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.