BioAsk Adrian Josey, sometime MC and shock-haired front-man for the Pest experience, what the group is all about and he replies intuitively: “it’s the unification of different styles in one sound.” , which works as both a description of the music and also the five members of the band.
The music first: Pest mix up jazz, hip hop, funk, rock, techno and UK garage into a completely unique blend which is instantly identifiable as them. They are a mixture of scarily high grade musicianship and punk ethics, smooth and raucous all at the same time, both funny and dark, stooped ‘avin’ it and cerebral noodlehead, all without falling apart or lapsing into incoherence.
And this music is based on the strange mixture of characters that make up the Pest collective. Matt Chandler received a highly sought-after scholarship from Gibson Guitars whilst at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Wayne Urquhart is a classical cello player who has performed with Roots Manuva and Kosheen and produced UK garage for Pure Silk. Ben Mallott is a keyboard player and a quirky techno dj with an upcoming release on Noodles Discotheque. Tom Marriott plays trombone, often performing with the Bollywood Brass Band. Josey (aka Pasta) has DJed hip hop and funk all over the capital for more years than he should have, and is a unique stylist on the microphone.
Matt and Tom grew up together in Matlock, the pair heading in different directions to study music, Matt going north to Liverpool, Tom heading to London. It was here that the latter met Wayne, an alarmingly talented cellist and soul head, but also Pasta and Ben, the last two in the rather less rarified atmosphere of a club - a messy first encounter involving a gigantic quantity of disco cookies. Indeed, it was fairly central to the band’s genesis, playing a leading part in their many clubbing forays and their late night music-making and conversations about what Pest would be. Their first gigs found the whole band chemically fuelled and with their reputation as caners with technique being quickly assured, they began playing parties wherever their unique brand of punk-funk was required.
Off the back of a couple of low key white labels, they were signed to Ninja Tune and quickly produced single “Slap On Tap” (a Mr Scruff favourite) followed by their first album, “Necessary Measures,” - described by NME as “crazy shit… all bright lights and rampant futurism. Ace”. They headed out on the road with what Pasta describes as a “strung out and brassed up” version of the album which got them noticed right across the UK and Europe, taking in shows in Bratislava and Turkey as well as developing them a hardcore following in France and Belgium, with a reputation for tearing the roof off the sucker…
Pest are ready to return with a new record, “All Out Fall Out” which shows a massive leap forward in terms of the development of their style - less a departure from the previous record than a comprehensive re-work of the influences involved into something altogether more satisfying. And their many live shows have played their part, too, with Pasta explaining that “the first album was more sample-based in comparison to the new one, which is now more orchestrated in the way the songs are built and how the moods are presented.” Ask another member of the group and you’ll probably get a completely different analysis, without anyone else really minding. That’s the beauty of Pest - they’re a mass of contradictions but a mass that always works.