By Sarah Kitteringham
CALGARY – The abrupt musical shifts in PMMA’s newest offering Draw the Line are jarring and often uncomfortable. The four-track tape opens with the electro offering “Cold, Dark and Blue.” It almost immediately transforms a blipping electro beat into a post-punk melee. It literally forces the listener to do a double take, wondering how and where we went from point A to B.
“We definitely wanted to contrast our heavier sounds with the catchier, pop vibe in the chorus. In our past recordings we have always had full tracks that were on both ends of that spectrum, but in “Cold, Dark and Blue” we wanted to have those abrupt distinctions within the one single song,” begins synth player and vocalist Noodles, who’s known by day as talented graphic artist Ryan Kostel.
“This song is about the fluctuation of emotion that one feels when going through severe loss. I think the music gets across that emotional rollercoaster that we all go through when experiencing grief.”
He continues, “Last year, around the writing of this album, we lost a very close friend and huge part of PMMA, [our friend] Jordy, to a fentanyl related death. He was always around for our recording sessions, in our music video and on stage to sing KISS covers and our lives will never be as rich without him.“
The band’s lyrical and visual themes have long revolved around drug usage, their namesake is a tainted strain of MDMA that appeared in Calgary. Tragically, those themes are hitting closer and closer to home not just for the members of PMMA, but the country at large. As Canada struggles with the cheap opioid that’s rapidly expanding “like a cancer” across the country, Vancouver and Calgary have both been dubbed the tragic epicenter of the crisis. According to a Globe & Mail explorative analysis on the subject, 81 people in Calgary died from overdoses from the drug in 2016 alone.
Kostel explains, “The pain of his loss and dialogue around the causes definitely found their way into these songs and the lyrical content…. I think this is the first time it came from truly real and painful moments in our lives.”
While previous releases musically merged Danzig vocal worship with post punk and dark wave electro, the pain of the band’s loss is audible on the EP, which turns up the electronic integrations to extreme consequence. Their April 2015 full-length Serotonin Syndrome featured similarly ferocious hooks and keys, but the EP sees the latter instrument take on a much larger role. The painful lyrics are devastatingly real.
“Jordy’s death was a huge hit for all of us and I think that definitely made its way into the music as a catharsis for us,” says Mike.
“In terms of the fentanyl and opioid crisis, it’s one of the biggest scourges to ever happen,” he continues.
“[It is] affecting everyone regardless of class, social status, race etc. It’s to the point now where everyone should have a Naloxone kit readily available because you never know what’s going to happen. I see people affected by it every day at my place of work and even have family members affected by it, so obviously it’s going to make its way into the music I write.”
This release will likely be the last we’ll hear from PMMA in the foreseeable future as they take a self-imposed break due to members moving away for school and work. Their upcoming tour will consequently act as a reunion with loved ones, and a reminder to hold tight onto the people they love.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘last hurrah’ release but it will definitely be a few years until you hear from PMMA again after this summer,” clarifies Mike.
Kostel concludes, “Just wanted to thank all our friends and family for all your love and support. You never know when life will take a dive so hold the ones you love close.”
Draw the Line is available for streaming on https://pmma.bandcamp.com/. You can purchase the EP on cassette from Imminent Destruction in England, or buy direct from Sloth Records or the band on their upcoming West Coast tour. See the band perform May 26 at the Palomino Smokehouse and Bar (Calgary), May 27 at the Brixx (Edmonton), June 1 at Zack’s Coffee (Kamloops), and June 2 at Black Lab (Vancouver).Black Lab, Brixx, Draw the Line, Imminent Destruction, Sloth Records, The Palomino Smokehouse, West Coast tour, Zack's Coffee