We had the opportunity to interview Pilot Cloud! A alt band from the Pacific Northwest! We have also taken the time to review their latest album Signal Through the Static. Check out their interview and our review of their album below!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
NICK: "I’ve been around music in some form or another since I was a little kid. A failed stint at trumpet in the fourth grade led me to drums, and I’ve never looked back since. But rather than dive into a bloviated and over-exaggerated “origin story” like a superhero, I think my introduction to audio--a field through which I now make a good chunk of my living--came from Pilot Cloud. We were on tour in Columbus OH in 2009 and for some reason the bands were tasked with running their own sound. We had just played a miserable gig in Nashville the night before and driven all day into Ohio. Learning a new thing in real time in order to fulfill the entire reason we were in that city? Yikes. Under the gun, I did what I thought was right, but ultimately the seed had been planted: I wanted to know more to make ours better".
JUSTIN: "I got interested in creating music when I was in high school mainly as a vocalist and was a late bloomer when it came to learning an instrument as I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 18. I’ve always loved music that transported my mind away from reality and it’s been a passion of mine to create new melodies that are able to do that".
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
NICK: "Pilot Cloud started as a means to make music we could, as both artists and listeners, stand behind. That’s always kind of guided us when we get stumped. Processes vary, and Justin nailed it: for STTS we were 1000 miles away from each other (Chicago/Philly) sending ideas via e-mail. The fun, unique thing for us has become treating each release like it’s a season of a television show. Each new record completes another installment in a “meta-narrative” of our lives. Our debut “In Transition” surrounded the anxiety of leaving home (our first band) and not knowing where the next checkpoint or buoy was. With “Halcyon”, we had hit a stride together and were doing bigger and better things, so we treated that as both a celebration of the experience our first record brought us but also as a sort of cautionary tale in line with “glory fades” and “nothing gold can stay”".
JUSTIN: "The music from STTS was all written in pieces with the seed of an idea starting as a drum beat or a guitar riff and being sent back and forth over the computer to build out a song. This was a bit unconventional as most of our music before this record was created in the same room just jamming with a recorder running and sifting through afterwards to find bits to pursue".
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
NICK: "A drum teacher I had in middle school suggested I track down drummers I admired, instead of just bands, and that helped open up my tastes to new genres and help me become more versatile as a player. Stuart Copeland, Danny Carey, Travis Barker, and Neil Peart are kind of my “Big 4”. For Pilot Cloud-specifically, Justin & I have always been inspired by The Appleseed Cast, Explosions In The Sky, Failure, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Swervedriver, and My Bloody Valentine".
JUSTIN: "The Appleseed Cast, Smashing Pumpkins, Explosions In The Sky, Air Formation".
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
NICK: "Not particularly, no. We’re cheap dates in that regard so far as “sounds good, is good” is good enough for us. The best gear is the stuff you have and know how to use".
JUSTIN: "We used a Kalimba for Dark Nebula and that is a fun little toy to mess around with and compose something out of the ordinary. Found it on the internet a while ago and couldn’t resist".
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
NICK: "Yeah, I’m stuck too! The live shows angle isn’t something that typically fits our style...though we haven’t entirely ruled out playing one in 2019?"
JUSTIN: "We are not playing live shows currently, but when we did it was a lot about ambiance and bringing the dreamy vibes from our music to the stage. Having a hard time with this one!"
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
NICK: "Pilot Cloud is back again!"
JUSTIN: "We create this music for fun and enjoyment and hope that listeners can share in the emotions we experience while playing it".
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
NICK: "In terms of Pilot Cloud projects, Justin beat me to it again: we’re working on a visual release to come out this Spring as a second-wave push of the STTS release. I’ve also been enlisting future collaborators for a possible remix album. These things should keep content coming as we brainstorm and move ahead with new Pilot Cloud material".
JUSTIN: "We are collaborating with Peach Pit Productions to create a video companion to go along with the album music. Ideas are starting to flow for the next chapter in the story and to begin writing new music for an EP as the next release".
Pilot Cloud - Signal Through the Static
Musically this album reminds of Third Eye Blind's Blue in all the best ways. It features spacey, atmospheric guitars in combination with powerful drumming. Where the comp ends is with the vocals. In Blue Stephan Jenkins' vocals are the centerpiece, they have to be, he simply is all over ever aspect of every song of that album.
Pilot Cloud are much more about building an ambiance, vocals are a tool do to this. They are not the tool that they rely on to do this. Each piece plays it's part to build the collective. The result is a heady spacey album full of great tracks to drift away to. While you may want to get lost the rhythm (especially the drumming) keeps you right where you need to be.
Closing Thoughts - Pilot Cloud uses audio to prod at larger existential questions, such as are we alone in the universe? This is definitely the album to ask these questions as they have set up space and time as themes for the album, it's great to see them work in multiple aspects of those themes. Musically this album is so tight, and they certainly hit on their theme. I wish we had a little more from the vocals, but that's probably the former vocalist in me. This is a good effort from a band that you need to keep an eye on.