Prior to going into the studio to record the Wedge album the band were interviewed by Pete Picton for Sounds magazine, cover date 15/6/85.
Animal Sex? We've got a readily available supply!
"On the farm, where we rehearse in Scotland."
The cheeky grin creeping across the face of diminutive Pallas vocalist Alan Reed spells LEG-PULL. He's used to the Wild Jock' jibes. He left an English degree course at Stirling University in August to join the band, leaderless since the sacking of Euan Lowson.
The split, due to Euans' lack of commitment, came hot on the heels of the badly received 'Sentinel' (their debut album for EMI). It looked like the end for one of the forerunners of the new wave of progressive rock.
April '85 sees them up and kicking. A cracking new EP 'The Knightmoves' and the chirpy energy of Reed has put the five piece back in contention. The EP's greatest triumph has been to finally showcase the band as themselves, shorn of their previous derivative influences, with a strident blast of power. 'Strangers', the title track, shows a matured Pallas, thanks to Mick Glossop's up-front production, with the guitar and keyboards kicking ass. Was it time for a re-appraisal?
'I doesn't sound so calculated, it's got vitality, wee Alan croaks through his flu. "What the band were doing' was in danger of defining itself and preventing us from-carrying on.
"We weren't happy with the album, stocky bass player Graeme Murray breaks in. "It didn't sound like we thought we sounded. The EP does and the new album's heavier still." Alan's obviously put the spark back into the band.
'It's in the voice. To use a cliché, it's got soul," Says Graeme. "That was a fair criticism aimed at the band - a lack of soul Iyrically and the human element not coming through. Alan's even dispensed with the theatrics usual to their previous live work; it restricted communication—a mask to hide behind.
A breath of fresh air indeed. Coupled with the sheen that Glossop - whose previous work spans UFO to X-Mal Deutschland - has given their sound. Things are looking up."He was a good kick up the arse," explains Graeme, Alan fills in: "Musically he throttled any dated ideas out of us.
So this is make or break time for Pallas? "From the point that we regard ourselves as a new band, - Graeme answers. "We had to do 'Sentinel' to get the material we'd written over a long period out of our system.."We had to do the new album, it says so in the contract,- jests Alan.
Graeme soldiers on' but it was inexperience. We were green. We made mistakes like having Eddie Offord. (producer of early Yes and ELP) produce 'Sentinel'. We thought he had a really modern attitude but we now realise he didn't. We suffered for that. Now we feel that we've got to got across that we're not stuck in a formula rut"
So, Graeme is the new sound an attempt to broaden Pallas'appeal? "Yes. A lot of heavy rock fans feel it's like a swear word, the tag 'prog rock', and it conjures up images of kaftans.'
'It's difficult to fight" agrees Alan. A lot of people have a misconception about the band before even hearing us.
"We see ourselves in a heavy rock category, with keyboards, - Graeme continues. "But keyboards are a dirty word in heavy rock. We went to see Dio and the keyboard player was hidden out of sight I think we're doing what I expected the new Purple to do but didn't.
Perhaps the biz and the public should be braver in their listening habits? "The industry and even the punters have become extremely conservative." says " Alan. "In the past, bands evolved a sound over two or three albums. Now we don't get that chance. Our type of music doesn't come cheap given the recording time.'
But isn't your precisely arranged music an anachronism today? Alan isn't to be goaded. "There is room for rawness, it is too easy to become self indulgent. But it can still be good without being 'clever'. We're not ashamed of being competent musicians and wanting to play to the best of our abilities, using all the tricks available."
Well, Genesis and Yes were tagged progressive because they. . . progressed. Rock today isn't breaking any new ground. "We're trying to redress the balance, - chirps Alan. But Graeme thinks the rock musicians of 1985 are scared to embrace the new technology. 'They're reluctant to step out of the Seventies. We feel we can go forward because our new material combines the best of heavy rock with the new tech.
Are you progressive rockers? I sneer. "In the Eighties sense of prog rock, then no, we're not It means something different now. It's a category, not a description" Graeme replies. "We're progressive in the sense that we want to develop," Alan adds. He feels the band have been denied a chance because they don't fit into any of the' in vogue' rock pigeonholes.
In order to jump on the bandwagon we're calling the new album 'Rape, Pillage and Total Death'. Despite their fear of categories, the lads are loyal to others of their ilk. When I ask if they feel miffed by the success of stablemates Marillion, they reply in the negative. Alan takes the view that Fish's mob were a breath of fresh air in a rock scene that was becoming a stale parody of itself.
Typical, whatever happened to good old bitching? All right, let's try one final jibe. . .People would say that musically this scene is going backwards.
"We're not ashamed of our influences," Alan insists. "The big thing at the moment is Byrds or Doors soundalikes. If we're ten years out of date, they're 15. Sade sounds like Fifties, Sixties club cabaret music to me. But there's nothing wrong with that if it's good quality and gives you a feeling."
Have you been hindered by people's guilt complexes about admitting to having listened to the rock 'dinosaurs' of the Seventies?
"1974 to '78, it's like the dark ages," Graeme laughs. "Don't talk about it, it smells! So people won't listen to our music objectively. The media'll only tolerate a narrow band of heavy rock, which is glam metal because it makes good television, a bunch of guys wearing stockings and suspenders.
Alan compares Frankie's 'Pleasure Dome' to outtakes from 'Dark Side Of The Moon' - repackaged, remodelled. He's very conscious of how the 'image' and a high media profile can make the music seem a secondary consideration.
Pallas, by their own admission, haven't played the game in the publicity seeking stakes. "Whether it's a mistake, I don't know," Graeme sighs. "Are Pallas gay!? Shock horror expose! That's the current one. If you want to get instant recognition, announce you re gay.
So speaks a bitter man. Well cheer up. Chummy! If the now single's anything to go by' the following album (due in August) should finally turn the spotlight on Pallas. They've just toured as guests of Uriah Heep. Ring out the old, bring in the new.