OCEAN CITY — Houston quartet Pale are finally perched on the precipice of stardom after spending nearly a decade flying just under the radar.
Their new record, “In the Time of Dangerous Men,” is a sprawling endeavor that brings to mind alt rock godheads like Muse and Radiohead. Produced by Grammy winner Steve Christensen, the album is currently available for digital download, and is due to hit stores this October.
Pale will be performing tonight with Fuel at the Purple Moose Saloon in Ocean City.
Daily Times: How did the band get together?
Singer Calvin Stanley: For the three years prior to forming Pale, we’d all play shows together with a couple of different bands trading off opening and headlining slots, so we were really familiar with each other as musicians and friends. Immediately when my band split so did theirs, so it was kind of like everyone was already thinking about it; it was easy.
DT: Are you one of those bands that loves being out on the road all the time?
Stanley: To be honest, being home is the most depressing thing in the world to me. We really feed on that energy (of playing live) and we excel in that environment and not being able to do that is depressing. When we get a hundred miles away from home after a tour the band is just dead silent (laughs). It’s just like, “Awww maaaan…it’s over!”
DT: What went into making “In the Time of Dangerous Men”?
Stanley: Typically when we start a record, we choose a direction and we talk a lot about it. There’s one song that’s usually going to lead the way, and this time we had a couple that we’d already been playing for years, so we kind of knew where we were going to go with it sonically.
Guitarist Robb Moore: One the things is, with our label owner, he owns this beach house down in Galveston, which is 35-45 miles from Houston. His name is Blake (Barnes) and I’ve actually known him for five or six years. So we were friendly and we’d hang out together and drink together and play poker together and whatnot. When he got involved with the label, we’d all been down to his beach house just partying and having a good time down there, and one day we were all down there and we just sort of looked at each other and we were like, “You know, this would be a really great place to record a record!”
There’s one big room that’s the entire top floor. He had it set up as kind of a game room kind of a thing. So we approached him and said, “Hey, can we move a bunch of equipment in here over the winter months?” We had this producer friend of ours that we decided we wanted to work with. So Blake agreed and Steve agreed, and everybody went down there and holed up for a couple of months. We brought all of our gear down there and we called a lot of our musician buddies and said, “Hey, can we borrow that guitar? Can we borrow that amp?” So we had tons and tons of gear and tons of time just to experiment around.
DT: What was Steve Christensen like to work with?
Moore: He’s one of those minds that loves to try different things and experiment around — “Let’s take this drum head that we’re not using and tape this upside down on top of your drum head and hit it with this mallet and we’ll run it through this effect and this EQ and we’ll see what it sounds like!”
We did a lot of things like that, so we really got to experiment around and do a lot more than just plugging your guitar into your amp and playing a song.
DT: What’s the feeling like now that this thing you guys all worked on for so long is about to be unleashed on the world?
Stanley: I love this record, and I can’t wait for people to hear it. I can’t wait to play it for them. We’ve worked really hard and made a lot of sacrifices over the last nine years, but at this point it’s sort of like we’ve forgot the past and we see ourselves differently and we play differently.
Moore: The whole reason for me to want to be a musician is when I was a kid I’d have a bad day or whatever and I’d come home and put on a Bowie record and my whole day would change — my whole mood, my whole outlook on tomorrow would change.
Through the heat and humidity last week, a local band with connections to Deer Park used a warehouse to shoot a music video for a song on their soon-to-be released CD.A critically-acclaimed rock brotherhood band of four, Pale, shot their video for That Sinking Feeling, from their CD In the Time of Dangerous Men, which is scheduled to be released on June 21.Also making a special appearance in the video was well-known poker player Sam Farha. He is the spokesman for Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas and appeared in the first four seasons of the Game Show Network series “High Stakes Poker.”He met the group one day while at local attorney Daniel Sanders’s office.“They were great and I loved them,” he said.After being approached to appear in the video he decided to do it because he loved the guys, their music and thought it would be fun to do.Farha played the role of the evil record executive, which he said that he couldn’t be mean.“This is my first time doing something like this and it is exciting,” he said. “I will have to put my poker face on the table.”Lead singer for Pale, Calvin Stanley, grew up in Houston and had an artistic family.“There was always music around, everyone’s an artist,” he said.While growing up they didn’t have TV, so they became creative with music and it just became a part of him.“My dad had a lot of equipment and I recorded stuff with him,” Stanley said. “Hearing back at something I just created and it kind of worked, so I just fell in love with the process.”Stanley has played for 17 years, but has been with Pale for the past eight and a half years.“This is our second full-length album, but our third release and our first global release,” he said.The video took three days to shoot eight scenes, six in Deer Park and two in other areas around Houston, and will take approximately another month to edit before being released.“Things have been going smooth with almost the same crew that worked on our last video and we are privileged to have them back,”Stanley said. “It’s definitely hot and the director said everyone is wearing three-piece suits, but it’s looking good and we are excited.”Commercial Global Insurance owner Blake Barnes and Houston entertainment attorney Daniel Sanders launched A-Blake Records LLC, in Deer Park, and they are the executive producers for this video.Pale signed with A-Blake Records LLC this past January.Taping of the video took place at a warehouse in the north side of Deer Park, which is owned by Deer Park Lumber owner Dean Lawther. He played a big part in not only lending the building, but also purchasing supplies and materials during the set build-outs.“Our company has had a long standing working with people like this,” he said. “This (warehouse) was our first location and we still use it for different reasons and purposes.”Lawther’s company built the house that was used in the Urban Cowboy movie and is now helping a local record company’s band shoot their next video.“It might turn into something fun,” he said.The shoot was being produced by Houston’s Konstantine Creative Group along with ThinkBig Productions. Chase Rees (ThinkBig) served as director of photography, Remy Carter (KCG) as the producer and Jason Konopisos as director. Rees and Carter have been instrumental in working with Pale on their previous three video including“Catastrophic Skies,” a cinematic short which was released last year during a special event at the River Oaks Theatre.Next up for Pale is booking tours overseas, locally and getting ready for the release of the album later this month.“We are already getting picked up by some radio and hoping to get picked up by a lot more,” Stanley said. “We are going to keep making videos and tour for the next two years, and I am sure we will have another record by then.”
He definitely envisioned that they would be in this position because for any band who works this hard for this long expects great things.
Lights, camera, action as Deer Park hosts video shoot
Thursday, June 02 2011 1:19 pm Ashley Smith
A warehouse on Fourth Street transforms
into the set of Pale’s newest music video, “That Sinking Feeling,” off of their second full-length album, “In the Time of Dangerous Men,” out June 21. Photo By Ashley Smith
The sets were built, the cameras set up, the director flown in and the spotlight put on Deer Park when Houston-based band Pale chose a warehouse on Fourth Street as the site of its newest music video.The concept of the video for "That Sinking Feeling," the first single off of their second full-length album "In the Time of Dangerous Men," incorporates the struggle between corporate greed and an artist's creativity."Basically [the video is] a high-concept visual approach to the struggle and suppression of art versus the business of art," said Calvin Stanley, Pale's lead singer.The video has an industrial feel, making the warehouse the perfect location as it features leaking pipes, metal walls and sparks flying behind the band. The sets took three weeks to build before shooting could start.The concept came after Blake Barnes, president of A-Blake Records, and Stanley listened to a rough cut of the song."This song, like 'Catastrophic Skies' talks about Texas artists," Barnes said. "It's been a long time since a great rock 'n' roll band came out of Texas and the song talks about how the big corporates of Los Angeles and Nashville kind of hold Texas artists down."The idea was a corporate office crushing the band as they played. Soon after, the office blew up and the band returned from the ashes."At the end of the day you have a great idea, but when it gets on video, do people like it?" Barnes asked. "This one's got some very unusual stuff when people catch it."Though the video is a separate entity, it compliments the video for Pale's previous song "Catastrophic Skies," a mini post-apocalyptic movie with a Mad Max feel also filmed in Houston. To bring the concept to life, they flew in director Jason Konopisos from Los Angeles, who directed the band's first two videos."Where 'Catastrophic Skies' is a tight narrative, this is a looser narrative," Konopisos said. "'Catastrophic Skies' is a post-apocalyptic world and this [video] is sort of at the point where artists begin to be oppressed. It's sort of a prequel, but also loose enough where people can make their own interpretation, so it kind of goes both ways and leaves it up to the audience."Making a special appearance in the video is poker champion Sam Farha who by 2010 had earned more than $2 million in winnings. Farha appeared in the 2007 film "Lucky You," starring Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore.Pale released its first full-length album in 2004, "Here," garnering media attention for the band. Soon after, they set off on a solo tour to support the album, also touring with Depeche Mode.In 2009, Pale moved to Los Angeles and was approached by a representative of the "Twilight" movie franchise about the opportunity of having one of its songs featured on the "Twilight: Eclipse" soundtrack. After advancing to the final stages, executives ultimately chose a track from Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead. After playing top venues in Los Angeles, Pale returned to Houston permanently signing with A-Blake Records in 2011 as its flagship artist. Sent off to seclusion at Barnes' beach house in Crystal Beach the band, working with Grammy-winning Producer Steve Christensen, recorded its newest album, "In the Time of Dangerous Men.""Like when The Beatles or Zeppelin would make records, they would go to a location, completely isolate themselves, and live, eat and breathe music," Stanley said. "It's a rare thing for any band to get to do that, but for us was amazing. It made all the difference in the world."That Sinking Feeling" has already been released to college radio and alternative stations. Once those stations start to play the single, Pale will begin playing shows in those towns. Barnes hopes by the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012 the band will be on the road full time.A-Blake Records is also looking to send Pale to Europe to play festivals.
"Their music is really more European," Barnes said. "There are some songs that really, may eventually come over here like Muse did or Kings of Leon did." The CD, "In the Time of Dangerous Men" will be released June 21 and can be purchased on the bands website, palerocks.com or through iTunes.
"I like what comes back when people hear it," Stanley said. "Their interpretations are always close to where I'm coming from, but I'm not going to lead them. That's what's beautiful about music. It's clear enough, but everyone gets something different from it, but still the same story that we're all sharing, the listener and the artist."
Musical group “Pale” film music video in north Deer Park
D.P. News Wire
Pale band members (left to right, back to front) Travis Middour, Stephen Wesson, Robb
Moore and Calvin Stanley, walk up Fourth St. in north Deer Park as part of a screen
shot for their new music video.
Houston Texas has a secret - it is the home base of an authentic, dynamic, creative, and very much committed rock group… meet Pale. Their journey hasn’t been an easy one, from their debut album in 2004, to a nation wide recognition as a well rooted and exciting ’honest to rock and roll’ band, about to release their highly anticipated new CD “In the Time of Dangerous Men”. Here is the uncut interview with four remarkable musicians.
“Pale’s music inspires the dreamer in all of us,” says Calvin Stanley. “I’ve had my head in the clouds since I was a kid, and I believe that everything is possible with this band. That kind of dreaming heart has really helped pull us through some difficult times.”
Thanks for agreeing to an interview. How about a quick introduction to the band?
Calvin Stanley – Vocals/Guitar
Robb Moore – Guitar/Keys
Travis Middour – Drums
Stephen Wesson – Bass
I was mesmerized by your music. There is something familiar in it, but unique. I had a greater sense of discovery – fantastic musicianship, wonderful guitar work, haunting vocals, and accessible lucid songwriting. Theatrically grand, with rich sweeping movements that draw in the listener rather than have them be a spectator. Good that! I don’t like comparing artist to other artists because it diminishes by putting both artists in a box. Instead I’ll ask what influences do you acknowledge – how much is your own process toward your sound?
Robb: First of all, thank you very much. Everyone in the band has very different influences, at least in the influences that brought them into music. Calvin: The Cure, Depeche Mode, NIN, etc. Stephen: U2, Verve, Zeppelin (which we all love) etc. Travis: is the indie rock kid…he likes bands that I’d never heard of before he introduced me to them, like Smile and Shiner. Me: Bowie, Stones, Bowie, quite a few “classical” composers, lots of classic/glam stuff (T Rex, etc)…did I mention Bowie?
Calvin: I’ve always loved U2’s ambition and process for writing timeless melody, and personal accessible lyrics I started playing guitar when getting into DC in San Diego Post Punk, Jawbox, Drivelike Jehu, then grew through the shoe gazer movement – Swerve Driver, Katherine Wheel, was technically raised on early electronic craft work, Tangerine Dream, Jean Michelle Jarred, etc….and countless others so if you start to combine that many great sounds without technically knowing how to play in instrument, although I can play five, I’m still always inspired by an amalgam of sounds and textures that put me in some kind of dream state. There are bands doing that even now, thus for me it was important never to have any lessons or training so I develop a knack for chasing down a feeling as opposed to tablature.
‘In The Time Of Dangerous Men’ was written as a conceptual piece. Calvin Stanley you were quoted as saying that each song was a chapter in a book. How does that work for promoting your work when the Internet sells songs one at a time, or worse artist’s work is downloaded for free?
Calvin: Quite simply if one song is the best song that you can write for what it is, so should the rest be. I never thought all songs should do the same thing on one project, but they should do what they do as well as the rest. Back in the day, people would buy the album for one song and be disappointed, and say “this album sucks”, and often they were right. These days people will buy one song but they will definitely check out the rest so I say our chances are good.
I do agree that the Industry is coming back around to the Artist. How do you think that will that look as a business model?
Calvin: I think it will be great. I think the artist is still going to need significant start up money and an agency, but the returns will be more immediate and much fairer. The more the artist puts in the less they will be told what to do, but sometimes I wish someone would tell me what to do (laughing) except of course a girlfriend telling me to get a real job.
Robb: Well, I think the days of every-other-artist-selling-a-million-units are long gone, and that’s bad for labels. But, at least monetarily, that old model has little effect on artists because artists have never made much money from record sales anyway. I think today’s artists have more creative and business control simply because labels aren’t spending the obscene amounts of money they used to on bands, and in turn, can’t demand to control as many aspects as they did before. These days, labels are forced to see their acts as more of a partner than a client.
You all have performed across the country and have a big arena sound – do you perform differently for smaller venues? Which do you enjoy the most big venues or smaller more intimate venues?
Calvin: I’m speaking for myself here; first of all, we don’t change anything. We will play the same show for the bartender and bus boy as for countless thousands, but I much prefer to play large venues. Once you can connect to an audience on a large level, it’s hard to go back, but in the end I’ll be happy either way. Once you’re a fan it’s better than ten passersby any day.
Robb: For me, it doesn’t really matter. The intimate venues are cooler for the fans, to be sure. But as for myself, even at bigger venues, I can see people right up front…so they are both intimate settings from where I stand. I really just love playing live, whether it’s for 50 people or 5000. It’s why I play music…to perform and entertain.
I have come across so much talent that defies genre, you guys could be defined by a handful of genres. This question actually sucks, but I’m compelled to ask it. How do you guys identify your music? Here is the kicker – if an artist doesn’t want to be defined into a genre – how do you get folks to find you? If you are willing to be defined in a genre how do you make yourself heard as unique in that genre?
Calvin: That’s hard to say, but I like the term post modern pop, true art that you can sing along to on occasion. I don’t mind being put in any genre because I know we’re unique mainly because we never tried to be. In other words, if we were trying to mimic Led Zeppelin we’d come out sounding like Blur or something. (laughter) I can honestly say we’re not trying to be anyone but Pale, and it feels good to say.
Robb: Genres are for critics. A tool for them to describe music to their readers with words instead of with the music itself. I learned a long time ago that you can’t run from the “labels” critics put you into. But you don’t have to embrace them either. It’s probably best to sort of ignore all of that and just create the music that is in your heart. Hopefully, that will be enough to connect you to the fans. How’s that for avoiding your very well crafted question? (haha!!!)
Tell us about making this great video.
Robb: Wow. That’s the one word I would use to describe the making of. It was completely surreal for all of us. We’d never been involved with a video shoot as big as that. Definitely a wonderful experience that we’d like to repeat. The crew was amazing! So many people brought their unique talents into the fold.
Calvin: This video best describes it. If you have time to watch:
I have been asked as to how important a Producer is in the recording process. You guys have worked with some fantastic producers. Tell us who and why it’s important.
Robb: Our first two efforts were recorded by Lars Goransson in Austin, TX. We had met him through some mutual friends and he was the first really good producer any of us had worked with. The new record was produced by Steve Christensen. Working with a producer is VERY important…even more so, is finding the right producer. Personally, I think the key to finding the right one all depends on how open-minded the artist is to having someone else’s hands/mind all over your art. If that thought is painful to even think about, you should probably just find a really good engineer and not worry about a “producer.” We were very lucky with Steve. We’ve all known him for at least 10 years, and I think Calvin has known him since they were teenagers. Both Paleand Steve have been wanting to make this record together for a long time. Thankfully, everyone’s schedules worked out perfectly. We were really lucky the timing worked out the way it did.
Calvin: Lars was great on our first two records. He brought our recording to another level, bolstered our confidence and recording as a live band. Working with Steve Christiansen on this new record, helped us grow exponentially as a studio band. There were times he would take something and rip the guts out of it and I had to trust him. No one has ever challenged us as much to take chances. What I remember most is when he would give each band member a day or two for a song and kick the other three out. He took time to understand us as individuals within a group and expound on our weaknesses or fears. He’s a great buffer for ego and tension as well, and that says a whole lot for those who know.
You guys came north from Texas and relocated to L.A. and now you are back in Texas. Tell the readers a little of that journey.
Robb: It was crazy. We had an offer from a prominent artist’s manager to work with us after finishing a tour in 2009. So, we relocated to LA in April of that year to promote, record, work, showcase, live, etc. Right before we got there, she was a victim of a domestic “incident.” It took its toll on her, and she was “unable to give Pale the attention” we needed (her words). We ended up coming home in October. She ended up committing suicide in April of 2010…a very sad close to that chapter of Pale. LA sort of drove me crazy…the industry is so impersonal. Which was very strange to me because art, whether it’s music, acting, writing, etc. are all VERY personal acts. A very strange dichotomy. I really like a lot of the fans and “everyday people” we met. Not so much a fan of the industry there.
I have been at this music thing for a long time, and I noted something kinda magical about you all. Putting a band together is an odd thing in that often the individual talent, though more than competent, just doesn’t quite meld together. There is no ‘Clunk’ here – give us an idea how you guys came together personally and musically. What makes it work?
Travis: We were all in other bands prior to this band. Calvin and I met through the local small music scene in the Woodlands (near Houston). For some reason all the musicians hung out the Starbucks and half of them worked there, including me. After Calvin and I started playing together, we were introduced to Stephen and Robb through a mutual friend. We melded together instantly. We seem to all have the same idea when writing songs, so it makes the process fun and painless. In fact we played our first show in Dallas after only being together for two weeks.
Robb: Stephen and I had played in two bands together and had known Calvin for a few years. Our bands had played shows together a few times… Anyway, both Calvin’s band and ours sort of self destructed at the same time. Calvin had already recruited Travis when he called Stephen to come out, and Stephen suggested to Calvin that they bring me out shortly thereafter.
Things started to gel the first night. It was like friends getting together to play some songs and have some laughs. That’s not to say we took it lightly, we were all dedicated from the start, that’s just what seemed to be ‘in the air’.
Calvin: For me whenever I form a band, I adhere to the philosophy “Who you are, as opposed to how well you play.” Any strong musician can get better, hone his craft, but if you can’t get along with others and don’t have the commitment and ambition that they do then what’s the point? I come from a large family; I’m one of five kids. Maybe that’s it, I don’t know, but I suppose I’ve always been blessed with finding the right people. My band played shows with Travis, Robb and Stephen’s bands before this one had formed, and even then I had noticed that these guys have the rare ability to play to the song. I suppose, to me, it feels like Stephen and Robb in particular were some cosmic gift to me. They actually approached me, not the other way around. Now after almost a decade I can’t say I’d know who I am without these three people in my life. We use the word family a lot.
Calvin, I understand that you write most of the songs. Do you write specifically for the band, or do you write as the Muse moves you?
Calvin: I’d say by now I definitely write for the band. There are times when I’m recording a demo, and I’ll put a certain instrument with someone specifically in mind. For instance I was writing “That Sinking Feeling” thinking man Robb’s going to get off on this as I tried to emulate his Keith Richard’s like swagger. My ex-girlfriend said, “you look like an idiot”, I pulled my headphones aside and said, “but Robb won’t bitch” (kidding). Or I’ll be building a song from the drums up, thinking this is going to piss Travis off at first, but wait until we see where he takes it. In the past, every album we tend to write one or two songs together, and through that and playing together for so long I seem to have absorbed their styles in some form of my subconscious and vice versa I would presume. Every project Robb brings me at least one song, compositionally complete. He’s very patient, but when he brings me something, I usually immediately love it. When I demo a song for Pale, it’s always music first and lyrics and vocals last. I believe that a song should be just as interesting with the vocals turned off. Robb: Calvin is the most prolific songwriter I’ve ever known. He’s truly amazing at what he does. He’s also a very compassionate guy…I love him like a brother. Wait…I take all that back…he’s an asshole! (hahaha!!!)
For the rest of the band – how is it working with Calvin as the songwriter and a band member?
Travis: For me this band is a ‘band of brothers’. So the difference from Calvin as the songwriter and as the band member is one in the same.
Give us an idea about the evolution of a Pale song – from Calvin writing it to its final mix.
Robb: Calvin will record a song on a little 8 track and he’ll give all of us a copy. Once we start rehearsing it, a lot of times, it starts to take on its own shape…it really becomes a Pale song after we’ve had a chance to play around with it together in rehearsals.
Travis: Calvin has a great sense for songwriting. He brings a lot of great demos to the band. We just help round out the songs in the end. We all add our personal ideas of what we think the song needs per our instrument. We call it “pale-izing” the songs.
Calvin: I’ll keep my side short, I spit out a focused somewhat complete idea, and by the time it’s Pale-ized, I often think I’m never listening to that demo again, wow. Or damn I should have thought of that, I’m stupid. Stupid, stupid, Calvin. (kidding)
I want to talk about the vocals – (Calvin lead sings –right?) Wonderful songwriting and that moody and the hauntingly high-pitched voice rocks me. Is that a marvelous happy accident with this band, or is that the way you have always sung your work?
Calvin: I suppose my singing has changed over the years. As with the music, I’m always looking for “the moment.” There is a moment in a song where the music, vocal or lyric can just cut you off at the knees, you just hit the floor gasping, goose bumps, hairs on the back of your neck, the whole thing. Like the climax in a film, often the song is the set up to say and sing very powerful things. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at finding when that should happen. I’m actually singing a lot lower on parts of this record. When you have range, it’s important to express all of it. I wish more singers were passionate about singing because it’s a very honest and unbridled way to communicate. Often you can hear a singers note, and think yeah, I know what they mean, I get it.
Pale has endured some setbacks and hit ‘the ceiling’ at times. How do you as a band cope with that?
Robb: We’ve always just kept the faith. After the amount of setbacks and let-downs we’ve had, you really only have 2 choices: to quit, or to keep believing in yourselves. Typically, after an intense heartbreak, and we’d had many, we tend to drift off and heal our wounds for a month or two, but whether to go on or not has never been a question. I’ve never met more resilient and committed people in any walk of life. We believe in ourselves and each other, primarily because of the music we make. We never put a time line on this; we just want to be able to continue to do it. Now that things are paying off wait, until you see what we’ll do next. You should see the grin on my face.
What do you as a band want your current fans, and those who will surely become your fans, to know about Pale?
Calvin: You will never waste your time or money on us. We will never change the essential things that our fans expect from us, excellence, passion, intelligence and inspiration. Don’t miss a show if you can help it.
Robb: We’ll be in your town soon!
What’s next on the horizon for Pale?
Calvin: We’re set for our next video for “That Sinking Feeling,” then hopefully hit the road globally for two years. We are working on that as we speak.
Thanks for a wonderful interview – Dave and I will be keeping up with you guys during your inevitable rise!
Calvin: Much gratitude Ken and Dave, we’ll be around.
Robert D. Grandinetti
Houston band could be one of 2011's breakout artists.
PaLE’s second release, In the Time of Dangerous Men, could finally launch the rockers from Houston, Texas into iPods everywhere.
“Bad Intel” is a full-blast opener that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the record. “Catastrophic Skies” is a wondrous dark epic that was supposed to be on the Twilight: Eclipse soundtrack, but was cut at the last minute.
The best track, “That Sinking Feeling,” is a no-holds-barred account of their recent string of career setbacks, featuring lead singer Calvin Stanley’s powerhouse vocals, which shows no signs of bitterness or self-pity.
Stanley, who’s also the band’s principal songwriter, says on the band’s website, “I try to write thematically in terms of lyrics and music, like chapters in a book.” His approach is evident on songs such as “Hushed Tones for Chosen Ones,” which begins, “They call me a quiet kid/ but I’ve been watching you,” and draws you in like reading a great opening line in a novel.
Grammy Award-winning producer Steve Christensen clearly understands PaLE’s progressive rock sound. Each track has a dreamy quality to it, but there’s also an impressive amount of musicianship among bassist Stephen Wesson, guitarist Robb Moore and drummer Travis Middor. They often play fast and heavy on songs such as “Our Lone Star Shines,” but it doesn’t sound like an endless stream of noise.
Dangerous’s only fault is that same dream-like quality to their songs can also work against them. For example, on “Bazooka,” there is such a long gap between the vocals and the instrumentals that it becomes a struggle to listen to until Stanley’s vocals kick in once again.
PaLE got its name from a line of poetry that reads, “Life is a pale representation of what lies ahead.” The only thing that I see that lies ahead for them is an additional following to their devoted followers at their celebrated club shows. They could even show up at the Grammys and end up surprising everyone with a win like their counterparts, Arcade Fire.
In the Time of Dangerous Men is available at www.palerocks.com and on iTunes! Dangerous will be in retail stores on June 21.
Warehouse Live Studio provided an intimate setting for Pale’s CD release party for In the Time of Dangerous Menlast Thursday and long-standing fans, friends, and family were on hand to provide moral support. 103.7’s Donna McKenziedelivered an adjective-laden lovefest-intro that seemed to embarrass singer Calvin Stanley, or perhaps experience has taught him not to let the promise of words get in the way when performance can set the record straight.
Pale in its current incarnation is a second reconstitution having decamped to Los Angeles in the classic approach to entering rock’s big leagues. But, as anyone that attempts to understand the business of music can attest, hard work, determination, commitment, and talent are not necessarily enough. Upon returning to Houston, the band decided to refocus and In the Time of Dangerous Menwas birthed.
Palemixes some sonic elements from the 80’s with modern arrangement and writing. The sound is familiar but not cookie-cutter. I heard tones that sounded New Wave 2.0 and kept hoping for a song to jump out and be Pale’s standard bearer. There were many promising hooks, and I witnessed a polished performance, but in the end, I was looking for more to convince me to rush to the merch table.
I have to admit I was more skeptical than usual because Pale was pitched to me as being influenced primarily by Muse and Radiohead. Claims to be a combination of this decade’s panty-dropper/stadium-rocker and an indie brainiac’s inner-muse awoke the cynic in me. But judging by the female attendees attire, lustful screams and cougar-with-a-hall-pass aggressiveness, Pale may have a solid line on a G-string collection that will exceed their guitar tech’s dreams.
Plans for a European tour to take advantage of the festival season haven’t been finalized, but it is easy to believe that Palewill find a receptive audience.
Mashtape Mix-up: Style Council meets Gene Loves Jezebel Stoney: Stoney was performing community service.
Last Night: Pale At Warehouse Live
By David A. Cobb, Fri., Apr. 29 2011 @ 12:30PM
Photos by David A. Cobb
Pale works the camera's at Thursday's pre-show reception.
Pale, Come See My Dead Person, The Shiny Darks Warehouse Live Studio April 28, 2011
Pale is a transparent band. With a new record under its belt on a new label, a national distribution deal, and a well-known Los Angeles-based publicist, the band makes no bones about shooting for the big time.
Thursday night's CD release show was no different, with the band kicking things off with a VIP/media reception in Warehouse Live's Green Room. Despite the hype associated with any band's new album -- countless photo ops, management hassles -- it ultimately comes down to the music, and last night was no different.
After watching local bands slog it out in front of practically no one for so many years, Aftermath loves the fact that many Houston bands have found devoted audiences. Last night's crowd was about half the capacity of Warehouse Live's Studio, which is more than we've seen at some national shows.
The Shiny Darks, a band new to Aftermath, warmed up the crowd with its raw and bubbly punk rock. Seemingly Hot Topic-approved, the band -- singer/bassist Paul Mendez, drummer Gem Mendez, with guitarist Quenton Rockwell -- played a handful of songs from its new Stab At Love EP, of which "I Wanna Be A Kennedy" (not a Kill Hannah cover) and "Photographs" were standouts.
However, it was the band's cover of the Ramones' classic "Blitzkrieg Bop" that won over the crowd.
Next up was local collective Come See My Dead Person, a band which first impressed Aftermath a couple of years back at one of the Free Press Houston Block Parties. While the sound seemed bit muddled from where we were standing, no one else in the crowd seemed to notice.
The band's unique, free-form and folksy rock had several in the crowd dancing -- it was easy to see that the band made a few new fans, in addition to the ones they brought themselves.
After a rambling, but endearing, introduction from local radio personality and unabashed Pale fan Donna McKenzie (of Houston's 103.7FM, which sponsored last night's show), Pale began its 12-song set with "Bad Intel," the intro track from In the Time of Dangerous Men (which you can read more about in this week's Press) and whipped through the majority of the new album to a mostly rabid, and increasingly sloppy, crowd.
While Pale is best known for its dramatic rock a la Muse, the foursome -- frontman Calvin Stanley, guitarist/keyboardist Robb Moore, bassist Stephen Wesson, and drummer Travis Middour -- mixes things up on the new album, incorporating a heavy dose of the '80s into its songs.
"Sinking Feeling," which Stanley told the crowd was played on Houston radio yesterday, is completely different that anything Pale has done before, a garage-y, fuzzed-out pop song that the crowd noticeably enjoyed. The song may not be representative of the band's overall sound, but it shows they have guts enough to experiment successfully.
On "My Final Warning," which Stanley called a prayer, the band found its groove and set the stage for a couple of the slower, more melodic songs the band's fans have come to love over the years. Similarly, "Bazooka" and OK Computer-influenced closer "An Exploding Whisper" were also highlights, both showcasing the band's increasing focus on atmospherics and its Britrock influence.
After a very brief break, Pale returned for an encore, which featured "The Mistake" from 2007's Mandatory Ambulance EP. Though the song showcases Stanley's vocal range, he left the stage toward the end of the song to give the band a chance to end the night with an extended spacey and bluesy jam. It was an unexpected -- and rewarding -- ending to an impressive set.
If Pale can connect to half its audiences as well as it did last night, then perhaps In The Time of Dangerous Men will be a stepping stone to success the band is counting on. Let's hope so. Personal Bias: We're mostly a sucker for heartfelt lyrics, so Pale is a no-brainer. Plus, they have a real Britrock-influenced sound, which we also love. The Crowd: Some rabid Pale fans, a couple of cougars well past their prime, some old-guard music scenesters like McKenzie and David Sadof, musician Mykel Foster, and various label and PR folk. Overheard In the Crowd: "Freebird!" No, really... SET LIST
My Final Warning
My My My
Can You See
Our LoneStar Shines
An Exploding Whisper ENCORE
Pale CD Release, Tonight at Warehouse Live
Not sure what the heck it is about tonight, but not only is The Literary Greats‘ CD release happening, but so is a celebration with longstanding rock dudes Pale, who are gearing up to release their second full-length, In the Time of Dangerous Men.
I’d originally heard that the album wouldn’t be released tonight, but per the band’s Website, that’s apparently no longer the case — it’s out as of today, which makes it even cooler that the Pale guys will be making a live appearance (which is somewhat rare for these guys here at home in H-town) and playing songs off the new album.
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen these guys live, I have to admit, dating back to their proto-emo days in the mid-/late-’90s, and I’ve followed ‘em from a distance as they morphed from that early Sunny Day Real Estate-gone-New Wave sound to the more epic, Brit-rock, almost Muse-esque sound of recent years. And no, I haven’t yet been able to check out Dangerous Men myself, but I’m happy as hell to see they’re still alive & kicking and making music. If you want a more detailed rundown of what the band’s newest stuff sounds like, head on over to Houston Calling, where David Cobb‘s writtena few timesabout the band lately.
The band’s playing tonight at Warehouse Live, alongside The Shiny Darks, whom I have yet to hear, and Come See My Dead Person, whom I have (and who are very neat themselves, if totally, completely far-off from Pale, music-wise).
Oh, and before you head over to the Warehouse, be sure to check out the awesome, Terminator-influenced, post-apocalyptic video for “Catastrophic Skies,” the single from the forthcoming album. The nine-minute mini-film stars the Pale guys and Southern Backtones‘ Hank Schyma, features guitar-wielding bands of resistance fighters, and, well…wow. Just wow.
There are not a lot of instances where a pot-smoking, bandana-wearing, Lone Star icon like Willie Nelson and an alternative-meets-ambient Houston rock band like Pale would share a lot of space in the same article, but I can think of one: Both represent all that is great about being an audiophile in the great state of Texas.
Also, both are playing Houston on Thursday night.
While The Red-Headed Stranger mines the best of his half-century of outlaw country — spanning 65 studio albums — at Verizon Wireless Theater, Pale will be taking us for our first ride down its new rock n' roll rabbit hole and introducing the city to new album, In The Time of Dangerous Men, at Warehouse Live.
How great is it that we live in a city where a Texas legend and the state's musical future can share a crosstown moment by sharing set times?
For Nelson, 77, this trip is little more than a "thank you" to a metropolitan landscape that has supported him through every No. 1 hit — "On The Road Again," "Blues Skies," "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys," and many more -— as well as every pot bust, IRS indictment and other rock star cliche he's laid claim to since his first recording was released in 1962. No doubt, Willie loyalists will also forgive him for "Superman," the duet he recorded with Snoop Dogg that is featured on the rapper's new album, Doggumentary.
(Now I wonder what could have gotten these two unlikely friends together? One guess comes to mind...)
This Nelson show was actually supposed to happen back on Feb. 4, but unexpected ice storms forced a postponement. (Tickets for that earlier date will be accepted for admittance Thursday nigh.)
Pale at Warehouse Live on Thursday
For Pale and local lead singer Calvin Stanley the building of a legendary future begins on Thursday with the live debut of In The Time of Dangerous Men. I have covered Pale's rise through the local band ranks for over a decade and always thought it was only a matter of time until they hit the big time. (in the name of complete "birther"-like transparency, must admit I have shared a beer — maybe more —and lively conversation with Stanley many times over the years).
Pale's blend of searing, wall of sound instrumentation and abstract thinking man's lyrics has always been a winning combination. All they needed was the right moment. A moment akin to when Depeche Mode first blew modern rock radio away in the mid-'80s or when Radiohead did it again (and again, and again) in the '90s. One ride along with the falsetto apocalypse of first video, "Catastrophic Skies" make me believe that this might be that moment.
Don't miss the chance to say you were then Pale debuted their first true masterpiece for the masses.
Photo courtesy of W3 Public Relations. Pale frontman Calvin Stanley uses big, sweeping phrases — not only in reference to the band’s sound (“I just think we try to make really intense, beautiful music”), but as a general life rule.
“It’s a fun job, and it should be a celebration of expression,” he says. “Working with these guys for so long has just made me a better musician, a better songwriter. It’s always been who you are first and how you play second.”
His grand sentiments aren’t a surprise. Stanley is the band’s chief songwriter, and the songs on new album In the Time of Dangerous Men are epic, angst-ridden tales that recall U2 and Muse (with touches of ’80s-era pop and new wave). Choruses swell. Keys and guitars crash against drums. Stanley maneuvers his voice through an impressive run of variations.
“My heart was just really in a heavy place, seeing the economy collapse and all of these (record) labels die in Los Angeles,” Stanley says. “There was so much to say — social, political, financial, all of it.”
The disc was recorded during a span of three months on Crystal Beach with producer Steve Christensen, a Grammy winner for Steve Earle’s Townes. (It’s available at Thursday's show and will be released nationally June 21.) It follows 2004’s Here and 2007’s Mandatory Ambulance EP, which earned Pale opening slots for Roger Waters, Depeche Mode and Blue October.
The band lived on the Bolivar Peninsula throughout the recording process and soaked in the relaxed atmosphere.
“It was right there on the ocean. That whole vibe really came across,” Stanley says. “It was the best experience of my life so far.”
Pale previewed the set last June with an ambitious, nine-minute video for Catastrophic Skies. (Southern Backtones frontman Hank Schyma pops up in an eye patch.) The Mad Max-style clip had its premiere at the River Oaks Theatre.
Several of the new album’s songs, including Catastrophic Skies, originated during the band’s nine-month stint in L.A. They signed with Caresse Henry, former manager to Madonna and Ricky Martin, and narrowly missed landing songs on two of the Twilight soundtracks. But after what Stanley calls a “management debacle,” the band returned to Houston last year. (Henry killed herself in March 2010).
Despite inevitable setbacks, the move re-energized Stanley, his bandmates (guitarist Robb Moore, drummer Travis Middour, bassist Stephen Wesson) and Pale’s overall vision.
“If you do this for this long, it’s possible, I think, that you can get better. The four of us are just really loving each other musically and sonically in a way that we didn’t get the chance to before,” Stanley says. “I’ve always said at some point doing this is no longer what you do. It’s who you are. We’ve earned the right to say something really beautiful.” ----------
Stanley says he’s inspired by bands that “are reaching out bigger than where they’re from.” A pair of songs that were pivotal in his musical upbringing:
• The Unforgettable Fire, U2:
That song made us decide why we wanted to make music, years before we knew each other. Bono was one of the first times I heard a man use his voice as an instrument. It’s just beautiful, so I started getting into a lot of music like that. It kind of opened the door for men to really show a passionate, spiritual side in singing.
• Black Dog, Led Zeppelin:
There was always great rock ’n’ roll in the house. Whenever I’d get beat up or picked on, I’d come home and throw on Black Dog. That seemed to do it for me. Pale CD-release show: 7 p.m. Thursday at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel; $10-$12; 713-225-5483 or warehouselive.com.
Atmospheric rockers Pale leave L.A. for Houston - and a record deal. By William Michael SmithWednesday, Apr 27 2011 "I've got that sinking feeling / This town's got a ceiling" — Pale, "That Sinking Feeling"
"Since Day One, this band's never been in trouble," says Pale singer Calvin Stanley (right).
With The Shiny Darks and Come See My Dead Person, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel, 713-225-5483 or www.warehouselive.com.
Nothing stirs our self-righteous Houston-centric blood like grisly Bukowski-esque tales of local musicians living and dying on the edge in that West Coast den of iniquity and glitz, Los Angeles.
And what makes the story of local alternative rockers Pale — Calvin Stanley, Robb Moore, Stephen Wesson, Travis Middour — even better is that our boys may have been knocked down by the City of the Angels, but they got up off the mat and waded back into the fray.
After two years trying to get a major-label deal, the band broke camp at the North Hollywood house they all shared and headed back to Houston last fall. Stanley was the last to give up hope, hanging on in L.A. three more months, working the old networks trying to put a record deal together, looking for the big break. He's been back in Houston four months.
"We gave L.A. our best shot and we got so close we could taste it sometimes," says Stanley. "We had so many industry people interested in us and coming out to our shows, but the deal we wanted just never materialized. But I just couldn't convince myself to give up."
Stanley and Moore describe their time in Los Angeles as exciting and disappointing.
"We had all this support, we played great shows and we always seemed to be right on the verge of something big," Stanley reflects. "You're playing a show and you look out and Wayne Kramer or Dave Navarro, people like that, are in the audience, serious industry movers and shakers, and you just shrug your shoulders and say, 'What else do we have to prove to you?'"
"L.A.'s a skanky whore of a soul-sucking town," adds the less diplomatic Moore.
In fact, the band has been intertwined with Los Angeles for some time, having played a showcase for Columbia executives in 2003. During their most recent residency, Pale even attracted Madonna's former manager Caresse Henry, who seemed determined to put the band over the top.
"She came out to see us and loved us," Stanley recalls. "She was very friendly and supportive and just wanted to help us in the worst way. She was great at coming up with strategies to get us exposure and get us signed. And then she just abruptly broke contact."
Henry committed suicide on April 2, 2010, adding to the band's sense of being snakebitten.
"Yeah, Caresse's suicide was a huge blow," says Stanley, "just another one of those things that said 'Go home.'"
Returning to Houston, the band moved into a studio they constructed in a house on the Bolivar Peninsula — "a real Zeppelin kind of studio" says Moore — and recorded In the Time of Dangerous Men, which Stanley calls "our first global release."
The album is on A Blake Records, a joint venture between the band and L.A. industry player Blake Barnes. According to Stanley, there's something of a dream team of industry veterans helping to move the project onto the global market.
"Blake has hooked us up with Glenn Friedman, who's worked with acts like the Who, the Stones, the Beatles, Anita Baker at Music Umbrella, to license our songs and get our music into films," says Stanley. "And he's arranged some heavy-hitter PR people for Los Angeles and London. It looks like we're going to have 8,000 TV ads placed, a real full-on major ad campaign."
"We all try to keep that Kings of Leon model in mind as we plan," says Stanley. "Everyone on the team seems to believe that's doable."
Stanley describes his songwriting for the album as half a plea to his bandmates not to give up on themselves and half homage to the Houston scene, which he describes as friendly, supportive and accepting.
The band produced a fully professional video for new song "Catastrophic Skies" in hopes of getting the song placed in the third installment of the Twilight movie franchise. Coming close but not making the cut created what both men describe as "a heads-down atmosphere."
"We were so close with that video," says Stanley. "First we got passed over for Thom Yorke, and the second round we were nosed out by Muse. It just broke everyone's hearts when we didn't make the soundtrack because that was how we hoped to make the record break out. It was a very low time for all of us.
"But we had 58 different people volunteer their time to help us make the video, and none of them asked for anything except the opportunity to be in it and help us," Stanley recalls. "Houston is such a low-ego town. That could never happen in L.A."
Stanley also credits the band with one other huge supporter, Win Butler of Arcade Fire, whom Stanley knew from their teenage years in The Woodlands.
"I played some drums with him back in the day, and the next thing I know he's on the cover of [Spin] with Springsteen," Stanley laughs.
"Anyway, I was trying so hard to come up with that one song that would put us over the top, and Win gave me maybe the best career advice of my life: 'Don't chase the single, just write the best song you can on any given day.' Right after that, I wrote my first three-minute song."
The band plans a big push into the U.K. for summer and fall festivals, which management thinks is the shortest route to establishing a fan base for the new album. According to Stanley, the band is upbeat again and feels like it's time to take another shot.
"Since Day One, this band's never been in trouble," says Stanley. "Our work ethic is strong, but there's just been a lot of heartache and discouraging things to overcome. But we're still strong. I'm willing to sleep on floors and couches for another year if that's what it takes."
"It seems like we've been right on the brink our whole career," says Stanley. "And I still believe we can connect with a large audience because I think we have a lot to say."
Houston-based rock quartet Pale, known for a blend of soaring melodies set against explosive, guitar-fueled choruses, is set to release their long-awaited new recording entitled IN THE TIME OF DANGEROUS MEN on June 21st. The new CD, which will be available via independent A-Blake Records, was produced by Steve Christensen (Destiny's Child, Clay Walker), who scored a Grammy last year for his work on Townes-A Tribute to Townes Van Zandt by Steve Earle.
From "Bad Intel," the blistering opening track, to the atmospheric "Hushed Tones for Chosen Ones," IN THE TIME OF DANGEROUS MEN showcases the rock-solid songwriting that has been Pale's hallmark since the band formed nearly 10 years ago. "This band has finally got all the elements in place for something big," Artshound.com has touted of the group's new record. IN THE TIME OF DANGEROUS MEN was recorded during a two-month period last year when the band was sequestered at their label's beach house in Crystal Beach, Texas. Pale, who have been compared favorably to Muse, Radiohead and even U2, emerged with 12 standout new songs and a renewed determination to bring their Brit-rock-influenced music to a wider audience. Pale's big, dramatic sound is "as subtle as a freight train" as the repeating chorus from the pensive "Catastrophic Skies" implies. From deep, thought-provoking tracks like "Soon" and "My Final Warning" to the high-velocity rock of "Wolves Wait" and "Our Lone Star Shines," their homage to the great state of Texas, IN THE TIME OF DANGEROUS MEN showcases Pale's ability to write memorable songs. The driving "That Sinking Feeling," the first single from the new album, will be serviced to radio in the coming weeks.
The trademark emotive voice of Pale belongs to lead singer/guitarist and chief songwriter Calvin Stanley, who along with guitarist/ keyboardist Robb Moore, bassist Stephen Wesson and drummer Travis Middour quickly rose to the top of the Houston club scene and broadened their domain through impressive live performances on their own and as openers for acts as diverse as Depeche Mode, Roger Waters, Earshot and Blue October. Pale's recording debut HERE was released in 2004 to positive critical response. The six-song EP MANDATORY AMBULANCE followed in 2007, both produced by Lars Goransson (Fastball, the Cardigans, Blondie). The release of the new CD harkens to new opportunities to come. Michael Clark, writing in the Houston Chronicle, expounded, "Pale has the rock 'n' roll ideal: the moxie and evolving know-how to get noticed in a business that gives less and less opportunity to new talent," adding, "Pale is trying to find the rock 'n' roll spirit again."
That rock 'n roll spirit is particularly evident in the extraordinary video the band created for the epic track, "Catastrophic Skies." Enlisting the aid of director Sean Duke and Chase Rees of Think Big Productions as well as countless friends and local volunteers, the result is an opulent cinematic feast with the futuristic look of a Mad Max film set against a contemporary story line about independent music artists battling corporate greed. They even hosted a Hollywood-style premiere for the video at Houston's famed River Oaks Movie Theatre late last year. The song had once been under consideration for the soundtrack of the film Twilight: Eclipse.
"Pale's music inspires the dreamer in all of us," says Calvin Stanley. "I've had my head in the clouds since I was a kid, and I believe that everything is possible with this band. That kind of dreaming heart has really helped pull us through some difficult times." Pale will hit the road this summer in support of IN THE TIME OF DANGEROUS MEN following a pre-release kick-off concert in their hometown of Houston. Live Pale appearances will be announced shortly.
* * * * * To view the video for Pale's "Catastrophic Skies," go to: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=3F9ecQC5img&feature=related (song only version) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHCPggHIuqw (extended version)
Pale In The Time Of Dangerous Men A Blake Records
Last year, Pale released the single and video for “Catastrophic Skies.” While the song wasn’t exactly a stretch for the band, there were brief hints of a musical shift in focus. In The Time Of Dangerous Men finds the foursome interjecting rawer-edged garage and danceable 80′s New Wave into the over-the-top bombast that’s defined the band’s music for years. For a band best known for its Muse-esque anthems, this is a surprising–albeit welcome–change.
Touches of Radiohead, U2, and Disintegration-era Cure also permeate the new album. From the “Paranoid Android”-influenced “An Exploding Whisper” and “Catastrophic Skies” to “Bad Intel”‘s sharp-edged and spacey guitars, the Houston-based band–vocalist/guitarist Calvin Stanley, guitarist/ keyboardist Robb Moore, bassist Stephen Wesson, and drummer Travis Middour–creates the album’s moody flow by interspersing radio-friendly rock anthems with dramatic Britrock flourishes.
Lyrically, Stanley is at his introspective, self-doubting best on much of the album. On “Soon,” he asks, “How can we find our way when all we see are ways out?” and on “Bad Intel,” he hits back with “I thought you said you were mine / I hope you hurt when you find out what it takes to take from those who can’t take anymore…” His inability to shed his lovelorn past helps listeners draw parallels to their own relationships. Though many of the songs are odes to lost loves, Stanley also questions the viability of being in a band (“Shout til your head blows off / If they don’t listen, then you make them see / you keep repeating til they believe”) and waxes apocalyptic on “Hushed Tones For Chosen Ones,” on which he croons, ”On our way to make a better world / We’re gonna burn this one down.”
Pale always shoots big with its music. If 2007′s Mandatory Ambulance EP was the band moving forward, In The Time Of Dangerous Men is Pale propelling itself into a likely prosperous future.
Pale hosts a listening party for the new album at Dirt Bar tomorrow night (Thursday, 4.14.11) at 7pm. The band plays its CD release show at Houston’s Warehouse Live on Thursday, 4.28.11. Visit the band online at www.palerocks.com, where you can listen to clips from the new album.
Watch Pale’s “Catastrophic Skies” video after the jump… [Read more →]