As I write this, despite having never played a gig in their hometown (their debut is tomorrow night supporting Exit Calm), over the last year, Pusher have garnered somewhat of a cult following of online devotes, salivating over each carefully crafted and planned release.
This is a band, who have so far released five exquisite videos, including one from this long-awaiting EP, only a month ago.
Some would say that by not playing gigs in their home town, there is an aloof arrogance there. But why not aim high from the off? And frankly, anyone who decides to play a gig in Barnsley every month (or every fortnight as some do) are unwittingly laying their bed. Rare is always better than overcooked.
Pusher are Barnsley’s best band. I make no qualms about that. There are a number of local bands right now that have the right ingredients to blow-up big time in 2015. Aztec Doll, Trudger, Cavorts and specifically Servers, who are comparable to Pusher in so far as they see the importance in the mythology of the band. You’ll find each band’s musical DNA has its roots in The Doors, The Stooges and Velvet Underground, rather than the shitting Beatles. Why the fuck would I wanna hold your hand, when I could light your fire instead. Happy, jangly-guitar indie bands are ten a penny round here, but good quality rock music, that genuinely straddles the dark-side is much harder to come by. Pusher don’t want to be the boys next door. They’d rather sit quietly in your cellar, plotting their next move. It’s that quiet plotting, and a shit-load of talent of course, that could send this band stratospheric in 2015. I reckon this is the band that has the biggest chance of making it from here, whatever that hell ‘making it’ means. But why?
It’s easy to take a dig at a band who might think aesthetic is as important as their music. But this isn’t a Topman indie band with London beards. Pusher know how important the full package is. It’s hard to create a genuine mystery around a band, especially in the current climate of facebook, twitter and X-Factor grooming. Think about Jim Morrison, Tom Waits and David Bowie, and those that still manage to hold a cloak of mystery around them in the internet age – Mark Lanegan, Polly Harvey, Nick Cave. And even though you Barnsley readers might know the lads in this band, imagine getting drip-fed their music and videos from afar with no knowledge of them at all. Or seeing their rituals for the first time in the darkened corner of a club somewhere in down in the smoke. Pusher’s image and music go totally hand-in-hand (with the help from a number of local photographers and designers). They haven’t created personae as such, but instead an aura of red-lit doom. Think of the things that made The Doors so enduring. Cinemascopic Death, Sex, Speed and Proper Rock n Roll.
10,000 Hours starts of exactly as you’d hope it would after a year of waiting. Everything Between has the storm trooper precision of Ben Scarfe’s chemical beats and the rumble of Thomas Hemingway’s bass. James Gilroy’s vocal is reverb-drench and shamanic. Second track, On My Own, has been running through my headphones for a month now. There will no doubt be many lazy reference points thrown round when it comes to this band and indeed Gilroy’s voice (Oasis, Verve), but his voice is bigger than both of those. The heavy brooding of Mark Lanegan is much more on the nose. Here the drums recall mid-90s Chemical Brothers and Bomb the Bass, but complimented by Nev and Clayton’s guitar, the track recalls both Spaceman 3, Hookworms and Primal Scream. It’s the perfect midnight cocktail.
Track three is when things deviate from the expected path. The Road’s bass and the backing vocals are laid back with a sense of overarching menace – think When the Music’s Over or We Will Fall by The Stooges. Or even Boris’ collaboration with The Cult’s Ian Astbury.
Rain kicks up the pace a number of notches, with a frantic beat, hypnotic guitar and an urgent vocal. This is a song to crash cars to at night.
The EP closer, Goodbye Earth – Hello Universe is the biggest surprise here and is nothing like anything they have released before, yet it is exactly what I hoped I’d get. It’s the comedown you need after the pace of the previous tracks. It touches on acts like Soulsavers, Moby, UNKLE, and yes, when the string section come in, The Verve (I’m lazy too).
My only real criticism of anything here is that a couple of the tracks deserved to have been stretched out a little longer. Or maybe it should have been a full album including the previous releases. But that’s my own selfish wanting. Pusher know what they’re doing. And as much as I’m looking forward to finally seeing them play my (and their) hometown tomorrow, in a way I couldn’t give a fuck where they’re from. Maybe I’d prefer them to not be from here, so that they could retain that element of mystery. But still, I can’t wait to see where 2015 takes Pusher.