Music By Numbers: Pleiades

Manchester group Pleiades have quietly been gaining support since forming 2016. Touted as “ones to watch” by this very site, the quintet are set to return later this month with ‘All At Your Mercy’. The five-track EP sees the group solidify their transition as an instrumental trio to a dynamic band with Andy Calderbank’s versatile vocals simply adding to Pleiades‘ emotional drive.

‘All At Your Mercy’ ebbs and flows effortlessly between tranquil, cathartic moments but surging forward with passionate angst. Tracks such as ‘Alpha’ sees Calderbank’s voice roar and battle against a wall of heavy guitars, before calmly coming together. Whereas the title track highlights Pleiades’ ability to structure songs in a compelling manner; drifting instrumentation build to an intense finale. Ultimately, it’s an EP that has been worth the wait, and is sure to enhance their reputation going forward.

With a sound that is dissonant and ambient in equal measure, it’s no surprise the members of Pleiades have a varied musical palette. We caught up with the band to talk music by the numbers.

1 Artist I Couldn’t Live Without…

Aaron Weiss (mewithoutYou)
Andy Calderbank (vocals): I never grew up with mewithoutYou. They were a little too hard to define for me when I was younger, but as my music taste matured and as I’ve performed music more and more I look into lyrics with more depth and insight and his lyrics feel more like a story being told rather than written for the purpose of melody. So he’s a constant source of inspiration for me to challenge myself to dig a little deeper and find a more imaginative way to express a particular emotion.

2 People I Know, That Shaped My Passion For Music…

My Dad
Ryan Noble (guitar): He was the biggest/earliest influence on the music that I was experiencing. From Classic rock (think Van Halen/Rush) to a genre-wide range of contemporary acts, he always had something on hand to show me. He gave me an invaluable opportunity to go to a number of gigs/festivals, whether that be local or bigger (Download Festival from eleven years old). He knew that I would appreciate these experiences before I knew myself, and I can’t thank him enough for that nowadays.

My Singing Teacher
Andy: Having never been to a singing teacher before it was daunting but after a few lessons, she was very encouraging and shaped my confidence when it came to how i approach music. She convinced me that I was a capable vocalist and to have a classically trained singer tell you that opens up so many doors psychologically so I’m in her debt.

3 Songs You Wish You’d Written…

Dillinger Escape Plan – Milk Lizard
Andy: It was my introduction to non-mainstream metal through a magazine sampler and it still holds up as such an amazing song and it had the kind of impact I want one of our songs has one day. {AC}

Slade – Merry Christmas Everybody
OJ Riley (drums): £500k royalties every year?!

Al Stewart – The Year of the Cat
Andrew Packwood (guitar): It’s my dad’s favourite song and he must have told me the story about how they can’t play the solo live anymore a million times, I’d have made it simpler so he could just enjoy it.

4 Bands Everyone Should Hear…

A Welsh ‘Bronx’ that has such energy, stage presence and such fun on stage I wish them all the success in the world.

Joe Clayton (Guitarist of PIJN) recorded our EP and to watch him work was such a pleasure, so it’s no surprise PIJN are making the waves they are. They create emotion and atmosphere from pure instrumentals like no one else right now

Salt the Snail
Liverpool noise punk who love props and wrestling and utilise it all on stage from bringing quiches for the crowd or letting the audience pick the songs. We’ve played with them a few times and each show is different and unique. They are playing bigger and better shows all the time and deservedly so.

Dead Sea Apes
Lumbering their way out of the murky depths of Tameside, DSA are an absolute musical behemoth. Crushing drones and looped guitars will continually wear you down – listening to their records is a war of attrition, a war you’ll never win but will recount tales of for years to come. I stumbled across them live supporting Kikagaku Moyo at the (sadly now defunct) Roadhouse and they were everything I didn’t know I’d been looking for. The description thrown around is ‘heavy psych’ but that’s bollocks, it does them no justice – they can bring together the sounds of Labradford, Earth and Ennio Morricone whilst adding a trademark touch of dub to create an unparalleled sound (they’ve also collaborated with spoken-word artist Adam Stone to devastating effect.) Now a four-piece with a new album out, they’re the one band I always try and turn people onto.

5 Songs You Love…

mewithoutYou – Blue Hen
Andy: They are my favourite band, so if I had to pick a song by them it’s this one. its urgent and never loses its quickening pace and theme running through lyrics are of friendships and how they are formed mostly through technology in the modern day and to be able to do that through Bible passages reference and incredibly imaginative lyrics is a skill. “A mastodon shadow divided by zero” is my favourite lyric in the song as a simple yet effective reference to size and power.

Copeland – I Can Make You Feel Young Again
Andy: A love song in its purest form. An ode to the one person who makes you feel lucky to be alive at the same time as them. Its a message that’s clear and emotionally flawless and something I hope to accomplish with our music.

And So I Watch You from afar – search:party:animal (And every other song that ASIWYFA has released…)
Ryan: You know you are in for a hell of a post/prog/riffy fucking ride. Each section of the track boasts a new guitar tone and interweaving groovy riffs. If I ever feel like I need a kick up the arse, I will put this track on and change the entire dynamic of my day, and that’s why it’s so dear to me.

Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
Ryan: A beautiful melody-led early 2000’s Americana/Folk banger. I love the simplicity in the vocal round and the stacks in harmony. I read in an interview once that they recorded this track in about ten hours and a lot of the parts were first-take improvised flourishes. I love the idea that something this pronounced could all be part of a day’s work.

Fela Kuti – Expensive Shit
OJ: The king of Afrobeat. Fela created unbelievable music and this EP is my go-to whenever I’m stuck for something to listen to. It’s a brilliantly energetic, uptempo song that goes on for about 18 minutes, underpinned by the percussive genius of Tony Allen. The song itself is about a time in the mid-70s when police in Nigeria raided Fela’s compound and tried to plant drugs on him. Whilst he (or an associate) ate the joint in question, the police (knowing he was a heavy smoker) brought him in regardless and waited for him to ‘naturally pass’ the drugs in his system. With the help of other inmates, Fela managed to avoid providing his own stool and was freed after the sample he gave was analysed and found to be drug-free; hence, an expensive shit.

6 Bands You’re Keen To Play With…

Andrew: They would be great people to travel with and I’m sure as a young band, we would get some great advice from them. To watch them perform as a band would be the greatest lesson of all. They have created a niche genre for themselves and the ability to adapt too many different crowds and that is something we strive for.

Black Peaks
Ryan: ‘All That Divides’ has set the bar for the next wave of UK alt-rock music and it would be an honour to play with them. Plus, seeing them play every night would be fucking ace! Their live show is insane and I think we would learn a few things as a band.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor 
Ryan: Can you think of a reason why not? Because I can’t.

The Bronx
Josh Edmondson (bass): Every show, The Bronx bring it – the energy, the consistency and the engagement with the punters. I’ve seen them four times and the crowd didn’t stop for the entire gig. They all seem like top guys, too – who wouldn’t want to go drinking with Matt Caughthran?

Andy: As a live show, they were the band that persuaded me to want to be on stage as opposed to just watching them. They carried themselves in a way that was appealing as a young fan of music. I think we could do ourselves proud playing alongside them energy wise.

Andy: letlive was the reason I wanted to give being a musician a serious go. It was an energy that started with Glassjaw and then letlive and now Fever333. Its infectious, raw energy and it would take us to the next level.

7 Places You’d Love To Play…

Download Festival
Andy: Most of us in the band have done Download for a number of years, and I think we would all agree that it would be something of a dream come true to step foot on stage at Donnington. Also, fuck spending five days in a piss-wet-through tent again, stick us in a van.

Maida Vale Studios
Ryan: A lot of the bands that we admired growing up have either recorded or done a live session in the illustrious rooms at Maida Vale. I also relish in the idea of having a full multi-cam, multi track recording of even one of our tracks.

Andy: I spent an amazing few years living there and experienced a new culture for myself and they have an enormous appetite for heavy music so to be able to go back there regardless of venue would be great. It would be a great homecoming for me.

Josh: The idea of stepping into the unknown is part of what drives us. The complete culture shock of being in Japan, never mind playing would be invaluable.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Andy: It’s just an amazing natural location and It’s been a favourite of some of the best musicians to ever the grace the earth, from Rush to Neil Young. It’s on the bucket list for sure.

Victoria Warehouse
Josh: A hometown show of different proportions.

O2 Apollo Manchester
Josh: It’s a venue I’ve always dreamed of playing because I have so many great concert experiences and memories tied to it. I saw so many bands there in my teens. It’s probably the venue I’ve attended the most throughout my life. When I was a lot younger, I remember me and my step mum would write letters with a telephone number attached and addressed it to the band playing Apollo I was so hyped to see at the time. Bands would ALWAYS respond and were super cool with me. We would always manage to get free tickets this way, and in one instance Bob Bryar (ex-My Chemical Romance) actually phoned my house because he read my letter! So many legendary bands have performed here, the acoustics are great. Legendary venue.

8 Essential Tour Items…

Sick bags
Don’t end up throwing up out of car windows in the middle of cities. It is the sort of thing that is unrecoverable from. Also, avoid throwing up in your hands/lap, clean clothes are a scarcity on tour, don’t hamstring yourself further!

Nothing, NOTHING is worse than feeling like your teeth are unclean, trying to operate as a normal functioning adult with furry teeth is basically impossible.

Seriously, downtime is what kills you, having a good book to read that takes up no space is invaluable, it also makes you look slightly intellectual while you chow down on whatever cheap dreary food you’ve managed to locate.

Water Bottle
Hydrate, it’s super important and you don’t want to keep buying sugary drinks all the time.

A Van

A bottle of choice spirit
A lot of us work in bars, so the chances of us having some classy alcohol on us are rather high.

A Towel
Douglas Adams’ classic advice holds true.

Dry Food
Breakfast bars are both great/torture after a couple of days.

Enough Socks
Smelly feet do not make for a happy band.

9 Words To Describe Your Band…

Intense, Cathartic, Ethereal, Self Aware, Hopeful, Excitable, Surprising, Unassuming.

10 Favourite Albums Of All Time…

Glassjaw – Worship and Tribute
Andy: It’s an album that’s in my DNA. Its a cornerstone for my adventure into heavy music. 2005 was such a great year for Post-Hardcore and this album is a deserved classic in the genre and it’ll stay that way for years to come.

Letlive – Fake History
Andy: For me, its an evolution of what Glassjaw did for me. They created energy in this album that was a shot in the arm for a lot of music listeners who were perhaps getting jaded by modern hardcore/metal and it sparked my ambition to become a musician. (AC)

Hundred Reasons – Ideas Above Our Station
Andrew: This was an album my older brother used to bully onto the cd player on our holidays, at the time I was trying to force Papa Roach onto him and didn’t really get it but the energy of ‘Silver’ stuck with me. As years went by, I kept running into them at shows and festivals and each time the album grabbed me more and more. To this day if I hear the first 4 clicks from ‘I’ll Find You’, the hair on the back of my neck stands up!

Pelican – Australasia
OJ: It’s difficult to choose between this and ‘The Fire In Our Throats…’ but this one clinches it, due to the fact that it’s a perfect album in my eyes. I remember getting a sticker with Kerrang! with the word PELICAN on it and I had no idea who they were or what style of music they played. When I got into this album (along with Isis’ ‘Oceanic’ and ‘Panopticon’), I’d been really getting into post-rock stuff at the time (Tracer AMC, Evpatoria Report, EITS, Slint and that ilk) and this just knocked it up a massive notch – it was crushingly heavy yet somehow melodic and positive? Plus the drummer made me realise that less is often more (he comes in for far too much stick for such an approach, by the way) and that I didn’t have to try and play complicated rhythms at 200bpm all the time.

Boards of Canada – The Campfire Headphase
OJ: Boards changed my life, musically-speaking because I’d never really known anything like it. Before hearing ‘Geogaddi’, I’d spent my time mainly listening to System of a Down, Lamb of God and Children of Bodom and thinking it was hardcore and a difficult listen for lots of people. After hearing ‘Geogaddi’, I was shit-scared instantly at the sound effects and rewound voices – this was challenging. I moved on to The Campfire Headphase and it became one of my all-time favourites. So much so, in fact, that they played ‘Dayvan Cowboy’ at my wedding ceremony. It was mint.

Hilltop Hoods – State of The Art
Andy: It’s an album that epitomises a particular time in my life where I did the most growing up. I had moved to Adelaide for a few years mainly out of frustration, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life so I visited my best friend who had emigrated to Australia and it felt like a good time to visit him and see what opportunities it would present for myself. This album was playing in the car as my friend picked me up and it became the soundtrack to my experience. I gained a new appreciation for hip-hop , sampling and music from a country that wasn’t my own. It has to be on my favourite albums of all time because I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t taken the chance and lived in Adelaide and this was the album that was present throughout.

Jimmy Eat World – Clarity
Andrew: This is the first album that made me think of using guitars to create atmosphere, rather than just to play a song, it’s like an emo intro into post-rock. I get lost in it all the time, even now knowing It off by heart; just simple, honest, interwoven melodies.

mewithoutYou – Pale Horses
Andy: It’s the album that makes me dig deeper as a musician to try and find that extra dimension of expression when it comes to what emotion I want to illustrate. It has a story and personal insight into Aaron Weiss’s life and requires multiple listens and it’s just an incredibly well-layered album.

Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works
Andy: This was a Christmas present one year that I wasn’t expecting that helped send me further me down a musical rabbit hole that leads me to a wider range of bands that opened my eyes to unfamiliar song structures and an entirely new genre of heavy music.

Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory
Josh: This album is probably one of the most important albums in my record collection. It was so influential in my life it’s pretty much the reason why I now play and listen to heavy music. There are only so many albums that have such an impact on your life and this is one of them. Every song on this album could be a single, absolute bangers! It’s not an “album experience” by any stretch but all 12 tracks are pretty much the soundtrack of my adolescence. They remind me of the best of times and got me through the worst of times. Witnessing this live, in its entirety, at Download Festival 2014 was a dream come true for me.

Follow us on Spotify for more playlists.

‘All At Your Mercy’ EP by Pleiades is released on 31st May on AWAL.

Pleiades links: Facebook | Instagram


This website collects cookies to deliver better user experience. Learn more.