On Tuesday, Philly three-piece Penrose released its latest record, Circe, and we’ve been exploring it all week on Unlocked. The album digs deep into themes of good and evil, life and death, all rooted in a loud electric blues style – and its release is being celebrated Saturday night at Underground arts. We swapped e-mails with the three brothers of the band – Dan on guitar and vocals, Tom on drums, Pat on bass – to get their thoughts on recording the album, playing live and writing a manifesto of mythology and existentialism.
The Key: The biggest thing that jumps out about Circe is that death comes up a LOT. That’s what “Life of Mud” is all about, it’s also an undercurrent of “Underground” and “Rivers to Hell.” You focused on dark things on your debut Devil’s Grip, for sure, but why death this time?
Dan Murphy: I think that on Devil’s Grip a lot of the lyrics were written very quickly and focused more on relationship problems or even just simple storytelling. The writing process for Circe took much longer because I wanted to focus on more universal themes through the narrative that the album presents. Nothing is more universal than death, we all gotta go sometime and that very thought scares the hell out of most people.
TK: You work in interesting themes, as far as blues music goes. Very existential, very philosophical, lots of good-versus-evil rather than “woe is me.” What draws you to focus on the bigger things?
DM: It was a few years ago that we really immersed ourselves in and came to love the blues, which is what shaped Devil’s Grip. That being said, the blues is a genre that’s been played for about a hundred years, so if you want to play blues music you have to change it up somehow. I think that guys like Robert Johnson and Skip James were pointing to a lot of these bigger things, but they were doing it with lyrical motifs that would eventually be beaten into the ground. That’s why I think we wanted to get away from the “my baby left me”s and step outside to find something more personal yet more relatable to the human experience. Continue reading →