Pavilion pack a beautifully brooding post-punk punch

Toronto's Pavilion share new songs and stories of playing with their heroes.

January 27, 2016

Photo: Colin Medley

A lot can happen in less than a year. In April 2015, a self-recorded and self-released four-song demo cassette came out from a Toronto band called Mercury Girls. A few months later a name change was decided upon after another Mercury Girls came knocking and Pavilion was born.

Pavilion started with Grace Scott (vocals/guitar) and Julie MacKinnon (vocals/bass), who recruited Jonah Falco (also a member of Career Suicide and Fucked Up) on drums. They later added Mike Grdosic on second guitar.

‘Post-punk’ is a term used to describe an enormous variety of artists that sound completely different. Many will have that same descriptor foisted upon them. We’re hearing more and more bands going for one specific sound but Pavilion puts together many of those disparate definitions of post-punk and distills them into something unique. You get the beauty of The Chameleons (who Pavilion performed with last year), the broodiness of The Sound, and the heavy drumming of UK anarcho-punk.

I spoke with Grace Scott about the recording process behind their demo and two brand new songs (hear them below). We also touched on their shows opening for ChameleonsVox (the latest incarnation of the band featuring original singer Mark Burgess) in October 2015, where some of the interactions they had with fans were less than desirable.

AUX: The ‘Mercury Girls’ demo was recorded over a period of six months. Was there a particular reason for that?

Grace Scott: Well, it was kind of more like four months because it was the end of November to very early April, but basically the songs “In Your Hands” and most of “Pale Shades of Green” were recorded by Jonah, Julie, and I at the end of our first practice. Julie and I had a few songs and some other ideas and we brought them to Jonah, finessed them, and recorded them that day.

Then Jonah and I were both away from Toronto for a month. We added Mike to the band and wrote a few more songs and would just record between or after practices. We’ve always tried to record as we go, which is an interesting process, I think, because you’re figuring out a song and taking it apart and putting it back together practically in the midst of creating it. Sometimes I have no idea how the vocals are going to go until I’m recording. A lot of little vocal changes in our songs have just been something I did on the spot and then was like, “Oh, that sounds good.” There’s also a lot of re-doing of things, changing minds, going back into stuff. But it’s just the way we’ve always done it. Trial and error.

Were your two new songs also recorded by Jonah? How much time was spent recording them?

Yeah, Jonah recorded that too. We recorded the songs in June, and then went through a really long process of mixing and re-recording some guitar parts as well. We didn’t really touch them that much over the summer, and then Jonah and I really picked them apart and finessed them in… October? Jonah and I are pretty consistently wayward. He’s touring a lot with CS and Fucked Up, and I travel constantly, so Pavilion is a slow burn.

It sounds like there are lot more layers and overdubs to these latest songs. Were they fully-formed going in or do you find you fleshed out ideas in the studio?

There’s a lot more happening in these songs but I think that’s just a product of being a more fully-formed band. We know each other better and maybe we’re getting a bit more ambitious. Jonah brought “Vexation” mostly written and I wrote the vocals. “Hyacinth” we wrote as a group over a couple of practices.

You recently played two shows opening for ChameleonsVox. I assume that was a bit of surreal opening for a classic post-punk band who you’ve mentioned in other interviews as being a shared influence. Some say you should never meet your heroes. How was your experience? Did you hang out with Mark Burgess at all?

We didn’t really hang out with Mark Burgess, he was kind of doing his own thing, but they were incredible to watch and very nice. I thought it was great that their entire tour had them playing with all of these great contemporary post-punk bands – that I love – like Anasazi, Survival, Bellicose Minds, Infidel, Pleasure Leftists… in a weird way it was a tour that I wanted to be a part of.

At the shows a lot of old men came up to me at the merch table to ask me if I’d heard of The Chameleons before. This one old dude with a leather cuff was trying so hard to talk to Kayla from Sahara while they were playing in Toronto and he kept blocking my view.

Pavilion have a couple of upcoming Toronto shows:

Saturday, February 13 at Faith/Void with Vanilla Poppers (Cleveland)
Friday, February 19 at the Great Hall (Long Winter)

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