Pilot Run have released their brilliant release ‘Faces Are Hard To Find’. We caught up with them for an interview following the release, enjoy now!
How did you first get into music?
Music was peripheral to me as a child. But at high school, I was suddenly exposed to genres of music I’d never heard before. One of the guys I travelled up with made double-sided cassettes that we used to play in the car.
We’d listen to Nirvana, Greenday, Blink 182, The Offspring and Rage Against the Machine on repeat. I soon decided I wanted to play guitar, so I bought my cousin’s Squier Strat in a bright-pink guitar case and took it to school every other day to play before class.
I met Craig and Matt early on. We started playing together before we hit puberty. Craig was already an incredible drummer, and Matt was an ace guitarist and singer. We used to book out the rehearsal room in our music block after school, where we jammed Nirvana, Disturbed, Deftones, and Metallica covers.
We joined forces with another band at school to become Street Light Youth and played extensively around our town—we even played Download Festival at the age of 16. I couldn’t have imagined we’d still be playing together today.
What is the first song that captured your attention as a youngster?
‘It Wasn’t Me’ by Shaggy? Ha! I grew up listening to pop music—as a child; my favourite albums were by the Spice Girls and S Club 7! My dad used to have Pet Sounds and What’s The Story Morning Glory? on repeat, which sowed many seeds. But I owe a lot of my conversion to rock music to the Tony Hawk soundtracks and the skater-punk movement.
If I had to name a song, it would have to be ‘Fat Lip’ by Sum 41. I loved the ethos, but I was a pretty shy child and terrible skater, so definitely didn’t embody it. I soon started to spend a lot of my time watching Kerrang!, Scuzz and MTV, and from there I was hooked.
Who influenced your latest release ‘Faces Are Hard To Find’?
Musically, we have an eclectic range of influences between us, from pop to grindcore. I like big riffs and big choruses and naturally, take inspiration from many of my favourite bands: Deftones, Weezer, Refused, Biffy Clyro, At the Drive-In, Million Dead, Hundred Reasons, Converge and Reuben, for a start. Matt’s big into math-rock, and Craig prefers songs where the guitars play sub decibels!
Lyrically, it’s a mix. Sadly, one of our best friends passed away a couple of years ago. Among the Dead and Haunted Head are written about the night he died and the mental-health impact it had on me afterwards. The topic is heavy and personal, but the songs are meant to be hopefully and a rallying cry to anyone going through something similar—it’s ok to not be ok! Our friend was always supportive of our music, so I really wanted to get the EP over the line.
‘Faces Are Hard To Find’ was recorded at Tom Donovan Studios, what was the process like?
So much fun. We started recording with Tom in our previous bands around 15 years ago when we were barely pubescent, and he was working all hours out of a tiny studio in a barn. We clicked immediately and have always seen him as an extension of the band rather our producer. He now owns a full studio in Colchester, full of musical gadgets and gizmos. Tom is genuinely invested in the music he produces, so he wants to get the best out of you and himself.
At one point he decided Haunted Head was missing something. He grabbed a mic and took it outside, then ran out with a plate from the kitchen and threw it to the ground. ‘That’s it!’ he exclaimed. He returned with half of his crockery and proceeded to smash it until he got the sound he wanted. The experimentation didn’t stop there—we even have some percussive crinkling of a Doritos packet in Coloured Lines.
What draws you to the grunge genre?
Typically, it started with Nirvana’s Nevermind. I love the big, dirty guitars often associated with grunge, but the most influential element for me is how these heavy songs are dripping with melody. It’s well known that Kurt Cobain adored the Beatles, and this manifested itself in his music through his vocal hooks and song structures. Translating this into a distorted frenzy of angst is a work of genius.
We’ve never considered ourselves to be a grunge band, and certainly don’t claim to be, but we did find when recording this EP that we started to use the word more to describe the sound. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure where we sit—alternative rock? Post-hardcore? Grunge? Punk? We’re a bit of a melting pot, which I like, but it can also be a challenge in today’s world where everything is categorised and you don’t slot neatly into a genre.
What motivates you to make music?
I find the creative process fascinating; my mind is always blown when I reflect on how we go from the initial spark of an idea in your head to manifesting the finished product. But I love it all; from an initial melody to rehearsing, playing live and even the non-musical side of the release. There are few feelings I’ve experienced that compares to being in a band; you became a team, best friends, and it can be like being in a relationship in itself—for better or worse!
But I guess it’s more than that. I have a real problem with the impermanent, which is why I’m terrible at housekeeping! Music has a permanence to it—it’s going to last, in some shape or form, at least for the foreseeable future. I like the idea of being able to leave an authentic snapshot of ourselves behind. Music gives me purpose, and I suppose an identity too.
Pre-covid what was the music scene like in Colchester?
The music scene in Colchester has always been strong since I’ve known it. The granddaddy of venues in the town is Colchester Arts Centre, which it was originally a church founded in the 13th century—not a huge surprise when you know we’re the oldest recorded town in Britain. But we have several other venues in bars and pubs that each have a strong personality and attract music lovers.
Naturally, you soon end up getting to know the local bands and crowds, so it feels like a community. There’s nothing better than going to or playing a gig where most of the people there end up becoming your mates. I’m an avid follower of local bands and actually listen to them as much as anything else. I’m looking forward to becoming part of it again when we’re able to.
What are your other passions aside from music?
Matt’s a maniac when it comes to running. He’s always out running up and down hills and around the parks. He’s earned himself several medals from marathons and the like, which is really impressive. Craig runs his own succulent business called Xerofolia, so he has a wealth of knowledge about cacti and the like and can usually be found out in his greenhouse.
I’m a geek and proud—I play Dungeons & Dragons every week and have a love for board games (even more so since the pandemic). It’s a great way to socialise with purpose, and a great, creative escape from reality for a few hours. I’ve even roped Matt and Craig into a few games. Matt’s an estranged nobleman, and Craig’s a very troubled wizard.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
The music industry is a complex beast. Without doubt, it would be nice for the industry to be more sustainable for smaller artists, for example, to earn more from streaming so that we could recoup some money that goes into recording—but that argument’s been out there for a while, and there are other ways to earn if you’re smart about it and have time, but it means you really have to be more than a musician.
Everything you need is an artists’ fingertips, so you really can make yourself, but it’s harder to do so as the market is saturated and attention spans have shortened, so you need to understand how streaming services and social media works; you have to play the algorithm game if you want to be heard.
I watch a lot of Youtube channels to increase my understanding. I liked some advice from Burstimo recently, which was to ‘conquer your home town.’ It sounds obvious, but in the context of streaming and the restrictions of the pandemic, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of your local music scene, which is the best place to start.
What new music are you listening to at the moment?
A lot of local bands, which I really recommend checking out. Bad Nerves have just released an awesome first album, and Pet Needs have one on the way. RAD PITT give you a kick start in the morning, Ransoms are infectious, and Monster Florence have the groove, to name a few. Outside of this, I recommend checking out the new Svalbard album—it’s brilliant!
We’ve actually put together a playlist of some of our favourite tracks, which you can listen to on Spotify.
‘Faces Are Hard To Find’ is a superb debut EP, what can we expect next?
Thanks very much! We really appreciate you taking the time to listen.
We want to keep the momentum. We’re not able to rehearse together due to lockdown, but we’re already working on new material. There are a lot of voice notes flying around! Putting together an EP is a longer process, so I think we’ll go for a different approach this year by keeping the writing short and sharp and releasing some singles. I’m excited to see what direction we go in.
The EP deliberately pushed and pulled on different sides of our sound, so there are several doors open for us to explore further. I have to say, after being cooped up all year we’ve got a lot of pent-up energy, so I’m expecting some riffs!
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FVMusicBlog February 2021
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