Pillars & Tongues

Q&A: Pillars & Tongues

Pillars & Tongues: The Pass and CrossingsPillars & Tongues: The Pass and Crossings (Endless Nest, 6/28/11)

Pillars & Tongues: “The Making Graceful”

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Incorporating clusters of percussion, classical accompaniment, and swelling drones, Chicago-born trio Pillars & Tongues generate a unique conglomerate of folk, chamber, and gothic musical styles. Baritone vocalist Mark Trecka, violinist Beth Remis, and bassist Evan Hydzik explore melodic frontiers, reshaping Pillars & Tongues’ origins of the former soul-folk band Static Films into a project of dynamic and organic experimentation.

The past several years of extensive touring have done well to feed Pillars & Tongues’ musical curiosity. With the release of its third full-length album, The Pass & Crossings, the group continues to produce myriad tonal colors and textures.  ALARM caught up with Trecka to discuss the band’s years-long touring stretch, composing, recording, and the new record.

With 300 performances in the past three years, Pillars & Tongues has been described as a “transient force” and “in near-constant motion.”  Do you ever get weary of continuously being on the road?

Of course we get weary of continuously being on the road, but anybody can get weary of anything.  I personally haven’t kept a residence in the past two years, but when I last did so, I got weary of that from time to time and wanted to be in motion.  I’m not sure that I can say for certain which state, at its weariest, is more wearisome, but stopping isn’t really an option for me at the moment.  There are those among us who are pretty certain that the road is the most wearying state of being and so tend to resist it, I think.  And some of us find home and road equally wearying; that is to say, whatever way we go, we all end up in the same place.  And like Beth says about touring, it’s cheaper than just driving around.

Lynd Ward

Zine Scene: Lynd Ward

Before Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine, before Frank Miller and Alan Moore, and even before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, there was Lynd Ward — America’s first, real graphic novelist. The terms “visionary” or “pioneer” could be applied to Ward, but the truth is that he was making graphic novels way before it was cool, and probably before it was even thought possible to create such a thing. Between 1929 and 1937, he dared to tell dramatic adult stories with just a series of woodcut images and his own vision.

Born in 1905 in Chicago, Ward lived through some of the most tumultuous moments of the 20th Century, most of which found a way into his dynamic, wordless picture books, now widely regarded as the origins of the modern graphic novel. His stories included sociopolitical commentary on the inter-war atmosphere of dread — the sinking American economy, the meteoric rise of European fascism, and the effect of swift industrialization on the self-hood of the worker — as well as more thoughtful matters, such as the whether or not the soul could survive in the modern age, or the price of artistic ambition and greed.

Lynd Ward