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Boston, Not the Band. And Albany

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

When booking this tour I remember thinking that the short drives would be nice. After all, west coast = long drives, east coast = short drives. I mean, that’s a simplification and it depends on the specifics, but generally I’ve thought it to be true.

Not anymore! All the east coast drives took way longer than expected and Philly to Boston was no exception. By the time we got into town we only had time to eat and then headed to the show. Oh well. Right now I’m in a van heading towards Tampa and the next four days will feature a total of two hours of driving. So that should be cool.

ANYway, I sound like a whiny grandmother talking about this, so I’ll stop now. Boston ended up being a great show. The sound was great and the Cobra Skulls and TBR ruled as always.

The following morning we headed back into Manhattan for a tour of Howard Stern’s studio that we had set up. It was short but pretty interesting. From there it was up to Albany to play at a punk bar called Valentines. Fun show with the exception of this guy who adhered to the “slam your body violently into people and knock things over!!” school of show etiquette. After nearly knocking over the mixing board he was lead outside, where he yelled, “People don’t know how to fucking DANCE anymore!!”

Oh yeah, also: Albany has this weird ‘Block of the Year’ thing. We saw two totally non-descript blocks that were the 1997 and 1998 Blocks of the Year. Just thought i’d share that factoid with you.

-Nate

All About the Benjamins

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

Ok, back to catching up. Where were we? Oh yeah, Philadelphia. Last Saturday. Let’s see….

It was rainy when we rolled into town so we limited the touristy stuff we had planned. Pretty much just saw the Liberty Bell, which I already saw when I was on tour with Rivethead years ago so I’m not sure why I went back. It’s still a bell.

Some fairly interesting history though. Did you know that the big crack is the result of an attempt at fixing a tiny crack? Can you imagine how that poor bell repairman must have felt? “Hey guys? Can you come in here for a second? I, uh….”

Also, some dude rang the bell during a tour a few years back. He went to jail for one year. If I had to pick one trial to be a jury member of, that might be the one.

On the way back to the van we also walked by Ben Franklin’s grave (as well as Benny’s, a restaurant named after Ben Franklin). People throw pennies at his grave; there were tons of them when we showed up. I found this somewhat hilarious because his famous saying was “a penny saved is a penny earned”, meaning that all these people are mocking him by chucking coins on his grave.

As for the show, it ended up being a lot of fun. Probably 50 times better than our last Philly show. It was at some house called the TerrorDome—- decent turnout, friendly people, good opening bands. All around, a good time.

Finding beer sucked though. It took us 45 minutes in a torrential downpour to find a case of beer. Some bar offered to sell us a six pack for $16. Absurd! Maybe Ben Franklin has cursed the city due to their penny-mocking

-Nate

A Cautionary Cheetos Tale

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

9:55 AM

Nate: You’re eating Jalepeno Cheddar Cheetos for breakfast?

Danny: Yeah. There wasn’t much else in the store

10:22 AM

Danny: It feels like there’s little metal shavings poking my stomach

-Nate

Where to Get Pizza in Brooklyn

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

So in Endicott two different people assured me parking in Manhattan is simple. This turned out to be… Not Even Remotely Accurate. Maybe they were thinking about the Grand Theft Auto version of Manhattan. We gave it a shot but it was ridiculous so the other dudes dropped me off and went to Brooklyn.

I met up with Vanessa, Ray from Teenage Bottlerocket, and Joey Cape to do a radio thingie for Marky Ramone’s show on Sirius/XM. It wasn’t quite what I expected but it was neat and pretty fun. I think it airs a week from tomorrow so check it out if you have satellite radio.

After that we headed back to Brooklyn for the show. The sound was pretty weird but I think we played ok. Cobra Skulls were fun; never seen them before. And TBR were awesome despite being sick.

After the show we walked up to Lulus where Pretty Boy Thorson was playing with the Sandworms (who ruled) and Nato Cole. The bar was great and you got a free pizza for every beer you bought. That’s not a typo! An entire pizza! And the beers don’t cost, you know, $16 or whatever. You would expect such a pizza to either be tomato sauce smeared on a piece of soiled cardboard or nasty greasy slop along the lines of CiCis….. but this was actually pretty good pizza! So check out Lulus next time you’re in Brooklyn. Get the fake pepperoni on your pizza, too.

I think that’s about all we did in Brooklyn from what I remember!

-Nate

Endicott Times (terrible End Times pun)

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

As expected, I’ve totally slacked on doing this. Dammit! I’ll do my best to remember what we’ve been up to since Thursday. I’m drinking and selling merch in a loud Albany bar so this will be brief, and possibly vaguely incoherent.

Thursday: With the 18 hour drive from Minneapolis behind us we wheeled into Endicott NY and played the basement of an abandoned used CD store. The only thing left in the store was a single, sad magazine rack with half a dozen aged offerings. I cracked up imagining this was the only thing the store sold: Time magazines from 2006 and Popular Mechanics from nine years ago. “Why aren’t we turning a profit?!” Apparently though the place was recently vacated and will soon be a recording studio. Cool.

Anyway, the show was pretty good. We were a little rusty but that was to be expected I guess. Nancy were great. They played a Slayer cover where half of the band kept trying to give up and the other half wouldn’t let them.

The bass player remained immobile the entire time, staring straight ahead. I figured that was his schtick — “I’m the stoic one” or whatever — but after the show when I complimented him he said, “Thanks. I have the swine flu. I’m seeing tunnel vision.”

Oh noes! It has begun. The Quest to Not Get The Swine Flu Tour 2009. Actually that’s a horrible tour name. Let’s call it…. The Dudes With ‘Tudes Tour. Way tougher.

So, let’s hope we don’t get sick like we did in May. Anyway, Endicott was fun but we had to get to New York early so we took off after the show and got some driving in.

Ok, in case my phone dies I’m going to post this now and do the other dates separately!

-Nate

Instant Banner Pilot

Originally Posted October 2009 on Tumblr

Drove about 11 hours yesterday and stopped at a Super 8. The lobby was probably the worst smelling room I’ve been inside in at least six years or so. It smelled like used floss mixed with low-grade anti-bug spray. I was reluctant but it was already pretty late. Luckily the actual room smelled ok.

We stayed up and sorted merch. Danny tried to make cheddar cheese ramen using hot water from the coffee maker but it didn’t work that well and then he realized we had no utensils. After debating the merits of using a key or a sharpie pen to eat ramen with, he just drank it instead. “This is disgusting,” he said. “You guys do not want to be eating what I’m eating right now.”

While sorting the merch, we discovered a blank white t-shirt. Inspired, I used the rejected-as-a-utensil sharpie to make a Ramen noodle-themed Banner Pilot t-shirt. I can’t remember now but I think it has the little smiley face guy and says “Instant Banner Pilot: Chicken Flavored” and, unlike most shirts, advertises that it has no trans fat.

Only one in existence! If you want to buy it, ask one of us at a show and we’ll grab it from the van.

On the highway in Ohio right now; New York is next.

-Nate

We Have a Winner!

Originally Posted 10/15/09 on Myspace

Last month we announced our Six Words contest which promised all sorts of goodies and had one simple rule:

“Tell us in six words, no more no less, why you should win this contest”

We had over 130 entries as people tried to use the six word limitation to their advantage and come up with something clever. And we now have a winner! Contestant Justin will get a free CD, free vinyl record, free book, and free t-shirt due to his winning entry:

“would love to hear it!”

The thing Justin understood, that all the losers did not, is that Banner Pilot is all about breakin’ the rules*

So congratulations, Justin!

-Nate

*note: please follow the rules in all future contests

Regional CD Release Shows!

Originally Posted 8/19/09 on Myspace

Current mood:luminous (awesome Myspace emoticon unavailable)

So, we’ve got a new album coming out on September 1st and we decided to do a record release show for it. But then we thought “You know, it’s kind of lame for bands to do their release show in just one city…. all the kids in other cities miss out.”

Luckily, we came up with a great solution: Regional Release Shows! Now that there’s multiple options you can drive to the town nearest you and enjoy a sweet release show. Here’s the details:

The Western third of the country should attend the Minneapolis show on September 4th at the 7th Street Entry. The Framed, Amen and the Hell Yeahs and The Dirty Hits will also be playing

The Eastern third of the country can check out the Chicago show on September 5th at Ronny’s. Brickfight, Arms Aloft and Everything is Ruined will be there too

And for those of you in the middle of the country, we’ve got you covered on September 6th in Elgin, IL at the Gasthaus. More bands TBA

Convenient for everyone. See ya at the show!

-Nate

 

Collapser Contest!

Originally Posted 8/10/09 on Myspace

Current mood:sneezy (awesome Myspace emoticon not available)

Since our new album Collapser comes out on September 1st, we thought it would be cool to run a contest in which one lucky winner will win a free copy and some other stuff. Our accountant told us this was a terrible idea, but we said “We’re not paying you to be a buzzkill, man.”

So here’s the contest: you tell us in exactly six words — no more, no less — why you should win the contest. If we pick your entry, you win! There’s no real criteria beyond the word length; we might pick one because it’s funny, or well-written, or because it makes the most compelling case.

To participate, just add a comment to this blog with your entry. If you win, we’ll shoot you a message to get your address and stuff. If you’re a a total dork and don’t have a Myspace account, you can instead email us with “Contest” as the subject line.

If you win, you get the following goodies:

Collapser – CD or colored vinyl, your choice

Resignation Day – CD or colored vinyl, your choice

You Idiot (my book)

A t-shirt of your choice. You can look on the myspace page and pick your design and size, but this is the one item where we might have to make you pick an alternate if we’re out of a particular combo.

Now, don’t be a jerk and say something like “So I can forget my leprosy” unless you actually have leprosy.

Alright! Tell us in six words, no more no less, why you should win this contest. Contest ends Sunday August 30th.

-Nate

Our New Album is Done!

Originally Posted 6/21/09 on Myspace

Current mood: knighted (awesome Myspace emoticon unavailable)

We mastered it yesterday. Really excited for it to come out– it’s definitely the best thing we’ve done so far. I know every band always says that about their new record, even if their new record is indisputably awful. I mean, do you ever hear a band say “Just finished the new record. It’s not nearly as good as our old stuff. Kind of sucks, even. Catch us on tour”? Of course not.

But this time, we’re totally telling the truth.

Look for it this fall!

-Nate

Punknews 2009 Interview

Here’s an interview for Punknews from 2009. Check it out below, or on their site.

—-

With their inaugural release on Fat Wreck Chords, Collapser, available today, Nick and Nate from Minneapolis’ Banner Pilot spoke with Punknews’ Zack Zeigler regarding the differences betweenCollapser and their last release, Resignation Day, how comments – both positive and negative – from Punksnews’ readers can actually make a difference in the band and the steps Banner Pilot takes to ensure the production of their records don’t fall into the “mall-punk” category.

There are high hopes for your first Fat Wreck Chords’ release; did you feel the pressure during the writing or production of Collapser?

Nate: You know, not really. 99 percent of the writing took place before we signed, and the actual recording process was pretty laid back and fun. I feel like we really prepared for the recording and had everything written and ready to go, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure or stress. We knew we could play the songs and didn’t need to write a ton of parts on the fly or anything.

I guess the first couple days were a little stressful because we thought we’d be banging out four or five songs a day and that didn’t happen. But once we adjusted to the pace of a couple songs a day and accepted the fact that we’d have to book extra days, it was a blast.

It’s interesting though, I guess if we had signed *before* writing any of the songs it would have been a little different. I think there might have been more second-guessing going on while we were working on the songs. As it was, Fat had heard demos for 11 of the 12 songs before we even went into the studio, so there wasn’t the worry of handing the album in and them being like “Oh shit, we didn’t know that you guys totally suck.”

Sometimes punk music all sounds the same, so what will help separate Collapser from slipping into that category?

Nate: I think the fact that we distort our guitars and have gruff vocals should set us apart. Nah, I don’t know. In some ways I don’t think it’ll happen. I think, for example, that if you walked into a nursing home with a boombox and played Simple Plan and then Banner Pilot, you’d have a ton of old people yelling at you to turn it off, you’re waking up the dead, it all sounds the same, etc. You just have to do your best and hope that someone who is actually into punk music will notice any differences.

Nick: Yep – a guy I work with told me we sound just like the Offspring on numerous occasions. Who am I to argue? I usually just tell non-punk fans who ask that we sound kinda like the Ramones or Green Day.

Nate: Also, we definitely didn’t have an attitude of “we need to stand out and be different” with the record. That sort of mindset can lead to weird places where you’re forcing things – “Hey, let’s add…. a… flute?” – into your songs. You should just figure out what you can pull off and try to get really good at it.

Why is Banner Pilot getting popular? No disrespect in the question, but there are bands that never have or never will achieve the same success as you guys. So what makes your band different? Is it your work ethic? The personalities in the band? Do you all have the same goals? Or are you just that good?

Nick: How dare you, sir.

Nate: Well, this isn’t false modesty, but we’re really not that popular. To the extent that there’s some people out there who have heard our band and like it, I guess some of that might be because we do spend a fair amount of time on the songs. For every 50 song ideas I write on my computer at home, we’ll end up using five or six. And I think if we had the mindset of “the first twelve songs we come up with, there’s our album,” less people would like our band than do now.

There’s a line that punk rock fans sometimes obsess over when it comes to an album’s production. How do you guys decide if it’s too much or too little? Did you run into that at all with Collapser? Who – if anyone outside of the band – do you lean on for advice on that?

Nate: It’s definitely something we try to give a lot of attention to. Usually we start by playing the engineer records we like the sound of so they know off the bat what we’re shooting for. Then you kind of sit back a little and trust that the engineer knows what they’re doing, but still pipe up if it seems like something isn’t quite coming together. I think it worked – I’m really, really happy with how Collapser ended up sounding. I do think if we had pushed it too much further it would have bordered on over-produced, but as-is I really like where it’s at.

Of course, there’s also a difference between “really good” and “overproduced.” For example, none of the major label Green Day albums are overproduced; they’re all just really well-recorded. Whereas some of the mall-punk shit is comically overproduced. I like to think we wouldn’t ever end up with something that’s overproduced, even if we had some crazy budget, because none of us like how that shit sounds. I think other bands might aim for it. I mean, I’m guessing a band called something like Autumn’s Fall *wants* to sound like overproduced crap; we don’t, so it’s not that difficult to avoid, even if we had the means to accomplish it.

(Note: I have no idea if there is actually a band called Autumn’s Fall. But if there is, they must suck)

Nick: We definitely wanted to up the production for this record. I wasn’t really happy with the sound on Resignation Day – I kept thinking shit would improve dramatically in mastering but it didn’t work out that way – I came home with my copy and played it alongside songs by bands like the Copyrights and D4 and thought, “Fuck, this is too high-end.” Off With Their Heads’ From the Bottom sounded awesome, and that was recorded by Jacques Wait, who also had done Soviettes’ records (and Dear Landlord this spring). We asked him to record it and basically trusted him to make it sweet. I’m totally stoked on how it turned out.

Do you ever check out the comments on Punknews.org in response to any news about you guys? Do you even care?

Nate: Yeah, I definitely check out the comments; it’s fun to hear feedback on stuff. If someone doesn’t like something, and it’s useful criticism, I’ll keep it in mind for later. With the last album a fair amount of people said the songs sounded too similar, so when I was writing the basic ideas for the songs on this album I tried to force myself to try some new things. So getting that kind of feedback was useful.

On the other hand, if the criticism is “blows. new Thrice album fuckin’ owns this wussy girl music crap”, then…. I mean, that’s cool, you know? It’s worth a shrug or a grin and that’s about it. You’ll never have *everyone* liking something you do. And the other thing is, it’s just music. No one is going to be harmed by your record. If Banner Pilot, instead of making punk records, made pacemakers, I would be totally freaked out if people were like “ugh, these suck.”

Nick: I read the comments, but focus on those by posters with great musical taste like Scarysmurf, nocigar and 14theroad. I remember reading Dan Vapid say he never reads Methadones reviews, but I can’t help myself. Because of that, I’ve also seen such gems as “this CD was so wussy I gave it to my girlfriend” and “Banner Pilot would do better as a punk rock cover band.”

Is the goal as a band to stay the course, keep doing what you’re doing (because it seems to be working out well for you), or are you guys trying to find ways to explore new things?

Nate: One thing bands always run into is whether they should stick to what they know or try new things. Think about how often you see arcs like this:

1. Band X releases a well-received album. It introduces the “Band X Sound”

2. Band X releases a followup. It sounds basically like the first album but it’s not as good.

3. Stung by criticism that they’re a one trick pony, Band X releases a new album, saying “We want to expand our horizons and explore new sonic soundscapes. We don’t want to be restricted by tired old formulas. We’re breaking new ground. Keyboards are sweet now. Blah blah”. Their new album sounds totally different. It also sucks.

4. Band X says “We’re going back to basics. We don’t want to forget our roots. Longtime fans are in for some of the original fury that made Band X shatter preconceived notions of the human experience blah blah blah”

I mean, that happens all the time. So you have to try find the middle ground of not losing why people liked you in the first place, but also not falling into a rut. Finding that sweet spot is tough; not many bands pull it off.

I’d say that Jawbreaker and Against Me are great examples of pulling it off – each of their albums sounds different, but not in a forced way. And even though I like 24 Hour Revenge Therapy the most, I think I’d like Jawbreaker less if instead of releasing what they did, they just released four 24 Hour clones and Unfun/Bivouac/Dear You never existed. Superchunk and Sleater Kinney are two other examples of bands that pulled it off well.

Nick: I feel like we’re just getting better at we do, which is pop-punk, and I’m happy with that – that’s the music I love. On Collapser, we definitely did try to do some new stuff, more mid-tempo like “Starting at an Ending” and “Write it Down” which I was originally thinking could be acoustic when I wrote it. We may still try to cash in on the folk-punk wave though.

Sometimes, the better you become as a band, the more people like to try to tear you down. Is that happening to Banner Pilot? Is that from jealousy? Does that affect you?

Nate: Uh, I guess I haven’t noticed anyone trying to tear us down. Is that happening? Are there people out there trying to destroy us? I’m picturing some guy watching us through a monitor, stroking a cat and saying “Soon, my pretty.”

Nah, I dunno – I guess I haven’t really seen/heard that. If it’s people who are basically just like “We don’t like your band”, then who cares? I suppose something like what Against Me went through would bother me, but that’s not going to happen to a band of our size.

You’re playing The Fest this year. Any bands you want to see that you’ve never seen?

Nate: I need to sit down and go through all the bands on the website. Last year I did that and made a point of seeing as many new bands as possible. It was great. I stumbled on all sorts of great sets from bands I never knew of beforehand.

Nick: 7 Seconds! I played the shit out of The Crew back in high school. Other bands that I don’t see that often that I’ll make a point to check out include Bridge and Tunnel, Lemuria, Monikers, Dopamines, Menzingers and Toys that Kill.

Do you prefer playing festivals or shows? Are the short sets at festivals a positive or a negative draw for Banner Pilot? Or does it not matter as long as you’re playing to a crowd?

Nate: If it’s a fest against a single show, then I prefer a fest, no question. Tons of bands, including bands you don’t usually see live, a bunch of friends from across the country in one place… it’s great! If you’re comparing a fest to a tour, then you have plusses and minuses. Tours have more variety to them, and you have the bonus of being able to check out a new city each day.

But even then, I guess I prefer fests. They’re a lot of fun.

What’s wrong with a band that makes money? It seems, sometimes, that once a band starts to cash-in from their hard work – even without taking any short cuts – there are still ignorant fans that can’t wait to lump that band in with people who take the easy route. What’s up with that?

Nate: There’s nothing wrong with a band making money. Well, if it’s like “Hey, check out it out, Autumn’s Fall has teamed up with Vault soda to quench your thirst in a totally kickass way. Buy their new album Carbonate and get a coupon inside for free ringtones and a 20-oz. soda”, then it’s pretty fucking stupid. But in general, if you’re mad that a band has worked hard enough where they’re able to make some money off of what they do, then you are pretty stupid and spend your time getting worked up about ridiculous things.

Nick: Yep – in my opinion it just shouldn’t be what’s driving you. If you’re changing your music and image to make money, your shit isn’t from the heart and I don’t want to hear it. “Guys, my analysis shows that through the application of eye-liner we can boost sales by five percent” – Sorry, ya lost me.

Which three bands would you like to be mentioned in the same breath with? Which three would you consider an honor to be compared to when your career playing music is over?

Nate: Jawbreaker, Lawrence Arms, and Screeching Weasel would be cool. Those are all bands I’ve liked a lot over the years, and bands that I think kids will still be getting into for years to come.

Nick: Sounds right to me!

TruePunk 2009 Interview

Here’s an interview from TruePunk in 2009. Check it out below or on their site.

——-

Banner Pilot is a very young punk rock quartet from Minneapolis that formed in 2005. Their new album “Collapser” comes out on September 1st 2009 on Fat Wreck Chords. We sat down with Nate and asked him some question about his band and their upcoming projects.

What’s your name and what do you play in Banner Pilot?

Nate: My name is Mike Johnson (ed: ??? Weird typo on the website’s part. I did not forget my name!) On the record I play bass and lead guitar and live I play bass.

Your new album “Collapser” comes out Fat Wreck Chords on September 1st: how would you describe it to people who never heard of your band before?

Nate: Well, if I was describing it to someone who doesn’t listen to punk music I’d say it is fast music with loud guitars that sounds a little like Green Day. If the person looked at me in confusion after that, I’d say we sound sort of like Nickelback but better.

If I was describing it to someone who *does* listen to punk music, I’d say that we’re melodic punk rock similar to Jawbreaker or the Lawrence Arms. That’s probably enough for someone to have a decent feel for what we sound like.

You released a couple of albums before this new one. What changed in the approach of writing songs, if anything changed ?

Nate: The basic process has always been that #1, I write the guts of a song at home with a drum machine, then #2, Nick and me come up with vocal melodies over it, and then #3, we take that to the full band and flesh the song out. On the new record, there was less time spent on #1 and more time spent on #3. We were able to spend more time on the songs and have more input from everyone. It was fun to do and I think the end result is a little more varied and interesting.

How did you sign to Fat Wreck? Did you send a demo or did you receive a call from the label?

Nate: It was pretty straight-forward– we’ve always wanted to do a record with them so we sent a copy of some demos we’d been working on. They liked the songs, and that was about it.

Collapser” is filled with great pop punk melodies: what are your musical heroes?

Nate: Thanks! Well, I’m a pretty big fan of stuff like JawbreakerDillinger Four,Lawrence ArmsSuperchunkScreeching Weasel, and so on, and I think our tunes end up sounding similar to some of those bands.

You come from the Midwest punk scene: how is it? In which ways does it differ from the east and the west coast scenes?

Nate: I like it. It’s a good scene; there’s been definite ups and downs over the years but I think the current crop of bands and basements and labels are pretty great. I’ve never lived on the east or west coasts, so I guess I can’t really say how our scene compares to theirs. But probably, their scenes fucking suck and ours is totally awesome. Just kidding. I don’t really know. But I will say, Minneapolis feels kinda like a little city or maybe a gigantic medium sized town — if that makes sense — and I think that’s conducive to having a good scene. If you live in a huge city, it’s so spread out it’s probably hard to really have a “scene”, and if you live in a little town there might not be enough stuff going on to truly form a scene. So I think we kind of fall in the middle of that and it makes it easier to have a situation where you have a lot of different bands and a lot of different styles but it all feels at least a little bit connected

It looks like there are a lot of new bands coming out on No Idea and Fat Wreck that have great records: Dear LandlordOff With Their Heads,Banner PilotDillinger FourLawrence Arms, and so on. How do you think that these punks bands (you included) are making great records while older bands (as PennywiseLagwagonNo Use For A Name) are getting to sound a little bit old? Do you think kids are looking for something new, fresh and different these days?

Nate: Well, it’s probably just a simple difference in style I guess; the first set of bands you mention play a slightly different style of punk music than the second set of bands. So if you like that type of punk music you’ll probably be into those bands right now.

I didn’t really grow up listening to the other bands you mentioned — I was more into stuff like Screeching WeaselNOFX /RancidDead Kennedys / etc — and I’m honestly not that familiar with their stuff. But all of them have been around for 15-20 years so even if they’re still putting out awesome records, it’s pretty hard for them to be perceived as new or fresh, you know? I’m sure the OWTH and Dear Landlord and Lawrence Arms records of 2026 will be awesome but I doubt they’ll be viewed as, you know, “new” by anyone.

A lot of labels are making a hard work to promote their music, even lowering down CD prices: Fat sells cd’s for about 8 dollars, No Idea for about 7 dollars. What’s your position on the crisis of the music industry, mp3 piracy and record labels selling less and less records?

Nate: Well I think there’s good and bad to it, but mostly bad. The long term result of everyone grabbing albums for free will be less bands, less labels, less music, and what’s left will probably be of lesser quality. In an ideal world, an album would only be available for free download if that’s the way the band wanted it to be.

The good part is that if you’re a band your music will get around more now. And that’s pretty cool on an individual level, but on a large scale I think music piracy/illegal downloading/file sharing or whatever you want to call it does more harm than good for music.

How does a band like Banner Pilot survive in this chaotic world?

Nate: With album sales down, I think bands will have to start resorting more and more to weird things like endorsements and product placement if they want to make money off their band, but we’d never resort to something like that.

Hold on a second, I need to take a drink off of my delicious Mountain Dew so I can get the energy to be xtreme and finish this question. Ahhh. That really hit the spot. I hear that Mountain Dew is available in a store near you.

Anyway, we’ve certainly lost money on the band, but we’d be insane if we started a punk band to try to make money. It’s a fun thing to do– we write songs and hopefully people check them out and enjoy them. If at the end of the day we can break even that’s a nice bonus, but all it’s really about is playing music and having fun

You have a twitter account (twitter.com/bannerpilotband): is it helpful for a punk band to keep it? I have subscribed to some twitter accounts of some bands but what I mostly read is 140 letter bullshit.

Nate: It’s just a goofy, sorta fun thing. I don’t know if it’s really all that helpful necessarily but I suppose it’s a way for people who listen to your music to keep up on what you’re doing.

You’re right, though– most twitter accounts are just full of inane self-absorbed blather. Still, it’s entertaining to scroll through a bunch of updates a couple times a day and it can end up being a useful communication tool (like with the Iranian elections this year for example).

Speaking of tours, you will be playing at The Fest 8, and I will be there: what do you expect from this? Have you already played there? Which bands are you excited about? Any new band at The Fest that you might want to recommend to people, Banner Pilot aside?

Nate: This is our fourth year playing. It’s a blast! We’ve always had a great time and it’s one of the highlights of the year. I would recommend that people check out The Dopamines– great pop punk band who put on a super fun show. The bandGood Luckis also really fun live; they were probably my favorite set from Fest 7.

Will you tour Europe to support “Collapser“?

Nate: Definitely! I think we’re aiming to head over there in March or April. Not sure for how long or to which countries, but we’ll be over there!

Thanks a ton for your time! Your music is awesome!

Nate: Thanks man!

Studio Blog Days 5 through 11 or 12: The Lost Chronicles

Originally posted 5/17/09 on Myspace

Current mood:knighted (awesome Myspace emoticon unavailable)

Well, I sorta forgot about this, huh? Oh well! Here’s a brief rundown on what’s happened in the 6 or 7 studio days since the last update:

–All of the basic tracking is done. Drums, guitars, bass, leads, etc.

–Basic vocals for all 12 songs are done too, but i think we’re going to re-do one of them.

–We played probably 75 different crappy old-school video games on a modified Xbox. Stuff like baseball games from 1987, weird religious games, obscure stuff like Barbie and Day Dreamin’ Davey…. you name it. My level of nostalgia for the original NES system has been cut down by about 75% now.

–Ate some good food and some bad food. I didn’t partake but Danny and Corey went across the street to White Castle and attempted to order “one of every thing on your menu.” The employee was annoyed and didn’t quite give them everything (no Pulled Pork Sliders, no Clams, etc), but they returned a few minutes later with $13 worth of food, covering most of the menu. They even got something that would be OK for me (“here, it’s a bun with cheese, and we had them add a pickle”) but I took a pass. I believe someone said “It feels like I’m eating a bag of garbage” as they dined.

–Nearly destroyed my ears recording feedback for the intro to this one song. Small amps can get really loud when they’re cranked and you’re pointing a guitar at them.

More stuff happened than just that, but that’s a sufficient summary. We head back into the studio in a couple hours and then have a full day Monday and maybe a half day Wednesday. Hopefully that’ll cover what’s left (backup vocals, a few drum fixes, a bass solo I gotta re-do, etc), and then we’ll mix shortly after we get back from tour. We’re getting there, and it’s sounding pretty awesome!

-Nate

Studio Blog Day 4: Jason Takes Manhattan

Originally Posted 4/20/09 on Myspace

Current mood: breezy (awesome Myspace emoticon unavailable)

On day four we got two more songs done, started doing some vocals, and began picking away at guitar tracks. We’re getting there. We have to (like, Have To) do the basic tracking for three more songs on Day Five because that’s the last day we have booked for this first block. We’re back in next weekend for two days, maybe three, and then whatever else is still needed after that.

One of the two songs we finished up was the hardest one of the 12, so that’s nice to get that bad boy in the bag. One (1) drum part took about 90 minutes to record. Ack! Sounds pretty cool though. It’s this really complicated triangle solo. No, just kidding, it’s some kind of long snare roll buildup thing that I don’t really understand.

We also watched some badass metal videos on public access at about 2 in the morning and got inspired. The first Banner Pilot video will now feature:

–us playing in the woods. Spooky looking woods

–cuts that last no longer than one third of a second

–a sad and mysterious girl wearing a cloak and walking through the woods alone, occasionally staring into the camera

–liberal usage of the “lawnmower being run over gravel” vocal filter

and so on.

What else…. uh, the boxed wine i got was pretty good but the consensus from everyone else was that it was too “tart.”

I think that about covers it. Today, Day Five, will mostly be getting those last three songs tracked but hopefully we can knock out a couple more vocals too. And then we’re back in next Friday or Saturday to play all the leads, fix up all the rhythm guitars, and plug away at the vocals. It’ll start sounding like an album around that point. Should be fun!

-Nate

Studio Blog Day 3: Judgment Day

Originally Posted 4/20/09 on Myspace

Current mood: rockin (awesome Myspace emoticon unavailable)

Let’s see… day three saw the completion of four more songs (on drums, at least). Not bad. It’s not that we’re moving slower than expected (though we are), but that we’re spending more time on each thing than we thought we would. And that’s cool.

See, some of the stuff that’s being played over and over again won’t be noticed by anyone — no one is going to say “waaaaitaminute, the drummer hit that one snare hit slightly different that time,” or “damnit, the hi hat opened up for a second there, screw this album.” But, all those little things *add up* to a better listening experience. If we didn’t do all this stuff, you couldn’t pinpoint our mistakes but you’d think “Huh, this sounds kind of sloppy I guess.” It’s kind of like if someone took a quick leak (just, say, a dribble) in your large glass of apple juice without you knowing about it. You’re not going to necessarily go “Oh no! Urine!” and spit it out, but you’re going to sense that something’s up.

Essentially: right now we’re making sure the apple juice we’re brewing (is that how you make apple juice?) is free of urine.

I’m sure right now someone is going “Well, I like a little urine in my music,” which brings me to my next point: don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an overproduced album. We’re not going overboard on edits, not using auto tune, and mostly we’re not good enough musicians to pull that sort of thing off even if we wanted to.

So yeah: bottom line is that we’re taking our time and i’m pretty stoked about how stuff is sounding!

-Nate

Studio Blog Day Two: The Revenge

Originally Posted 4/18/09 on Myspace

Current mood: thirsty (awesome Myspace emoticon unavailable)

Well, we didn’t get seven songs done. We decided that three is a cooler sounding number and went with that instead. So, a little slower than planned, but it’s sounding really good! Yesterday I also re-learned that The Phantom Menace is the worst film of all time. Also, watching Jimmy Fallon interview Matthew Perry is sort of like having an incompetent dentist jab you with their tools– it’s annoying and painful but you also feel sort of bad that the guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. Yeah. Right now it’s day three and we’re working on a song called Farewell to Iron Bastards. Back to work! Look for a longer entry tomorrow.

-Nate

Studio Blog Day 1: It Begins

Originally Posted 4/17/09 on Myspace

Current mood: sneezy (awesome Myspace emoticon unavailable)

Just started off Day Two by shaving off my beard– originally I wanted a bit of beardiness in this record but this morning I had second thoughts. Let’s hope I made the right choice.

As for yesterday, it wasn’t actually a full day– we booked a half day for the sole purpose of getting sounds/tones/whatever down. See, usually what happens is you start the first day around noon by setting up the drums. This tends to take hours, and then you still have to pick out amps and set up mics and stuff, and before you know it you go “Ack! It’s 6:00 and we haven’t started recording yet!” You probably don’t actually say the word “Ack” but you know what I mean. Either way, what tends to happen (for us at least) is that you then feel like you’re behind and skimp on the getting-sounds stuff and rush right into recording. Days later when you’re mixing you realize you should have spent more time upfront but then it’s TOO LATE.

So, this time around we booked a half day devoted solely to setting up and getting things to sound good. I think this was a good call– it was way more relaxed, we spent more time on stuff then we usually do, and things are sounding really good. Of course, it was sort of tedious in parts– the vast majority of the time was spent on drums, and I know very little about drums so there were a lot of exchanges like:

“Which ride cymbal sounded better to you?”

“….is the ride cymbal the pingy thing?”

“Yeah”

“Well, I think they all sounded pretty good”

At the end of the day, though, the drums sounded pretty sweet– I think we have a better snare sound than we usually get, too.

Also, the bass is sounding awesome– I decided to use the studio Ampeg rather than my GK and we got something out of it that sounds pretty close to what my bass sounded like on the Off With Their Heads album. Kind of like….. a piano that’s come to life and is growling at you, you know?

Such technical details are probably boring to read about I suppose. What else did we do? I felt like boxed wine for some reason so I bought some boxed wine and will get cracking on that later today. I’ll report back on the flavor of it. I also bought a bag of Doritos called something like “Last Call Jalepeno Poppers”, the bag full of neon lights and stuff. There was also one called, uh, “Midnight Tacos” or something. Are the Dorito people running out of ideas? I don’t even like Doritos. It was an impulse buy as I stood in line. “You’re a sucker” Nick said as I grabbed a bag. But here’s the thing: based on the packaging they clearly want you to eat these new flavors late at night. But I’m not going to listen to their brain-washing advertising: I’m eating this today at around 3pm. Can’t get me, Doritos. I do what I want.

Ok, I gotta go meet the rest of the guys for bagels now– we’re starting at noon today. The plan is to get 7 songs done on drums today. Think we’ll do it?

Look for more interesting studio blogs than this one in the days to come, as we start actually recording music!

-Nate

White Collar Punk Rocker Interview 2009

Here is an interview with the blog White Collar Punk Rocker in 2009. Read it at their site, or below.

With news of Banner Pilot signing to Fat Wreck Chords last week, thought it was worth posting this interview I did recently with bassist Nate Gangelhoff.

For a band with just four members, melodic punk rockers Banner Pilot could pretty much sell out a club just by inviting band mates from all the current and former groups they’ve put in time with.

Between them, the guys in the Minneapolis band have played in or are currently playing with Off With Their Heads, Rivethead, Gateway District, These Riffs, Cave Death, The Manix and Pyongyang Metro.

With a new member and a slew of songs, Banner Pilot is currently focusing on finishing their new record and perhaps a quick tour of Japan.

Bassist Nate Gangelhoff spoke with me recently about the new songs, finding time to get on the road and the lack of harps and tubas on their new record.

Have you started working on the new record yet?

Yep! We’ve actually written a full 12 songs and now we’re in the process of fixing them up, working out the little details, trying to get tight on them so we don’t blow four days in the studio failing to play them correctly. So yeah, we’re actually almost done with the new one. After that we’ll probably try to do a series of splits and 7″s or something.

Any idea of what it will sound like?

In the grand scheme of things it’s pretty close to Resignation Day, but I think there’s more variety this time. I’m sure most people reading that are going to think “Uh oh”, and with good reason, but it’s actually not a dramatic departure or anything goofy and pretentious. There’s a couple slower songs and a couple faster songs… basic changes like that. We’re not adding textured harp parts or tuba solos or anything. It’s still punk rock stuff simple enough that a well-trained monkey could approximate it. Actually, that’s not true– I’m exaggerating. There’s no monkey out there that could touch the stuff we’re working on. It’s that good.

Same line up as before?

Nope, last time around we were a three piece and I played guitar and bass in the studio; this time we’ll have a full four piece band.

Who are you going to be recording with?

Our friend Jacques Wait. I played on the Off With Their Heads album that he recorded and everyone was super happy with how that sounded, so we’ll be going for a similar thing on the next Banner Pilot record.

Do you think labels are still important for punk bands?

They can be, but it’s definitely less so than five or 10 years ago. Nowadays it’s pretty easy to record an album, distribute it, and book a tour all from basic tools on the Internet. But labels can still help and do things you can’t do on your own. We self released our EP and it seems like the album on Go Kart has gotten around more and, obviously, required less work and upfront money from us.

Do you plan to tour much behind the new record?

We’re not really a “tour six months out of the year” band, but we’ll definitely do a couple weeks out somewhere plus a ton of Midwest shows on the weekends and stuff. Our goal this year is to make it over to either Europe or Japan.

Is it hard for you guys to find time to get put on the road?

Yeah, we all have jobs and stuff so it’s not feasible to tour for super long stretches at a time. But we do what we can and it seems to work out ok.

Do you still enjoy touring or do you see it as a necessary evil?

I enjoy it, but in smaller doses. I’ve done a couple of month long tours before and that’s about the most I’d want to do in one block. If I was in a position to tour a bunch, I’d probably still want to ideally do it like three weeks on, two weeks off, or something like that. I don’t think it’s really a necessary evil– your band will do better the more you tour, but you can still get people to hear your songs without touring. I imagine that was harder to pull off 10-plus years ago than it is now.

Is the Minneapolis music scene still pretty tight?

Yeah, it comes and goes but right now it’s pretty great. I’m sure it’ll be overtaken by some ridiculous subgenre in a year or two but for now there’s a fair amount of good bands

Anything else you want to add?

Get the new-ish Shorebirds album; it’s really good! That’s the only thing I have to add.

Spinner Interview 2010

Here’s an interview with Lauren Modery from Spinner.com. Read it on their webpage or below.

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It’s no surprise when a good band comes out of Minneapolis. Up-and-comers Banner Pilot have emerged as one of the city’s most promising new punk acts, following the Twin Cities musical lineage ofHusker Du, theReplacements and Prince, to name a few. One of the strongest and most steadfast genres in the city is its hardcore punk scene. With years of experience and two albums under their belts, Banner Pilot continue to wow audiences, and are on their way to SXSW 2010 to do just that. Spinner caught up with guitarist/bassist Nate Gangelhoff before the fest.

Describe your sound.

Imagine if Jawbreaker, Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio got in a knife fight and Jawbreaker won, but just barely. That’s what we sound like.

How did your band form?

I got this cheesy drum program called PC Drummer that helped me write song ideas. Previously I was pretty bad at keeping time and stuff, and it helped. Nick [Johnson, guitars/vocals,] and I had talked about starting a band for a while, so once I had some song ideas from fiddling around with PC Drummer, we added vocal ideas and released a demo. It was terrible. But we stuck with it, and then got a real drummer and started an actual band. And that’s the Banner Pilot story.

What are your musical influences?

I suppose Jawbreaker, Dillinger Four, Screeching Weasel, bands like that. I’m guessing those are the bands we collectively have listened to more than any others over the years.

How did you come up with your band name?

We were having a hell of a time coming up with something, so at some point we started looking through lists of old books. ‘Bannertail’ was one that seemed plausible, but still pretty stupid. We had a lot of stupid names we considered. Can you believe that at one point we were considering Break September? Break September! Anyway, Bannertail lead to Banner Pilot, and that one stuck.

Have you played SXSW before? If not, what are you most looking forward to at the event and/or in Austin?

Nope! Really looking forward to it. I think the two bands I’m most excited about areSuperchunk and the Muffs. But in general I’m just looking forward to hanging out with friends of ours in other bands, checking out the house shows, parties and barbecuest. Also, it will be nice to escape the frigid grip of Minnesota’s winter for four days.

What is in your festival survival kit?

One water for every two beers. That’s not really a “kit,” I suppose. Maybe this year I’ll make a physical kit that contains beer and water, in a 2-1 ratio.

What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you on tour?

We all got the swine flu. That was pretty crazy. Crazy terrible.

What is your music guilty pleasure?

You know, I’m drawing a blank. Stuff that would have seemed like a guilty pleasure years ago — say, Tegan and Sara — is now among my favorite music, and I feel no shame about it. So I guess I have overcome my guilt!

What is your biggest vice?

Probably my Stanley Maxsteel 83-069 Multi-Angle. It’s made of durable cast aluminum, and its 2 7/8″ jaw opening can hold a wide range of items. Oh wait, I thought you meantvise. Vice … Hmm, I guess I probably eat too many egg and cheese sandwiches. I’m out of control.

Nov 2008

Originally Posted 11/20/08 on Myspace

…lookout, Banner Pilot blog update!

In the “Feels Like Summer in October” Dept….

The fest was sooooooo fun, thanks to everybody who checked us out in the side hatch.  Got to see a ton of awesome bands, see lots of old friends and make a bunch of new ones – and hey I barely got FestAids, nice!

In the “College Radio Blast” Dept….

A couple of weekends ago we got to play a few live tunes on “Out of Step”, a punk show on Radio K at the University of Minnesota.  The mix is a little wacky but you may get a kick out of the interview portion of the show… Nate was on fire!  We guest DJ’d for a while with hosts Adam and Nate and got to play some tunes including a classic from “Steve Dude and Friends” – I’ll post a link on the main page if I can figure out how.

In the “Holy Shit I Might Get to See ‘Road Pizza’ Live??” Dept…

The Hanson Brothers are playing one of the Triple Rock 10th Anniversary shows in December!  We were lucky enough to get on the bill as an opener.  Color me stoked.

In the “Other” Dept….

We’ve been hard at work on LP2 and are planning on recording in the first couple three months of 2009 with Jacques who did OWTH’s “From the Bottom”.  I think we’ll have enough for 14 songs and we’ll use 2 for a split 7″ with a yet-to-be-determined sweet band and they’ll both come out on some yet-to-be-determined label(s).  Vinyl for Resignation Day should be out on Kiss of Death Records by Xmas and might just end up becoming the must-have gift of the season by my calculations.

Nick!

Punknews 2008 Interview

Here’s a 2008 Punknews interview. Check it out below or on their site.

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While the actual release date keeps getting pushed back, Minneapolis, Minnesota’a Banner Pilot really have finished their debut full-length, Resignation Day. The follow-up to their 2006 EP, Pass the Poison, shouldn’t disappoint those who loved the band’s blend of Lawrence Arms, Dillinger Four and Jawbreaker-esque punk rock.

 

Punknews interviewer Zack Zeigler talked to the band’s vocalist/guitarist Nick and bassist Nate regarding their approach to the new album and what people can expect.

Have you noticed anything different about Resignation Day, the sound or the lyrics, opposed to Pass the Poison? What, if anything, persuaded that change in sound/direction?

Nate: Not really; I wouldn’t say we’re “going in a new direction” or “broadening our horizons” or whatever. I think the songwriting is better, but we’re definitely not doing anything drastically different, like adding keyboards or anything ridiculous like that.

Nick: We’ll save that for LP #2 — but we did try to mix it up the tempo more on this record! We play both speeds, 190 and 200 BPM. Lyrically I still draw a lot of inspiration from John Fante’s books and write songs about life’s challenges and coping mechanisms — yah know, screwy girls and drinking.

You released your first demo in 2005, what’s changed in you as a band since that release?

Nick: We got a non-digital drummer! He’s not as reliable and you have to feed him but he’s a better conversationalist.

Nate: Besides Danny [the drummer], I think that playing shows and writing songs has made us a better band since the 2005 incarnation — but not really different. I guess it’s sort of like the first question, not to disappoint, but we haven’t gone on any spiritual quests or anything over the last couple years. I like to think that the EP was an improvement on the demo and the new record is an improvement on that.

But who knows? I mean, every band thinks their new stuff is their best album yet. You never hear a band say “Aww, this new record is a fucking joke. We got high half the time and did stupid shit like hiring a tuba player and running all the vocals through a wah wah pedal. Ughh. Seriously, just get the last album.” Nope, it’s always, “We’re really stoked about the new album and we think it’s our best yet.” And then when the next record rolls around it’s all, “We made some mistakes on the last record. It wasn’t really ‘us,’ and there was a lot of stress in the band at the time, you know? But we’ve cleared our heads and now we’re really stoked about the new album and we think it’s our best yet.” That said, we’re really stoked about the new album and we think it’s our best yet.

What message do you want your music, particularly Resignation Day, to get across?

Nick: There’s really no manifesto this time around. It’s sort of all been said before. Meat is still murder, dairy is still rape, so on and so forth. Although, I recently heard the Brokedowns say on stage “you can’t soar with the eagles if you stay out with the owls” and that seems like a pretty great message so maybe we’ll co-opt it.

How have you been getting the word out about your new album?

Nate: We hand out tracks to people walking by, cold call strangers out of the white pages, etc etc. All the normal stuff. Plus we’ve been trying new ideas like putting up songs on our MySpace page. Once we have physical copies in hand we’ll be sending them out to magazines and distros and what not.

Nick: I know where Channel 11′s “backyard” is where they shoot the weather portion of the 10 pm newscast, we can hop up and down behind the fence and yell shit.

Nate: Yeah, and then if the news channel tries to give us shit, we’ll just say we were reporting legitimate weather news. “This album is going to be a total hurricane of awesomeness!” or whatever.

What’s your favorite song to play live? What’s your favorite song off of Resignation Day?

Nick: My favorite is probably ‘Saltash Luck’ or ‘Empty Your Bottles’; on the latter I get to play bass because neither Cory or I can play that drone lead yet and sing at the same time. That’s strictly for the pros.

Nate: I like the song ‘Cut Bait’ because it’s a pretty fun bass line to play. I think the best song on the record would be ‘Empty Your Bottles.’

If you could tell a kid that’s never heard of Banner Pilot to listen to one song off the new record, what song would it be?

Nate: Uh, gee, I dunno. As I understand it, no one really reads lyrics anymore, so it’d be hard to try to get a message across to a kid unless you were strictly going with the song title. So I guess I’d choose ‘No Transfer’ so they’d maybe learn about the importance of getting a transfer when you ride the bus.

What does the term “sellout” mean to you guys?

Nick: Um, what our record will do once this interview gets posted on Punknews.org? (That was the deal, right?) What the guy at the liquor store tonight said happened when I asked where my favorite bottle of Rioja was? Basically don’t change your music for money.

On your MySpace page you described your sound as a blend between the Lawrence Arms, Jawbreaker and Alkaline Trio. Were those bands your main influences?

Nick: I grew up listening to a lot of Screeching Weasel so that’s a main influence for me. We’re probably a hybrid of that with the rougher vocals of Jawbreaker/Crimpshrine/Hot Water Music. Lyrically, I look up to Blake (Jawbreaker) quite a bit, although Dingbat is pretty fucking sweet.

Nate: Mostly the first two. Not Alkaline Trio so much. Jawbreaker’s probably my favorite band, but we don’t really sound like them. I mean, seriously, does anyone actually sound like Jawbreaker other than Jawbreaker? Not really. A few bands sound like Dear You-as-performed-by-a-computer-program (ie, they understand the basic formula but it doesn’t sound right), but that’s about it. We get compared to Lawrence Arms every now and then, and I can hear that, so it’d be fair to call them a main influence.

What’s the last show Banner Pilot went to that they didn’t perform?

Nick: Nate and I went to see Tegan and Sara recently but swore we wouldn’t talk about it. $8 Heinekens? Wtf? It was great though.

Nate: All four of us? Not sure, unless you count any of the various Fest shows.

For those who have never been, what’s a Banner Pilot show like?

Nick: It’s incredible. We usually open with me staring at Danny while he checks some knobs and dials on his cymbals and I try to gauge when we can start rocking. Someone probably yells out “Boner Pilot!” and 15-20 minutes of blistering punk rock follow sprinkled tastefully with awkward banter. If someone breaks a string, Nate may play the dungeon song from Super Mario Bros. on bass, or we’ll break into a confused rendition of Lillington High.

Do you have anything special planned for the release of Resignation Day? If so, what’s the plan and where will it be?

Nick: Dillinger Four was cool enough to let us open their 3rd annual “Dillinger Fourth of July” at the Triple Rock and hopefully we’ll have the CDs by then. It’s also Off With Their Heads CD release show, so it should be awesome!

 

Scene Point Blank 2008 Interview

Here’s an interview with Loren from Scene Point Blank back in 2008. Read it below or at their site.

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Minnesota punks Banner Pilot continue to turn heads with their vintage pop-punk sound. Scene Point Blank chatted with bassist Nate Gangelhoff about the band’s new full-length offering and their recent trip to The Fest.

Scene Point Blank: Nate, you’re listed as bass & guitar. Do you play both on the record?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yep, the previous guitar player quit while we were in the studio, so on the last album I did all the guitar leads and half the rhythm tracks. Plus I always do the bass. It worked out fine – I actually write the guts of all the songs on a guitar, not a bass, so it wasn’t weird or anything. The extra two strings didn’t fuck me up. Plus believe it or not they’re actually thinner than bass strings, so it’s kind of like Bass For Dummies.

Scene Point Blank: I really don’t know much about the death of Rivethead and the birth of Banner Pilot. How did Banner Pilot get started?

Nate Gangelhoff: Banner Pilot basically started with me writing some songs along to this drum program I got for my computer. I had a really hard time coming up with tunes until I was able to play along to a basic beat and keep time. So once I had that I wrote a few things and then Nick and me came up with vocal ideas over them. The songs were god awful, but got better over time. As for Rivethead, we were a band for a pretty long time, so it just sort of naturally ran its course after six or seven years. I think Banner Pilot had technically started before Rivethead broke up, but we didn’t actually have a drummer or play shows until months later.

Scene Point Blank: What’s the significance of the name?

Nate Gangelhoff: I dunno, I guess it sounded cool?

Scene Point Blank: You’ve gotten a lot of positive press on the web. Have you seen an increase in attendance on your tours from this?

Nate Gangelhoff: Well, not really, but I guess on the last tour there were a few shows that seemed to have more people. But I didn’t say “This is because of the web, right?” to any of them, so I can’t venture a guess as to why. I guess the longer you’ve been a band, the more chances there are that someone’s heard you and will check out a show.

Scene Point Blank: How did Go-Kart contact you? Do they have other Twin Cities connections?

Nate Gangelhoff: I think a guy at this radio station heard us and recommended that Go-Kart check us out. They don’t have any Twin Cities connections as far as I know.

Scene Point Blank: Do you think the record captures who you are as a live band?

Nate Gangelhoff: Kinda, but that record was a little different, I guess, ’cause it was three people playing four instruments, you know? Can’t do that live. But I guess that’s not a huge difference ’cause I don’t really have a unique guitar playing style or anything.

Scene Point Blank: Had you worked with Dave Gardner before?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yep, we’ve worked with Dave a few times on mastering and he’s awesome.

Scene Point Blank: How many bands are you currently in?

Nate Gangelhoff: Two main ones: Banner Pilot and Gateway District. I’m not in Off With Their Heads anymore ’cause they finally found someone who can tour all the time, but I’ll definitely help out if they ever need a bass player for a stray show or recording. And I’m sort of still in the Pyongyang Metro but that’s really sporadic ’cause the singer lives in Philly now. And I might be helping out a friend of mine this winter with his new band called The San Diego Chargers (Minneapolis).

Scene Point Blank: Have you ever had just one band?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yeah, it was just Rivethead for quite awhile.

Scene Point Blank: What makes Banner Pilot different than your other projects?

Nate Gangelhoff: Well, it’s not much different. But, with all the other bands I’ve been in I pretty much just write the bass lines, or in the case of The Gateway District, the guitar parts. So Banner Pilot is a lot more involved and time-consuming because I write the guts to all of the songs.

Scene Point Blank: How active is Gateway District? Is it a side project?

Nate Gangelhoff: It’s a little more active now. We did a 7″ in 2006 and then didn’t do anything until this past summer, mostly because we were all living in different states. But this summer we started playing again, wrote an album, recorded it last month and played a handful of shows along the way. So yeah I guess you could consider us to be “active” now although we won’t be doing any six-week tours or whatever.

Scene Point Blank: You’ve been in bands for quite a while now. Have your goals changed, or do you still get the same thing out of playing that you did when you started?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yeah, it’s really the same for the most part – fun for the same reasons. I don’t remember the experience of being in a band when I was eighteen being a lot different than it is now. I think that’s a good thing?

Scene Point Blank: A lot has changed for me since I was eighteen but, yeah, that sounds like a good thing that you haven’t burnt out.

Nate Gangelhoff: Yep!

Scene Point Blank: Moving on, The Fest 7 just finished. I think I first heard about you sometime after The Fest 5, although I never saw the band until the last year. How many Fests have you played (or attended)?

Nate Gangelhoff: This one was our third in a row. I think it was my favorite so far, too.

Scene Point Blank: What’s your highlight from this year’s Fest as a performer?

Nate Gangelhoff: It was a great show and definitely our best Fest set yet. The first time no one really knew us, and last year we stupidly played all new songs that no one had heard yet. So this year it was cool to play to a lot of people that seemingly knew the songs.

Scene Point Blank: I actually missed your set, but how was playing the Sidehatch? You had a pretty prime timeslot between Coalesce and Lawrence Arms.

Nate Gangelhoff: The Sidehatch was cool – a little dark; we had to buy a lamp for the merch table just to see anything. But besides that it was great. I’m guessing a lot of people checked us out before checking out the Lawrence Arms next door, but I can’t imagine that many Coalesce fans were into us.

Scene Point Blank: You never know, but that was a curious timeslot for them. You’d think they’d be allotted closer to some of the hardcore bands.

Nate Gangelhoff: True. But shit, that’s got to be hard to schedule like 280 bands over three days. You’re going to have a couple of weird pairings, I suppose.

Scene Point Blank: What was your highlight of Fest 7 a fan? Did you stay the whole weekend?

Nate Gangelhoff: I think my favorite band was Good Luck. My goal this Fest was to see as many bands that I hadn’t checked out before, and I caught quite a few good ones. Yep, we stayed the whole weekend but I got Fest AIDS pretty bad Sunday evening so the last set I saw was at around 7pm.

Scene Point Blank: Me too, but I didn’t crash until after Leatherface. Did you stay at the Holiday Inn? Did the official post-Fest show happen?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yeah, we had a room at the Holiday Inn. It was nice being close to all the shows – the last couple years we stayed at the Rush Lake Motel, which was pretty awesome in its own right but required a bit of a walk. I think they ended up scrapping the plans for midnight karaoke on the rooftop, actually. Bummer.

Scene Point Blank: So you got “Fest AIDS”?

Nate Gangelhoff: Indeed! Not as bad as last year though. Last weekend at this show I ran into probably fifteen people who went to Fest the previous weekend and every single one of them was sick!

Scene Point Blank: Fest AIDS kept me from going to that Arrivals/Off With Their Heads/Gateway District show on Friday. I was a little better than last year, in that I didn’t totally lose my voice this time around, but I’m still coughing a week later. Is Fest AIDS a unique thing, or are viruses like that a typical result of touring?

Nate Gangelhoff: Fest AIDS is unique, I think. When I’ve gotten sick on tour on other occasions, it felt like a run of the mill illness. But Fest AIDS is a somewhat different sensation. It’s almost like you somehow inhaled the weekend, this rancid mess of smoke and PBR, and have to sweat it out of your system.

Scene Point Blank: Did you tour on the way to FL?

Nate Gangelhoff: Nah, not this year but we did for Fest 5. It’s pretty cool ’cause there’s so many bands descending on the same part of the country at once that you end up having great shows along the way.

Scene Point Blank: Thanks for your time.

 

Hipster Worm

Originally posted 8/27/08 on our Typepad blog

Man, we must have partied pretty hard the night after Portland– we camped out by the ocean and I remember we had a (loud) conversation about how the log in this picture looked like a hipster worm. As the campers nearby tried to drift off under the stars and ocean mist, they were kept up by rambling slurring along the lines of “This worm would be all like ‘I saw Husker Du in a basement.'” The next morning it just looked like a charred log. Sorry, fellow campers! We thought we were on to something.

The camping spot was neat, though— the next morning I thought there were a half a dozen people admiring our pile of beer cans, but it turned out they were checking out a huge elk a few feet from our van. It was funny because a couple days earlier in a motel we watched some elk hunting show where these two jokers crept through a field (to dramatic music in the background) and killed an elk with a crossbow, acting as if they had just pulled of a crazily difficult task. “Yeah!” they yelled as they examined the carcass. “Oh man, yeah!” Anyway, the funny thing is that this elk by our van barely moved, even as people got within a few feet of it. So what’s so impressive about shooting one? It’d be like bragging about shooting a cow.

-Nate

Portland Etc

Originally posted 8/27/08 on our Typepad page

Let’s see, Portland: we played an okay show at this place called the Tonic Lounge. It went alright for a Sunday show. Hung out with some of the Drunken Boat folks and Mike and Emily from mpls, and then the next day we climbed some big hill east of Portland. As far as hills go, this one was pretty good. Yeah.

What else? I think we walked around for awhile and checked out an old school arcade called Ground Kontrol. I randomly played some weird game called Goop or Gorb or something that featured the sample from the Zoinks album ‘Bad Movie Space Cadet.’ The game was terrible! I remember reading an interview where they said the sample came from an obnoxiously loud game in their local arcade… they were right! It was crazy loud, completely drowning out the great Burgertime soundtrack next to it.

I almost bought an NES Power Pad for fourteen dollars so we could use it as a banner behind us for the remaining shows, but decided against it when I realized that was an extremely idiotic idea.

So yeah: that was Portland in a nutshell.

-Nate

Unicorn Saturday in Seattle

Originally posted 8/19/08 on our Typepad blog

We stayed in Seattle on Saturday and played another show at FBK for Jerome from Snuggle’s birthday party. In theory it might seem ridiculous to play the same show two days in a row, but just like the “theory” of gravity no one can say for sure. In our case, the show was great and even better than Friday’s show. First, they had set up a huge inflatable unicorn jumping thingy for the party. Apparently when the company came and set it up no one knew exactly what they had ordered and at first, as it slowly inflated in the back yard, it appeared to be a big blue house. “That’s kinda cool”, people thought, and then everyone was blown away as a horse head awkwardly pushed itself out. “A horse!” But the inflatable party company wasn’t done yet, and as the horse head filled and straightened out, a unicorn horn popped out and pointed towards the heavens as cheers tore through the yard.

Sweet. So, for this show we played in the backyard– I think it was the first time a band has ever performed inbetween an inflatable unicorn and a fire. Suck on that, Dave Matthews Band. Anyway, the fire was pretty hot, though not as hot as the basement on Friday, but it provided a nice way for me to see the dots on my bass in the darkness. Danny thought his drum throne was going to melt but it held up admirably. We also (sort of) pulled off the J Church cover we haven’t played in months. All in all a great time. Afterwards some idiot started throwing firecrackers in the house and hit me in the ear with one, which was admittedly super punk rock but still kind of a drag.

-Nate

Friday in Seattle

Originally posted 8/19/08 on our Typepad blog

The first show in Seattle was great– we played in the basement at the FKB house with Snuggle and Sonskull. It felt like we were playing in a sauna that was built in the middle of a volcano, but it was tons of fun and the other bands were great. Afterwards we hung out in the backyard and got a rockin fire going (see photo). I think that’s about it? I can’t remember; it was days ago and since becoming a blogger last week my attention span now tops out at fifteen minutes or thereabouts.

-Nate

Gladiators

(originally posted 8/13/08 on our Typepad blog)

The van we have is called “the Gladiator”– not a goofy name we chose; that’s the actual official name the company came up with. It’s funny because once you get inside it has silly purple drapes on the windows and is clearly designed with family vacations and crap in mind. So the name was probably meant to appeal to some tough guy suburban dad… “yeah, got me a Gladiator,” he could say to his buddies as they have a beer.

“Oh yeah? Let’s take a look inside.”

“…nah, right now it’s… full of dead deer…. that I killed.”

Anyway: I assumed the marketing effort failed because I’ve never seen another one. Until now! Five minutes out of town, we’re behind another Gladiator. I wanted to pump my fist at them in solidarity but they exited too quickly.

-Nate