As make or break moments go, Glasgow punk duo Pinact’s arrived with a bang in their fledgling career. I’m chatting to Corrie Gillies, the band’s chief songwriter and right now the news is all good. They’ve recently announced the release of their debut album Stand Still And Rot on Brooklyn label Kanine Records, home of Grizzly Bear and Surfer Blood. There’s a glint in Corrie’s eye that suggests he’s got things just where he wants them but it could all have been very, very different. Fight or flight, where others would have withered, Corrie chose to fight.
It’s Autumn 2014 and Pinact are playing their most important shows to date at New York’s CMJ Music Marathon. Corrie picks up the story, “We just applied online and got a show there, an official one, but all the official ones are kinda naff. Kanine gave us a show and we played at Rough Trade, they were both really good. We didn’t get funded to go.” So far, so good. What could possibly go wrong?
Corrie started Pinact a couple of years ago with his school friend Lewis on drums. After many UK shows and a couple of EP releases everything was rosy. ”This is totally nuts, the weirdest experience of my life was New York. I went there a few days early just to make the most of the trip. Once I got there the drummer just seemed, well he simply wasn’t talking to me and I didn’t know what was going on then he told me he wasn’t coming. I’m like, what am I gonna do? I just felt totally lost in New York. Then Chris was going over with Casual Sex so I got in touch with him and he says yeah, I’ll do it. It worked out that our shows didn’t clash or anything. We literally practiced for two hours and it was straight to the first show and that was the Kanine show, that was the first time they saw us and somehow it went ok. It was terrifying. I don’t know how we did it but by then it’s just running on adrenaline. It worked out and Chris is in the band now which is really cool”. It’s clear Corrie is still bewildered by all of this and it doesn’t appear there was ever any real resolution with his mate Lewis. “Yeah, it’s weird and I dunno, we haven’t really talked properly and it’s a pretty shitty thing to happen but…it’s cool. I mean everything worked out for the band.”
Not only did it work out for the band but the show helped facilitate Pinact’s signing to Kanine and they recorded their album with MJ of Hookworms. I ask how all this came about. “Yeah, it’s exciting. Lio, who runs the label, it seems anytime I go on Facebook to like a band, even some tiny little band, he’ll already have liked them. He seems to know everyone. I remember one day he liked the Pinact page so I thought that was cool and sent him some shit we’d been doing. He came back to say our label is really full at the moment. Then I sent him the album when we’d finished it and we were going over to New York for CMJ, I guess from being there it materialised. It took a while to get everything finalised but we got to an agreement that it was probably going to happen and y’know, now it’s happening.”
As for working with MJ, “Well, we’re friends with Joanna Gruesome and when their album came out a year and a half ago I really really liked it and then I just emailed him and he was up for it. I think with MJ, he’s really good at letting you do what you want to do but he definitely had a big influence on the record and I think you can hear it. It’s got his sound on it, especially on the drums. When you see him with Hookworms he’s mental on stage but in real life he’s the nicest guy with this really high pitched voice.”
These stories demonstrate a clear go get ‘em attitude behind Pinact which is reflected in the album title Stand Still And Rot. “I think for a while we just sat around and we were talking to labels and stuff but we were always waiting. You can’t do that and we got to a point where we thought nothing’s gonna happen unless we do it.” The title comes from a sign that stuck in Corrie’s head in a Shoreditch pub, “I just saw it and really liked the words. It’s about taking things into your own hands.”
The record itself is bursting with noisy energy. It’s playful, packed with tunes and not afraid to rock. Before listening a glance at the track list might suggest doom and gloom. There are tracks called ‘Anxiety’, ‘Scars’, ‘Negative Thoughts and Jealousy’ and ‘Beginning of the End’. Where does the juxtaposition between the words and the music come from? “I’m not sure what causes that. I think it’s a fun sounding record, there’s maybe a few tracks that are a bit darker but in general it’s quite upbeat. I really think it’s a positive record and even lyrically it does deal with things like depression and bad relationships but not extreme cases, just things that everyone goes through but looked at in a positive way. For me the record is a collection of what the band has been up until now and it’s just the start, it’s the springboard to do more. It’s just about growing up, being in your early twenties and thinking what the fuck am I doing?”
Lyrics are often indecipherable in Pinact’s music, Corrie agrees and suggests it’s maybe “a self-conscious thing” but points out that the newer material is more direct and easier to hear. On ‘Anxiety’ the words are indeed clearer and it sounds extremely personal, “Yeah I guess so. It’s just like a general feeling of moving on from people that don’t have a very positive effect on your life and realising that you have to deal with that.”
We talk about the album’s timing and how it fits with the history of Pinact. To Corrie it felt like they had plenty songs that were clearly good enough and it was the obvious thing to do, “I think it was a necessity to develop as a band and a songwriter. We had to do it and it was all there. It wasn’t like we were forcing ourselves (to get songs written) so why sit around?” As for the songs themselves, “ Three of them are quite old but there’s one we wrote literally the night before. It’s nice when that happens, it just comes from nowhere and you’re scrambling about with words trying to get it together really quickly. It feels really fresh and it’s nice to record something like that. I think that’s gonna be the next single, it’s called ‘Up or Down’.”
Currently the band are in that in-between stage of mixing anticipation and excitement with impatience, waiting for it all to kick off. The album already feels like a been-there-done-that to them but to fans it’s still a couple of months away and everything is new. Corrie talks about looking forward to being able to “detach myself from it“. On the other hand, the release date will allow him to re-engage, “Yeah. I’m excited about people hearing it. I always find when you put something out that you’ve been sitting on for a while that you’re able to start listening to it like a fan. We’re excited to tour this one and play it a lot but we have to look forward to doing something new and it’s going to be different. Really different.”
Pinact shows can be a deafening experience. They are full of energy and play at a frantic pace which is reflected on the record although Corrie insists that live “we’re probably a lot faster than on the record.” I ask about the volume aspect, “I think we’ve been…not exactly taming it down but sort of…I just don’t want that to be the defining thing about the band. Volume can overpower what’s actually going on. It’s nice to get the balance right, I don’t want people to think that band are just really loud. I want them to hear the songs. I guess the volume thing will always be there, it fits the style of music but if you start relying on being loud you’re hiding what’s going on.”
In Nice n Sleazy, where we’ve met, the jukebox is flipping between Nick Cave and Ex Hex. We get to talking about other bands and I ask Corrie what he’s currently loving, “I’m really looking forward to the new Joanna Gruesome album. I’ve heard bits of it and it sounds really good. I really liked the Trust Fund record. Girlpool as well. I saw them at CMJ and they were the buzz band, they were everywhere and they were just great. Nai Harvest, they’ve got an album coming out.” Excellent. I’m pleased to say they’re all bands that Overblown has recently been shouting about.
Similarly, I ask about the most memorable aspect of Pinact so far (horror stories aside). We talk about Pinact opening for Joanna Gruesome and Speedy Ortiz in Glasgow which Corrie reckons was one of his favorite shows. However, he picks out another love he shares with Overblown, the Art is Hard label and in-particular the role the label played in introducing them to the UK DIY community. “When we started the band Art is Hard got in touch with us really early on and we did a few things with them. We just made friends and through them met loads of other bands and played throughout the UK. What they’re doing over the past two years is really nice, it’s grown and grown and people are really listening to what they’re putting out. It’s really cool cos it’s just two guys putting out tapes, you can totally trust their taste and know that whatever they put out is going to be good.”
I ask about how tough it is balancing the band with real life. Corrie works in the kitchen of King Tut’s, a pub and gig venue. “I’m pretty lucky, they let me pretty much do whatever. It would be nice to not have to work but I don’t think…it’ll probably never happen. It’s a good job at Tuts and I hope as a band we get busier and busier but even then i’d hope to keep working there at least a little bit. The people are good there.”
We round off the conversation talking about ambition. The album release will mark the biggest point in the story of Pinact so far and I’m wondering what Corrie thinks success would look like for the band and for him personally. His response is suitably determined, “I want to take this as far as I can, not even just this but anything that I do I wanna do properly. It would be nice to get out of venues like this one (Nice n Sleazy) and play bigger shows. It doesn’t mean being the biggest band in the world but it would be nice to be able to do it full time, not even just the band but doing music related things. It would be nice to make a living out of music, i think that would be success in life. Maybe a year ago I’d have felt where we are now is success but that’s the thing, you’re constantly pushing to take it further. It’s a good thing. I am ambitious.” He’s right, that is a good thing, a very good thing indeed.
Pinact’s debut album Stand Still And Rot will be released by Kanine Records on 19th May 2015 – go here to place your order.
Pinact’s cover of Sparky’s Dream by Teenage Fanclub is available on a compilation tape from Fuzzkill Records and also includes tracks from Paws, Sharptooth, Tuff Love and many more. All profits go to Greater Maryhill Foodbank and CLAN Cancer Support. Buy it HERE
Grab your chance to see Pinact play live:
April 5th – Lock Tavern Festival – London
April 21st – Broadcast (with Nai Harvest) – Glasgow
May 16th – Great Escape (Black Lion) – Brighton
May 16th – Shacklewell Arms – London
May 19th – Broadcast (album launch party) – Glasgow