Photography: Peter Goodbody / p3dro.co.uk

PALE RIDER make a wondrous racket. It’s a racket that is turbo-charged by the currents of Hawkwind and early Verve, marching along with the stomp of The Black Angels in their heels. The quartet of Ben Russell, Fran Codman, Sophie Thompson and Louis Dutton know a thing or two about groove, and they aren’t shy in letting it trample all over your eardrums when they step on stage.

“The song came from thinking about lyricism, or art in general as an objective thing, and how we decide what is profound and remarkable and what isn’t,” says Ben Russell about their signature track, I Run On Rain. “The line ‘Confidence in the nonsense… a meaning in the nothing,’ was born from this idea. The verses are kind of like a surreal, tongue-in-cheek play on this concept, and are sang with gusto and conviction to imply some hidden meaning.”

This video, filmed and edited by Dan Hewitson (Freakbeat Films), is a heady compilation of footage from recent live shows, where the band really cut loose. Also containing snippets from their first foray into Elevator Studios, the film captures the dynamism and raucous energy that Pale Rider pour into their live sets. Yeh, you’re going to want to go and see them after watching it.

We spoke to the band’s guitarist, Fran Codman, about the band coming to life on stage, which you can read below. But first, enjoy their brilliant debut video.

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The video is a compilation of some of your recent live shows. Do you feel like this is the best representation of the band, where you come alive?

Absolutely. We knew pretty much from the first batch of songs that we wrote together we were always gonna be a live band purely because of the style of band we are – we’re not a super tight group that writes concise songs and big hooks for the most part, although I Run On Rain as a song is definitely the closest we’ve come to that type of tune. We’ve always tended to write pretty loose, motorik jams, more akin to space rock bands like Hawkwind or a lot of the krautrock stuff that we’re in to.

Do you get the impression that the songs take on a different life in a live setting, responding to the dynamics of a live audience? Compared to studio recordings that is.

I like to think so. We’ve always thrived on watching how the crowd are responding to us: if you can see a mass of drugged-out space cadets writhing around outta their minds in the first few rows it definitely spurs you on. The songs tend to be a lot more spacious when we play them live and I think people have always responded well to that kind of sprawling style that we’ve evolved into – it gives them an opportunity to catch their breath in between bouts of having your head blown off with obnoxious levels of fuzz and cymbal crashes!

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that inspired this sound you’re going for?

Far too many to mention here! In terms of a live full band sound I’ve always been blown away by Hawkwind’s In Search Of Space, for me that’s the absolute pinnacle of a band walking out on a stage, just blasting off into space and taking everyone with them. The first four Sabbath records were the albums that really made me want to be a guitarist when I was a teenager and I’ve always been massively inspired by them and the stoner/sludge/doom bands that followed them like Kyuss, Sleep and The Melvins. As you can probably tell I wasn’t very popular at school!

Imagine you get the chance to put together your ideal supergroup to play a headline show at the ECHO Arena/O2 Arena/Carnegie Hall, with you as support. Who would you pick?

If it’s Pale Rider as the support then I’m gonna have to leave out a lot of my favourite musicians here, so there’s no room for Neil Young, CCR or Prince! This is just gonna be a group made up of absolute miserable bastards, so I’ll go for:

Drums – John ‘Drumbo’ French, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
Imagine being that good at drums AND being the only fella capable of directing the rest of the band through Trout Mask Replica.

Bass – Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath
My absolute favourite bass player. Incredible grooves, incredible muzzy.

Guitar – Michael Karoli, Can
Desperately underrated guitarist to most, just flows perfectly along in every tune, a total pioneer of what you can do with a guitar and a few effects. His playing on Mother Sky in particular is stunning. Sorry for all the riffs I’ve robbed off you, Michael!

Guitar – Eddie Hazel, Funkadelic
Why are you even reading this interview when you could be listening to Maggot Brain right now? Go ‘ead, off you pop.

Vocals – David Bowie
At this point I don’t even care that this hypothetical band would probably sound like absolute shite, there’s no way I’m leaving Bowie out. The single greatest human being ever to record music and the absolute love of my life.



Pale Rider play with Phobophobes at Shipping Forecast on Thursday 15th March.

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