Best thing about being an Alternative Control patron? Suggesting interviewees! When one of our folks said they’d love to hear what was going on with musician Alyssa Maucere-Pike, a veteran of many bands and most recently the bassist of Oregon riff-slingers Lord Dying, we hopped on the ol’ email and got to work!
Here is what Maucere-Pike had to say about music, art, and life in 2020. Enjoy!
Hi Alyssa, thanks for doing this interview for Alternative Control! It might seem out of the blue, but I love being able to talk with other women in the realm of underground metal. This is a broad question, but tell me about yourself as an artist and musician:
Hey thanks for talking to me. Not every day we get to talk about metal! Well I started playing music and drawing when I was a little kid and luckily my family encouraged it. Music was always part of who I was and I really made most of my friends through listening collecting and playing music. I got into the Tattoo industry because of music. I was able to do illustrations for bands because of music. It gave me my life and helped me find out who I really was, which is really amazing.
How did you get involved with Lord Dying? Can you tell me some highlights of your time in the band so far? I see you guys did a Euro tour in Fall 2019… And had some dates with Black Label Society before coronavirus shut everything down…
I’ve met Erik and Chris bunch of times throughout the years, once in Philadelphia when they toured with crowbar, and of course every time I came to visit portland I see them at the same shows I was at. Every time Erik would say hello and catch up from a couple months since I had seen him last.
When I finally moved to Portland one of my bands opened up for Lord Dying and apparently they were really into it, to the point that they asked me to be a part of their band. Mysterium Tremendum just came out and I thought it was a great record, and when they asked me to do it I was pretty humbled and appreciative they wanted me in the band.
I’ve been in the band for almost a year now and this time last year we were in Europe touring for about a month. It was a head trip because I never drove around there before. They’ve toured a bunch of times there, and played a lot of the same clubS as they played before with bands that they had shared stages with at festivals. So it’s really cool to get to meet and hang out with some bands that I really admire.
We randomly ran into Mick Harvey (Ex-The Bad Seeds and The Birthday Party) and Steve Shelly from Sonic Youth at a rest stop outside of Birmingham, UK. Mick tapped me on the shoulder well I was perusing van snacks, and he asked, “Are you the drummer of Earth?” Which I politely responded “Well, I’m blonde, I’m from the Pacific Northwest but I’m not in Earth. I’m in Lord Dying. But I Love Earth!” We both stood there talking a while and he introduced me to his band so I introduced mine to them. I snapped a photo of all them together. Erik and Chris were stoked and we listened to Sonic Youth the whole way down to London.
All the shows and fests we played were great as far as our playing and Earthship killed it every night with us. And the major highlight was both bands from that tour playing Damnation Fest with Big Business, Mayhem, Opeth, Primordial, among a billion other incredible bands after we drove 12 hours straight from a Festival in Paris straight to Leeds. We were so burnt out but it didn’t matter, we played a great set and had such a great time watching all the other bands. Totally worth the exhaustion!
BLS’s whole crew were totally pleasant all the time, no matter how crazy shit was! Even when our trailer flipped in the Canadian Rockies during a Blizzard, or when Corona was looming over all of us, the tour was one of the most rewarding I’d ever had in my life. The fans in that crowd maybe didn’t come to see us, but we felt like we won a lot of die-hard Obituary and BLS fans over after, and we played so hard and so well, it was always fun to do and you can’t exchange that feeling for anything in the world! Our stage chemistry just clicks and everyone can hear it. I really miss that tour and I really wish it didn’t end so soon, but you know. Pandemic….
What have your musical projects been up to (or not up to) since mid-March 2020? How are you and the folks in your life everyone holding up?
Well, Lord Dying had to quit touring with Obituary and Black Label Society on March 13 and had to drive all the way back to Portland from Sault Saint Marie, Michigan — so that kind of put a little bit of a dampener on our musical output. Erik and Chris are the masterminds and have been working on a bunch of stuff since the shutdown.
As for my household we’ve had our ups and downs with trying to grasp how to operate when live music isn’t even an option. There’s a lot of talk about doing live stream shows and fundraisers and go fund me’s for venues and all sorts of other avenues to take, but a lot of it seemed really out of character to go that route. Not like it’s a bad thing, but I think for career musicians who’ve been touring their whole life, a live stream will never be the same as a live show. It’s cool to see it happening more, but it takes a lot of brain power to orchestrate a great live stream show.
I think a lot of us were pretty skeptical as to what was going on at first but a lot of people got the opportunity to work less and to work on music more. In my case, I had to work more and do music less for the first time in a couple years. It’s not like it’s a bad thing. I probably needed a break just to get my bearings up. I am working with some newer project that’s really exciting, and hopefully will be working more with Lord Dying for the rest of this year on new material. It hasn’t been rabid like years past, where every moment of spare time I got was practicing with one of my many bands, or writing music, so again having this break is helping me become a wiser musician. Really listening and thinking a lot about the world around me. Absorbing it, bad or good. When I play music now, it comes out really aggressively, which in metal is a crucial benefit.
What is the social/pandemic climate like in Portland right now?
Portland is probably better at “following the CDC guidelines” than the rest of the US, but when it comes to civil unrest, it’s tense here. we have a massive homeless problem already and it’s only evolved into a horrid situation. We had the forest fires leveling surrounding towns and forests which was so upsetting. Then the cops tear gassed their own citizens for over 50 days straight, and our piece of shit “president” incited violent riots, sending unqualified “federal Police” to tear gas us some more, calling us an Anarchist State to the whole world. Trump supporters started coming here intentionally to start shit with us. Then crime skyrocketed. Gnarly people knew the cops gave up on everyone in town so it made it much easier to loot and pillage local businesses, but you know… Just another day of living the dystopian dream called Trump’s America. They say “Keep Portland Weird.” They didn’t mean this.
Everything else kind of falls into place once you have the Riff in your head. Typically it would be my own compositions, but when A great song got stuck in my head, I wanted to learn it. That evolved into the COVID Sessions. I chose songs that impacted me throughout my life, such as “Cortez the Killer” by Neil Young, “Teardrop” by Massive Attack, “Lungs” by Townes Van Zandt, and “The Day I Tried To Live” by SoundGarden.
They were more of an expression on my state of mind during the shut down and it helped to show me how simple some of these amazing songs were. Taught me a lot about layers too. I had banjos and mandolins lots of vocal mics, all kinds of guitars, my bass, and a drum set. everything you would need to make a full song work. I totally went for it. The recordings would take about a week to do at home and I would stay up all night mixing them. Totally would burn out my ears after a while. Luckily I have my husband about the demos off of see if he liked them or what to change. It was fun to collaborate on those songs too. There’s one more in the works that I know of but I’m not gonna disclose that yet!
One song, “Cortez the Killer,” features your husband Matt Pike. What’s it like working on music with your partner? Does your outside-of-music relationship make it easier to collaborate, or not really?
Working with him is kind of just like this: press record, throw my finger in the air as to when to start, and when he goes, it’s magic. it doesn’t really require too much in the way of direction or conversation beforehand. He’s just so good that I really don’t have to tell him anything at all. He knows!
When it comes to composing music with him, it kind of just flows out. We’ve written a couple things together and so far I’m amazed at the level of cooperation we have. I guess it helps that I loved his bands before hand, and we’ve played guitar a lot together informally. but it also matters that he loves what I do. When we work together he’s just like a Bandmate to me, where we work out parts and hear different things that we want to push out of each other. More times than not he pushes me and the result turns out great. I’m always proud of what he does and I’m lucky to have someone like him believe in what I do.
Is it weird being married to someone who “everyone knows” — or having a marriage that’s in some sort of underground metal version of the public eye? Does it get annoying when journalists ask you about it? 😉
Funny how I’m sure most journalists try not to ask me about my husband, and I don’t really mind when they do. He’s Pike. He’s an amazing dude to say the least! I love him to death. I married him because he’s my favorite person in the world. At this point his fans have been cool as shit and when we’re out somewhere people are usually super respectful of our time and are just happy to say hi to him. He’s a rad dude. It’s hard not to bring him up to me for sure. What I find more often than not is that most folks really focus on what I do and less on who I’m married to.
Who are some artists (music/visual/tattoo/whatever) that inspire you?
I love Harry Clarke, Alphonse Mucha, Skinner, Art from the Italian Baroque and the Northern Renaissance. GustavDoré, Albrect Dürer, Late 1800s occult Art, and then for tattooing, I love Old Traditional tattooers! Simple, bold, totally old man. It’s a piece of history you can wear forever, as opposed to just a painting you can hang in your house!
Let’s say 2021 arrives and the world magically goes back to normal. What would you like to be doing in a musical/artistic sense?
I’d like to finish that tour with Obituary and Black Label Society. That would be cool.
Random silly questions: What snack food most embodies the spirit of heavy metal?
Do you guys have any pets?
CROOOOOM! He’s a pit bull-husky mix and a total babydoll for being such a tough guy.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve tattooed on someone?
A Realistic cheeseburger tramp stamp
Audiobooks, ebooks, or regular books?
Someone reading to you in person.
Favorite breakfast food?
Kao Kai Jeow!
Favorite Netflix binge?
HBOMax is what’s up! They have Turner Classic Movies.
What music did you listen to when you were twelve?
Slayer and Pantera.
What’s your ideal tour — which of your bands is playing and who is on tour with you?
Finishing the BLS/Obituary/Lord Dying tour!
And that’s a wrap! Let’s hope coronavirus lets up one of these days so people can get back to touring, working, hugging, and all the other things we’re missing in 2020!
Connect with Alyssa Maucere-Pike at the links below:
- Lord Dying: https://www.facebook.com/LordDying
- bandcamp: https://alyssamaucere-pike.bandcamp.com/
- YouTube: https://rb.gy/z0o8o1
- Linktree: https://linktr.ee/AKMP
Interview and band photo courtesy of Earsplit PR.