by Eric Baylies
Pyramid is an unusual and awesome combination of punk, psychedelic and rock ’n’ roll cabaret. The young band has literally come out of nowhere in the last couple of years to pretty much take over Providence. I was able to talk mainly to head honcho Constance about your new favorite band.
Noise: Tell me a little about how the band got started.
Constance: Let’s see, Pyramid will be two years old on May 20. We started off with Thea and I sort of as a way to beat depression, I was in the middle of a bad break up or already dumped at this point and just wanted to bang on drums, whether or not I was a drummer. That was the only thing that could peel me off the couch and stop watching the Venture Brothers. Jeff and Ben were nice enough to let us play in the basement of The Columbus Theater for our musical emotional therapy. I really liked playing drums and never really thought to play them in a project. I didn’t think I was good enough and should probably just stick with guitar, bass, and keys. With Pyramid it was a whole other beast. I felt like I sort of was being taking over by the drums. Thea would play a bunch of chords on the ukulele and I’d say, ” never mind that… just play those two chords over and over, really fast.” Then i’d play a punk beat and slow it down and say, “now this is Polka” We were always goofing around riffing on different ways to make the songs sillier than they already were. Then I would say, “okay, play D A G A… that’s what Eddie Cochran would do” and we sort of would Frankenstein these parts.
Noise: Were you doing the singing at that point?
Constance: I asked Thea to sing because I didn’t want to copy-cat the Viennagram and really never thought about pulling off the drummer who is also the singer thing. After a few times around on song, I would eventually start yelling what ever jumped into my head. Get the melody to form even through gurgles. We would play the songs on loop until I was happy with whatever garbage that came out of my mouth. Sometimes I would form words in the moment. Sometimes I would expand on the lyrics after practice therapy only to find that less is more.
Noise: How long were you a duo?
Constance: I think we new we were good, or at least on to something because we started recording demos right away. We couldn’t really figure out a name and I think we were too depressed to care. After a few shows Mackenzie saw us play at the Funky Jungle. Thea and I were walking upstairs with gear and Mack followed us, sort of stuck her head into the door like Jack Torrance and asked to join. We were like, “duh… next show is a benefit for Arrow dog (my dog had partial ACL tear i was unable to foot the bill) come to practice. bring a guitar” Mack n cheese is a total rock ’n’ roll animal. She learned the songs in like one practice and then came to play the show while she was on a break at the club she worked at the time. Unplugged and left. I never seen any thing like that before. I never met anyone like her before. Florence joined sort of the same way. She came to our show at dusk once we started to get tighter as a three piece and sort of just fell onto us into a hug and said she was in the band and was playing bass. Again, we were like, “duhh.”
Noise: Does it create many problems with multiple band members being in different groups?
Constance: I sort of look at Pyramid as a militia like the Minuteman. We are always prepared in case a member can’t play. Florence plays with Orion Dommisse and Low Anthem and they tour. Thea is in Pixels and sometimes will have to pull double duty but I can’t remember a time where both shows were at the same time resulting in some sort of Punky Brewster or Clarissa Explains it all wackiness. That’s was how Mike came to play drums, we are long time friends and have played music before but I knew Florence couldn’t play the show and go to work and there was no way around it, Bed Bugs is sort of our “hit” and it has an amazing bass line. I couldn’t just NOT play the song without the bass line. The bass line makes it. This was the first song I wrote where I thought about all the parts at once and I didn’t want to compromise anything. I asked Mike for one song but it turned into three. I was unable to play that bass line and sing so had Chuck from Eric and the Nothing play. Which gave me free range to run around and cause mischief. We had a show with Orion and Big Thief from Brooklyn the next week and we all decided, “yeah, this is the set up from now on.” Which is great because playing drums makes my Fibromyalgia flare up. Now I can just pose and point and if I feel like jumping around I can. With the drums, the pain was too great and slowing me down. We are always prepared, we have a whole arsenal of people ready to help. Except for a singer, I can’t seem to dump this responsibility on anyone. Thea plays in Pixels, Florence plays in Low Anthem and Orion, Mack plays with Alex Garzone, and Mike has played with every band ever.
Noise: I heard that a lot of your songs come to you in dreams, much like one of my favorite bands Throwing Muses.
Constance: I dream in song so much it’s overwhelming. I always think, “okay, I’m gonna remember this but it’s a lot of work. and a lot of getting out of a warm bed with a dog that serves as a teddy bear too” We have a song called ” why don;t you take a picture it will last longer” That came to me in a dream. It is an Eric Paul (Arab On Radar, Doomsday Student) PeeWee Herman hybrid sang to me the song over and over, It was the funniest dream probably in the history of dreams, or at least mine. Pyramid played a show with Doomsday Student and I thought we had to play it even if it sounded horrible. I tried my best to play what Paul Viera (of Doomsday Student) would but Mack just ended up playing the chords to match the melody and Flo came up with this gnarly disco punk bass line. It’s bliss.
Noise: Tell me about your famous Frankenstein method.
Constance: I wrote a song called Liberty Fest and I needed a guitar part. I pulled out my phone with all my dream voice memos and there was the lead. The Frankenstein method works for me. I’ve had Dreams where my friend Linda Worth would be playing guitar in front of me showing me how the song goes. I need to start catching more melodies. Once I destroyed my phone and lost a ton of song ideas I thought best to start over or work on what I already have. I hear songs everywhere. From the fan before I’m going to bed, my rock tumbler, the clip clop of my boots on the pavement. Lately I have been obsessed with the sounds of Smith Hill (in Providence). There is a real flow. and some really great noises. I sometimes almost expect an air raid horn to go off. You just never know what you’re going to hear next. It was scary at first because of my panic disorder but now I am trying to appreciate the heights and lows of sound.
Noise: Tell me how the songs get fleshed out with the band.
Constance: We wrote a few songs together as a band like Picture And Paranoid about being paranoid. I was being paranoid about something and Florence just started to yell that and played some ominous tones out of her bass. I would like to write more songs together. It’s sort of nice to keep coming to the table with new songs. I get so many ideas and I’m not sure if I want them to be played and need to hear them through the band and see how it works. I usually come up with the parts but I will always let everyone know if I am not married to the idea and that what I have is sort of like a prototype. It’s very rare that I have an idea that I won’t budge on but when I do the rest of the band usually gets it and gets that I am normally pretty flexible. I just want the band to work together like a machine. It has already begun. We speak telepathically. Only about half of our songs we have a set ending. Somehow we always make it sound like all the songs have set endings. The songs are always growing and evolving. We are growing as musicians and perfumers as well. I really want to be at the point where people say, “that’s not a band, that’s a machine.”
Noise: Do you mean performers or perfumers?
Constance: Ha ha, that was probably a typo, but now that I think about it we are both. We are always huffing on perfume before shows.
Noise: Do you have any recordings out there?
Constance: We have about six songs up on band camp/ sound cloud. We recorded at the Columbus last February but I think we have to sit on these songs until we get protools10. We just recorded eight songs with Billy Moretti of the Denver Boot and Eric and the Nothing. Hopefully those will be available for the good people of the world to listen to soon.
Noise: Pyramid is very visual onstage. Do you have any videos out?
Pyramid: We have some ideas for music videos and will be putting stuff out once the songs are mastered and all that goodness. We have already started to gather footage because we are all so excited and can’t wait.
Noise: Any touring plans?
Constance: We have not done any touring but are starting to branch out. Hopefully we can play Boston soon. We played the Record Hospital at Harvard but not like an actual show show show show. We have some stuff in the works to get to Brooklyn but I think for now we are going to do mini tours and and test the waters. Also if anyone out there wants to book us a tour please help us! We are poor and no one loves us! Help!
Noise: What else do you all do outside of the band?
Constance: In our free time we all sort of work on music and art, or watch or listen to things for inspiration. I’ve been trying to work on more comedy and practice black magic rituals. Mackenzie is working on a zine that stems from her silk screening company. We volunteer for Girls Rock. We go bowling and do therapy.
Noise: Tell a little about the ’zine. I love ’zines.
Constance: Mackenzie and Rachel’s ’zine is a collection of ideas from anyone who submits. Some write poems or show reviews. Rachel and Mack build bridges. They want to include everyone. They pretty much rule the roost.
Noise: Alright, let me just ask Mackenzie what its like to play in this band?
Mackenzie: Being in a band with Connie is the best life experience to date. Its like dating David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Adam Ant’s love child but without any sex. I think I’m getting shorted now that I think about it. My job in Pyramid is to listen carefully to everything that is going on while teaching myself how to play guitar without my head exploding.
Noise: Back to Connie now. Are you no longer playing drums in the band?
Constance: I’m just singing in the band now, but sometimes I will pick up a guitar. I really want to play mandolin for our upcoming shows.
Noise: Did any of you come to Providence for school?
Constance: I think Thea is the only member to come here for school. I think we all moved here for music. I’m not really sure when I could start remembering things but when I could I was in providence and already thought it to be a lovely, charming city.
Noise: Where did you get your band name?
Constance: When we had to come up with a name I was listening to this lecture “The Initiation of a Pyramid” by Many P. Hall and was reading about pyramids, so I just said Pyramid for a band name.
Noise: Pyramid is an exciting, unpredictable band live, and an enigmatic mystery machine on tape. Check them out, you will thank them later.