Walking up to the front door of the North Miami Beach residence that serves as Pariuh’s creative headquarters is a neat-freak's nightmare. Test prep books are stacked high on a table next to a full trash bag, and shoes are strewn about. It looks like spring cleaning or preparation for a garage sale.
“We're shooting a video,” explains songwriter Chris Dougnac as he walks into the living room. There's fake grass spanning the length of the floor, buckets of worn-down crayons, and enough plastic toys for a lifetime supply of '90s kid memes. A Mac desktop with video editing in progress is an island in a sea of creative fodder.
“I grew up in this house,” Dougnac says. His parents relocated for work and he's been living in the house after moving back from Boston two years ago. The toys and artificial turf in the home are layered over his parents’ original home decor. The whole thing looks like some sort of hostile takeover by artsy pirates.
Officially, Pariuh’s current lineup lists Dougnac as the mastermind behind the whacked-out operation, with Jayan Bertrand on guitar and Krystle Lee Bruise on omnichord and as creator of the visuals for the band's sets. But the house is an unlisted member of the band itself, providing constant inspiration for Pariuh’s music and performances.
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Bruise grabs a jester’s hat she finds thrown on the chair next to her and wraps it around her neck as she explains how the house's treasures inform their live shows.
During one such show, the band created a fake holiday called Hexmas. "It was Christmas and Halloween in the future.”
“Like 2080 Halloween and Christmas,” contributes Dougnac.
“We used stuff from here, and I used stuff from my mom's attic, like all the Christmas supplies. We spray painted Halloween supplies and all the Christmas decorations chrome and silver,” recalls Bruise.
Recently, they used a photograph of one of Dougnac’s childhood toys for a show poster, and excerpts of his mom’s cassette recording of The Tibetan Book of the Dead appear on the group's new album, Passed Lives’ Excessive Future.
The record loosely follows the story of a nomadic cult and its runner known as Passed Lives, who goes crazy after having too much fun with running and can no longer stop. We'll let you mull that over for a moment.
On the album tour, Pariuh plan to bring the audience into the world of Passed Lives’ Excessive Future by playing the roles of hesitant recruiters for the cult. The convoluted plot is par for the course for Pariuh. The band itself started out as an indeterminate concept.
“The original idea of Pariuh was a total concept band,” Dougnac says. “This is my solo music. Never the same band. Totally different people all the freaking time. I'm the only one that stays consistent. And then I started saying, ‘Well, maybe I don't even have to be in the band anymore.’ It developed. It's still developing. We're definitely a band now.”
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The practical outcomes of this arrangement were not lost on Bruise. “When we were first in the band I always used to go, ‘I'm replaceable! After we played a show, this could be it! You're gonna find someone else!’ But that was in the beginning. Jayan and I are the longest standing members.”
Late last summer, as they came to a crossroads, it appeared unlikely that the band would release an album a year later. As Bruise remembers, “We came back from tour, and we had this big talk where we were like, ‘We’ve just gotta focus on school and getting a job.'” Instead of calling it quits, however, the band used the opportunity to expand their mythology.
“I faked our death,” says Dougnac. “We played a show and I was like, ‘This is it! This is our last show!’ And Krystle made a Facebook status that [read] ‘R.I.P. Pariuh,’ and people got really grumpy about it.
“When I got off of work, so many people had responded like, ‘How could you? You guys had such a good thing going, you idiots!’ Lots of people were approaching me like, ‘We’re so sorry about the band.’ So Chris was like, ‘Well, let's just go with it.’”