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Pedram Valiani on the Rise of Frontierer

Frontierer's leader discusses the metal band's live debut as their profile grows

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Pedram Valiani interview

Pedram Valiani

What kind of musical training do you have, and when did you start playing music?

None… When I was much younger, I didn’t like music at all. I used to listen to Now That’s What I Call Music! CDs for a while, back when I was about ten. I got violin lessons for three months because my best friend at primary school was also getting violin lessons, so I kind of just did that because I was trying to get into a hobby at the time. I did violin for about three months, absolutely hated it. Sacked that, and consciously thought, ‘I’d like to do guitar.’ I got my cousin’s acoustic guitar and did some lessons at school. There were no more than like five or six lessons at school. I didn’t like the idea of putting curriculum behind it. I was just kind of lazy. All I wanted to do was play the songs that I liked listening to. I got rid of the lessons and since then, it’s self-learned. No formal training.

I would imagine that part of the quality of your music comes from that – your music is singular, unique music that they don’t teach in high school lessons. I would think that makes sense.

Did you grow up in Edinburgh?

Yeah. Born here, grew up here, went to University here, still live here.

What did you study at University?

Electrical engineering and renewable energy. I graduated two years ago.

What’s your day job now?

Graduate electrical engineer for a consultancy firm. We do a lot of big construction projects.

You make a lot of music – are you a workaholic? Are you working on music all the time when you’re not at work?

No. I hardly play guitar that much. I never play unless I’m writing. I never pick up my guitar just to noodle around. I don’t think I’ve done that since I was like fourteen. I only pick it up to write. I manage to balance my time.

What is your two cents on the Guns N’ Roses reunion?

I honestly don’t give a shit about Guns N’ Roses. I hate Axl Rose. The only band from that era of music that I listen to is Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin are fucking great. I’ve never been a fan of AC/DC, I’ve never been a fan of Guns N’ Roses. I don’t like that sort of music… A lot of bands need to realize that when they’re done, they’re done, and they should just quit. Just stop. But yeah, that’s my own personal view.

Are there any albums or tours that you are anticipating this year?

I never really anticipate music… I only care about music that I’m writing at the time. I never consciously pay attention to anyone else. Deftones was one I was looking forward to, but the two singles I’ve heard so far really disappointed me… I think I prefer playing shows than going to them.

You seem very self-sufficient – it’s almost like you’re making your own entertainment when you make music and you don’t need to look outside to other bands for music to listen to or see live. Are you kind of an introvert in that way?

No, it’s a combination of laziness and… I’m quite numb about some things in music. I don’t care about some stuff. And like you said about being self-sufficient – you’re right, actually. That’s kind of what I’m trying to do…

As a life goal for me, I’m going to have to tour America in some shape or form at least once.

I’m sure that’s in the future for you, and when you do come, I hope you’ll play Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, up the street from my house.

I keep getting asked to play there… I’ve seen that Dillinger and stuff played there before.

Yeah, it’s pretty amazing to see photos of Black Sabbath members or Phil Anselmo drinking at the bar. The Nirvana ‘reunion’ show that happened after the Grammys happened there – in addition, of course, to most of the heavy bands that come through the area. It’s pretty awesome.

I’ll keep that place in mind for the future, definitely.

You mentioned that you don’t have a label and that one thing a label can provide is public relations. Here you are doing your own thing, and this Rolling Stone feature lands in your lap. That’s pretty huge p.r. for an independent band. What was your response – were you surprised that they wanted to write about you?

Instant reaction was, I got the email, and it said, ‘Frontierer VS RS’ in the subject line. And I was like, ‘Who the fuck is RS?’ Then I looked in the email… I saw ‘Rolling Stone Contributing Editor’ and I thought, holy shit. Immediate reaction was like, I was on a high for an hour or so. Then I thought, it’s cool that they’re doing that sort of thing… It comes back to being self-sufficient. I have a list on my computer that I’ve built up for however long I’ve been doing music – it has a list of Facebook pages, blogs, zines, personal contacts that I’ve spoken to before or who have reviewed our music. Whenever I have a release, I always go to them. Now that Rolling Stone got in touch through the Bandcamp page, I’ve kept them in mind if I have future releases. If there’s one thing that I would pay money for, it would have been a p.r. campaign with a proper p.r. company. They tend to work on a monthly or quarterly fee basis – it’s quite a lot of money. But I would rather do that than sign to a record label, because with a record label, you get the p.r. from the label and the people who are interested in it – which can be really good – but then you lose a lot of your share of sales… The fact that Rolling Stone happened without me having to put any money to it, that’s been an insane bonus. Having that free was awesome. I’m tempted to keep things as they are for a little longer, without having to put money towards that stuff.

Did you see an immediate impact on Bandcamp sales or website traffic?

To tell you the truth – no. There has been some, it’s not been completely quiet… It’s not been anywhere near launch day. Your first 48 hours is when you’re gonna get most of your sales. When we launched, the first day we released the album, that was when we got most of our sales. People are still buying digital copies… The sales we’re making now are just noise compared to the first day. It’s still really cool – it’s a free download, and people are paying for it. It’s really cool.

To what extent on Frontierer do you produce the vocals? Do you give Chad feedback, or do you talk about creative direction?

To me, he’s almost the ideal vocalist. He does it all himself, he just sort of knows what I think would sound great without me having to say anything at all. In this release, and in the past, I’ll maybe give him specific sections of a song – maybe one or two sections on the whole album – and I’ll be like, ‘Can you do this here for this particular bit,’ and he’ll do it. Everything else, I don’t even have to say anything because he’s already kind of covered it. I just like whatever he does. He’s really good to work with.

How did you meet Chad?

He added Sectioned on MySpace back in the day because he liked one of our tracks. We kept in touch. I was aware of Basick Records – he works for Basick as an A&R guy. I was quite surprised that someone from the label had been interested in the songs. We just kept in touch from there – he wanted to do vocals on a song. The irony was like, well we can’t play live with you, so why would we do that? But then, later on, I thought, he can’t be in Sectioned because he lives in America, but maybe we could do an online project. And that’s how Frontierer is a thing.

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