The Pagans Shepherds of Humanity aka ‘The Pagans’ are a four-piece band hailing from West Bromwich, England. Formed in July 2016, they describe themselves as being on a’ Pagan voyage’, fusing elements of hip hop/punk/funk/jazz/metal/reggae to create their own unique sound. On the back of their recent Pagan Pilgrimage single, they’re bring their music to Manchester on July 16th as part of Manchester International Festival, so what better time to catch up with the band? Want to find out more? Then read on.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. What’s the story behind The Pagans S.O.H and how would you describe your sound?
Marcus: Hello, we’re The Pagans S.O.H (Shepherds of Humanity). Me and Daragh got together after he heard me freestyling at a party a couple of years back and asked me if I fancied putting it to some music. We had a jam and came up with some riffs and stuff and The Pagans S.O.H was born. We were then joined by Connor (drums) and then a bass player. And then another. And another!
Daragh: Yeah, this is the thing; we can’t be pigeonholed and that’s how we like it really. We didn’t set out to create a generic sound, we set out to make music that has its own vibe, whatever that may be and wherever that takes us. It’s more exploratory than it is defined. I suppose we take a lot of influences from the music that our parents played when we were growing up and also from the area that we’re from. It’s a really diverse community and that’s reflected in the music that we make.
Connor: That’s why you can hear elements of punk through to funk, hip hop, ska and reggae. We just go wherever feels right. We’ve even got a song that has been described as country thrash.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
Daragh: Our individual musical tastes probably. Some of the old hip hop beats have inspired me in the past. They have a proper pureness about them that makes me want to use them in a new Pagan type way.
Marcus: Vibe wise, we just people to feel something and feel something that makes them feel good and that they’ve listened to something new. Someone recently reviewed us and said our gigs leave you feeling like you’ve run a 30-minute sprint.
I found it very hard to categorise your music into a specific genre, or even a mix of genres, though it has a real organic flow to it. What do you think that inability to ‘put you in a box’ means for the listener and for you as a band?
Daragh: Good question! Erm, yeah I think it would be far easier for us a band to conform to a specific style in terms of getting gigs with promoters and stuff. They always ask, ‘what’s your genre?’ same with festival applications. I know this gives our manager a headache as well! What we do know, though, is that everyone who watches us, no matter what their age or background or taste is, they have a great time.
Marcus: We cater for all tastes; we don’t want anyone to feel left out!
Are there any particular Black Country bands you feel an affinity with?
Connor: Gotta be Led Zep, hasn’t it! They’re the boys! There are also loads of ace bands emerging from the region at the minute. It’s a bit of a scene, I guess. Loving what the Methods lads are doing as well. They’ve got a real uniqueness about them.
Daragh: Found out that the frontman from Sigue Sigue Sputnik was from Walsall the other day as well. Mad.
What is your creative process when it comes to making music? Do you work together as a group for example? Do you work on music and lyrics simultaneously?
Marcus: I dunno, all of a sudden, words come together in my head and I feel compelled to get them written down. There’s no specific time or place or situation that it happens. It just happens.
Connor: Marcus usually drops some bars on us, from out of nowhere and then we jam it. It all just flows really well and fits into place. Daragh will then probably start riffing and we go from there. There’s rarely a time when one of thinks that this isn’t how the track should sound.
Daragh: This is probably the easiest part of The Pagans!
What’s up next for The Pagans S.O.H? Any upcoming gigs, new releases on the horizon, other projects?
Daragh: Festivals! Think we’re doing about 13 or 14 in total this year. We have Kendal, Tramlines, Macclesfield, Merthyr Rising and some Musicians Against Homelessness events and festivals, which is a cause very close to our hearts. We are also releasing a couple of tracks as well.
Connor: We released our second single Pagan Pilgrimage on the 4th of July, Pagan Pilgrimage. Gav Monaghan at Magic Garden Studios in Wolverhampton recorded it. It’s a lot different to our debut single Banananah, it’s probably closer to the Pagan sound as a whole than that.