Midwest

Pageantry’s Got Girl Breath
September 14, 2015 1:40 pm

“Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present”. No, that’s bullshit. Today is a gift because Pageantry is releasing their brand new single, “Girl Breath”. The Denton, Texas band saw their first brush with the big time during last year’s CMJ conference, earning accolades from Pancakes and Whiskey, who gushed “I have a feeling we won’t be seeing the last of these Texas natives here in the big city.”

The band is currently preparing for the release of a new album and an autumn tour of the Midwest and West Coast. ATYPICAL SOUNDS spoke with leader Roy Robertson on how he plans to take it all in.

pageantry_band_2

Hello, please introduce yourself.

RR: Hi, my name is Roy and I sing and play guitar and record some of the music. Ramon plays the drums, Pablo is on bass and Chase plays the keys. 

You’re about to begin a 15-date tour. Will it be difficult to put your personal lives aside to do it? Did you need to give up any day jobs?

RR: Right now it’s actually closer to 20 dates. It’s not much of a sacrifice to put our lives on hold to tour; it’s what we want to do and what we knew we’d have to do being in a band. We have jobs that know we’ll be leaving town for 3 weeks at a time so thus far we haven’t had to give up too much.

pageantry_band_tour

Which bands will you be performing alongside on your tour? Anyone you’re looking forward to performing with? 

RR: Every night we’ll be playing with 2 to 3 different bands, so it’s really hard to name all the bands we’re looking forward to seeing. At the very least we’re happy about the tour we’ve booked and know we’ll make some new friends and visit with old friends on this trip.

How do you deal with the long drives between performances?

Listening to lots of music. Other than that it’s just enjoying the view out of the window.

Which of your songs do you think sounds best when played live? Which gets the best reaction from the audience?

I don’t know. It depends on how our day has gone and what type of band we want to be that night. Sometimes you represent certain songs better than others for no real reason. At the end of the day we’re going to play the songs we’ve brought and build the show how we want to.

You’ve toured throughout the Midwest and West Coast before. Have you noticed any major differences in the people who come to your shows?

At this stage we’re still working things out in a lot of ways. With every tour we see more and more people coming to see us play and it’s really nice to get that support from strangers. Hopefully with the new record, people will be more familiar with the songs we’re playing now.

You were included in The Huffington Post, on their “Best of the Fest” list for SXSW 2014. Were you able to make any connections through that?

Stuff like that is nice to have and we’re honored to be on that list but it’s hard to say what gets you what anymore. It might be press, might be word of mouth, might be something else. I don’t try to figure it out anymore.

Your first New York City performances happened last year during CMJ. Was there a reason you waited to come to the East Coast?

There’s not a real reason, no. We wanted to go up there sooner or later but when we got the invite from CMJ we just went for it and booked our flight.

What did you think of the famed pizza in New York? Are you planning to come back?

The pizza was good, we should have researched more but we had four shows in a couple of days so most of the time was spent at clubs or in the subway getting to shows with all our gear. We’ll come back, more likely as part of an East Coast tour next year.

Do you have any new music in the works? Post-tour plans? 

Yeah, definitely. We’re about to release the first single from our new album next week. The album is called Influence and it’s our first “studio” record. The single is called “Girl Breath.” We’re working on getting videos and other pieces together for the album release, then we’ll finish the new songs we’re working on now and have them ready to test out on this coming tour.

The Hottest New Music Festival: Eaux Claires
July 23, 2015 9:00 pm

I’d have to say the past weekend at the Eaux Claires music festival in Eau Claire, WI was influential at best. Rivaling with the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, IL, Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner (of The National) co-curated the most tasteful celebration of music I’ve seen thus far. The fans were kind, the music was serene, and the wooded surroundings of Wisconsin were perfect. It was almost as if we were not at a festival but at an intimate concert in Justin Vernon’s own backyard.

There were no over the top celebrity inspired fashions, no obnoxious showcases of intoxication by the fans, just an overall appreciation towards the hardworking artists taking the stage. Although not all artists took the stage in complete confidence, each brilliantly professed their awe of the family they brought to their home territory of the mid-west.

The two-day camping festival was kicked off on Thursday evening by special performances at the main campsites stage. Appearances by Haley Bonar and female lead of Sylvan Esso graced the stage with local bluegrass groups to welcome in guests. The camp grounds were muddy, some sites even flooded, but the campers went on without a care in the world, appreciative of the excellence that was about to come.

EC_The_Lone_Bellow

The Lone Bellow @ Eaux Claires

Day one was a collection of folk and bluegrass, gracing each stage with an unrenowned presence. The Lone Bellow and Field Report shone through as a shining starts to the day while interacting with the crowd, keeping their positive energy up to kick start through the afternoon.

EC_The_Staves_3

The Staves at Eaux Claires

Of the other shining performances before the “headliners” hit the stage were The Staves, a sister trio from the UK. This talented trio took control of the crowd, wooing each and every one of us with the brooding tracks for their latest album If I Was, produced by none other than Justin Vernon himself. Vernon’s overall influence to the group’s sound could not fall unseen, and we were graced with their presence yet again on Saturday with a guest appearance during the Bon Iver set.

EC_Doomtree_1

Doomtree at Eaux Claires

Keeping up the pace of the day was Minneapolis based, Doomtree, one of the only hip-hop groups amongst the weekend’s lineup. The 7-person collective raged across the stage. Each artist with their own individual spotlighted segment, while the remainder of the group echoed in the background. The set kept the all-ages crowd dancing and was definitely one of the best performances of the afternoon. Catching up with lead vocalist, Sims, we asked how their collective group differentiates themselves in the massive music scene. He said, “We do us, be natural, be authentic to ourselves, and tell our story honestly,” and looking back, that statement helped perfectly define the overarching theme of the festival.

 

Rounding out the rest of the day were performances by the major music players, Spoon and The National.

Spoon continued on with a repeat performance from previous festivals of the season. Only difference was a guest dance spotlight by Har Mar Superstar of Minnesota.

EC_Spoon_w._Har_Mar

Spoon with Har Mar at Eaux Claires

The winning performance of day one was undoubtedly by The National. Off to a shaky start (presumably due to the inebriation of the lead vocalist), Matt Berninger slurs through the first few lines of “Don’t Swallow the Cap” and tells the band to stop. “We can’t fuck up the first song. Let’s start over,” he yells to the group, and the show continues. As the set progresses each and every song hits you with emotion. The heartfelt words streaming from Berninger’s mouth fade into the starry night and the crowd erupts with excitement. Special guests Sufjan Stevens, and Justin Vernon dance on and off the stage, with little introduction, but a very noticeable presence both physically and vocally. We end the night with Berninger running into the crowd, walking 100 feet in and floating his way back up to the stage to exit after The National’s 15-minute encore.

EC_THE_NATIONAL_2

The National at Eaux Claires

For the last few moments of Friday night, festivalgoers had two choices. Marijuana Deathsquads and Boys Noize or Frances and the Lights and the premiere of PHOX’s self produced film. Each entirely different, but both a strong representation of what the festival was, an eclectic collection of artists. Watching the PHOX film premiere the audience was introduced to the quirky Wisconsin band, understanding where they came from and how they’ve gotten to where they are today.

 

Starting out the sets for day two was Elliot Moss, one of the few non-mid western artists of the lineup. The New York native drew a significant crowd for the time slot and wasted no time in sharing his excitement and gratitude for being a part of such a historical moment of the festival.

Progressing into the afternoon we watched as Haley Bonar captivated the crowd with her happy-go-lucky mix of tracks. She as well voiced her opinion of the festival and stated, “it’s our turn to show the United States what the Mid-West is made of.”

Other outstanding performances of the afternoon were by S. Carey (supporting vocalist of Bon Iver) and Aero Flynn with a special appearance by Justin Vernon.

EC_Tallest_Man_on_Earth

Tallest Man on Earth at Eaux Claires

Afterwards, PHOX took the afternoon by surprise with an emotional and heartwarming set. Almost a year prior to the Eaux Claires festival, PHOX had finished recording their debut self-titled album at April Base in Eau Claire, WI. Seeing the support of their family and fans before them flustered lead vocalist Monica Martin, in the most flattering of sorts. They continued on in their set, with silent whispers amongst the band mates. They never knew they would get this far, and gracefully thanked the crowd for all the support over the past couple of years.

Playing directly opposite of PHOX was Minneapolis native, Polica. Lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh killed the set in the excessive heat, although being visibly pregnant. It was impressive to say the least, and definitely a performance worth watching.

EC_TALLEST_MAN_ON_EARTH_2

Tallest Man on Earth at Eaux Claires

Following these remarkable performances was North Carolina duo, Sylvan Esso. The dance moves were weird, the sound was impeccable and again, the appreciation of such celebration of music was vocalized. This duo has been one of the most scheduled festival artists of the year, already playing at everything from Coachella to Bonnaroo, and still awaiting performances at 5 additional festivals before the end of 2015; they are about to see it all. And even with that said, it was made clear this festival was unlike any other.

The last couple hours of day two was what we had had come to Wisconsin for; the headlining sets from Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver, who had come off from a 3-year hiatus of touring.

As expected, Sufjan did not, and could not disappoint. He referenced the weekend as a “48 hour episode of My Little Pony” and carried through his set inserting small sarcastic anecdotes. His airy, calming voice hypnotized the crowd. Sending chills with his performances from his latest album Carrie and Lowell and throwbacks from 2005 hit record, Illinois.

The National at Eaux Claires

The National at Eaux Claires

As the night finished, Bon Iver closed out with the most stunning of performances, bringing yMusic and The Staves to the stage for some of the weekends’ best collaborations. Among the set, the band debuted two new untitled songs, both being a bit more upbeat and synthed than that of previous Bon Iver sounds, but also both being exactly was Bon Iver fans all over the world were craving. Bon Iver was back from hiatus, and we couldn’t be more excited for the new songs that are yet to come. Closing the festival, Vernon expressed his thanks to all the artists who attended and performed. His words were sincere and he proclaimed that the most important thing to have is friendship, as none of this would have been possible without the support and friendship of the people surrounding him.

Looking at the full picture, the Eaux Claires Festival was a weekend of collaboration. The No BS! Brass Band popped up in multiple sets throughout the weekend, regardless of genre and Justin Vernon himself dropped into multiple sets when least expected. It was truly more than a just collection of performances. In these woods of Wisconsin, we celebrated the talent, and extracted the true artistry behind the music itself. We look forward to watching this festival flourish in the upcoming years.

EC_Art_Installation

Art Installation at Eaux Claires

 

Shooting the Shit with Midnight Pilot
May 27, 2015 6:47 pm

I know you guys are all from Holland Michigan, Did you grow up together and how did you formulate the band?

Grant: We did grow up together, Kyle and I have been friends since birth. Our parents know each other and Chris is Kyle’s brother, so we have all known each other since we were little kids. We started playing music together in middle school, playing instruments and trying to figure them out and I started writing songs my Freshmen year of high school or so.

Since you guys have moved to Nashville, Tennessee, how has Nashville panned out for you?

Kyle: Two years ago we all moved to Nashville. I had been there for a while but eventually the rest of the guys came.

Grant: The transition has been great, Nashville makes for a good central location for a band; especially if you are going anywhere in the country. Everyone is in a touring band there and it’s a good musicians community. Everybody knows each other, everybody hangs out in the same places, it feels like a small town at the same time being big.

The level of musicianship is really great, so Nashville seemed like a good fit for us to try and get in that scene, and because we all have connections in that area, Nashville just seemed like an obvious spot to be in for all of us.

Kyle: Nashville is not huge, it’s definitely not the size of New York but it’s so concentrated with musicians, so when you knock on you neighbor’s door, they very well could be the greatest guitar player of all time. It ‘s a good environment to be in for music.

10629399_597200243745905_5301131949614228764_o

What is the significance of the name Midnight Pilot?

Kyle: We have actually been playing music for a long time under other names. When we made the move to Nashville we wanted to rebrand and start over. It was a struggle to come up with a name. Funny fact, before coming up with Midnight Pilot we chose a new name, had it for one month, put out an EP under it, and then we got a cease and desist letter from someone who had trademarked that name. So once we came up with the name, we were ecstatic about it.

Grant: We came up with the name after I was reading a book called Fly Boys, and there is a section bout these dudes who went to bomb Tokyo during World War 2 and there was a line that said Midnight Pilot. I thought that would make for a good band name. We also thought the imagery of the book fit the music.

Chris: We had a database with hundreds of names that we used to combined different nouns. We liked the name Pilot and Midnight so it worked out.

You’ve played alongside singer/songwriter Damian Rice. What was that like?

Grant: So my brother was in charged of putting a choir together at The Ryman in Nashville. He was out of town so I ended up putting together who would choir for the Damian Rice show. So we didn’t play along side him, we were actually choir members at his show.

Kyle: But even so, it was awesome to choir for Damian and to play the Ryman, which is a historic place.

DSCN1634

Your New album “Midnight Pilot” was just released on the 5th of this month. Can you shed some light on what to expect for those who haven’t yet made the purchase?

Kyle: It’s a full-length full band record. It has a little more rock n’ roll than we usually put out in our singer/songwriter way.

Grant: We have kind of been in the Americana genre for our entire existence, and this was more of a fusion of genres. Some of the songs are about the move to Nashville and trying to make it in the music scene and all the effort that goes into it. Some of the songs are about girls that don’t exist.

Kyle: We used to write songs that were totally introspective, songs that were written about our individual situations specifically. That’s still there in this album but we tried not to do that as much. We tried to write about broader things like taking chances in your life and giving it your best.

Grant: More Positive vibes than in previous albums.

What is the plan musically the next 6 months?

Kyle: We are here in New York now, we’re on a bit of a northeast show run and we are doing a bunch of college radio visits. We hope to continue doing this over the summer performing some weekend shows and what not. We hope that we can play at some college shows in the fall and continue to stay busy. We are hopefully planning for some more content and summer festivals for next year.

Which are some of your dream venues to perform at?

Grant: Our dream would be to play at the Ryman in Nashville, also Carnegie Hall. Any place that has a classic vibe were many legends have played. Anything that has a historic feel to it would be my dream venue.

Kyle: I have to say a fun fact about that because that was Grant’s answer yesterday when asked. Just a funny thing that I don’t think many people can say, we did actually play at Ryman with Damian Rice and in High School Chris played Saxophone, Grant played trumpet and I played Tuba all in our high school band. Our high school band won a competition and got to play at Carnegie Hall, so we have actually played not Midnight Pilot music but have played a whole concert at Carnegie Hall. So we have dipped our toe at playing at some historic places, hopefully we can jump all the way in.

Grant: We grew up in the Midwest, so that’s were we think our music connects with people the most, so that’s a region that we would also like to continue to play at.

If you could open for a band, what band would it be?

Kyle: I would choose Coldplay probably.

Grant: I would say Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra because it’s not obtainable but he’s not quite as big as those people in the way that there is a chance.

Chris: I said that past few days that I would like to play with Muse, also not obtainable. I also think our sound would be good for opening up for Tom Petty.

Grant: We Don’t have a lot of obtainable dreams.

Who are you listening to?

Kyle: I am listening to an Indie rock band that just put out new record last year called Colony House. A couple of friends from Nashville made the record and it was my favorite record of last year.

Grant: Some of the more recent bands that I have been listening to would be Blake Mills is one my favorites, one of the best guitar players of all time and he writes some really great songs. Natalie Prass, I have really enjoyed her record, she blew up recently. Tobias Jesso Jr. put out a record recently that I really liked.

Chris: There is just a lot of good talent in town for sure, so just a lot of good local bands. Probably my favorite Nashville band is Paper Route who are acquaintances of the band. Bahamas is a solo artist from Canada.

Be sure to grab hold of Midnight Pilot’s new self-titled album!