INTERVIEW: PALE HELL (nu-mathcore)

1. How did you come up with the name Pale Hell?

Alex: Charles and Wyatt came up with the name before I joined the band, so I’m honestly not sure. It’s kind of a mystery to me.

Charles: Wyatt actually originally proposed the idea for that name. He saw the phrase used on Ricky Armellino’s (guitarist for Ice Nine Kills) instagram post and we liked it. Also, on urban dictionary a pale hell is abasically a place where white trash people live and we thought that was funny.

James: I don’t know, I wasn’t in the band.

2. When asked what your genre descriptor should be, you came up with “nu-mathcore”. What else have you guys been called, and what bands have you guys typically been compared to?

Alex: A lot of times people at shows will say “don’t take this the wrong way”, or “no offense, but…” and then say that we’re kind of nu-metal. It’s no secret, we’re definitely influenced by bands like Korn, Mudvayne, and Slipknot.

Charles: We’ve been called anything from nu metalcore to metallic hardcore and everything in between. The most common comparison is definitely Slipknot

James: I feel like we’ve been described with a bunch of different genre labels – metallic hardcore,

nu metalcore, etc. I don’t recall anyone comparing us to another band so maybe that’s a testament to us being a sort of melting pot of influences? Not too sure.

3. Talk about the most memorable shows you’ve played.

Alex: One of my favorite shows that we’ve ever played was Rec Room in November 2021 with Vended, Omerta, and Hazing Over. It was our first show in two years, for obvious reasons. It was also our first show with James on guitar and Charles doing double duty with bass and vocals.

That was the longest I had ever gone without playing a show since I first started out with music, so I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if the local scene had changed, if people still cared about heavy music in Buffalo, if people would care about Pale Hell.

But the venue was packed, and people really got into our set. The crowd was mostly younger people who I had never seen at shows before, so it was great to see that people are still showing up and still giving a shit about live heavy music.

It really renewed my love for playing live music, and in some ways I feel that it was kind of like our first show as Pale Hell, even though it was actually our fourth.

Charles: We played a show in Fredonia at 37 Maple that was sick as fuck. Basement was packed out you could barely breathe down there. But the atmosphere was amazing and people really liked us.

James: For me, the most memorable show (or i guess the most special show) was my first one with the band at Rec Room with Vended. It was memorable for me because it was my first time getting to perform heavier music live and of course my first time getting to perform with the rest of the pale hell guys. Getting to see the crowd go hard to songs that I had spent the previous few months banging my head against the wall trying to learn and perfect was definitely a really rewarding experience for me.

4. Who are your biggest musical influences?

Alex: The Smashing Pumpkins are the band that made me want to play guitar when I was a kid, so they’ll always be one of my biggest influences. Songs like “Mayonaise” and “Today” are the reason that I started playing.

When I started getting into heavy music, I looked up to bands like The Fall of Troy, Erra, Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, and Within The Ruins. The technical aspect is really what drew me to heavy music.

A few other bands that have influenced me as a guitarist are PMtoday, Eternity Forever, Barrier, CHON, Senses Fail, Turnover, and Counterparts. I continue to be inspired by bands like Hazing Over and Methwitch that push the envelope of abrasive and chaotic music.

Charles: Metallica, Slipknot, August Burns Red,, Orthodox, Cane Hill, Stray from the path.

James: I think that I pull inspiration from a lot of different areas. On the metal side, I really like the band Agoraphobic Nosebleed for their mix of intricate riff writing paired with punishing guitar and bass tones that sound like they’re trying to grind your ears into paste. I also really admire the ethos of bands like Thee Oh Sees or King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard in the sense that both of those bands like to experiment with different sounds and genres to make essentially whatever music they feel like making at any particular time.

5. What made you settle on nu-mathcore? Why not metalcore or djent, etc.?

Alex: Jeremy Swartwout from Wasted Space coined the term, and I think it’s very fitting for us. It’s almost an oxymoron, and it’s funny because mathcore is kind of highbrow and nu-metal is the polar opposite.

We definitely draw inspiration from nu-metal, but we also love technical and chaotic music. I think that Wyatt and Charles really built the foundation of The Pale Hell sound on the debut EP Twice Born, and we’ve been refining it ever since.

I think it’s a combination of all subgenres of heavy music.

James: To me, I feel like we could sonically fit under a number of different labels. Metalcore, djent, nu metal, and mathcore are all places that I feel like we draw significant inspiration from. It seems like Nu Mathcore is a good sort of umbrella term to throw all of those genres under for now.

6. Talk about anyone’s past bands we might remember from the local scene.

Alex: I was in Scenery With Solace from 2011-2019. We started the band as friends in high school before we were ever really involved in the scene. We opened up for Parkway Drive at Town Ballroom in 2016, and that was so sick.

That band was our introduction to the local scene, and we really played with every metal band around. I used to have a list of every band we ever played with, and it was just insane.

Our song “We Are Infinite” was on Spotify’s Djent playlist for like four years, and we still have no idea how that happened. This was before you could even pitch your songs for playlisting.

Other than that, I was a live member of Revealer for a few years, and a live member for Familypet on occasion.

I’ve also filled in on both guitar and bass for bands like Gretta Moire, Hearts in Atlantis, and Debt to Nature.

Charles: When I first started going to local shows around 2012 the coolest metal bands in Buffalo were Sheltered by Skies and The Donner Party. I was blown away by the musicanship and just thought the scene revolving around X Wheels shows was so fucking cool.

James: Well I currently play in a few different bands. Tsunami Tsurprise (surf punk), Skulking Ghost (psych garage rock mostly but a little bit of everything), Mimic (alternative rock) and of course Pale Hell. Maybe you’ve seen us!

7. How did Pale Hell come to be? Talk about the first few discussions and practices that started it all.

Alex: We kind of joke that the band started at Paps (now 240 South), a bar in West Seneca. We were all out drinking on a Tuesday night in late 2018.

Wyatt and Charles brought me out to their car in between beers and showed me some rough mixes from Twice Born. I said “Yeah, this is sick. I’m in”. Up until that point, it was just the two of them. We filled out the line-up with Jared Hill on bass as well.

We landed an opening slot for For The Fallen Dreams, Kaonashi and Loser as our first show, and we didn’t have our first full band practice until maybe a week before the show. We played three shows with that line-up in 2019.

Jared left to pursue his own project in 2021, and that’s when we brought in James.

Charles: Pale Hell actually just started between Wyatt and Charles. I (Charles) started writing riffs around the beginning of 2017 in my senior year of college. I had been in bands before but really had only written a handful of songs. Anyway, I took my sweet ass time putting demos together, not really having a ton of direction but knowing that I wanted to make something darker than our previous band that was doing much cleaner, prettier metal core. Wyatt and I finally went into the studio in September of 2018 to record our first EP. Halfway through the recording process we drunkenly showed Miskell the half baked songs in a bar parking lot and he joined the band on the spot. We only played 3 shows before Covid hit but since we came back after the pandemic with James on guitar we’ve been much more active.

8. Talk about the gear you swear by. Discuss the amps, pedals, cabs, guitars, drums, hardware, and software, etc. that you can’t live without and tell us why.

Alex: I’ve been playing a Schecter Blackjack ATX C-1 as my main metal guitar for over a decade now. I bought the guitar when I was first getting into heavy music, and I just thought it looked cool.

I replaced the stock pickups with a Dimazrio Crunch Lab and LiquiFire in 2015, and I’ve used that guitar on every metal recording since. The Crunch Lab is a passive pickup, so it has a lot of clarity, but it has this really nasty sounding bite to it that really suits my playing style.

For my live setup, all my guitar tones and effects are coming from the Fractal Audio AX8. I run that into a Digitech Whammy DT, and then that goes into a Crown power amp into a Mesa Boogie 2×12 speaker cab with Celestion Vintage 30s.

If I can get away with it, I’ll sometimes just run my Fractal AX8 and whammy pedal straight into the soundboard without a cab.

I’m kind of a lazy person, and the AX8 allows me to fit my entire rig into a backpack. I can just Uber to the gig, take it out of my backpack, and be ready to play. But I generally do prefer to play through a speaker cab.

On my AX8, my patch is basically a simulated version of my old rig, which is a tube screamer into a Peavey 5150. I like to use a rotary effect for those nu-metal sounding leads, and sometimes a chorus effect for other leads.

The Digitech Whammy is a necessity for the Pale Hell sound, and we use it on almost every song.

Charles: The whammy pedal is without a doubt the one pedal that gives Pale Hell it’s signature sound.

James: Of course this band wouldn’t be anything without our Schecter guitars and our Digitech Whammys (sponsor us). For me personally, I swear by my Blackstar HT Club 40 amp. I use it in just about every band I play in. It’s an extremely versatile amp that can do everything from soft, pretty clean tones to overdriven as hell metal tones. Additionally, I’ve put that amp through hell throughout the years and it’s still rocking so it’s definitely a

durable machine as well.

9. List some other Buffalo bands you guys think people should check out!

Alex: We just finished a tour with Wasted Space a few weeks ago, and those dudes rock. They put on a very entertaining live show, and we love playing shows with them.

Inertia is my favorite current Buffalo band, and no matter how many times I see them live, their musicianship is mesmerizing to me every time. I catch those guys every chance that I get.

I still maintain that the greatest Buffalo band of all time is This Day & Age.

But we’ve got a great scene in Buffalo, and I think every band that we play with is awesome.

The best way to check out upcoming Buffalo bands is to just go to a show.

Charles: Wasted Space, Daggermind, Benot Breathing, Dishonored, Fernway, Ghostpool

James: There are a seemingly infinite amount of incredible bands in Buffalo. To name a few on the metal side, I think everyone needs to know about Inertia, Wasted Space, Psyouredead, Pure Heel, Muddle, and Spaced among many many others. On the non-metal side of things, TWMSO, Wired, Elemantra, Johnny and The Mankids, and The Burkharts are all incredible bands worth checking out as well.

10. Talk to us about any future plans you guys have pertaining to recording, shows, etc. Tell us anything you’re at liberty to divulge.

Alex: We’re playing the annual Winter Reigns show at Mohawk in February, so we’re stoked for that. We’d love to get out and do some more weekend runs and tours in 2023 as well.

Our goal in Pale Hell is to put out a new EP every year. We put out Burden of Humanity in 2021, and Done Evolving in 2022. We plan on keeping the ball rolling with new music in 2023.

Charles: We really just want to keep making music so hopefully we’ll hit the studio in the spring for another short EP and then do a longer tour over the summer.

James: Right now we’re in the writing stage for a new release that we’re hoping to get out sometime next year. Additionally, we’re looking to start planning a couple tours for the spring/summer of next year. Big stuff coming in 2023!

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