Pylon Reenactment Society
Photo: Jason Thrasher / New West Records

Pylon Reenactment Society Embrace Past, Future with “Heaven (In Your Eyes)” (premiere)

Pylon Reenactment Society’s new song reminds listeners of Pylon’s forward-thinking sound and their ability to report on the zeitgeist.

Pylon Reenactment Society’s new album, Magnet Factory, arrives on 9 February via Strolling Bones Records. The group are a loving memorial to the legendary new wave/post-punk/jangle rock Pylon. Neither a tribute act nor a cover band, Pylon Reenactment Society was formed in 2014 as part of Art Rock Athens, a festival celebrating the vibrant music and visual arts scenes in Athens, Georgia. For that event, Vanessa Briscoe Hay assembled a multigenerational group of players, including members of her band Supercluster and Casper & The Cookies. 

In celebration of Magnet Factory‘s release, Pylon Reenactment Society have released a new video for the track “Heaven (In Your Eyes)”. The tune reminds listeners of Pylon’s forward-thinking sound, its alternate ability to report on the zeitgeist and predict what future generations would embrace. True to that aesthetic, the new tune sounds like it could have emerged in 1978 or 2024 or at a moment in time we have not yet reached.

Speaking about “Heaven (In Your Eyes)”, Hay says, “It was first written by Pylon in 1979 but didn’t make the cut for our album Gyrate at the time. The song resurfaced on and off through the years in various sets as Pylon broke up and reformed and broke up and reformed again, but the song was never formally recorded in the studio. While compiling Pylon’s 2020 box set Box with Jason NeSmith, who is also my bandmate in Pylon Reenactment Society, we rediscovered this song in Randy Bewley’s archives of tapes. We brought it and another unrecorded 1979 Pylon tune (‘3 x3’) to round out Magnet Factory. ‘Heaven (In Your Eyes)’ creates an interesting tension through the use of abrupt loud/soft/loud dynamics both sonically and lyrically.” 

Hay continues, “The guitar attacks and swoops while the vocals alternately make eyes at and admonish a possible crush. Drummer Gregory Sanders and bassist Kay Stanton keep the track rock steady and cool. Jason NeSmith performs a stunning guitar solo, which takes the song to a whole different level. We recorded the song at Tom Ashton’s (March Violets) Sub Von studio outside of Athens, and it was mixed at Chase Park Transduction in Athens by David Barbe (Deerhunter, Drive-By Truckers).” 

Hay adds, “After the album was mixed, we consulted with our label, Strolling Bones, to discuss focus tracks. Everyone agreed that ‘Fix It’ (featuring Kate Pierson) should be one. I really wanted to make a video for it with Matthew Buzzell, an award-winning filmmaker and Professor of Film at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. Buzzell is probably best known for his documentaries for the indie band Luna and legendary jazz balladeer Jimmy Scott. Matthew began his filmmaking career in Athens back in the 1990s and had loved Pylon since he was in high school in Augusta, which is a two-hour drive east from here. I sent him the album recording for Magnet Factory and asked if he would consider making a video for ‘Fix It.’  

Pylon Reenactment Society
Photo: Christy Bush / New West Records

“He loved the album but really liked the track ‘Heaven (In Your Eyes)’ and wanted to make a video for it instead. Right away, the song stirred some imagery and ideas. Being an artist, I understood that these things can’t be forced and agreed. He made the video in December over a holiday from teaching. Buzzell, with his collaborators / former students Chris Walker and Jasmine Garcia, created a short film using great young talent from the Augusta area, as well as filming a performance by Pylon Reenactment Society in Athens. We are super happy with how it turned out.” 

Director Buzzell notes, “The opportunity to create something for Vanessa and the band is truly an honor. It has also afforded me the incredible opportunity to forge a small tie to Pylon, a band so very important and so very dear to me. This project is also meaningful for me as it links directly to Athens, where, in the early 1990s, I began my filmmaking journey in earnest. And I would regret it if I did not mention the contributions of my valued collaborators Chris Walker and Jasmine Garcia, both of whom are my former students and considerable talents.”