PreCog is one of the latest signings to Manchester based electronic record label AnalogueTrash. They pack a dark synthpop punch with a twist for the alternative. With comparisons drawn to them via Depeche Mode and Massive Attack, PreCog has re-released their debut album Are We Lost? That being said, we chitted and chatted with the three members of the band Jason, Gerald, and Bret on all things PreCog. Be sure to take a listen to their album whilst you read:
Hello PreCog and welcome to Brutal Resonance! Let's start off with some basics. What type of music do you play, how many of you are in the band, and what's your favorite thing to do when unwinding after a long day of work?
Jason: Easy enough! We play a mixture of Synthpop & Darkwave music, so that'd be darkpop? synthwave? I don't know. music right? There are three of us in the band, Jason Thomas (Vocals/synth/programming) Gerald Josef (Synth/keys/programming/vocals) and Bret Pemelton (guitar/keys/vocals). I usually just binge series on Netflix, or playing Destiny.
Gerald: I almost feel we are less synthpop and maybe more just alternative. We definitely use element of synthpop, etc. but lean less towards a single niche style of music, and as for unwinding, I like to sleep as I am quite good at it! Then I make more music.
Bret: I've really gotten into cooking this past year, so I enjoy that...Then it's Netflix binge time.
The roots of any band begin from the first start they began playing instruments. Though you are a dark synthpop project now, what was the first musical instrument you began playing with? And when did you get into electronics?
Jason: The first ever instrument I received was an old Fender acoustic. I spent hours with that thing. I remember I used to get cuts and sores on my fingers so bad that I would put superglue on them so i could keep playing. I was first introduced to electronica through video game soundtracks believe it or not. My parents were more into 80's hair metal so i never was exposed to it through them. I remember games like Timesplitters, Virtual ON, and Medievil (although orchestral was all midi instruments) just blowing me away with the music. I remember taking a tape recorder and recording tracks from Virtual ON and listening to them at night till I fell asleep.
Gerald: I knew the first time I saw Depeche Mode play in '86 (some great reward tour) that was what I wanted to do! I also grew up in Detroit in the 80s and was very much a part of the Detroit techno /house/industrial music scene. From the moment I got my first synth (Casio CZ1000) and my first drum machine (Roland TR-707) I was hooked!
Bret: Piano at age six, a few years later I started teaching myself guitar. It was Edgar Winter's 'Frankenstein' that grabbed my attention with electronics. I was always drawn to bands who combined both Synths and crunchy guitars. Bands like Uriah Heep and The Cars in the 70's, then Ultravox in the 80s.
And where do your influences lie? What great bands and musicians made you want to start up PreCog?
Jason: Artists like Pat Grossi from Active Child and Massive Attack greatly shaped my musical style. I always loved the dark tones especially when they are mixed with a heavy melodic vocal style. There just isn't a lot of that out there nowadays. Most electronic bands usually stick to the baritone singing style of Mr. Gahan (Not complaining), but I really wanted to make something unique.
Gerald: I am now and always will be a product of the 80s, so artists like Kate Bush, Prefab Sprout, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, Erasure, Propaganda etc. Even though I started in synthpop bands in the 80s and more alt rock band in the 90s, my heart was always in the electronic scene, and PreCog is the band that I always wanted but could never seem to obtain for some reason.
Bret: Guitar players like Midge Ure of Ultravox was a huge influence, as well as Jamie West-Oram of The Fixx
Now I know there's three of you in the band, but how did you guys initially meet? And when was it that you began talking about starting up a band together?
Jason: Originally Gerald actually reached out to me via SoundCloud. He threw out the idea of collaboration on a song or two. I checked out his profile and loved his tracks. So we decided to work on a song together. Which was very crazy for me because I had never collaborated on a song with someone else before. We cranked out four or five tracks and realized that we had something going. We decided to form PreCog and a little over a month later we had our debut album Are We Lost completed. Still at this point we had never met in person.
When was it that PreCog was officially given birth then?
Jason: It was late November 2015 that we officially decided to give it a go.
You've a full album out right now, but are there any other songs or demos floating around that might see the light of day later?
Jason: Yes! We currently have a entire fifteen track album coming out soon with Analogue Trash that we couldn't be more excited about. The new album Pareidolia is a bit different from our first album. Its a bit heavier and a bit darker, but still keeps our unique sound. Bret really brought out the power in these tracks with the guitar, which was something i always felt was missing. I also believe we have around seventeen tracks that didn't make it onto the new album. We might look into releasing a few of those as well next year.
How is it working with one another? Do ideas come naturally, or is some bickering involved?
Jason: Its pretty fluid working with each other. Ideas usually come pretty easy. One of us will start a track and shoot it on over to the others. The biggest thing is that Gerald, Bret, and I made sure going into this project that no ego was allowed. So sometimes I will start a track and send it to Gerald and by the time I get it back its totally different, sometimes even to the extent that everything but my vocals was taken out and done away with. It doesn't bother me in the slightest, because that's what being in a collaboration should be. We've given each other pretty much free reign over stuff. However that doesn't mean that there hasn't been times where one of us wasn't feeling the direction that was taken on a track. However usually a few suggestions are thrown over and we do our best to take every one into consideration, which ends up working out perfectly because the end product is always better than before. Every decision we make, we make as a whole, and always try to make sure it benefits the band as a whole.
Gerald: I could not agree more. Ego has always been the issue with any project that I have ever done. Not that there was bad blood, it's just people can have strong opinions. Jason and I (and now Bret) have a nice synergy and are able to work quickly and consistently for the good of the whole.
Let's discuss your debut album Are We Lost?. What major themes, messages, or what have you does the album really hit upon?
Jason: The albums main themes dealt with self hate, self sabotage, betrayal, and the choices we make in life. Also the never ending eternal struggle with the bad inside us all. However no matter how hard and far you fall, there is always redemption waiting. It was actually based off a three month period of my own life. During which I literally tried to burn everything in my life to the ground, and how after I did destroy everything my wife Diana picked me up and helped me put my life back together. That is also why I had her sing on several tracks like 'Breathe', 'Find Peace (Silence the Seas)', and 'Broken Sun'. I think its incredibly important for all of us to learn how to live with our demons, not suppress them or try to hide them hoping they will disappear. Once you learn how to feed them and keep them happy, your life begins to balance out.
Did you look to any other bands when writing the music for the album, or did you come at it with your own fists swinging in a new direction?
Jason: We did kinda fall into the habit of imitating our heroes. We have heard quite a few people compare us to Depeche Mode or Massive Attack, which is super flattering, however we did still try to make something really unique and as different as possible. It was for the best though because it allowed us to learn each others styles and learn how to work as a team with some structure behind us. Gerald, Bret, and I all come from different backgrounds. Although we all have worked in the music field, our personalities are all quite varied. We tried to let that shine as much as possible in our music.
Was it easy writing the lyrics for the album? Or did you have struggles getting your thoughts out from your head and onto paper?
Jason; It was surprisingly easy once I had a feeling on the direction and message I wanted to take the album, There were a few tracks that stumped me for a few days. Fortunately whenever I hit a rough patch or get too critical on myself Gerald usually kicks me out of that mindset and helps me keep on rolling. Once I knew what I wanted to make the album about it flowed pretty naturally. Each track we had I would try to assign a certain point of my life to, once it was locked in I would have the lyrics down and recorded in about thirty to forty minutes.
When you finally heard the album in its entirety, what did you think of it? Did you think it was great? Did you think it needed work? What are your own pros and cons for the album?
Jason: I was really blown away at what we had accomplished in such a short time. There are a few things I hear now and again where we made errors but I think that's what makes this album special. It's us, one-hundred percent us. The biggest thing I would've changed on the album was throwing some guitar on there. I know what you're thinking, "Jason, buddy you play guitar. why didn't you record some?" My playing style just didn't mesh well. I only really excel at Metal or Djent. I couldn't convey the correct emotions I wanted to, so I left it out. I think the whole album itself is a pro for me, I have never been so proud of a project. Plus I've made some friends that are closer than family.
Gerald: I could not believe how fast this album got written and recorded. I know people think you are conceited if you listen to your own music, but I was so excited to have realized the project I always wanted, I listened to the album all the time. I am so proud of what we have accomplished in a short time and agree with Jason, feel like I have family in Jason and Bret!
Bret: Gerald and I had been writing together for a couple years but I was always so unhappy with my own voice on lead vocals. So when I heard what he and Jason had put together I really loved his voice and was hoping he might consider singing on some of the tracks we had recorded. Playing with PreCog wasn't even on my radar.
So far has there been any reception of the album from critics or fans? What are they saying? Do you take criticism on the band hard, or do you knock it off and strut your stuff?
Jason: Its been amazing for the majority! We get negative reviews here and there but it is what it is. People are so varied in their tastes it would be unreasonable to think we can please everyone, but even if we've connected with just one person I would be happy. Bottom line is we write music for ourselves (as conceited as that sounds its true) We obviously hope others will enjoy it, but we have a creative itch that desperately needs to be scratched.
And what else lies in wake for PreCog? Tours, remixes, shows, EPs, working on a new album, etc?
Jason: We have finished up our new album Pareidolia and its currently in the hands of our label, so keep your eyes peeled for that! We also have been looking at doing a short tour along the east coast and maybe hitting my favorite city Chicago. We are also collaborating on a track as well as doing a remix with a favorite band of mine. I can't get into the nitty gritty of that just yet but I can tell you it's going to blow your mind.
Lastly, I'd like to thank you very much for your time and wish you the best of luck! Cheers!
Jason: No problem! it was our pleasure! Thank you for thinking of us!
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
Share this interview