Pridelands | Joshua Cory

23 May 2018 | 5:47 pm | Alex Sievers
Originally Appeared In

"To be frank, I wanted to kill myself and writing these lyrics were my foolish replacement for speaking to a trained professional. It resulted in the most honest music we've written."

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Earlier this month, Melbourne's Pridelands released their new EP, 'Any Colour You Desire' - no doubt the group's best written and most personal release to date. Compared with the work that came before it, the six emotionally heavy and solid metalcore/post-hardcore songs housed within 'Any Colour You Desire' show a real step-up for Pridelands in every sense. And it's quite clear that this still young band honestly put much of themselves into the music and lyrics this time around, creating something great in the process.

Speaking with co-vocalist Joshua Cory, he and I dive into the deeply personal matters in his own life that fueled this new release, namely his battles with depression and mental illness. As well as talking about him switching out from his bass role to now doing solely vocals, Pridelands not caring about the opinions of others regarding their art, staying independent for the time being, the ins-outs of music video for 'Any Colour You Desire', their past work, and how far they've come over the past year or so. Take a look, friends. 

Joshua, I saw you guys play that Belle Haven album release show almost exactly a year ago now, at the Northcote Social Club in Melbourne last May. And I remember thinking to myself on the night that the vocal dynamic between yourself and co-vocalist Mason Bunt was almost there but not quite. Now with ‘Any Colour You Desire’, I feel that it's become fully realised with you both sharing full vocal duties, playing off each other really nicely, and I love that vibe. 

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Thank you man! For a long time, I felt somewhat naked without an instrument in front of me while I sang, but thanks to a lot of time and performance coaching that's in the past. I really enjoy letting loose on stage now.

Oh, I bet! While I really liked the older Pridelands singles, 'Battery City' and 'Coalesce' - as well as the stuff before them too - I find that this new EP has a deeper musical cohesion occurring. It seems like you and the band all had a lot of growth personally between the five of you over the past year and a half, and that’s now shown in your music. You all just seem far more confident, really. 

I suppose there has been a lot of personal growth sprouting among us over the past 18 months and I'm glad that it's reflecting in some way in the music. Liam and I wrote the majority of these songs in my bedroom while he was staying on my lounge room floor after returning from Nepal, so from the outside, it may have looked inconvenient or awkward, but I genuinely believe we've never worked better together than in that scenario. Another thing that helps with that is not writing for anybody but ourselves. Coming of age for a band can feel like you need to solidify yourself in the 'scene' with a certain sound thumbprint, but letting go of that and not caring what anyone but us thought was healthy.

[caption id="attachment_1102453" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Pridelands, 2018. (PC: PJ Pantelis)[/caption]

In other recent interviews, the band have stated that the artwork shows seven different people - representing seven different emotional states and seven different colours - all feeding into this one place; this one “deity”. However, there are only six songs on the final EP. So was there a song cut or is that seventh emotion/colour perhaps meant to summarize the remainder of the EP, almost like a recurring emotion or a consistent theme for it?

So, to start with there wasn't a song cut or anything. I believe in the early discussions of what we wanted to go for with Any Colour You Desire in terms of its length, we were aiming for seven tracks, but it was never concrete. The seventh acolyte, to me, symbolises the listener; the amalgamation of all the emotions we wanted to represent visually and aurally.

Cool! I think it maybe comes with the Mt. Gambier/rural origins of Pridelands that the older material focused on our environment; the idea of “nature vs. nurture”. That’s not really present on this EP, though that’s not a bad thing. What are your thoughts on that transition over time and the approach to your older work versus now?

For me personally, the issues we've faced lyrically in the past have always come from the same fire. There's a deeply rooted frustration in us that I struggle to translate at times. It can be frustration with the current state of world affairs or as you said, the question of nature vs. nurture that's always present in modern life. To be frank, I wanted to kill myself and writing these lyrics were my foolish replacement for speaking to a trained professional. It resulted in the most honest music we've written.

I’m so glad you were able to find a release for that depression and mental pain, truly. Stemming from that, with you writing the lyrics, there’s a lot of personal, close-to-home matters that went right into this EP's creation. I also know you’ve been sitting on ‘Any Colour You Desire’ for a little while now, so since these songs were written and tracked down have certain feelings and events come to pass or be ironed out since in your lives? Or are you guys all still dealing with a lot of these issues spoken about on the EP? 

It's interesting that you ask this, given that I have asked myself the same thing in similar words not so long ago. A few of the meanings behind the songs have skewed for me, not necessarily in a bad way. I like that the lyrics are relatively ambiguous so that I can recreate the meaning behind them for myself in case I get tired of performing the songs. Though for 'The Sulfur Inside Your Head', Liam and I collaborated lyrically for the first time to try and address his issue with sleep paralysis and it went brilliantly. We romanticised it by personifying it as a lover that has total control over your body and senses in the heat of the moment.

That's actually really cool regarding the theme of 'The Sulfur Inside Your Head'. The new EP has all of the usual Underoath and Northlane influences, and it’s a release that puts in the same pull as another Aussie band like Thornhill. For you’ve definitely still got metalcore/post-hardcore bangers like the title track and ‘Machina’, but other songs like ‘Boys’ and ‘Slowly’ are very interesting; they’re darker, more atmospheric, and they pull from other influences I find. They show a dynamic and a sound that I’d love to see to Pridelands pursue further in time.

Thank you! I think everyone in the band feels quite similar about the slower songs on the EP. It was nice to find that we can write a song in a time signature other than 4/4. It's interesting that those influences are apparent, since we all back both of those bands to the hills, it's just that we didn't listen to much of either band during or prior to writing ACYD. I was listening to a lot of Alexisonfire, Deftones and Daughter at the time, I can't really speak for anyone else. 'Boys' and 'Slowly' are representative of where we're headed as musicians more than anything else on the record I believe.

'Boys' is the most personal song I've helped contribute to, it's about my father who died when I was fifteen and how due to this, I have had to face up to and be challenged by the weight of mortality. I saw someone I believed to be invincible slowly deteriorate over four years. The song is almost an apology to myself for distancing my personal experience from my friends rather than opening up and allowing myself to heal.

Thank you for sharing that with me - that cannot have been easy at all.

[caption id="attachment_1102452" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Joshua Cory. PC: Lord Media. [/caption]

Moving on, with the title track’s music video, where did you guys shoot that film clip with Crystal Arrow Films at? 

The video for 'Any Colour...' was filmed at Fort Nepean in Portsea. Kieran, our housemate and very good friend Dixie and I went to scout the location on a super hot day. We didn't bring any water and walked for about 8km trying to find the location that we ended up using for the performance shots, as Kez had seen it somewhere online and was obsessing over finding it. Eventually, we did, just as we were about to call it off. It was like finding an oasis in the desert, to be honest! The rest of the shots were still filmed on location, just within different gun emplacements and the old engine rooms.

Also on that film clip, I really liked how with the performance shots, the five of you are facing towards that inner column (even with the tunnel openings behind you all facing inwards too), almost recreating the EP’s artwork in a way.

It honestly didn't cross my mind at all! Even when looking at the behind the scenes photos that our good friend Liam Davidson [AKA Lord Media] took from a vantage point, I didn't make that connection. I'm sure Kez was thinking it, but I don't remember it being discussed, at least around me! I'm glad that we found a way to make a connection without me realising it at all...

So, the last time that you and I spoke for an interview on KYS, I pointed out that “the city is a cross” hidden message in the ‘Coalesce’ music video. Whatever happened with that idea – did it come into this EP at all, did it get used somewhere else again, or was it a one-off?   

It was never an idea that I intended to carry over. The subliminal text messages in 'Coalesce' were paying homage to our friend Kathryn that writes poetry and a particular line struck me then. When trying to conceptualise that video with Kieran, my intent was all over the place. I wanted something "artsy" - that was the word I used, I remember - how embarrassing. But all the same, something that could properly get across the message behind 'Coalesce'. I learnt a lot from that process, namely that you can't bring attention to a subject of importance through vague referencing. Who'd have thought!?

I know right! It’s almost as if being direct will get your point across to those who consume your art. Weird, hey? [That’s sarcasm, please don’t yell at me]. Lastly, Pridelands have been independent ever since first starting up. I actually saw in a review on Hysteria recently that “they deserve to be picked up by a label. Stat.” So what are your and the band’s thoughts on record labels and Pridelands being currently independent? Are there any plans to maybe change that?

I think I like the fact that we're independent and have somehow managed to do what we do without financial aid through a label or any other means. We're a bunch of poor kids from fucking nowhere, living out of home trying to pay rent and make this work. It's a fucking miracle that we did. But having said that, we see too many young bands get taken advantage of, with offers that look great on the surface dangled in front of them like a carrot on a string. I don't think we'll be signing to anything until we're damn sure it's the right decision and I'm glad to say it, despite putting so much of our own income towards this with little to no return. It's cliché but it's true, you do this shit cause you love it, and that's it!

Pridelands are launching 'Any Colour You Desire' this Saturday, May 26th at The Workers Club with Windwaker, BLKLST, & Advocates. Grab your tickets for the show here!