Paul Graham speaks with ReGen about the fourth album from Tragic Impulse, touching on the band’s more dance-heavy direction and performing live again in the post-COVID world.
An InterView with Paul Graham of Tragic Impulse
By Edgar Lorre (ErrolAM)
On May 6 of this year, the Pittsburgh-based band Tragic Impulse released its fourth studio album Distant Worlds, a rather impressive feat when one realizes the band began in 2015. Already the group’s most successful album to date, this beat-heavy dancefloor-friendly album was produced by Tragic Impulse mastermind Paul Graham and released via Jim Semonik’s beloved Distortion Productions imprint. In the post-COVID world, Tragic Impulse has started doing road dates again, including a well-received appearance at this year’s Dark Side of the Con, which also featured Twin Tribes, Panic Lift, and Combichrist, to name a few. ReGen Magazine was recently able to sit down and chat with Graham about the new album, the potential for touring, the influence of sci-fi on his writing, and the validity of the industrial label.
What would you consider the concept or theme behind Distant Worlds?
Graham: Distant Worlds was originally based on a song of the same name. I had intended to put that song on the album as the title track, but it never really materialized. Lyrically, it was meant to explore humans moving on from Earth to ‘distant worlds.’ Although unfinished, I liked the general premise as a concept and kept the title for the album. I’ve always been a bit of a sci-fi geek, so concepts like these tend to appeal to me.
The title of the rhythm heavy opening track ‘Oubliette’ is defined in the dictionary as ‘a secret dungeon with access only through a trapdoor in its ceiling.’ Personally, I get a sense of yearning when I listen to the song. Can you tell us more about the meaning of the song?
The album also features your version of MINISTRY’s classic ‘Just One Fix,’ which I quite like. Covers go in and out of style, and some artists are drastically opposed to interpreting material. What is your general opinion?
The new album has a very dance heavy feel. Was this your intent when you set out to write and program the material?
Graham: I am always happy if an album feels that way, but I don’t know that I specifically set out to make ‘dancier’ or more ‘clubby’ material with this album. Tragic Impulse has always kind of gravitated towards that vibe naturally though, and I think a lot of that goes back to the music I am influenced by. I love a good club banger, so my writing probably tends to reflect those attributes, even when I am not necessarily thinking about it.
Do you consider yourself a gear fan? Can you tell some of our readers what are your favorite pieces of gear you use to record?
Any plans of doing any extended touring now that the world seems to be coming back to some sense of what was before?
Graham: We are hoping to get out there in the summer/fall and already have some summer shows planned (U.S. TBA). A bit of a wild card with this is that in January of this year, I fell on a patch of ice and shattered my elbow. Because of that, we are staying cautiously optimistic that I won’t need any more surgeries or any rehab that could interfere with shows. If that happens, we will be looking more towards 2023. Stay tuned…
Is your music influenced by any nonmusical forms of art like film, paining, or literature? If so, please feel free to elaborate for our readers.
How do you feel about being labelled as an ‘industrial band?’ Do you think that helps or hinders Tragic Impulse?
Graham: I don’t think it hurts us and it really doesn’t bother me. If I had to pick one label to describe our music, that is probably the one I’d choose even though stylistically we range a bit. Every scene has their proverbial gatekeepers and purists who put a lot of energy into labeling things, but I don’t personally worry about it much. I’ve always been happy with goth/industrial as an umbrella term since it covers a lot of ground and gives the potential listener some stylistic direction without getting too granular. That said, I wouldn’t mind harnessing some of that big post-punk/darkwave energy floating around these days. 😉
What’s on the horizon for Tragic Impulse?
Graham: Right now, we’re pretty focused on the release of the album and working towards future live shows. I’m sure the occasional remix work or Electronic Saviors compilation (big shout out to Jim Semonik and Distortion Productions!) will keep us busy, but right now, it’s all about Distant Worlds.