Time’s Not on Your Side” and Nothing to Do”. Tell us about the recording process. Where did you record them, who produced and did you go in with a clear idea what you wanted or were they developed in the studio?
The two of them were recorded side my side at Junkyard Studios in Newport. We pretty much knew what we wanted to do before we got there, with Aaron knowing what layers he wanted and then us all knowing they should flow together, because that’s how we do them live: side-by-side like one big song. They were produced by Rich Jackson and it was quite squashed for time but also dragged out with a lot of the mixing done between takes but that could be credited for the raw, high energy sound of the recordings.
Your live gigs are very intense and highly charged. How did you go about developing your live shows?
We don’t really, we’re not the type of band to make sure we’re wearing matching outfits and practice stage directions. We just practice the songs and get on with the sound engineers so they can help with getting a good level, a lot of it is probably just our personalities shining through onstage, the songs themselves and of course the audience themselves reacting to the music and allowing them to get into the headspace to go for it and just get on the same level as we are when we play them.
Having a lollipops on stage seems to be one of singer Jack’s trademarks. How did that come about?
He just went on stage one time with a few in his pocket and now it’s caught on! Probably not good for the teeth, but some people bring their own lollies to the gigs so it’s getting people’s attention in the right way even though no one planned it.
You’ve played Cardiff quite a few times now. How would you say the music scene differs from Swansea’s?
There’s a lot more of a student vibe in Cardiff. In Swansea all our mates come and there’s a lot of people with the same tastes as us, but in Cardiff there’s loads of different bands doing different things, it adds to the vibrancy of the scene. Jake’s in Cardiff uni too so he brings other students to the Cardiff gigs when there’s no exams.
Are there other bands from Swansea that we should all be looking out for?
What plans do the band have for the rest of the year in terms of gigs and releases?
Maybe some recording and releases but you’ll just have to wait and see.