Blog Masonry | Banner Pilot - Part 3
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Next Shows, Next Album

The annual D4th of July here in Minneapolis is always a good time, and this year has morphed into a festival of sorts with three straight days of shows. We’re playing on the 4th itself, w/ our buds The Flatliners, A Wilhelm Scream, and many more. If you’re thinking about taking a vacation in Minneapolis, and can’t decide between January or July, GO IN JULY you big dummy and check these shows out. More info here. Tickets for our show here.

Later in the summer, we’ll be playing Awesome Fest for the first time, which should be…. I feel like there’s a funny and appropriate adjective I could use here but let’s go with “enjoyable”. On top of that, we’ll be heading down the west coast for a series of shows leading up to it. More info soon.

Finally, we’ll also be playing the greatest Fest, The Fest, like we do every year.

So, plenty of chances to see us this year.

Any new music, you ask? Well, we have 13 new songs written, and I’m working on the music for #14 right now. We’ll keep plugging away at them, making them better, and then record the best 11 or 12 as soon as we’re ready. I think they’re sounding pretty sweet.

What will it sound like? Here’s one preview: On previous albums, the rhythm guitars were doing power chords for I’d say 97% of the time (occasionally breaking away for the stray octave or ‘journey chord’). On this next album, I think that’s dropped to 75-80%. That’s right: WEIRD CHORDS. Tons of them. I’m talking, ‘stretch your pinky finger up four frets’ levels of strangeness. Inverted chords. Lots of “drone notes”– a major increase in them. Like, so many that there might be a senate hearing on these drones.

To be clear, the songs themselves don’t sound weird, it’s just that some of the chords are weird. Don’t get scared; I think it works. Hell, when it comes out everyone will probably just be like, “What the hell are you talking about? This sounds like every other Banner Pilot song. Drones, my ass.” Either way, I’m stoked on how it’s sounding and hopefully ya’ll will like it.



PS – I totally flaked on the Europe diary, huh? Jeez. I actually wrote most of it out but never got around to finishing it. I’ll wrap it up and post it (nine months after the fact, but whatever) at some point here

Europe 2012 Part 2

Here is installment #2 of a multi-part blog/diary of our 2012 European tour. This covers day three. – Nate

Day Three: First Show, Green Shots

There are many differences between traveling and touring, but the biggest one for me is how you experience a city. When you’re traveling, the entire purpose of being where you are is to go check things out, and that’s what you do: you wake up early and walk around, wandering through different neighborhoods, popping into cafes or restaurants or bars, peering or at least glancing at local architecture, seeking out anything unique the city has to offer.

When you’re touring, though, more often than not you wake up late and spend a sizable portion of your day in a van, occasionally trudging outside (perhaps observing, “Ah, my legs hurt!” as you take the first few zombie-like steps) and into a gas station to use the bathroom and get an energy bar or something, but for the most part you’re in that van and then around 4 or 5pm you get to the club you’re playing at, where you load equipment in, sound check, set-up merch, figure out what to do for dinner, and now holy crap it’s 7pm and the bands are already starting. At this point, maybe you’ll walk ten blocks around the club and back, but that’s about it–sometimes, you just stay at the club and you don’t go anywhere. You can fool yourself and think, after a six minute walk from the club and back, “Cool, I got to check out Sacramento. It has streets, and also buildings, neat,” but compared to traveling, you really don’t get to soak in cities the same way when you’re on tour.

I want to be very clear here: I’m not complaining. I’m just pointing out the differences. There are clear positives to touring too. When you’re traveling, you don’t get to play music for people every night, and you probably don’t get to meet as many strangers. When you’re playing a show, there is definitely a sense of, “Every person in this building has something in common”, and that can lead to great interactions. That doesn’t happen as often when you’re traveling, unless you’re like, “Whoa. Every person in this room has something in common. We all felt like eating vietnamese food right now.” (And then you stand up, go interrupt a couple eating and ask them, “So when did you guys get into Pho?”)

To sum up this long-winded rant in a more efficient way than the previous three paragraphs: touring and traveling are both great; they just have their own advantages and disadvantages and general differences. And usually, one of those differences is that you don’t experience a city as deeply when you’re on tour.

But: not always! The main reason it happens that way is the whole spending-hours-driving-from-city-to-city-every-day deal, but every now and then you wake up and you’re already in the city you’re playing in, so you can spend the day doing whatever you want, basically the same as if you were a traveler/tourist.

On paper, that was the case in Monchengladbach. Weeks earlier, we had realized this. “We’ll be waking up earlier, because we’ll be taking it easy and going to bed early on purpose the night before. We can take a train into Dusseldorf, walk around for a few hours, and then head back for the show. Sweet.”

When I opened my eyes at 3:30pm and saw that no one else was up yet, I realized we would not be taking any trains to Dusseldorf. Oh well. Next time.

I got up and I felt reasonably good, I guess, but in a bizarre way I had no idea what time it felt like. I knew what time it was, and I knew it didn’t feel right, but that was about it. It certainly didn’t feel like 4pm, but it also didn’t feel like 9am, which is what my body was supposedly still used to. It was some weird time that didn’t make any sense. F PM, or something. This was a bit discombobulating. Maybe food would help.

Marius set out a nice, simple breakfast and we dug in. I felt a little better. As we ate, someone called and informed us that Joe’s wallet had been found, and it would be at the club, and also that his mom said Hi. This was all good news.


We headed to the club, which was about 3 minutes away. Nice; none of us felt like walking too much further than that. We set up merch and then Heike, our driver for the tour, showed up with the van and all our equipment. (A few people asked me this when we got back: did you guys drive yourselves? Did you bring all your amps with you? No and no; we hired a driver and rented equipment. Both things were super awesome! It would have been absurdly sucky to fly with a bunch of amps; I can’t even imagine trying to negotiate that with a Delta employee or whatever; “Trust me, this cabinet will fit in the overhead bin, just let me on!” And Heike was an excellent driver, but more importantly she was just super rad and fun to hang out with. Hopefully I didn’t spoil too much by telling you all of this. I guess maybe it would have been cooler and more suspenseful to reveal that Heike is super rad later in the blog, but too late now.)

The equipment all appeared to be good. Last time we toured Europe I had a monstrous 8×10 bass cabinet inside a heavy, awkward case and it was kind of a drag to haul out every show. This time, I had requested to NOT get that again, and now had, instead, a much smaller and nicer bass amp that would still be able to keep up with the guitar amps. This was a relief to see.

A ThroneThe only other specific equipment request had been by Danny, regarding his drum throne. First off, for those who don’t know, the drum throne simply refers to the thing the drummer sits on. Why do they call it a throne? I don’t know. It seems pretty weird/laughable: not only do they never look like a real throne (the kind you picture a drunk, leering king sitting on while they gnaw on a turkey leg and glare at their subjects, or court jester, or whatever), but it feels like an almost, I don’t know, pretentious word to use. It’d be like me referring to my bass guitar as a “scepter”.

At any rate, Danny’s one request was to NOT get a “banana seat” version of the throne, like he did last time. As we brought the gear in, I saw the throne.
A throne
“That’s cool, looks like you didn’t get a banana seat this time, right?”

“Well, not really. That’s sort of a banana seat.”

Can’t win them all, I suppose. I just tried to find a picture of a banana seat, and found this description of “thrones” from the website Modern Drummer: “The throne is the foundation of any player’s groove.” Throne, Player, and Groove, all in one sentence! I love it.

After some excellent vegetarian chili and bread, we set up, sound checked, and people started spilling in. A lot of people from the bar the night before showed up. Almost all of them, on both nights, kept telling us this would be our best show of the entire tour. “So and so was here last month, and they said the same thing: Monchengladbach was their best show, by far. Nothing else compared.” On one hand, this was exciting; the show was apparently going to be very good– I like things that are very good! But it was also like hearing, “It’s all going to be downhill after this, guys!”

The show itself WAS great. We were definitely shaking off a little rust, but it wasn’t too bad and the crowd seemed into it. This helped to offset any first-show-sloppiness; if people are dancing and singing along and having fun (as opposed to staring at you with stony eyes and crossed arms), it’s a better vibe and a bit of looseness isn’t that big of a deal. We had a great time. Would it be the best show of the entire tour? That remained to be seen (no spoilers, don’t worry).

After the show people started feeding us green shots. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad, and they seemed to be relatively efficient. They were a local speciality, apparently. I think they were called “Flim”. In other cities in Germany, I would ask people if they had these shots, but I always said it wrong, like “Flem”. Essentially, I’d end up asking a complete stranger at a bar, “So, do you guys do shots of phlegm here? No? Phlegm? We did them in this other city in Germany, and they were pretty good. Shots of phlegm. All green and stuff. No?”, oblivious to the blend of befuddlement/disgust/horror seeping into their faces.


After a couple rounds of flim/phlegm/whatever, we went back to Marius’s place where, among other things:

1. We passed around a few acoustic guitars and played songs. I played an MDC song, very poorly.

2. We, for some reason, ordered 7 pizzas even though only 4 or 5 people wanted any. It wasn’t terrible pizza or anything but afterwards I vowed to eat no more pizza for the rest of the tour, a pledge I’m happy to say I kept. It’s just too hard to tell if you’re getting crappy pizza ahead of time, you know?

3. We had a generally fun time hanging out listening to music, playing the aforementioned guitars, eating the aforementioned pizza, and went to bed extremely late again. Monchengladbach, a city I had never even heard of two weeks earlier, and proven itself to be one of the funnest spots in Europe we had been to thus far on either tour.


Next up: an outdoor festival in Germany!

Europe 2012 Part 1

Here is installment #1 of a multi-part blog/diary of our 2012 European tour. This covers days one and two. – Nate


Day One: Volcano-Free Flying 

In the spring of 2010 a volcano with the catchy name Eyjafjallajokull erupted in Iceland, spewing a gigantic ash cloud across Europe and disrupting the travel plans of countless people, including us, hoping to fly from Minneapolis to Paris to begin a tour. The entire tour was in doubt right up until the day of our flight, when officials in charge shrugged and said, “Well, the cloud is still here, and is possibly dangerous, but since we’re losing money… eh, screw it” (in so many words). Our Minneapolis to London flight was OK’d that afternoon, but I still remember pacing around an airport bar, drinking (distressingly expensive) coronas and frantically calling representatives at Air France to make sure our connecting flight from London to Paris was not cancelled. Our flight to Europe in August 2012, for our second European tour, had no similarities other than the ‘drinking coronas at an airport bar’ part. No volcanos, no iffy flights, no confusion. It was nice. We had a few beers and one $17 gin and tonic and boarded our plane, excited to return to the land where you can get flaky, delicious croissants at random gas stations. (There are other cool things about Europe, too)

The flight itself was uneventful. Earlier in the week I had read an article about jet lag that said wearing sunglasses the night you leave — at the airport and on the plane — and through the day you arrive, helped to diminish the effects. I wasn’t sure if this theory had any merit or if it bore a closer resemblance to sketchy internet pop-up ads (‘Doctors HATE him… learn his weight loss secret’), but jet lag can suck and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. The downside was that wearing shades indoors at night probably made me look like a bit of a prick, but the upside was that it was easier to pass out. I got weird, scattered sleep (twenty minutes here, five there, totaling to a couple hours), but it was better than zero sleep. Along with it came bizarre dreams: I was in the Triple Rock with Joe (our roadie for the tour) and he pointed up at a chalkboard and said, “Dude, Brorrosion of Conformity is playing soon, it’s going to rule. It’s bros playing Corrosion of Conformity covers.” Brilliant idea. Someone should do that, stat.


Day Two: Rest & Relaxation in Monchengladbach After a couple of hazy hours in the Amsterdam airport, mostly spent sleeping on the floor, we boarded another quick flight. The only thing I remember about it is that Danny said, “Water is awesome”, in some context, and one of the flight attendants overheard him, laughed, and said, “Water is awesome? You’re going to love this flight, then!” But the thing was, their water wasn’t anything special.  Well, it was OK, I suppose. Anyway, soon enough were at the Dusseldorf airport, ready to start the tour. First guy I saw was the fellow in the photo there. Awesome.

Knowing that we would be at least somewhat jet lagged, we had wisely set up the tour so we did NOT have a show on the first day. On the 2010 tour, this worked great. We got to Paris, had dinner, Nick and Corey crashed, Danny and I walked around to a few bars, and all of us were asleep by 11pm, refreshed and ready to start playing shows the next day. It didn’t quite work out that way in Germany. Our host, Marius (we would learn later his friends call him Warius after a certain level of drinking gets met; I never really saw this, but it’s a great nickname. Go look up the Wario wiki page if you don’t get it) got us at the airport and brought us directly to a liquor store. If you are a fan of beer, and are a giddy person, this was the kind of building that would cause you to run around, occasionally leaping into the air and clicking your heels. Like so:

I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I could appreciate the options stacked up around us. So many! So unique, compared to America at least! All of us picked an assortment of beers more or less randomly, based on how cool the bottle looked and how badass the name sounded. “This is called KrakenBasher and looks like like the kind of beer an old-timey king would drink!”; that sort of thing. Outside, Marius appraised our choices. Some were good, others caused him to grin and shake his head: “That’s shitty.” I realized this whole scene was probably similar to bringing a European to Minneapolis and watching them emerge from a liquor store asking, “Is this good? This is good, right?” as they hold up a 12 pack of Natural Ice. The difference between America and Germany, though, was that here in Germany we were able to hang out and drink in the liquor store parking lot and no one shooed us away or tried to handcuff us or what not. We were politely enjoying a couple beers, and it wasn’t a big deal; society wasn’t shattering around us. Why can’t we do this in America? (I don’t mean, like, “God, it is SO hard not to crack open a beer immediately upon purchasing it, this is so unfair, blah blah”, I just mean that it doesn’t seem like allowing it harms anything). I suppose, though, that the reason is because no sane politician is going to assume this issue as a rallying cry. Can you picture some guy in a suit climbing on top of a soapbox and yelling to a crowd, “The path ahead is not short, it is not smooth, and it is not easy, but it will be lit by the fires of our desire to come together and accomplish what we have dreamed of for so long: the ability to drink beer in parking lots!”? Not so much.


At any rate, it was super fun. It was early enough in the tour where the, “Man, we’re in Europe right now!” realization would hit you, plus given that we were all a bit sleep deprived and stoked to be off the plane, the beers had a stronger effect. My rough calculation (which I came up with years ago when I arrived in New Orleans at 7am after sitting in a van all night, and then going straight to a bar) is: 1 beer = Missed hours of sleep x .5. mathtchrSo I normally get 6 hours of sleep, but I missed 4 hours of sleep, that multiplied by .5 equals 2. Each 1 beer is like 2 beers. This is a rough calculation and is missing many elements. Mainly, this is not necessarily a good thing. It’s not, “Well, I missed all 8 hours of sleep, so drinking one beer is like four… I’m saving money and there are absolutely no side effects!” But it was still noticeable. Actually, now that I look at it, there are deeper problems with the equation. If you only missed 1 hour of sleep, it’s as if the beer is less effective, which isn’t true. Heck, if you missed zero hours of sleep, it indicates that beer simply doesn’t effect you, which is ludicrous. So, uh, consider it a work in progress.


After one beer, which truly did feel like two, we headed to Marius’s house in Monchangladbach (where the show would be the next day). We had some truly awesome homemade lasagna and then, resisting the temptation to take it easy and go to bed early as we did in 2010, went across the street to his friends’ apartment. There were a bunch of people hanging out, including some kids from America who were in the army and stationed in Germany. We had a few drinks and talked while the Lawrence Arms DVD played in the background and then we made our way to a local bar. German beer can be — what’s the word? — strong, and even stronger when you haven’t been sleeping (see the flawed equation above), a situation which lead to Joe having what looked remarkably like a beer stain tie within an hour of arriving at the bar, and losing his wallet on the first night of tour. (He got it back the next day, luckily, but it still had to be weird for his mom, who got a call from the person who found it…. your kid goes to Europe and about twenty hours later you’re getting calls from German strangers who have his wallet!)

All Hail!
Overall, we weren’t getting that bombed or anything, just enjoying the feeling of being in Europe and hanging out with new friends without the “We have to play a show in a couple hours” restriction hanging over our heads. I learned a little about Monchengladbach, and we all learned a few German phrases, chief among them, “Prost!”, which is basically “cheers!”. I kept getting it wrong and saying, “Probst!”, as if I was in some weird cult that required me to raise my glass in honor of Survivor host Jeff Probst at random intervals. I was a bit stunned we stayed up past 4am, given that last time we came to Europe we had all been crashed out before midnight. But this was a good thing! We had a great, fun night and were pumped to get to play what was clearly an excellent city the next day. -Nate

Back from Europe / BBC Stream

Hey! We’re back from Europe. It was amazing as expected. I’ll start posting a multi-part tour blog shortly. In the meantime, for the next six days, you can stream the set of us playing at BBC studios when we were in London. Right here. It’s nice to be back, but man…. I already miss Europe! We hope to be back soon.

In other news, it’s getting cold out so we’re getting ready to hunker down and work extra hard on our next album. We’ve got 5 or 6 half-written songs so far, and I think it’s coming along pretty nicely. Stay tuned for more about that.



Europe! New Songs! So on and so forth!

europe 2012Alright, we fly out to Europe in 11 days! Very excited. Find the exact dates/venues, and buy tickets, over at Klownhouse Tours. Last time we went to Europe, it was right about now — a week and a half out or so — that a volcano erupted in Iceland, spewing ash across Europe and throwing the entire tour into doubt until about 4 hours before our plane took off. So, uh, let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!

In other news, we’re plugging away at a new record. 6 new songs so far. Can’t say they’ll all make it on the eventual record, but it’s sounding really good. So far they sound, like, well, Banner Pilot songs I guess. We’ll probably try some new stuff, but as always, we’re not going to take a shaky stab at some goofy reinvention of our sound just to do something different. Why make a risky leap that might land you on your face when you can just, you know, hang out and party?

All that said, it won’t be a clone of the older records. If Heart Beats Pacific was Collapser on steroids (bigger/stronger, no side effects, etc) then maybe this new record will be Heart Beats Pacific on a completely safe and legal hallucinogen of some sort. In other words, hopefully you, the listener, will say “Whoa, I didn’t expect THAT thing that just happened, but it was pleasant, and really, it wasn’t that weird or crazy at all. Doot doo doo”

I’m definitely going to do a tour diary of Europe, although I don’t know if it’ll be while we’re there or when we get back. Either way, keep checking back.

Hope to see you in Europe!



On Cassettes / Midwest Show Recap

Thanks to everyone who came out to Chicago and Madison last month, and Fargo last weekend. All of the shows were a good time. Viva midwest, etc.

Speaking of Fargo, you know what I learned this weekend? Fargo really likes cassettes! I think we sold a total of 7 Pass the Poison tapes between the entire west coast tour in January, and the Chicago/Madison shows last month. We brought five to Fargo… and they were gone in 10 minutes! More people wanted them, too, which resulted in me uttering the bizarre phrase, “Sorry, we’re sold out of cassettes.” Nobody bought any CDs! I think it’s awesome; just unexpected. Bands: load up on tapes next time you play Fargo.

It makes me…. well, not nostalgic for cassettes, but it makes me remember things about them. I would actually listen to entire albums back then; you barely had a choice unless you wanted to try your luck with fast forwarding. I think some fancy cassette decks had sweet technology where they could recognize silence and automatically stop at those points; in other words, you could skip forward by exactly one song rather than having to wing it. And then sometimes you’d be like, “No, stupid tape player, that’s not a new song, that’s just Fugazi doing a weird stop part!”

Also some tape decks had “Auto Reverse” where you could just click a button to go from side a to side b; you didn’t even need to eject the tape and manually turn it around with your hands. Damn. I wish the internet was around back then so we could read archived articles by tech nerds geeking out over that stuff. “Move over, Samsung, because Auto Reverse is a game changer. I want to give the Sony CEO a hi-five, and now I can because my hand isn’t busy flipping tapes over.” Or, “It’s amazing to think that we now have a portable stereo system that can hold up to sixty minutes of music and be held in two hands.”

Anyway, tapes—objectively speaking—are pretty crappy, but they’re a…. unique music format. I’ll give them that.

Oh, and speaking of Chicago, did you not make it, but would like to deceive your friends and pretend that you did? We can help! Just buy one of the limited edition posters we had made for the show. Years from now you can point at the wall in your basement and tell your buddies, “Yeah, I saw Banner Pilot before they turned into a ska band,” and watch them gape in amazement. These are sweet, high quality silkscreened posters. And — I’m not just saying this — we barely have any left, so grab one now if you want one. “Act now!”, in other words.