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Premiere: Pales - Don't Be So Nice

Wednesday 4th May 2016

The Wireless presents the premiere of Pales' new album Don't Be So Nice.


Wellington prog-folk trio Pales – Rose Blake, Mike Isaacs and Scott Maynard – officially release their new album Don’t Be So Nice this Friday, but we’re pretty happy to be able to bring it to you early.

Composed by Maynard, it’s the second of three albums which sees each band member take turns with writing an album in full. We shot him a few questions to get the lowdown on what inspired the new songs, and, more importantly, what took so damn long to put them out.


Pales are pretty unique in that your first release was written by bandmate Mike Isaacs, but Don’t Be So Nice is made up entirely of your own compositions. What’s the thinking behind taking turns with writing each album?

When we first got together, it was to start playing Mike’s songs from his upcoming album as well as a couple that Rose and I had been working on too. Kind of more as a fun/safe way to try out new material. Pales was originally just the name of the trio that would perform each of our solo music, since we were all working toward our own albums anyway. 

After playing a few shows as Pales, we decided Mike’s album would be released under that band name, and Rose and I would do the same. We thought it would make for an interesting three albums with three distinct tones.

You’ve said in the past that Pales take note from Tiny Ruins, Seth Frightening, Elliott Smith and Grizzly Bear. What inspired the songs behind Don’t Be So Nice?

I’m still a fan of those artists for sure. I don’t know if it comes across at all in my music but I was listening to a heap of Angel Olsen and D’Angelo over a big part of the time I spent on this album. In general though, I’d say the songs are inspired by the feelings/experiences/frustrations that just come with being a person. Things that we all have in common.

Photo: Supplied

The song Strangers With Weekends first surfaced well over a year ago. What took so long to get the album finished?

We released that version of Strangers With Weekends especially for The Audience, but at that point we hadn’t finished tracking all the songs or begun mixing yet. I think we were definitely overly optimistic about how long it would take though. I didn’t really have anywhere solid to set up and record so just ended up doing a little recording wherever/whenever I could get a quiet space to spend a bit of time.

After spending a few months trying to mix it ourselves and not quite getting it right, we finally made the call to get some pro engineers to finish it off. The whole process just took a long time. I’m happy to be in this part of it!

You’ve all come up amongst the Wellington folk scene which has resulted in lots of collaboration. How do you decide which band commitment takes priority?

That’s pretty tough at times. For Pales at least, it seems that we just take turns being the one working on the band. Because we are doing what is essentially a solo album each, it takes the pressure off the other two members to fully commit. It means things move a little slower but we all enjoy playing lots of other music so that’s the compromise.

You spent time touring pretty extensively with Luckless in the past. Can we expect another run of shows once the album’s out?

I think so. I always enjoy touring and now that the album has been finished for a little while I’m starting to get excited about the idea of playing the songs again.

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Hussein is a writer and former editor of
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