Interview w/ Weymouth's Pulitzer Prize Fighter
Proud to present to you today an interview with some of Weymouth's handsomest up and comers Pulitzer Prize Fighter. The guys have been on my musical radar for quite some time, playing amongst the likes of The Okay Win and have stood out for their original blend of indie rock that melds together a host of different genres to create a musical blend that is unlike no other and brings out the best from these guys that are only getting better as time passes. The guys were super awesome enough to take some time out to do a little chat as we talk about the band's beginnings, plus we talk about their just released new album "The End of The World" and where they see themselves moving forward. Here is the transcript from our talk:
Give us your names and your roles in the band?
Ryan MacDougall - Drummer
Colin McDonald - Guitar/Vocals
Colin MacDougall - Lead Guitar
Patrick Logue - Guitar/Vocals
Dan Garrity - Bass/Sax/Vocals
How did you guys initially meet to form the group?
Colin McDonald and Ryan MacDougall have been playing together on and off for over ten years. Pulitzer Prize Fighter was formed out of the ashes of their former projects with the addition of Ryan's brother Colin and later the addition of Dan Garrity on bass. This tandem played together for around two years releasing their first EP 'All Sweetness and Light' in 2012. Pulitzer's current lineup came to fruition with the addition of Patrick Logue on guitar in mid-2014.
As a group, we wrote, recorded, and released our newest EP titled 'The End of the World' on January 19th. Since our inception, our sound has morphed into what we like to consider the perfect blend of emo and R&B.
Where does the name Pulitzer Prize Fighter originate?
One of Ryan's favorite bands is Braid, who had a song titled "Consolation Prize Fighter". He was also playing a lot of Sporcle quizzes that involved three word puzzles, where the first two words have a meaning, the second two words have meaning, and you need to solve for the middle word. He was in his Journalism class when his professor was talking about Pulitzer Prize winners and put it all together.
What are some of your individual musical influences that may have helped shape the sound of the band?
Patrick's main influences are emo bands from the 2000s like Taking Back Sunday and Fall Out Boy as well as more R&B influenced groups like Bad Rabbits and progressive rock bands like Coheed and Cambria. Colin MacDougall's main influences stem from progressive metal/rock, metal, and post-hardcore bands such as Chon, Periphery, Polyphia, August Burns Red, Being As An Ocean, Erra, and Intervals. Dan vibes to all forms of rock and floats into the electronic and hip-hop genres as well. Some of his influences are Band of Gypsy's, The James Gang, Rage Against the Machine, Animal Collective, and A Tribe Called Quest. Ryan listens to a lot of Midwestern Emo (Braid, Promise Ring, Desaparecidos) but also loves 80's-90's college rock (Pixies, Dinosaur Jr). Colin has always gravitated towards classic R&B, Neo-Soul, Rock and Progressive Rock. Some of his influences include D'angelo, The Rolling Stones, Snarky Puppy and Steely Dan.
Growing up, did you guys all envision of being in a band someday or was it something that came along naturally?
Ryan and Colin's father, Gary played in a grunge band in the 90's and practiced in their basement in South Weymouth. Eventually, that same rehearsal space was repurposed to be used as PPF's practice space. Dan has played saxophone since 5th grade and did not fully envision being in a band until picking up the guitar at age 16. Colin McDonald has been playing in bands since his early teens but has been playing with Ryan in various bands for quite some time. Pat was in W. Roxbury's Some Assembly Required starting in his early teens.
Take us behind the recording process for "The End of The World" and what that experience was like for the each of you?
Every song was mostly sussed out by the time we entered the studio to lay down scratch tracks. The process started out slow and steady; we outlined the tempo maps for the click tracks and laid down scratch tracks over the course of a couple of weeks. We started recording drums once the scratch tracks were down and that is when we picked the pace. As anyone who has done any recording knows, drums are the hardest instrument to get sounding just right. The tuning, the room being used, the microphone placement, the TYPE of microphones used, along with a myriad of other variables can all either make or break a drum sound. At the end of the day however, the most important part of the recording process, regardless of the instrument being played, is the player himself; and without question, we have one of the best drummers around in Ryan Macdougall. After drums finished up, we started on Guitars. We used a Vox AC15 for a few of the guitar tracks, but the vast majority of the tracks were done with Fractal Audio's AxeFx hardware interface. We really fell in love with this unit for recording purposes after Colin MacDougall obtained one for his own live rig. We recorded bass using the Di output of Dan's bass amp directly into our A/D/A converter (SSL AlphaLink MADI-AX). Dan is a real pro so his bass tracks took a matter of hours. Vocals came next and that was a quick process with both Pat and Colin McDonald having recorded studio vocals on many prior occasions. As a last minute addition, we decided to include the last song on our EP: 'Up on a Shelf', which we recorded separately from the rest of the process. Ryan did all of the drum programming for that song. Finally, after we finished recording the rest of the minor tertiary tracks (Sound Effects, etc.), the mixing process began. And when I say 'began', I mean, we waited until the last minute to mix our tracks before our deadline to ship the final mixes off to John Naclerio; mastering wizard at Nada Studios.
Both myself (Colin McDonald) and Gary engaged in a marathon mixing session in which we not only mixed all of the tracks, but did all of the editing, etc. We have some good studio monitors at Big Decibel so we were able to get a good reference as to what it would sound like through nice speakers, but we wanted to see how it would sound over other mediums as well. So, after mixing each song, we all would go out to my car and listen to the product. We did this with every song, and I have to say, it took way too much time, but my Jeep made all the difference in these mixes. After all was said and done, the mixing/editing process took 24 hours straight. The recording took place at Big Decibel Studio, which is ironically in the same house that we rehearse. Ryan and Colin's dad, Gary and I run Big Decibel and we both shared engineering and production duties. The nice thing about recording at Big Decibel was the fact that we were able to work at a comfortable pace while still setting and meeting important deadlines.
What are some of your favorite tracks off the new effort that stand out and capture the essence of the record?
We all have personal favorites but without question, and since 'Over and Out' was our first real step towards our new sound, and a collaborative writing effort, we all really consider that song to be our favorite. It is our first born, and everyone knows, mommy and daddy love their first born best.
Music aside, what do you guys like to do for fun and leisure away from the stage?
The Den. TB. T-Bell. Bon-Chon. Chipotle. Alcohol. Fresh produce. Fair-Trade certified.
What can we expect from you guys this year, any shows in the near future?
Booty, booty, booty, booty, rockin' everywhere. New Music. Shows. Booty.
Lastly, how has being in this band shaped your life up until this point?
Less money. More fun. Less Sleep. More friends.
Thanks once again to all the guys in Pulitzer Prize Fighter for being so awesome in doing this interview. Talking to the guys after their show @ TT's last month, I developed a strong bond between these guys and really connected with what they're trying to convey on stage, and they have become a part of my inner circle of bands that I have a immense amount of respect and admiration for. Don't forget to 'Like' Pulitzer Prize Fighter on Facebook here and check out their latest effort "The End of The World" over on Bandcamp right here.