In support of Supergrass, Texan rockers Pilotdrift will play Montreal’s La Tulipe on February 7.
The chance to open for one of their favourite bands is not the only thing that Pilotdrift enjoy about touring. Guitarist John David Blagg explains, “The thing we enjoy the most about it is just building relationships and meeting people and getting to play alongside our musical heroes.”
But there are difficulties as well. “I guess the most challenging thing right now is that since we’re in a van still and we drive ourselves, sometimes after a show when we’re exhausted and we have to drive to through the night just to get to the next town, that’s hard.” He adds that being away from family and friends is not so easy either, but that the music makes everything worth it because they love what they do.
Growing up in the small town of Texarkana and rounded out by vocalist Kelly Carr, guitarist Eric Russell, bassist Jay Budzilowski and drummer Ben Race, the members of Pilotdrift met at church. Realizing they had similar musical tastes as well as aspirations, they took singing in the youth group to the next step by forming a band.
While Texarkana may not have been their primary influence, Blagg says that its lack of a major music scene actually helped them to develop their own sound. “It’s really cool because we can really create what we feel what we want. We weren’t really just surrounded by all kinds of different music.”
“I mean it might sound really weird and it might sound odd, but I think if we were growing up somewhere around like Austin, or somewhere where there’s a lot of different kinds of music, who knows what kind of music we would have ended up playing or created.”
But in order to get any recognition, Pilotdrift had to drive to Dallas, where they also built their first fan base. There, their independent release, Iter Facere, got them signed to Good Records in 2003 and after playing countless shows, the band released their newest record, Water Sphere, in late 2005.
Describing Water Sphere as post-apocalyptic, with a “kind of futuristic meets nature” theme, Blagg says that Pilotdrift often get obsessed with a certain idea that eventually makes up an album’s core.
Using many distinct instruments and sounds to make carefully crafted and composed tracks, the art/progressive rock act find their music often compared to epic movie scores. The complexity of the songs makes reproducing them live tricky, so there’s a lot of practice and recording time involved.
Although Pilotdrift consider recording a hobby rather than a chore, Blagg explains that, “when Kelly [Carr] writes these songs…he wasn’t writing thinking how are we going to pull this off live, he was just writing to write and record songs. And as we kind of pieced together this band and decided that this is what we’re going to do, then we figured out how we were going to do it.”
Without any outside help, the members play everything they need themselves during performances, even switching mid-song if necessary. “We’re all over the stage so that’s kind of been another plus for us [when] playing live because people say that it’s really interesting to watch because we play so many different instruments,” Blagg says.
While it can be demanding, Blagg also thinks that “it’s really exciting and it makes it a lot of fun…to see people’s reaction when we actually do pull everything [off] live.”
And to see if Pilotdrift actually pull it all off, check them out next week at La Tulipe.
Pilotdrift open for Supergrass next Tuesday, Feb. 7th at La Tulipe. Show 9pm.Tickets are $22.50.