posted on August 06, 2012 00:00
Tommy & the High Pilots have been grounded for two months, feverishly working on putting out the band’s fourth album. But they recently took to the sky, kicking off their latest tour, which will make its descent into in St. Louis Aug. 12 at the Firebird.
But before take off, frontman Tommy Cantillon talked to InsideSTL about playing at the Firebird, little known facts about the band, the upcoming album and more.
InsideSTL: Since you’ll be performing at the Firebird when you come to St. Louis, what do you enjoy about performing there as opposed to other venues in the St. Louis area?
Tommy Cantillon: ...There’s a level of comfort that comes with showing up at venue. We’re good buddies with the promoter, we get to joke around [and it’s] not too serious... We like everything about the venue... It’s not too big, so the shows can be really intimate even if the place is packed, and it’s just very fun. It’s hidden kind of in its own little world.... Certainly there’s a level of comfort in playing the Firebird... Normally, it seems like we’re always playing with different bands there and discover one or two really cool bands every time we play there.
InsideSTL: Some bands in St. Louis such as Mostly Harmless have opened for you guys on more than one occasion. How much say do you have in who opens for you in each town?
TC: I guess that all depends... [For the show coming up in St. Louis], Hellogoodbye will headline... If we’re headlining, [the promoter will] email us and say these bands want to get on, or he’ll just go ahead and book a band that’s going to go sell 50 tickets at their high school to prove they want it the most...
InsideSTL: What sets your live show apart from the recordings?
TC: ... In the studio, we don’t have just one time to play it... [and] on the record, there’s a lot more texture... extra pianos, extra acoustic guitars, trumpets, whatever... backup instruments... The energy live has to be greater because we’re making up for a lack of instruments... Genuinely, that is where we have the most fun, and so playing it live you’re representing yourselves, and you only have one chance as opposed to a record... With the live show, you’ve really got to prove yourselves and certainly one thing we hear a lot is, ‘The album sounds great, but it doesn’t have that energy you have live’ ... [That’s what we] like to hear. That’s where we feel best about ourselves.
InsideSTL: What would you say has been the most difficult song to write so far?
TC: That might actually be something that isn’t actually recorded yet. We’re currently working on our fourth record. And that process has been going on for quite some time. This is the longest time we’ve been home, [about] two months. And while we’re home we get to work on songs and all the music, and it falls on me a lot, working hours and hours a day on music.
There’s been a few songs so far for the next record that have been written and re-written... [some of them] like 12 or 15 times. I would say [the most difficult song will] probably be something that’s going to be on next record.
InsideSTL: What is the biggest change you’ve noticed in your music since Tommy & the High Pilots began?
TC: I would say that I think we are always trying to write the next song, and we’re never really worrying about if it sound sonically like every other song... It sounds weird to say, and I don’t know that I totally agree with it, but [also] the level of maturity we take in approaching our songs grows every day. It’s not something that we just kind of [let] fall by the wayside when we’re working on new material.
Obviously, we have fun with it... We never settle with anything... Maybe we did that more early on, maybe we settled more early on... We’re very very strict with ourselves; nothing is good enough. It’s gotta be the best thing we can do... or it won’t make it to a live show. It won’t make it to the record.
InsideSTL: What’s the strangest thing that has inspired a song?
TC: I would say the strangest thing that has inspired a song was Dexter.
InsideSTL: What song is that and how did Dexter inspire the song?
TC: It’s a song called “Brooklyn” that hasn’t been released yet, and it’s probably not really even done yet. It’s funny because I think as a teenager I would write about my high school problems and girls and when I got a little older I would write about traveling, broken hearts, family problems and every once in awhile I would read newspaper, comic book [and get an idea from that]... I never really thought to turn on the TV and pay attention to something, like there would be a correlation between that and my music... I started watching Dexter... and somewhere down the line I started writing a song [and it had] scenes[ about a vigilante...
InisdeSTL: What’s one thing most Tommy & the High Pilot fans would be surprised to know about the band?
TC: ... I actually think about that sometimes... I would say either one of two things. We love hip hop music, and I would say that I romanticize baseball about as much as I do music.
InsideSTL: I’ve seen a lot of posts about the band working on a new record. When can fans expect that to be released?
TC: Unfortunately, there’s not a set date yet and this tour, in a good way, is going to screw up the songwriting process... It’s so impossible to work on songs on the road, but because I have been working at it for a while now, there’s a lot of material, a lot of stuff currently being worked on ]and that’s[ going to be reworked...
The big goal we’re trying to knock down is finding a producer for the next record... We’re trying to find that magic, that person that we really click with. That’s a tough thing to do...
That process will be ongoing through early September... The pressure is on to lock that in, and we should be starting the physical recording process by the end of the year. It could be sooner, we could start in September or December, but it is a very alive, very real thing and every day we’re working on music. Honestly, we want it to be the best thing we’ve ever done so might take awhile to get that out, but we hope people will be pleased with it...
Check out more from Tommy & The High Pilots on their website by clicking HERE.
Catch them @ The firebird on August 12th, you can get more info and tickets to the show by clicking HERE.