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Warp's star signing, formerly known as Pivot, return with their new album 'Church With No Magic'

When Warp sign, people take note. When Warp emphatically sign their first Australian band, people put the notes down and listen. Meet PVT, formally known as Pivot, however following on from legal wranglings in the US, they’ve dropped the vowels and added vocals in a literal and sonic transmogrification, which will see the band fulfill the expectations of Warp, as well as a growing international fan base. New album, 'Church With No Magic', is a statement of intent, and brothers Richard and Laurence Pike, who make up two thirds of PVT along with Dave Miller, recorded the album in the same studio – a far cry from the last album, 'O Soundtrack My Heart', which was completed with the band on different sides of the planet. Dazed caught up with Richard Pike to see if the name change has facilitated the shift in sound and to ask how he found his voice.

Dazed Digital: Has the new name given you a broader freedom to change your sound?
Richard Pike: Well, no, it didn't really happen that way. We didn't change the band name until it was time to do the album art. We had just finished the record and did a tour of the US under the name Pivot. Of course that's when the US Pivot piped up with legal letters. They were clearly envious that we've played more states in the US then they have. But to be honest it wasn't hard to achieve that, they have never left their garage.

DD: Why ‘Church With No Magic’?
Richard Pike: It was a title of the song, and it seemed to fit a lot of the ideas we were discussing around the time. This album for us is about cutting through bullshit, making something unique, about searching for things without artifice and looking behind the facades of things. People buy into bullshit a lot in the world, and everybody knows it, but is pretty lazy about it. It's human nature I guess. Take George Bush for example – what a joke that was. But it's not supposed to be political; it's just a feeling thing. I always think shopping centres are 'churches with no magic'. Lots of people congregate there, but they are such transient and empty places really, the feeling that exists there if you just stand there for a while. It's a non-place. So, the title is not a direct go at the Catholic Church, although we're pretty skeptical of religion.

DD: How did you approach the subject material for your lyrics?
Richard Pike: Well, mainly the vocals just start with wordless melodies, improvising ideas with the voice, and sometimes sounds of words evolve from there. Then I keep a notebook of ideas, and much of it was pretty sub-conscious stuff. I didn't want it to be about 'heartbreak' or 'the weather', I wanted it to evolve like the music does for us, quite naturally. So before I knew it I had all these half-written ideas with themes emerging, like what I talked about with Church With No Magic for example, and it progressed from there. I guess because it was a sub-conscious thing a lot of darkness came out, but the grand themes are kind of there – dealing with emptiness, and hope and elation.

DD: Do you feel pressure in being the first Australian band to sign to Warp?
Richard Pike: Probably the opposite. It's given us a springboard to tour the world and do a lot of the things we want, although there is pressure to make money back that's invested in us, and that can make touring stressful. As long as we just do what we want musically it's not really a problem. And Warp isn’t the kind of label to put commercial pressures on us – well, not in any 'you need a hit single with autotune vocals' kind of way. Even the main money guy at warp said to us 'don't think about singles or any of that, just go away and write a great album'. That was nice to hear.

DD: Why did you choose to add vocals to this record?
Richard Pike: Like I said we try to write quite naturally, and it was something that was just happening more and more. Especially with live improvs. I've been singing on and off most of my musical life, did some touring and vocal recording with other bands, but because PVT came from a 'jam band' kinda background it never happened. The cosmos was telling me to do it. If I was a religious man I would say God was telling me to sing. Lucky I'm not a religious man.

DD: What’s next for the band?
Richard Pike: Loads of touring. After that I might open an Elvis-themed bar and bowling alley. Dave will go back to his charity work, and Laurence will host a kids’ show.

Church With No Magic is out through Warp Records on August 9th 2010.