Pensive is a band that’s melancholy in name only, because there’s nothing pensive about these four young powerpop rockers. Road warriors with more than thirty states under their belts, these self-proclaimed gypsies pump a high octane blend of sharp hooks, smart lyrics, and edgy melodies through a rhythm engine that’s become one of the hottest on the national DIY touring circuit.
Tech savvy and avidly embracing the Music 2.0 revolution, Pensive has just re-released their full length album Artifacts as an exclusive digital “Special Edition” with distribution help from Fontana, placing the album in all digital retail outlets now. With three remixes by super producer David Bendeth, most noted for his recent work with kingpin alt rockers Mayday Parade, All Time Low, and Paramore, and remastering by Tom Baker, Artifacts Special Edition is a fantastic mix of melodic rock and profound pop, deemed “stunning” by Jason Evangelho of InsomniaRadio, the web’s premier podcasting guru and connoisseur of off-the-radar underground bands.
Coming up through the California pop-punk scene so heavily influenced by bands like The Ataris, blink 182, and Green Day, it might not be too surprising that Pensive tapped producer Will Salazar, former lead singer and mastermind behind 90’s hit makers Fenix TX, to helm the album, which embraces the genuinely infectious energy that makes for the lively stage performance that is the hallmark of these California boys. Yet, in perfect evolution from the band’s three chord roots, the album naturally fuses bittersweet poetic stories, dense vocal harmonies, and post-emo rock guitars, twisted up with a razor's edge when least expected.
The anxious love-is-fading tune “Yesterday Fades Away,” previously unreleased, but a fan favorite on the road, is now a bonus track on Artifacts Special Edition, and showcases Pensive’s work with powerpop veteran producer Gavin MacKillop, best known for his work with MXPX and Sugarcult. And, in more than a symbolic nod to audience unity, the band reminds us that lead singer Julio Godoy finds equal comfort in English and his native language, with the Spanish bonus track “Soledad” finding a place on the track listing with the re-release. Perhaps Godoy’s allure as the mysterious “Latin Lover,” or perhaps the strong Hispanic component of many Pensive shows across the country, has made “Soledad” a fan favorite everywhere as well.
And indeed “everywhere” is exactly where you will find Pensive. On TV? Well essentially yes, if we should start calling the internet “TV 2.0.” Pensive has self-produced an eight episode YouTube Reality Series “Pensive The Band Next Door,” giving fans an intimate, unguarded, but quite comical look at the band off stage. The Pensive YouTube Channel also collects hundreds of fan videos of Pensive performances from around the country, as well as fan produced music videos of the band’s songs, everything from a Dancing With The Stars type waltz accompanied by Pensive’s “Lost Inside Your Heart” in 6/8 time, to a sign language rendition of “Come With Me,” to an homage to the many ways they killed Kenny on South Park set to “Live Fast.”
Recognizing the video game world as the perfect partner to their music, Pensive recently teamed with Machinima.com, making two music montages with the company, the premiere online entertainment network making original videos from video game content. Pairing their song “Live Fast” with the Sony game inFamous, and their song “We’re All Insane” with the Capcom game Bionic Commando, more than 50,000 hits came in days on just the YouTube versions of the montages. And now the Mobile World awaits, the newest frontier in Music 2.0. Soon to work with Harold Whaley, tech guru to the stars, the band is designing an iPhone application for free download that will introduce tech crazy music lovers to this up and coming band.
But don’t look for Pensive to abandon the road any time soon and become just another “internet band.” Real life, the gypsy life, has a stronger pull. Embracing the road to spread the word with a van and trailer is considered obsolete by many upcoming bands enamored by the ease and power of the internet to carry songs around the world instantly. But Pensive reels in the physical experience of live performances. With more than three years of relentless cross country touring miles spun onto the odometer, and many hundreds of venues notched on the proverbial bed post, lead guitarist Patrick Smith explains the allure. “The fans we find in all the small venues across the country, who stand at the foot of the stage, singing our songs with us, hanging out after the show in the parking lot sharing the secrets of their towns, those fans are ours for life. The night we meet for the first time is unforgettable. Yes, we Tweet the latest Pensive news, and we dig MySpace, but a song heard there just doesn’t seep into the soul in the same way.”
Thus, the dichotomy presented by the brave new music world. It seems that much of the emotional impact of Pensive’s album Artifacts is grounded in the band's own struggle between discontent and anticipation as the upheavals continue in today's music industry. Pensive’s embrace of the independent non-label climb to the top holds great appeal to the post-emo sensibilities of young aficionados navigating the brave new cyberworld of music. Says Godoy, “we like to say that kids today are A & R, they find the bands they love. There are no gatekeepers anymore. We like that and think it’s a great time to be a band. We like holding our future in our own hands.”
Smith continues, “The album title Artifacts is inspired by the changes we’re all witnessing in music today, the evolution from the record album as a carefully crafted artistic product with songs, artwork, and photos bringing magic into our souls, to songs standing alone in digital online vending machines. The pieces of art that were albums will be gone, artifacts of the past.”
A passionate topic for a band finding its way, as the old gives way to the new.