Matthew Devereux, the frontman of legendary Irish band The Pale, writes for Culture ahead of their forthcoming Dublin show celebrating the 25th anniversary of their classic album Here’s One We Made Earlier.
Q. Are The Pale still going?
A: Yes we are.
Q. Do you still play that 'Butterfly' song?
Yes we do, that song is 25 years old.
Q. Really? Do you not think that is very old for a Butterfly?
For some folks the general reaction to the fact that The Pale is still an active band is often one of disbelief.
The Pale recently had a silver anniversary - the sort of event that can make a band both reflective and existentialist. To mark this, we are playing a special show next month to commemorate our first album Here’s One We Made Earlier. Rehearsals for the tour have seen us revisit songs we haven’t played in over 20 years. It’s been a great experience, like a family reunion bringing prodigal songs back into the fold.
For the most of it, I did not notice the passage of time travelled by The Pale. From our first rehearsals in the Earl Grattan back in the early 90s to the preparation for the current tour, we’ve always tried to keep one step ahead of ourselves.
The path of a band can be signposted by the music they have produced, which in return can reveal the psyche and general state of the band at any given point along that path. What the music of The Pale reveals to me when I listen back is very insightful. There are those joyous songs that were meant to be performed with our tongue firmly in cheek and there are those more earnest songs that were meant to be performed with our hands firmly on our hearts.
None of those songs were ever meant to be delivered with anything less than 100% conviction and for the most part they never were. Those songs have often echoed the extreme highs and the crushing lows of being in The Pale over the last quarter of a century. We made a concerted effort to write about what we knew and to try coin a style of music that could be recognised as truly our own. I can confidently say that we never imitated a style just to fit into a trend and we never tried to sound like anybody else, as if we could.
The independent route we have ploughed for most of our existence was truly an education for everybody concerned and was certainly not for the faint hearted. We often had to return from tours not unlike Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, having traded the family cow in return for a handful of magic beans.
Still, we remained undeterred, lifted our chins and continued along our very individual furrow in search of greener pastures and the promise of greater rewards.
Luckily for us our faith in ourselves always lead us back to the light.
I am able to say with confidence that the drive at the heart of The Pale remains undiminished. Even as we reflect on our silver anniversary we still have our eyes set firmly upon the horizon. The past year we feel we have played the best shows of our career. We have a new album recorded and we are constantly writing and searching for the perfect song, melody or lyric.
This is what I love about being in The Pale, the constant forward march in pursuit of the new, the striving for something of our own and the unflinching belief in the ability of music to express what it means to be human.
The Pale perform Here’s One We Made Earlier at Whelan's, Dublin on February 3rd, with nationwide dates to follow - they also headline Friday night at the Banjo & Bovril Festival at The Harbour Bar, Bray on Jan 26th. Keep up with the band's activities here.