“We’re back!” exclaims Pave The Way drummer Bill Lester. “We’re coming out strong, we’re taking full swings.”
The Scranton-based hardcore/metal band, which began back in 2005 (Lester joined up two years later), took a self-imposed hiatus beginning around 2012 that stemmed from a mix of personal business that each member needed to sort out, as well as the band simply needing a break to take care of extraneous matters that were interfering with their musical vision.
“It seemed like it was coming to the point where everybody needed to take care of their personal matters before we really could go forward,” explains Lester. “We never really put it to bed as if we were done for good. We just looked at each other and said, ‘We really need to take care of ourselves at this moment.’”
The time apart would last about a year, before Lester says the members would begin discussing the band again, with the desire to get out and play.
“We started to feel good and get things back together; talking about playing a couple of shows and seeing how it went,” he says. “It took a little longer than expected, just because of time and distance, and people still working out their personal lives. But, when we did, it just felt like putting on an old shoe – it just fit and it felt perfect. It was just renewed attitude, renewed energy, and it just felt right to do it at this time.”
There’s much to be said about the future of the band, and even the present; both of which Lester expresses serious optimism. It should be noted, though, that Pave The Way notched some great milestones during their first time around.
The band’s debut album, “Ode To Hatred,” was released in 2008. The disc featured 17 tracks of nail-spitting attitude, owing debts to such street-grit acts like Madball, Pro-Pain, and Hatebreed. Lester says that the lineup of Pave The Way that recorded the album was only together for about five months when it was completed, but everything simply gelled at the time, and the music fell into place.
“When we went into the studio, we were definitely well-prepared for it,” he remembers. “There was such a rawness to it – we did the whole thing in 16 hours; that was recording, mixing, mastering, everything. The aggression of what album really set the basis for who we were about to become. We’ve become something even better since then.”
The band was a living, breathing monster on the live stage as well pre-hiatus, something that isn’t lost on Lester.
“We have such a rabid, awesome fan base,” he proudly admits, as a precursor to recalling a few of his band’s choice live moments. “When we had the opportunity to open for Life of Agony at Crocodile Rock in Allentown was amazing. They’re not only one of my favorite bands, but the other members of Pave The Way as well. We hung out with Life of Agony, and Ryan Dunn (of MTV’s Jackass), before he passed away, was at the show and became a fan of ours. We had so
many fans that came out on that bus that we rented to go to the show, in the middle of a snowstorm, and they just loved it.”
Lester continued to pull memorable live gigs out of his hat.
“We opened up for Devildriver and Kittie at Eleanor Rigby’s (Jermyn, Pennsylvania club), and people came out in droves to not only support us, but all the other locals that opened as well as the nationals. I just love the passion of our fans and I love the passion that we have. When we have success, in our minds, it’s also our fans’ success because they’re the ones that put us there. We practice hard with our music, but if it wasn’t for them, we’re nothing.”
Lester not only shows his appreciation to Pave The Way’s fans, but also to the current lineup of the band, of which he speaks highly.
“First off, all five of us just have a great attitude about everything,” he begins. “We’re down-to-earth, blue-collar people. We grew up in tough circumstances with some great things happening as well, but we learn from our experiences – every one of us brings that to the table. Our singer, Lonnie (Brown), he has that aggressiveness yet a playfulness onstage – he has that ability to get the crowd into it. Out guitarist Paul (Bucksbee) has such a great feel - he can play the heavy stuff yet has a great groove and feel. He also has a great songwriting ability, and he’s getting a lot of his songs going now; we’ve been writing lately.”
“Our other guitarist Don (Sinclair), is another experienced member – he’s got a great backbone of complementing Paul, as well as getting a lot of his own ideas across. He and Paul have a little different style, but they mix so well – that makes it outstanding. My bass player, Rory (Harper), he’s the best bass player I’ve ever played with; especially when it comes to this style of music. He’s got that great slap feel as well as that tribal feel that he and I love to do together; he and I do a lot of the arranging together.”
Lester is a little hesitant to point out his own strengths. “Not you’re really getting me here, because I don’t know how to talk about myself,” he jokes. Lester’s several decades worth of experience certainly come into play when holding down the tempo for such a heavy, extreme band.
“Other people have told me that Rory and I are so in-tune with each other; just being on the same page, musically,” he says. “Some of the influences that the two of us work with; the bluesier stuff, and even more of the tribal - Igor Cavalera of Sepultura, which is one of my big influences, we’re both very intuitive with that. I don’t think a lot of people can understand that unless you listen to what we do and watch what we do.”
It will undoubtedly be this sense of musical convergence, on behalf of all members of Pave The Way, that will spark the new music the band’s been working on for release in 2015. Lester says that along with some special activities, of which he’s not prepared to reveal just quite yet, the band is geared up to put new music in the hands of its fans within the next year.
“It is our ten-year anniversary next year, and we are going to be putting out a new CD,” he divulges. “We had recorded some songs before, but then we took the break, and we decided to go in and re-record them – plus we’re recording four new songs. We actually just played two of the new songs at our last two shows. We’re going to add those, so we’re going to do ten new songs for ten years. We’re going to have new merchandise – the whole shebang.”
Lester leaves us with a sense of intrigue by his vague yet positive teaser as to what else the band has in store for their tenth anniversary.
“I don’t want to say too much, but we’ve been getting a lot of phone calls, a lot of messages, from a lot of people that are very excited that we’re back – probably no more excited than we are, to be honest with you. It just feels like our family is back together.”
Pave The Way is currently sifting through various live shows, listings of which can be found through either the band’s Facebook of Reverbnation pages. Lester says that the band is easing back into the live sets and booking the shows, but as far as his band’s musical state of mind, “We’re already back in it full swing.”
“We’re hard, we’re brutal,” Lester interjects before closing. “There’s nothing complicated about us, man, we just do it. We take it from out heart, and we play it.”