Twenty-one years in the making, The Pale’s latest album is a milestone for the band: Twenty-one tracks representing the alternative history of a group who have furrowed their own distinctly independent path. 21 Song Salute is made up of previously unreleased and unheard material taken from sessions for six of the band’s ten albums.
‘These songs are the strays, stragglers and forgotten sidekicks’ explains lead singer and lyricist Matthew Devereux, ‘To qualify for inclusion on this record the songs had to be unreleased, underexploited or unused. Really this is less a compilation and more an overview of the band’s unreleased catalogue, cherry picking from material we were almost too shy to release.’
Compiling the album was a mammoth undertaking. Over a six month period, the group engaged with their Facebook and Soundcloud followers to get feedback on which tracks to include. Every Monday they previewed a candidate song for the record and looked for feedback from their audience. This gave them an opportunity to dust off the archives and re-assess material that might have otherwise been lost to posterity.
‘It’s an important record for us in that it was put together as a community record by our listeners. It’s nice to reward people who have been listening. I am hoping the record feels communal and that it was extracted out of us, rather than forced on them.’
The Pale know a thing or two about hidden histories. After initial chart success with the albums Here’s One We Made Earlier and Ripe and gaining massive acclaim as a live act in the early 1990s, The Pale (for various reasons) took a sharp turn off the beaten track, becoming a self-sufficient entity, continuously recording, but releasing sporadically.
‘We toured for a number of years under the name of Produkt. For a while we were the house band for an alternative circus. We put records out as fan-club exclusives or due to distribution deals, could only release them available in certain territories. It’s been said that we are one step out of kilter with the music industry’
What spurred the band on is a commitment to the song-writing and recording process. During this period they recorded three albums, ‘Cheapside’, ‘Cripplegate’ and ‘Spudgun’. Fans of these albums may be disappointed that recordings from these sessions haven’t been included in this release. ‘The recordings haven’t aged quite as well as we would have hoped’ Devereux explains, ‘we are addressing that now and hope to have a proper release for these titles in the near future.’
The band re-emerged in the noughties, putting out the electronica infused collection Lonely Space Age and a trio of albums for Irish independent label 1969 Records, Contents of a Shipwreck, Proper Order and last year’s I Woke Up And I Was Gone. During this period they also recorded and shelved an entire album, the prophetically named Delete Me.
The band’s constant drive forward, always writing, always recording has meant that inevitably some songs didn’t make the final cut of an album, very often for reasons other than the quality of the song.
‘I think people are surprised at how much music we have produced‘ says Devereux. ‘For every album we recorded there were always songs that, for whatever reason didn’t quite fit. In a funny way the process of going back has allowed us to appreciate the eclecticism of what we do, but also how the various aspects of our music sit together. We have always had a consistent song-writing approach even though we put different backgrounds on our lyrical foregrounds. What is striking about this release is how well it all gels. In many ways this is the album we have been pushing to make all along.’
21 Song Salute is released on 1969 Records on the 4th of October.
A nationwide tour is being planned for the Autumn.