Philadelphia-hailing rockers Mannequin Pussy have been conjuring music that moves, both physically and mentally, since …
If you are intending to hunt God, you better not make the same move twice. It’s how Perth’s apocalyptic ‘core noise machines Pincer+ work, and they work well.
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Despite only bursting on to the overall scene a year ago, Pincer+ are making waves in the scene for their abrasive, violent take on metalcore. Though their breakout EPs, The Hunting God tapes have cycled from Violence to Romance, what emotion comes next is a mystery as much as it is to us as it is to guitarist, songwriter, and sound engineer Josh Ang.
Hailing from Singapore and finding his escape from uptight religion and the island known for being “Disneyland with the death penalty,” he’s flourished as a heavy musician in a land that’s been spellbound by these abrasive, destructive sounds. We got to creep inside the mind of Josh, how the Hunting God tapes came to be, and what’s next for these prolific Pincer+ people.
Hysteria: This is Volume 2 of the Hunting God Tapes — if this is Romance then Violence must be absolutely brutal, as we said in our review. Why the shift in theme?
Josh: I’m a firm believer in not repeating the same product a second time, and to an extent it is a similar thing to the first EP as far as the sonic tone of it. But conceptually, I wrote it mostly in one goal and I wanted it to carry from a really violent approach lyrically and thematically into something that was more like, ‘I hate everything and more of maybe I can heal.’ The problem with being in a hardcore band is all these lyrics come off super aggressive, but they’re actually not. I wrote all the lyrics as poetry before I turned them into metal songs. So the two part was it felt like it’d be a cool progression and then we could lump it all into one vinyl at the end of it, and you flip the vinyl around and it’s like side A, side B. Same but different.
Classic albums do that all the time. Though, it’s curious at least to me that you added a pure hip-hop track at the end, a collab with Apex Afi.
I think the best way to answer that would be just on the basis that music is subjective. I knew it was going to split the fan base based on if you liked it or you didn’t. And I wanted to highlight a different sound that I made and I have made for the last ten years of my life too. And I was aware that people, not everyone was going to like it and that’s fine. I don’t expect everyone to every song I made, but the running mindset in my head was if we’re going to put a six tracker with one song at the end you’ll either listen to it and be like, ‘this is great’, or you’ll skip it and go back to play from the start. And it is right at the bottom too, so it doesn’t even hit playlists. All the playlists would put the first few singles and the first song off the EP on their playlist. So I figured it was just free content for something different. And I also believe that, like I said, I don’t repeating the same things over and over again to the point where I’ve actually sold my whammy pedal.
So you aren’t tempted to use it again, repeat yourself?
Yeah. I mean, Alpha Wolf have really developed that sound to an insane degree of nuance. But I sold it because, not because I don’t like the sound, but because I just don’t like sounding like everyone else. Everyone is now trying to be Alpha Wolf – and that’s no knock on Alpha Wolf because they’re really good at what they do. They did set the tone and that is why that sound has become the mainstream now. But I didn’t want to do that. So in the same context, I didn’t want to just have two records of noise back to back. So I decided to add something and to be different. And at the cost of maybe people not liking it, I also have the benefit of maybe people liking it from a different scene. Maybe it would pop up on a TikTok edit. I have a lot of friends who use my music for TikTok edits and it’s hard to use a metal song. They’ll use that song and their fans would be like, ‘oh, that’s cool.’ Then they’d go listen to some metal, listen to the rest of our EP, maybe fall in love with the genre, find something else because of that as a segueway. It’s why split bill shows are so popular now.
I think there’s two main ways for success. It’s either be different or be good at what you do, or be both.
[ Josh Ang ]
I suppose there’s lots of crazy crossovers with this kind of music now. Is being in a genre band also mean being boxed in?
Absolutely not. I think there’s two main ways for success. It’s either be different or be good at what you do, or be both. I get imposter syndrome a lot as a writer, and most of the times I don’t really like the music I make. I’m also aware enough to know that it’s not because my music is in a sense really ‘bad’, it’s just because I know all the flaws in every song I write because I write it. So in my head, mentally I’m always forcing myself to push boundaries because I feel like I can’t get success by being good at what I do, so I have to be different. And it’s a double-edged sword where it’s like sometimes I’m too out of pocket and sometimes maybe my music could carry, but I feel like as a whole for any other bands, it’s like you can either be different or you can be good. There’s no such thing as you have to split your genres or do this or that. If you want to be a black metal band, be a black metal band.
As an audio engineer, do you do a lot of manipulating of your sound? How does it come across to you not only as the writer and performer but the engineer?
There are two stages for me. There is production and then there’s the demoing, the writing process for me, the writing process is quick. I would do four songs in a session of four hours. So most of the riffs are tracked good enough but not perfect. There’s mistakes, there’s string noise, there’s all these imperfections. Then when I track a final, when we sit through all the 50 songs I’ve written for Volume One and Two, we sat down as a band and we picked out 10, 10 songs, 10 metal songs. Then I’ll drag all the files out, put ’em into one big file, sit there and I’ll re-record everything. Usually it’s one at a time. Sometimes it’s note by note and then there’s a lot of, not quantising, but just manual correction. I’ll just cut a and I’ll just cut the second one and drag it slightly over like a split second just so it’s all perfect. There’s a lot of imperfections in the demos. Sometimes I take the imperfections and I put it in the finals because there’s something about the first time you record a riff and it sits in the door and you hear it and you’re like, that’s cool. That’s a cool noise. It’s really hard to recreate a accidental string noise, so I’ll just smack ’em in.
And then one thing I do want to clarify though is that I didn’t do the mix and master for this. George Lever did that. He’s done it for bands like Loathe, Thornhill and Sleep Token and he was super supportive. Also, Volume Three is pretty much done from my end. But will we collaborate again? Who knows. Things are open to change. We might DIY it, we might not.
You’re playing your first headline show next year, and you’ve only really been a public-facing band for about a year. What’s next for Pincer+, ideally?
I would like to tour. I would like to tour sustainably around the world. I just like to see the world. I’m a photographer, that’s a hobby of mine. I like seeing new things and experiencing new things, so I’d love to tour. I don’t think it’s viable next year to leave Australia yet, but the year after, who knows? There is no actual tangible goal though. I think we’re all happy to just create and have people receive that creation we create in positive light and I think that’s good enough for us. If this could pay for the rest, if this could pay as my main source of income in the future, I’d love that. But that’s just a long-term goal that’s kind of like, yeah, we’ll get there at some point.