“I’ll Keep Coming Back To The Speed: Chic from Pmx” is a fitting title for those who like the fast-side of the force. Pmx are a band from Perth in Scotland that you’ll find strewn across conversational discourse when the point of contemporary Skate Punk is discussed. Fast, technical and rife with melody juxtaposing a hardened instrumental barrage as often as a lyrical one, the band’s back catalogue substantiates why their moniker so rapidly rears its head in the aforementioned conversation as much as it does their longevity. That was a long sentence. But what do I know, eh?
Recently, the band’s main voicebox and I had a back and forth about Pmx as it stands. We covered releasing music in a pandemic, the resumption of touring, what’s coming and also, Chic’s work with Audio Production and of course, some silliness cut with those cliché interview questions, just because.
It’s a tradition that I start with something somewhat abstract. So, in the style of a newfound Utopian State encouraging settlers, tell us who you are and what you do as enticingly as possible, as Scottish as possible.
Arite Matt! Cheers for hayin me on the blog hiy. My name is John fae the clan Harcus fae the Central lowlands of Perth, Scotland, where the haggis run free, the tap water grants immortality and naebody watches the fitbaw.
I’ve been handed the task in the settlement of mixing and mastering many wonderful bands from across the continents as well as playing a wee bit of guitar and vocals in a technical music group called Pmx (Purple Monkey Xylophone) – I also dabble in creating MIDI drum loops for the young clan who dinnae ken the drums.
I’d encourage you to join us in our quest for peace and tranquillity by dawning the cape of Skate Punk and moshing yersel through the gates of the kingdom of Perth. Be well, Matt.
Ps. Bring Buckfast
I don’t think that could have gone any better! Right, now it’s out of the way, most importantly how are you?
I’m doing well man, thanks. Yourself? Just keeping my head down and cracking on with a few new products for my website, writing some new jams and trying to stay out of trouble!
I’m well enough, just trying to find as much time for all this as possible. Speaking of “this” in a greater sense, now you’ve been on some stages, how did it feel to rip the packaging off ‘Ctrl Alt Del’ in a live setting for the first time? Given the amount of time since the before-fore times, how was choosing the setlist?
Glad to hear it, man. Good question. That was a strange one as we released ‘Ctrl Alt Del’ at the end of February 2020 just before lockdown. We managed to put in a week and a half tour in Japan in March 2020 where we played a few tracks from the record – ‘Falling Apart’, ‘Curtain Call’, ‘Who Are We To Pray’ and then a bunch of ‘Dark Days’, ‘Rise and Shine’.
Flew home on March 23rd and didn’t play in a room together again for nearly two years.
I think the next show we played after that was MPF 2022 where we added ‘Words’ to the setlist. I personally felt a little out of practice after such a long hiatus. Slowly getting back into it though!
We had a great time at KNRD and a few other cool venues around Belgium, France and Germany a month back. It felt good to jam some fresh tracks in a live situation. Always a pleasure. Choosing a set is always three or four tracks from each record, just in case there are any OG’s cutting about!
The 2019/2020 crossover was such a strange time for those releasing albums, do you think you’ve given the record enough justice as it stands?
Also, just to focus on the recent tour and such, do you have a favourite set that you played from within any of those?
Totally man, probably not, to be honest, it almost felt like it was old after living with it for two years without jamming but I’m happy to play our favourite tracks off of it going forward and looking forward to getting some new stuff in the not-too-distant future!
KNRD Fest was an absolute blast. It was the first time we had been there. We got to play for an hour so had a good bit of banter and played around fourteen songs, the crowd seemed into it and it was just generally an absolutely mint festival. The crew in charge were all legends and the site was quality. Great sound. All the bands on the line-up were top-class. Couldn’t ask for a better show and party afterwards! That’s what it’s all about!
All of the shows on that tour were great. I love playing in Europe.
I can imagine but I’m glad you’ve managed to air it where you can. KNRD is definitely on my list of festivals to try, especially with such a tempo-inclined lineup.
Speaking tempo and of the “technical music” of your ideal Utopia. What is it about the world of fast melodic Punk that’s kept you within its grasp? Despite all the nuances, the barebones of it seem to be untouchable.
Highly recommend it, bro.
Definitely, for me, it was the first kind of music that properly excited me, made me think about music composition and made me want to get better at my instrument. I guess my earliest intro to music goes way back to my Dad smashing out Queen records so as I grew up – I always enjoyed guitar-driven tunes.
I went through the motions of being Oasis mad in my teens then on to Nirvana, then when I heard Green Day’s ‘Kerplunk’ I was like – wait a minute. This is it. I’ve found my shit.
Pmx in its earliest form started around 97/1998 – playing Green Day covers then starting writing our own tunes. Thanks to extensive “thank you lists” on the back of CDs, we managed to find NOFX, Lagwagon, Strung Out etc… Our band progressed with our music taste and eventually stumbled on to Rufio, Slick Shoes, Skirtbox, Propagandhi, and A Wilhelm Scream to name a few. These were the pinnacle of where we wanted to be so started adding technical drum fills and guitar hooks to our songs trying to match that vibe, getting progressively faster as we went.
It still excites me after playing it for so long, and feels kind of weird/boring to try to write a four-chord rock song! Although I do love Metalcore, Djent, and other techy genres – I’ll Keep coming back to the speed and feeling of playing fast, techy and melodic music. Until I’m 60. Then I’ll play blues down the local.
*EDIT* “Then I’ll play blues down the local” almost ended up being the title to this interview.
I don’t play but I can resonate with that, no matter how much my taste has changed, there is definitely something about it all that’s still so invigorating each time.
What are “those” albums for you and in greater scope, the band as a whole? I would imagine there are a few.
So I guess if you could pin it down to absolute seminal records that helped create Pmx’s sound – they would be as follows:
- Green Day – ‘Nimrod’
- The Offspring – ‘Ixnay On The Hombre’
- NOFX – ‘Punk in Drublic’
- Lagwagon – Let’s Talk About Feelings
- Strung Out – ‘Twisted By Design’
- Slick Shoes – ‘Burnout’ and ‘Rusty’
- Craigs Brother – ‘Homecoming’
- Skirtbox – ‘Crouching Squirrel, Hidden Beaver’
- Belvedere – ‘Twas Hell Said Former Child’
- Rufio – ‘Perhaps, I Suppose…’
- Inspection 12 – ‘In Recovery’
- Undeclinable Ambuscade – ‘One For The Money’
- Propagandhi – ‘Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes’
To name a few. Hendo, Matt and Kev all have pretty eclectic music tastes, as do I – so could easily add to that for more modern influences but those would be some of the most influential to me!
That’s certainly not a bad list!
Before we move on to more present things, how do you think the Chic of 97/1998 starting out in the fast Punk game would react to ‘Ctrl Alt Del’ if it was played back to him fresh off the mixing desk? You can pick the exact “when” of this version of you in the timeline if you like!
Haha! He’d be like – who the fuck are this lot? Needs more octaves.
Ha! Annnnddddddd, back to the present.
You’ve already said you’re writing again. How much are you willing to give away? Are you working on recordings innate to this era of the band or have you pulled anything from the ‘Ctrl Alt Del’ sessions or perhaps EVEN further back?
So (we are) looking for it all to be super fresh. I’ve been challenging myself to write a riff a week where possible and posting them on my IG lately. Doing that has got me right back into the swing of writing and kept me musically motivated. Some of those might get expanded into full tracks once they are dismantled and put back together with the band as a whole.
Hendo has been sending me some sick riffs that will be transformed into full tracks. Aiming to do an EP but I will sit down with the guys in the next couple of weeks and choose a few of the demos to tear apart and get into it. We generally like to get a rough demo down of an idea and then shoot the shit together, change some tempos and get everyone to do their thing, so that’s the plan. Hopefully, it’ll come together pretty quick!
I’ve been following those and I hope this interview sends more people to listen to them! That sounds exciting, at least you can all be in the same room now!
I know it’s likely a way off but do you think you will go it alone or release whatever is next for Pmx with a label this time around?
Nice one man! Cheers! Looking forward to spending time getting it dialled in with the guys.
Good question. I think this time around we may seek some help from a label for pressing and distro. Wait and see what the guys want to do, I’m easy when it comes to that sort of thing. It’s a fairly digital world these days so a click of a button and it’s out – but having someone take care of physical records and represent the band would be cool and would save Matt’s daily trips to the Post Office!
Solidarity from one Matt to another!
I’m sure we could talk about Pmx all day but that’s not quite you’re entire bag. At what point did you decide to indulge in the production side of it all, is it something you fell into naturally?
Yeah man. Must have started recording demos on an analogue 4-track when I was fifteen using a drum machine, one guitar, bass and vocals then mixing the four tracks onto a minidisc player! Always loved that side of things.
I did live sound for many years in most of the music venues in Perth and ended up working full-time doing live sound in a venue called Barcode when I was eighteen. Picked up a digital 16-track recorder and recorded most of the Pop Punk, Punk and Hardcore bands from the area in that venue when it was closed. I’d then mix the records through my home stereo and burn the mixes to CD for the bands to release on MySpace etc! Good times.
At that point, I never took it too seriously but knew I could do it. With the change in technology in recent years and being able to physically mix/master and record album-quality releases from a home studio, I put in the time to study and learn the craft as best I could and took a shot at doing it full-time in 2015 and have done ever since! Having hands “on” other people’s recordings is where I’ve learned the most – Always learning though but I’ve had a good run of very cool projects since then!
Wow, that’s a lifelong endeavour, I wonder how past you would have reacted to the wealth of tech now?! Who was the first band you ever recorded, out of interest?
If you had to choose, what part of your audio production do you prefer out of recording, mixing or mastering?
He’d be blown away, bro. It’s truly epic the number of awesome tools available to allow musicians to release high-quality music. Laptop, Interface, Mic, Guitar, Headphones, DAW. Done.
I think the first full production I would have recorded was the Pmx track ‘Attention To Detail’ back in 2001. This is the OG recording link if you want to check it out! – Here.
But aside from that, I worked closely with a Pop Punk band with massive potential called Friday First. Super talented dudes with great tunes. Still good friends with them today and the lead vocalist Kyle is the singer/guitarist/songwriter in We Came From Wolves. That was my first full-length and I then went on to do a bunch of others when I could.
I do love recording. It dictates how the mix and master will sound. Get it right at the source and everything else is plain sailing. Most of my work is Mixing/Mastering nowadays though, of which I love also. The majority of bands are self-recording these days so it’s a rewarding feeling to be able to take their tracks and make them larger than life, ready for release.
Let’s not overstimulate “past you” too much, it could have grave repercussions!
Is there anything you feel is lesser known generally about the recording and production process that people outside of it might find interesting or may not know?
Haha! Sure, most vocals aren’t in tune when they arrive for mixing but when they leave, they are nailed! My own included!
Pure wizardry! Looking back on all the music you’ve had a hand in producing since 2015, what projects would stand out for you?
Man, so many to mention. I have maximum respect for all that have lent their music to my ears through the years. A personal highlight would be getting to mix Scott Sellers of Rufio fame ‘The View from the moon’ EP.
But all the records I have worked on I am super proud of.
I can imagine! Ok then, a riff on that question, if you could pick a seminal release from the past, that you could go back in time and work on, what would it be?
If I could have sat in the session at The Blasting Room watching Bill Stevenson, Andrew Berlin and Jason Livermore nail the perfection that is Propagandhi’s ‘Supporting Caste’ I’d be stoked. I wouldn’t change a thing, just make them coffee!
That’s a good answer! Would Propagandhi be the band you’d like to produce? Or is the list on the lengthy side?
They would definitely be on the list of dream bands to mix alongside Slick Shoes and Lagwagon!
What spurred the DIY PUNK ROCK midi packs? Had you made much use of them yourself?
So during the lockdown, I started to get a little worried that future business might slow down, especially being self-employed. I’m a massive advocate of using drum samples/software to record home demos to get rough ideas for full tracks out there and work with MIDI drums pretty much every day. Matt Pmx noised me up one day and said, “You should pack up some of your pre-made Skate Punk beats and sell them online – I’ll make your website” – and the rest is history! The Website is still going strong and I’m developing some new packs for release by the end of the year! I really enjoy the creative process.
Totally, I use the grooves every day for quick drum track creation! Super convenient.
Ha, you’re only a little busy then, plenty of free time! Truthfully, MIDIs are somewhat of a gap in my knowledge, how long do they take to create?
As a side point, how long have you been drumming for? Are there chances that you will hit the stage on the drums in the future?
All good bro! My last MIDI Pack took around four months to create and work in four different drum samplers as well as creating all the videos, walkthroughs and media. It’s a nice change though but still in keeping with what I do most days so it makes sense. If I go through a quiet audio spell, I jump on the MIDI packs. Good to keep busy.
I’ve been drumming as long as I’ve been playing the guitar for – nearly twenty-four years but I have been way more consistent with the guitar.
Over the years I’ve played the drums for We Came From Wolves, Joey Terrifying, Uniforms, MOGB, Dizzy Bite, When Men Fall, New Years Resolution, Pen15, Certain Death and Big Gunz of Mosh. Probably a few others I’ve missed but hopefully, I’ll jump back on the kit live at some point in the future. Good craic.
Mid-set Pmx position swaps maybe?
Right as it’s an interview, here are the dreaded, cliche list questions! What are your five favourite: Fast Punk releases of the last few years, the same but outside of Punk and then, finally, who are your current favourite Scottish bands?
Haha! I’m up for it – Kev can jump off the drums and smash out ‘Wonderwall’ on the guitar!
- Fast Punk Releases:
- Outside Punk:
- Scottish Bands:
This next question is another mainstay of my poor excuses for interviews! Some have found it easy, others not so much!
So! If you had to choose five Pmx tracks from your entire career as a sampler that best encompasses the band? What would you choose and why?
- ‘December Rained’ – Sick Intro
- ‘Pull The Trigger’ – Sick Intro
- ‘Curtain Call’ – Sick Intro
- ‘Falling Apart’ – Sick Intro
- ‘The Ballad of Tony Montana’ – Sick Outro
I’ll ask you again once you’ve recorded the Skate Punk ‘Wonderwall’ cover…
I was going to ask you what your favourite songs to play live are but I should think you’ve answered that by proxy already!
Right, we are back on timelines and time travel again! – The timelines collapse and Skate Punk never existed but you’re the only one aware of the past. In this alternate universe, you have the option to rebuild it, but you can only pick five bands to bring back into existence, who would they be? You may pick two of the “big names” and three smaller from the last ten years.
So I would bring back Propagandhi and Slick Shoes so I could still rip them off.
As good of a reason as any! That would also make one heck of a bill!
Right, South Park supergroup, that you’re in. Who is playing what? Go!
I’m on Drums, Towelie is just a sweat towel, Big Gay Al on Bass, Randy Marsh on Synth, Satan on Lead Guitar, Mr Hankey on rhythm and lead vocals would be Cartman. Kenny doing in ears and officer Barbrady is in front of house mixing.
And the debut album is called?
Well, this has been insightful! Thanks for your time my friend! However, before you go, using as many of your song titles as possible, sign off with whatever you want to say to those reading.
My pleasure brother, thanks for having me.
If you’re Falling Apart in the December Rain, don’t forget to turn off the Television, Scrape The Tray, and put on a Braveface in these Dark Days. Just remember that the Facts are Fraud and we’ll all fight to live Another Day. It may be Wishful Thinking, pay Attention to Detail. Cheers for reading – and now’s my Curtain Call!
“I’ll Keep Coming Back To The Speed: Chic From Pmx”, that’ll do. You can find the band below.