I talked to Bruce Malley about his solo post-rock project, Pray for Sound which has released its debut album, Monophonic very recently.
The album was inspired by Bruce’s struggle with hearing loss and has a really interesting concept behind it. With mixing and mastering by Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna, Pg.lost), the five track EP is dark, melodic and explosive, taking musical inspiration from bands like Explosions in the Sky and Russian Circles, to those outside of the post-rock genre such as Pink Floyd and The Cure. I thought you guys would be interested!
Lady Obscure: Bruce, can you give a little biographical and historical info, who all is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
Bruce: Pray for Sound is an instrumental post-rock band from Massachusetts. Until recently, Pray for Sound was a solo project consisting just of myself, Bruce Malley. Originally, I was having trouble finding musicians who had similar goals as I did. I wanted to play with musicians that were heavily into the music and would really pour their heart and soul into Pray for Sound. I didn’t have much luck, so I decided to just do the entire debut album, Monophonic, by myself. It was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. Not only that, things came out exactly as I envisioned them! Since the release of Monophonic, four live musicians have been added: Chris, Nick, Joe, and Steve. I met these guys when I tried out for a band of theirs awhile back. They’re awesome guys and they’ve put a lot of work in to come up to speed with the songs as quickly as possible.
Lady Obscure: What post-rock means to you, why did you choose it basically?
Personally, I think a lot of people look too deep into genres. Post-rock, death metal, jazz, classical, any genre, to me, are basically just categories that music fits into. Pray for Sound’s music fits into the post-rock and post-metal categories. I don’t see that as a limiting factor for future endeavors, the music is just instrumental, melodic, and uses a lot of delay, so it fits! I chose this genre mainly just because it’s my favorite to play. Another factor, which I mentioned previously, was that I chose to approach the project by myself. Seeing as I’m not a singer by any means, it made sense to do something instrumental.
Lady Obscure: Are you happy with the outcome? What aspect of it do you think you nailed, any you would change?
Overall, I’m very satisfied with the outcome of Monophonic. It was a huge learning experience, but I think I think it came out pretty good. The fact that it came out like I envisioned, as a complete concept, is awesome. I also think one of the stronger aspects were the guitar tones. I used a Fractal Axe Fx II for just about all of them, and even though I was a bit of an Axe Fx amateur, the guitars and the effects sound awesome to my ears. If I was to put a grade on the album, I think I’d give it a B+.
One of things I want to do on the next album is use real drums rather than programming them. It certainly made things easier, and I think for programmed drums, they sound great; however, they’re still missing that extra raw emotion and sound of real drums played by a human being. I’d also like to improve on the amount of time it takes to record. Since I did everything at home, and I was the only one around when I recorded, I was my own worst enemy. I aimed for perfection on every single take. Basically, by adding a real drummer and being less of a perfectionist, I’d like to finish the next album a little faster and add a little more raw feeling and emotion to the sound.
Lady Obscure: How has the overall reception been?
The reception has been extremely positive. I actually hoped to get a little more criticism than I did! The reviews have been incredibly flattering. One thing that I’m grateful for is that the post-rock community is really welcoming to new bands and projects. I think that bands in genres like metal and progressive metal have a lot harder time being accepted.
Lady Obscure:Are you planning to get involved in performing live?
After the release of Monophonic, I talked to a few friends to bring Pray for Sound to the stage, so the five of us have all been working hard toward that. We’re planning to do fewer shows that are more of full on events rather than lots of smaller shows every weekend at local bars. To start we’ll just be doing them in the Massachusetts area, but who knows about the future. Simultaneously, I’ve also been hard at work writing for the next album. At this point, I’ve been building on ideas and starting to do some demo recordings.
Lady Obscure:The lyrical aspect is the one I find the most interesting! Can you tell us a bit about the concept of the album? Maybe some info about the future concepts?
Monophonic was heavily inspired by the hearing issues I’ve been having for the past years. Back in 2005, doctors discovered a destructive cyst called a cholesteatoma growing inside my left ear. I’ve had five surgeries now to repeatedly remove the cyst, and I’m left with severe hearing loss and tinnitus. The songs and artwork that makeup Monophonic explain how well I was hearing and how I was feeling emotionally throughout different stages of the last few years. As far as new concepts, I don’t want to reveal too much just yet, but know that I have some really cool stuff planned!
Lady Obscure: I see. I will be watching for sure 🙂 Who is composing the songs Bruce?
Up to this point, I’ve been writing all the songs, but that’s probably going to change with the next album. I’ll probably still be writing the main core of a lot of the songs, but I’ll be bringing on other musicians and letting them write their own parts. It’ll be nice to get some other influences and musical flavors involved!
Lady Obscure:Who are your influences?
Some of the more obvious ones are Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, and Russian Circles, but I also draw inspiration from bands outside of the post-rock genre such as Tool, Porcupine Tree, Gojira, Pink Floyd, and even The Cure! Movies are a huge inspiration too. Two of the major ones are Wall-E and 28 Days Later.
Lady Obscure: Anything interesting you’d like to share with us?
The ear on the front cover of Monophonic isn’t my ear, it’s actually a stock photo…I’m actually super self conscious about my ears and would never put them on the front cover of an album!
Lady Obscure: lol… good one. Ok one last question. When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
My biggest musical accomplishment was probably sticking with the project and actually releasing Monophonic. With that said, I don’t really see that as my greatest accomplishment. These days, anyone can put out an album. My greatest accomplishment is probably getting over the fact that I only have one good ear. I used my hearing issues as an excuse for awhile, so I’m proud of the fact that I overcame them.
Lady Obscure: Wow.. that answer gave me goosebumps Bruce. Thanks for your time and wishing you the best with your project!
Monophonic is available digitally via Bandcamp in a pay-what-you-want format. A physical digipak CD version will also be available in very limited quantities. Here are some useful links too: