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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.