Pax Cultura explores the lure of obscurity with their intense song ‘Heavy Machine”

"The lyrics speak to the overwhelming brokenness I can find in myself"
28 March 2023

Pax Cultura, an exciting 4-piece band based in South London, just dropped their music video for debut single Heavy Machinery. Members of the band hail from Cardiff, Surrey, Hampshire and even Brisbane, Australia.

Will and Katie met in college, and it was then that the idea for this band, Pax Cultura, started to take shape. Zac and Alex joined the group and after much trial and error, the band developed their own heartfelt indie-rock style, which you can hear today.

Heavy Machinery is the first single from this band, and comes it’s accompanied by an attention-grabbing video. With this release, it’s clear their intention to make a statement in the indie-rock scene.

The track got a perfect blend of soft piano melodies, punchy indie rock, gritty strings, beautiful singing and words that’ll stay with you. All the elements combine harmoniously to give you an intense and passionate indie-rock musical journey.

Drummer Katie Earl takes the lead when it comes to producing and recording for the band. That allows for a smooth transition from coming up with an idea to finally getting it out as a mix. Plus, they’re in full control of how their music sounds. The project went through various stages, and they got help from their pals, Andy Maxwell (engineer) and Jamie Philokyprou (string arranger), to refine the idea and make it happen.

We had a pretty interesting conversation with Will, the brains behind the words and one of the masterminds behind the creation of the band:

What’s up Will? What’s going through your mind right now?

Hey! I’ve got a 7 month old daughter so most of the time what I’m thinking about is how tired I am, how cute she is and when I’m going to get some sleep next. 

Can you elaborate on the meaning behind your debut single ‘Heavy Machinery‘?

So the lyrics speak to the overwhelming brokenness I can find in myself, often toxic habits or unhealthy ways of thinking that harm myself or others. It often feels that no matter how much I know they’re not good for me, they seem to work their way back into my life, often feeling like there’s a war raging inside me, my flesh against my spirit. This song was written as an acknowledgment of the pain of the mental battle, the allure of the darkness and the understanding that it’s too big for me to handle by myself. For me that leads me to cry out for God to do a deep work in my life that’s going to need some serious machinery to fix.

You produced a beautiful concept music video to go with your strong single. What made you come up with that idea?

We wanted to convey 3 clearly defined spaces to represent the song’s  meaning way. #1 – the outer and external world represented in the car park and street shots contrasted by spaces #2 & #3 which were shot within the gym with stark colour contrasts to represent the inner realm and the battle between the warring healthy and harmful desires. Dancer Lewis Williams choreographed the dance with different intentions creating the story of the inner workings of this man battling with his anxieties/demons.

When you write a song like ‘Heavy Machinery’, how/when do you know when you got an idea to pursue?

A lot of the time I give myself a time limit for a song idea to rinse as much out of the initial inspiration as possible without getting too sucked in, so I spend 1 afternoon or 1 day splurging ideas down. Once I’m getting a rough outline of the song and a good vibe I’ll leave it and move on. After I’ve done this for a few songs, I send them to the band to see what they think. Together we all come to an agreement of the songs which we love, ones we could potentially love and ones we don’t think are for Pax Cultura. For Heavy Machinery we were all pretty on board with it from the start – it just had this raw grit which really shone through.

Anything interesting about the decision to name the band Pax Cultura? (BTW very cool name!)

Well choosing a band name is really difficult to get right but we’re really happy with where we’ve landed. We were really struggling to come up with something, so Katie (drummer, producer and mixer extraordinaire) on a whim decided to look online at a clothing brand she likes for inspiration, as they use words and phrases from different languages as part of their designs. This is where she came across ‘Pax Cultura’, and thought it had a ring to it, so did a little research. She found that the name had a cool backstory and presented it to the band. On first hearing we loved it and as we looked deeper into it, it was a keeper. It’s latin for ‘peace through culture’ and was a motto from a peace movement & pact which originated in the US. It called for people to safeguard the things that unite rather than divide: art, science, history & religion with peace being sustained through protecting culture. As a band that resonated with all of us for different reasons and so we thought that’s the name for us! 

As a band, do you put a lot of pressure on yourself?

I think as a band we’re not super pressured. 2 of us have kids which brings some helpful limits to the time and pace of our music making. We try to remember that creating as a band is as much about creating & sustaining friendships as much as it is about creating great music. We don’t always get the balance right but hopefully it keeps us balanced.

Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?

Individually not so much but our process together is that I go away and write some bare bones of songs and once we’ve all chosen the ones we want to work on, we’ll all go away and add our flavour to the tracks and bring it back together where we’ll merge it all, then wade through what we want to keep and cull what we don’t. This process was actually an outcome from lockdown where we suddenly couldn’t create in the room together and so came up with this solution. We’ve actually found it has really helped us be creative together and hear everyone’s creative voice.

What do you hope your fans take away from your music?

A lot of our songs from this EP are about facing the harsh realities of life and the brokenness of our own inner worlds head on. It’s an honest look at processing the journey of walking through that by ourselves and needing the help of others. Our hope is that the songs provide a medium for people to engage with their emotions, see there is light that shines in darkness no matter how dark it feels, be encouraged to talk about their struggles with others and to encourage others to talk about their struggles with them. The hope is to show people what has helped bring me (Will) peace in my life and invite others to seek the same. 

If you could open a show for any artist who would it be?

Great question, one that is totally different for each member of the band 😂. Maybe Matt Corby, Paramore, The Cinematic Orchestra, Kings Kaleidoscope or Jamie Cullum. Take your pick. 

Photo by @stefanthephotographer