I met with Eugene Brown and Peter Antypas from [die] Pilot for what was supposed to be an interview, but actually turned out to be a rambling conversation (totally my fault) that did cover pertinent facts about the band, but also covered a discussion on what is actually considered the “South.” They were also very gracious about me kicking over a beer on their floor. [die] Pilot is a band in flux, which seems to be its natural state. Meeting up with Peter and Eugene, the core entity of this revolving member group, I was able gather the artist’s histories.
Eugene moved here from Kentucky, needing a change in scenery after a friend died in a car accident. Growing up in his home state, he began listening to a lot of contemporary country, but had a revelation upon hearing Uncle Tupelo, who is known for blending both country and punk. Without anything better to do he began making music of his own. Starting a band with his friend Justin Wright, they went on a recording binge for about six months, putting together an all acoustic, folk EP in Justin’s basement. When Eugene decided to exit Kentucky, he resolved to send for Justin once he got settled.
Meanwhile, Peter had actually “given up on music…quit forever.” He had been a multi-instrumentalist solo act for a while and describes himself as “responsible for several crimes against music,” refraining from elaborating any further than that subject. It was Eugene’s ad in Craig’s List that caught his attention and led him to checking out Eugene’s music online. Upon hearing it, he knew the two needed to collaborate.
Well, many others had the same plan in mind, so much so that Eugene had stopped returning phone calls. Not being a man to give up quite so easily, Peter took the next step: he downloaded Eugene’s songs and made remixes from them. This was the clincher move that got Eugene’s full attention. After hearing those tracks, Eugene moved things forward to making Peter his musical partner.
Shortly after meeting the two played a show at the 15th Street Tavern, bringing Justin out from Kentucky to join in. Homesickness and severe stage fright eventually caused Justin to pull out and return home.
As previously discussed, Eugene is a fan of country and folk. Peter on the other hand is a product of British new wave, which he listened to while growing up in Greece. Add to the mix a bit of Middle Eastern influence to the table and what you’ll hear on the new album, Radiation, Weather, Art” is a blatant stake in all that is eclectic
It was Eugene’s goal to create a unique personality for each track. “I want one song to sound like we were listening to The Cure one day; I want another song to sound like we were listening to Patsy Kline, and another to sound like something else.”
It is safe to say that he’s accomplished this goal with flying colors. During of my listening sessions, I actually had to check the player to make sure I was still listening to the same CD. Throughout “Radiation, Weather, Art,” you can hear those glimmering country/folk influences that Eugene was raised on in rural Kentucky. On the acoustic numbers, Peter’s work on the keyboards has add an electronic dimension, a potential nod to the governors across the pond.
Most of the songs on “Radiation, Weather, Art” are the product of three years, containing original songs from that very first EP recorded in Justin’s basement. The one track co-written by the pair is “Parade,” and now that all the past music has been laid into their history books, all new songs will come from a collaborative place.
It is going to be hard to describe the band’s current sound because I don’t know what it is yet. I don’t think they even know what it is yet.
As I have said this band is in constant flux. Their press kit begins with this quote, which sounds very much like a mission-statement: “It has been said that evolution causes one to adapt to their environment, but what if that environment constantly changed, shifted and was full of opportunity?”
They have appeared to take this philosophy to heart.
That two-piece that first graced the small stage at The 15th Street Tavern has now swelled into a five-piece, including Matt Chaluspky on the bass and Sam Beck, who has taken over keyboard duties. Peter is playing guitar and adding backup vocals while handling the production aspect; and Eugene keeps his position as guitarist and vocalist. The newest member, Paul Jansen, joined a couple of weeks ago, bringing him a new ingredient of electric violin to the party.
You can hear the full version of “Radiation, Weather, Art” on the band’s website, www.diepilotmusic.com. And opposed to the never ending MP3 wars, the guys actually encourage you to download it absolutely free of charge to get the word out. They figure that most bands don’t make any money on their first album, so why not just give it away? I encourage you to listen to the entire album, because one song does not reflect what the others will sound like.
The changes for [die] Pilot are expected to continue, and in the meantime, are looking for a new practice space and encourage anyone interested to contact them. The band plays this Saturday, May 21 at the Walnut Room with Angie Stevens and Conscious Elliot, and again a week later on June 2 at Soiled Dove.
Like the weather in the Midwest, [die] Pilot will keep you on your toes with those changing currents, and these upcoming shows will likely be a vibrant experience as their new members flourish.