The early aughts were an improbably fallow time for the metal underground: While The New York Times (and some academics) expounded at length on the intellectual virtues of doom metal, Chicago-based Pelican — an instrumental metal quartet whose songs filled whole LP sides — packed theaters around the world, playing to audiences newly enthralled by so-called “thinking man's metal.” It was highly unlikely for a band of this ilk to find a niche, let alone thrive in it. But somehow, four young men who were just trying to play the kind of music they wanted to hear (a kind of turned-up Mogwai with shades of emo's melodic palette and Neurosis' grandeur thrown in) stumbled upon a successful half-decade as a full-time band.
Eight years later, after a major equipment theft in Europe, the departure of founding member and writer Laurent Lebec, and at least one hyperbolic takedown by a taste-making music site with a numbered rating system, Pelican is a much different beast. Owing to much of the above, 2013's Forever Becoming is a rather bleak and intensely funereal offering for a band that once declared itself “fucking triumphant” on its MySpace page. Although change made Pelican's music scarier, abandoning the pursuit of music as a career left its members happier and healthier, by all accounts. Ahead of the band's show this Sunday, June, 15, at Slim's, Guitarist Trevor de Brauw, now a full-time music publicist, walked us through the new era of Pelican.