Pit er Pat: infusing ethnic influences with sparseness

Pit er Pat is all about space.

The Chicago trio may be a rock band at heart, but its songs don’t rock out in any traditional way. Rather, each song opens up slowly and breathes, letting oxygen between every note. It is precisely this quality that makes the group’s newest album, High Time, such a mysterious and alluring work.

With influences ranging from African music to dub, Fay Davis-Jeffers, Rob Doran, and Butchy Fuego create a sound marked by its starkness. Rather than take the typical power-trio route of making as much noise as possible between three people, Pit er Pat plays to its minimal aesthetic, a quality that Davis-Jeffers agrees is one of the band’s greatest assets.

“I remember Butchy saying to me that he realized that a strength of ours was having a lot of space [in our music],” Davis-Jeffers says. “We were talking about the song ‘Omen’ and how when we play it, it’s so stark…there’s so much room for things to go wrong.

“All of that tension and the slowness make it good, but it’s a little nerve-wracking. He reminded me that it was a strength of ours — that our strength is doing things minimally.

“Really, once we realized that we didn’t need to fill it in, it was stronger that way. It’s easier to hide when you’re making thick noise.”

When trying to create the perfect balance of sound and space, it helps to have a space of one’s own to focus, and for High Time, Pit er Pat acquired its own studio to do so. As a result, the recording process was a much more relaxed affair, ensuring that the finished record was the one with which the band was most satisfied.

“We really didn’t overwork anything,” Davis-Jeffers says. “We didn’t second guess ourselves. And it allowed us to take the time we needed. We didn’t take off two weeks to do it all in two weeks; it really allowed things to happen on their own time.

“In a studio, things are always so rushed — it’s true. There’s always something that falls behind. Some decision gets made that, if you had a minute, you’d make differently.

“What’s the point of putting something out into the world if it’s not what you want?”

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