August, 2014: Mack Gilcrest hunkers in an underground practice space, over a decrepit piano, and ferociously, stubbornly works to transform Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor (Op. 28, No. 20) into a punk confessional. Having, just days before, discovered the Dresden Dolls’ “Girl Anachronism”—having been bewildered, befuddled, bewitched, and made fully erect by its majesty—he feels something kicking in his stomach. Growing limbs. Demanding exit. He writes:
"I have decided I will draw myself naked
I will portray myself without sentiment
Body fat and leg hair and blank expression
Any trace of real grace a faint suggestion"
The drawing in question is real: made weeks ago, in the middle of the night, an anxious artifact. The song in question, now, the one he sweats over, is the first song he’s written in years.
The next one arrives two days later. It’s angular, and about pornography. It contains no discernible melody or chord structure. He half-assedly sings it to a friend, receives an honest, unenthusiastic appraisal, and lets it be.
January, 2015: Ten songs have arrived, vicious, dirty, and fun. His brain is boiling.
February, 2015: Mack Gilcrest has abandoned the idea of recording an entire album by himself, in hip low-fi, on GarageBand. He experiments with local open mics, alone and uncomfortable, yowling vicious dirty fun songs at sparse, bemused crowds. He smashes and strokes and sweetly molests his piano on stage. His audiences get very drunk very quickly.
April, 2015: Mack Gilcrest writes a soft, slow song about pregnancy and pain, and then calls a friend, Kurt Skrivseth—a wheelchair-bound bass wunderkind, who shares his love of Rush and his hatred of university jazz programs. Mack Gilcrest begs him for help and release.
They recruit Brian Tremper to play drums. He and Mack Gilcrest take the same antidepressant. He smokes cigarettes and thinks hard and labors over his drums with great violence and great tenderness.
Their first rehearsal happens in early May, in a university basement.
They begin recording the album three months later. They sneak into the music school’s recording studio and eat cheap pizza and play play play.
February, 2016: This album contains songs about sex and horror and perversions of Greek myth and impotent rage and luminous joy. The album name, Bright Ideas, is an optimistic assessment. The band name, Pale People, is in reference to the kinds of characters who populate these songs: full of secrets, frightened, nude, outside, eternally elsewhere.