PERFECT PILL: Finding Common Grounds

Perfect Pill

Budapest-based progressive/grunge rock band Perfect Pill launched their new album ‘Fear of Missing Out‘ in May, and they were recently featured on Progotronics 23 compilation. Singer and guitarist Levente Szabo speaks for Prog Sphere about the new release.

Define the mission of Perfect Pill.

Our mission is simple yet very complex at the same time: combining the best of two different worlds. Blending ear-catching – sometimes bittersweet – melodies with subtle song structures, mixing elegance with casualness, the rational with the emotional. Within the band, we all have our very own taste when it comes to music, but we’re still able to find common ground where our ideas can connect. The result of our work is a piece of music that has the potential to affect the listener, both lyrically and sonically – a pill that’s not hard to swallow if you will.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your recent EP “Fear of Missing Out” and the themes it captures.

Though we certainly are thoughtful songwriters, we write our songs quite instinctively. The melody and the overall ambience of the song come first, and then we try to build on this core. By the time we have a solid base we all relate to the song in many ways. When we started writing Fear of Missing Out, we didn’t know that it was going to be about the titular phenomenon, but as time went by, we became more and more drawn to the idea that these songs are all connected to each other in a particular way. This connection, cohesion between these songs was the almost inexplicable feeling of ’not being able to be there.’ Though ’FOMO’ is a trendy acronym in these modern times, for us, this title is more than just a fancy expression about the world of social media. On the contrary, ’FOMO’ is nothing new, it was with us all along. We are all forced to make choices in this world of unlimited possibilities, and it makes us doubt ourselves. We have to learn to choose, and even if we do that, there can be something at the back of our mind. Usually, it’s just a little what if – but this question in the subconscious makes us feel insecure. The EP captures this phenomenon by showing dreamlike scenes, little vignettes, and while it’s not a concept album in the traditional sense, it depicts a journey from its beginning to its end, from the opening song Distances to the last song Nothingness. And as Distances is a stopping place on the road to reality, Nothingness is more like the recognition of the unchangeable.

Fear of Missing Out

What is the message you are trying to give with “Fear of Missing Out”?

We like to say that the tunes and bittersweet melodies of Perfect Pill will speak to those who want to explore their inner worlds. Though our approach to the themes of the EP is unbiased and non-judgemental, the moral to the story is that you should open up. Know thyself!

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Since, in most cases, we are writing new material in the rehearsal room, our approach is quite conventional. When we have at least the base of a song, we record it, and then at the end of the writing process, we record it in the form of a demo. We also have a lot of conversations throughout the process about the songs in general – what they mean to us, how we perceive them. We debate a lot!

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

In the songwriting process, we try to preserve the overall atmosphere of the song while also fixing the discrepancies. We try to pay attention even to the slightest details, though our goal is certainly improving – not overwriting. We cut things out if they don’t fit. Less is more!

Describe the approach to recording the album.

We recorded Fear of Missing Out with a well-known Hungarian producer, Péter Bodnár. He has made several amazing Hungarian rock and metal albums in the past, so we were extremely happy to have the chance to work with him. We showed him our demos, of course, and tried to explain what kind of sound we had imagined. As a rule of thumb, we wanted a full and airy overall sound with – as in the music of Perfect Pill, where basslines play an important part – articulate bass. In order to achieve this kind of sound, we recorded the drums and some other instruments in a big recording studio located in the hills of Budapest where the music of classic Hungarian movies and cartoons have been recorded for decades. It was not only refreshing and inspiring to record in this historical building, but the result of this experience went far beyond our expectations.

How long “Fear of Missing Out” was in the making?

We’ve been writing new material since we released our last album (called Maze, released in 2018), so the writing process took almost a year and a half. We were in no rush at all and had plenty of time to actually focus on the songs we had written. The recording and the mixing, mastering part of the process only took a few months – and by the time we got there, we knew what we were going to do with the songs we had chosen for the EP, so from that point, it was just a walk in the park!

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

Our taste is very eclectic. It includes the classics of the ’90s/’00s – Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Faith No More, Incubus, Nine Inch Nails –, the obvious progressive rock references – Tool, Pain of Salvation, Leprous, Karnivool, Rush and many more –, and, of course, the mainstream big arena bands – like Muse –. Besides the musical influences, we are affected by art in many ways. A great book or a movie can be an inspiration for a song.

What is your view on technology in music?

Though it would be great to do a 100% analog recording at least once in our lifetime, technology (and, more importantly, digital technology) is inevitable these days. In our view, musicians are obliged to strive for the best sound possible – even if perfection in its purest form is unreachable. In order to sound „better,” taste plays a pivotal role. You could have the best equipment in the world to record an album if you don’t know what exactly you are trying to achieve as an artist and, of course, if you don’t know how to use these tools. So we look at technology as a tool that helps us to create something unique. It’s quite amazing to see the tools available for musicians these days: you can do almost anything in your rehearsal room.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

For us, music is therapy. It moves us and helps us to connect, create, understand,and  acknowledge. It is part of the self-healing process that we need in order to tackle the everyday obstacles in life. We would absolutely do this in the rehearsal room alone if we didn’t have any other plans with it.

What are your plans for the future?

We are writing new material as always and also rehearse a lot! It would be great to finally show our new EP to the public as our EP premiere show has been postponed due to the pandemic. But in a broader sense, we have big dreams about showing Perfect Pill to the world. An EU tour is definitely in the making and also one more music video for a song of the EP.

Fear of Missing Out is out now and is available from Bandcamp. Follow Perfect Pill on Facebook.

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