Since February 2015, Pathos, Pathos has released three EPs. The first two, titled Familiar Homes and Pet Names, are filled with shimmery indie pop/rock tunes, stuffed of melody and hooks, hooks, hooks. With their latest, a four song project titled Lucky Charm, they’ve taken a step further, maturing as musicians and song writers. Don’t let the goofy banana cover fool you, this is a semi-concept project about a man turning his dead wife into a mannequin. I’ll let the boys explain it for themselves.
Photos by matthew warhol, edits by Alexia Clarke.
matthew warhol: I remember, the first time I saw you guys, was when Alexia and I went to your first EP release at that really hot house party. I don’t know, I feel like you guys have been a local band that I routinely listen to, and I have very strong memories of listening to your music. So that’s why I wanted to talk. I love you guys.
Frank Jesmar Palencia: I love you.
matthew warhol: How long has it been? When did you guys start?
Matt Walsh: Not too long, er, earlier before that—too long-li-er before that.
James Murphy: I think it was 2013. I moved here in 2012 and we met not long after that, and our first show was February 2013.
Matt Walsh: So it’s been like three and a half years.
matthew warhol: Wow that’s such a long time. I feel like so old talking about that. How has your attitude changed since then? You were so fresh-faced, do you think you’ve been hardened?
Matt Walsh: I think we’re a super hard band…
James Murphy: We’re super tough.
Matt Walsh: They look at us now and are like, “Wow, I don’t want to fuck with those guys.”
matthew warhol: But like dealing with all the BS that comes with being in a band…
Matt Walsh: I feel more comfortable doing shows on our terms, rather than being the babies who play any show. Four times a week seemed like a good idea. I think we’re more aware of the business side of being a band.
matthew warhol: You’re controlling it a lot more, reaching out to who you want to play with. Do you think you’re having better shows now?
Frank Jesmar Palencia: Now we know not to book the same place within the span of a few months.
James Murphy: It’s all trial and error.
matthew warhol: You guys almost broke up at some point, right?
Matt Walsh: Yeah, we took a break… I don’t know why. I was just having a really hard time writing. It’s a lot of work, especially booking tours.
James Murphy: I think we were all super busy at that time too. It was my last two semesters of college. I was doing 40 hours a week at my job.
Matt Walsh: And I think it was when Woodie left. We didn’t have a bass player, and just thinking about, “Do I want to teach all of these songs to someone, again?”
matthew warhol: Why do you think you’ve kept doing it, pushing forward despite losing members?
James Murphy: It’s a lot of fun.
Matt Walsh: I love it. It’s cool thinking back like, “Wow, this is how we did this then, and why?” I think it was 2015, we were about to come out with a new record, playing Will’s Pub one night, and it felt like a turning point like, “Is someone singing? Did that happen?”
James Murphy: It was just friends before. We knew everyone. The next time, it was random, people we didn’t know were singing.
matthew warhol: I want to dig into what you would say to yourself if you were starting from the beginning. What’s the thing you’ve learned that’s helped the most? It can be from the business side or playing together, whatever you want.
Frank Jesmar Palencia: Business side, we did all our own research on how we should be booking or how we should draft a pitch to venues out-of-state. Talking to other bands, trying to find the styles that would fit with us. We learned a lot booking our first tour.
Matt Walsh: It kinda sucks because I feel like most bands start purely being about fun, but you have to learn all this shit. With that comes better shows or maybe respect within the community. It’s almost like having a second job, coming home and booking. There’s got to be passion for sure.
matthew warhol: What about you, James? Maybe something more on the music side of things.
James Murphy: I was in metal and punk bands before. I never really played this kind of music before I started playing with you guys. You know, everyone did the whole scene thing…
matthew warhol: I didn’t. I was never into that.
Matt Walsh: Yeah, me neither. You were the scene boy.
James Murphy: I am scene, now and forever. [laughs] I just realized that all this is going to be documented. I only knew people who played on the heavier side—August Burns Red, that side of music—but I always wanted to start a lighter band, like a pop band. When I moved up here and started playing music with Matt, I was like, “Wow, this is way different from what I’m used to.” And Matt also being a drummer, took my skills of only knowing punk and hardcore drums and tampered it down to this whole other thing. He’s come up with a lot of drum parts that I never would have thought of.
Matt Walsh: I feel like there’s still parts in songs that you can hear influence of your punk style of drumming—which I think is so cool—and that’s what helps us keep our sound fresh.
matthew warhol: I especially think as a pop band—and I think I might have said this in a previous piece—I don’t generally like very light, indie pop rock or whatever. But something I’ve always enjoyed about our music is how it varies so much all in one song. How you’re able to essentially cut three different songs into one thing where the feeling or pace of the song will jump around. How does that work when you’re creating the songs? That’s what keeps me interested.
Matt Walsh: Sure, and that’s a lot of reason why I write that way—very influenced by Max Bemis of Say Anything. He’s like the king of that. And it’s keeping me, the listener, engaged. And I think that’s important because there’s so much music out there. You’re making them wonder what part is coming next.
matthew warhol: So how do you use that?
Matt Walsh: For the writing process, I normally will come up with a standard song structure. And I’ll write a first verse, but know that the second verse has to have something different. It feels like its own thing.
matthew warhol: For me, it’s a credibility thing. I feel like a lot of songs are cheap with how repetitive they are. Some of my favorite songs of yours will start one place and end somewhere completely different. And I think that’s why people sing along to your songs too, because so many parts stick out. Going back to the evolution of everything, how has the music changed on this new EP?
Matt Walsh: Going back to James’s punk/metal past, when we started hanging out I had really only listened to indie pop. He opened me up to punk, Touche Amore, Single Mothers, that kinda stuff. I tried to write more like that. It’s a good combination of that.
matthew warhol: On the new EP?
Matt Walsh: Yeah, it’s a four song EP. Two of the songs are pretty standard for us, very poppy. Two songs are a little darker. I think my song writing is maturing a little bit, even with lyrical content. I’m now being influenced by things I wasn’t before.
Frank Jesmar Palencia: When I first joined the band, I really only played acoustic guitar…
matthew warhol: I remember, they used to make fun of you, being like, “This guy sucks.”
Matt Walsh: What?!
matthew warhol: The first time we all hung out, you were like, “Frank’s always fuckin’ up!” [laughs] You’ve always been the fall guy in the band.
Matt Walsh: And how he’s glorified on a t-shirt. Does that make up for it?
Frank Jesmar Palencia: I think so… Anyways, so only playing acoustic, I had to relearn how to do melodies. It’s different from my style of playing, so after three years I’ve started to learn tones more. I’ve become a pedal snob. I’ve grown a lot.
Matt Walsh: Fuck you, Frank!
matthew warhol: We were talking, before we started recording, about one of the new songs being about the afterlife. Is that something that you’ve touched on before?
Matt Walsh: I used to be afraid to touch on religion. I’m personally not religious, but when I write songs I try not to write them about myself. This EP—and I don’t know if this is me creating this after I’ve put the songs in order—but we have a song called “The Past Of Our House,” that’s about this Florida man whose wife passed away, and he stuffed her essentially, preserved her body and kept her. I just thought the idea of that was so crazy and I wanted to write a song about it. The song directly following that is about the afterlife.
matthew warhol: What is it called?
Matt Walsh: It’s called “Will I Meet You?” I think that song is just as much about me than it’s about that story. It deals a lot with legacy too. I’m the youngest in my family, and what if I don’t want to have kids? That’s it, my family name is going to be gone which is weird to think about.
matthew warhol: That definitely seems heavier than, “I know that you like. I know that you like me. I know that you like me. I know that you like me.”
Matt Walsh: I may have grown as a lyricist.
matthew warhol: Is that just part of getting older, you think, writing songs and thinking about family legacies?
Matt Walsh: It definitely comes with growing up. I’m 24 and a lot of people are thinking about getting married and having kids. Going back to the theme of the whole thing, I expanded that story of the Florida man with the first couple songs. I don’t know what their real life story was, but the first song is about them meeting and in my mind the woman knew, whether it was cancer or something, knew she wasn’t going to make it. They bloomed this relationship without him knowing. Then the second song is about their relationship blossoming. I haven’t really talked about this with anyone.
Frank Jesmar Palencia: Yeah, this is the first time I’ve heard this. I knew “The Past Of Our House” was about it.
James Murphy: I didn’t know any of this.
Matt Walsh: Yeah, we don’t normally talk about lyrics. I don’t think ever. I don’t even know if you guys know the lyrics. It’s weirdly a personal thing to where I don’t normally feel comfortable talking about it, but singing about it is different.
matthew warhol: It’s more obtuse. Is there a lyric actually about stuffing a body?
Matt Walsh: Yeah, it’s “All the wax and wire fills your frame.”
James Murphy: I knew the meaning of that song and the story, but I didn’t know this is technically a concept EP.
Matt Walsh: It kind of came together as I was piecing the record together. And the last song is more about me, but it could relate to him like, “My wife is dead. Now what?” What’s he going to do? Maybe that’s why he did it. He’s not ready to accept that maybe that’s it.
matthew warhol: I remember I was talking to one you guys and you said that in the greater scene of the Orlando music scene you don’t feel accepted, something along the lines of that. Matt, I think we were talking about this.
Matt Walsh: I think that Orlando is so diverse and there’s a ton of bands. There’s such a big scene and with that comes cliques. You can’t prevent. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve earned respect by playing shows or what, but I don’t necessarily feel that as much as I used to. And I really think that Marshal [Rones] has a big part in bringing the community together. I think he’s done wonders for Orlando. He’ll put people together and everyone’s meeting everyone. It should be easy because it’s a community. I think Orlando, in the last three years, has grown a lot.
Frank Jesmar Palencia: I really like our music scene, actually. I feel like now that we’ve gone around Florida, I really think our music scene here is huge. It makes you appreciate what you have.
Matt Walsh: Most places in Florida, I’m like, “I miss Orlando.”