From Berklee to Berkeley, their art has always been a collaborative effort
When recording their second album, Delirium, the Berkeley, Calif., outfit known as the Memorials employed a wonderfully effective everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sonic philosophy. For the follow-up to 2011’s self-titled debut, band organizer and former Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen, vocalist Viveca Hawkins and guitarist Nick Brewer kept the tempo cranked and the stylistic influences varied.
On the surface, Delirium is a hard-rock record, but anyone who gives it more than a cursory listen will know that the band’s scope is fixed on a wider setting. Whether she’s rapping, crooning or belting a ballad, Hawkins’ sultry vocals provide a sensual accompaniment to the shredding guitar and frenetic beats, the framework for most of the Memorials’ tunes. “We love so many different styles, and we love throwing in stuff that has influenced us,” says Pridgen. “The Latin influences, the African and Afro-beat influences, the rock from my high school years and the gospel from when I grew up—I’m inspired by it all.”
The desire to learn about music is what brought the three bandmates together at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston. As someone who’s kept time from the back of the stage for one of the world’s musically wildest bands, Pridgen isn’t shy about his hope to form an identity outside of his previous projects. “It seems like people don’t know who we are as individual musicians,” he admits. “I don’t care about the credit, but I do care about the art.”
Pridgen views the Memorials as something structurally different than a traditional band. “I could’ve called this the Thomas Pridgen Voyage, or something like that,” he says with a laugh. “But it’s the Memorials, because I wanted to have something that represented all of us doing something together. The collective aspect is important because we use everyone who played on the record in such a major way.” The sense of collaboration is strong throughout the Memorials’ music. Each member has moments where his or her role is holding a song together. And all that is what Pridgen hoped for when recording Delirium. The main mission, however, is as simple as it is fundamental. “We’re proud of everyone’s contribution to the record,” he says. “And I just want to continue having fun.”