Introductory Post

I’m not entirely sure what, if anything, I’ll use this blog for; the main purpose of this website is to put all the music and writing stuff I’m working on, or have worked on, in one spot. The blog is an afterthought…. I’m more of an edit-it-to-death-first kind of writer so the more spontaneous nature of blog writing doesn’t come naturally to me. Nevertheless, I’ll give it a shot, and you can expect to see posts on here sporadically, maybe a handful a month.

I had to put up “categories” on the top there so the site didn’t look empty; they represent the rough ideas I have for subject matter. Random observations, reviews of terrible books I’ve found at thrift stores, Minneapolis-specific stuff, wine reviews by someone who knows very little about wine… stuff like that. I’m  sure I’ll fine tune all of that and have a better idea of which subjects make more sense in the weeks and months to come.

The only category that has more than one test post at this point is “Interviews.” That was by far the easiest part of setting this website up: linking to interviews that already exist on the web. Rad.

I leave for tour tomorrow so maybe I’ll be bored enough on the road to update this a few times. If not, check back in a couple weeks.

Fun fact: the image here was on the first page of a Google Image Search for the word “introduction”!

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Punknews 2009 Interview

Here’s a Banner Pilot interview Nick and I did for Punknews in 2009. Check it out below, or on their site.

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With their inaugural release on Fat Wreck Chords, Collapser, available today, Nick and Nate from Minneapolis’ Banner Pilot spoke with Punknews’ Zack Zeigler regarding the differences betweenCollapser and their last release, Resignation Day, how comments – both positive and negative – from Punksnews’ readers can actually make a difference in the band and the steps Banner Pilot takes to ensure the production of their records don’t fall into the “mall-punk” category.

There are high hopes for your first Fat Wreck Chords’ release; did you feel the pressure during the writing or production of Collapser?

Nate: You know, not really. 99 percent of the writing took place before we signed, and the actual recording process was pretty laid back and fun. I feel like we really prepared for the recording and had everything written and ready to go, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure or stress. We knew we could play the songs and didn’t need to write a ton of parts on the fly or anything.

I guess the first couple days were a little stressful because we thought we’d be banging out four or five songs a day and that didn’t happen. But once we adjusted to the pace of a couple songs a day and accepted the fact that we’d have to book extra days, it was a blast.

It’s interesting though, I guess if we had signed *before* writing any of the songs it would have been a little different. I think there might have been more second-guessing going on while we were working on the songs. As it was, Fat had heard demos for 11 of the 12 songs before we even went into the studio, so there wasn’t the worry of handing the album in and them being like “Oh shit, we didn’t know that you guys totally suck.”

Sometimes punk music all sounds the same, so what will help separate Collapser from slipping into that category?

Nate: I think the fact that we distort our guitars and have gruff vocals should set us apart. Nah, I don’t know. In some ways I don’t think it’ll happen. I think, for example, that if you walked into a nursing home with a boombox and played Simple Plan and then Banner Pilot, you’d have a ton of old people yelling at you to turn it off, you’re waking up the dead, it all sounds the same, etc. You just have to do your best and hope that someone who is actually into punk music will notice any differences.

Nick: Yep – a guy I work with told me we sound just like the Offspring on numerous occasions. Who am I to argue? I usually just tell non-punk fans who ask that we sound kinda like the Ramones or Green Day.

Nate: Also, we definitely didn’t have an attitude of “we need to stand out and be different” with the record. That sort of mindset can lead to weird places where you’re forcing things – “Hey, let’s add…. a… flute?” – into your songs. You should just figure out what you can pull off and try to get really good at it.

Why is Banner Pilot getting popular? No disrespect in the question, but there are bands that never have or never will achieve the same success as you guys. So what makes your band different? Is it your work ethic? The personalities in the band? Do you all have the same goals? Or are you just that good?

Nick: How dare you, sir.

Nate: Well, this isn’t false modesty, but we’re really not that popular. To the extent that there’s some people out there who have heard our band and like it, I guess some of that might be because we do spend a fair amount of time on the songs. For every 50 song ideas I write on my computer at home, we’ll end up using five or six. And I think if we had the mindset of “the first twelve songs we come up with, there’s our album,” less people would like our band than do now.

There’s a line that punk rock fans sometimes obsess over when it comes to an album’s production. How do you guys decide if it’s too much or too little? Did you run into that at all with Collapser? Who – if anyone outside of the band – do you lean on for advice on that?

Nate: It’s definitely something we try to give a lot of attention to. Usually we start by playing the engineer records we like the sound of so they know off the bat what we’re shooting for. Then you kind of sit back a little and trust that the engineer knows what they’re doing, but still pipe up if it seems like something isn’t quite coming together. I think it worked – I’m really, really happy with how Collapser ended up sounding. I do think if we had pushed it too much further it would have bordered on over-produced, but as-is I really like where it’s at.

Of course, there’s also a difference between “really good” and “overproduced.” For example, none of the major label Green Day albums are overproduced; they’re all just really well-recorded. Whereas some of the mall-punk shit is comically overproduced. I like to think we wouldn’t ever end up with something that’s overproduced, even if we had some crazy budget, because none of us like how that shit sounds. I think other bands might aim for it. I mean, I’m guessing a band called something like Autumn’s Fall *wants* to sound like overproduced crap; we don’t, so it’s not that difficult to avoid, even if we had the means to accomplish it.

(Note: I have no idea if there is actually a band called Autumn’s Fall. But if there is, they must suck)

Nick: We definitely wanted to up the production for this record. I wasn’t really happy with the sound on Resignation Day – I kept thinking shit would improve dramatically in mastering but it didn’t work out that way – I came home with my copy and played it alongside songs by bands like the Copyrights and D4 and thought, “Fuck, this is too high-end.” Off With Their Heads’ From the Bottom sounded awesome, and that was recorded by Jacques Wait, who also had done Soviettes’ records (and Dear Landlord this spring). We asked him to record it and basically trusted him to make it sweet. I’m totally stoked on how it turned out.

Do you ever check out the comments on Punknews.org in response to any news about you guys? Do you even care?

Nate: Yeah, I definitely check out the comments; it’s fun to hear feedback on stuff. If someone doesn’t like something, and it’s useful criticism, I’ll keep it in mind for later. With the last album a fair amount of people said the songs sounded too similar, so when I was writing the basic ideas for the songs on this album I tried to force myself to try some new things. So getting that kind of feedback was useful.

On the other hand, if the criticism is “blows. new Thrice album fuckin’ owns this wussy girl music crap”, then…. I mean, that’s cool, you know? It’s worth a shrug or a grin and that’s about it. You’ll never have *everyone* liking something you do. And the other thing is, it’s just music. No one is going to be harmed by your record. If Banner Pilot, instead of making punk records, made pacemakers, I would be totally freaked out if people were like “ugh, these suck.”

Nick: I read the comments, but focus on those by posters with great musical taste like Scarysmurf, nocigar and 14theroad. I remember reading Dan Vapid say he never reads Methadones reviews, but I can’t help myself. Because of that, I’ve also seen such gems as “this CD was so wussy I gave it to my girlfriend” and “Banner Pilot would do better as a punk rock cover band.”

Is the goal as a band to stay the course, keep doing what you’re doing (because it seems to be working out well for you), or are you guys trying to find ways to explore new things?

Nate: One thing bands always run into is whether they should stick to what they know or try new things. Think about how often you see arcs like this:

1. Band X releases a well-received album. It introduces the “Band X Sound”

2. Band X releases a followup. It sounds basically like the first album but it’s not as good.

3. Stung by criticism that they’re a one trick pony, Band X releases a new album, saying “We want to expand our horizons and explore new sonic soundscapes. We don’t want to be restricted by tired old formulas. We’re breaking new ground. Keyboards are sweet now. Blah blah”. Their new album sounds totally different. It also sucks.

4. Band X says “We’re going back to basics. We don’t want to forget our roots. Longtime fans are in for some of the original fury that made Band X shatter preconceived notions of the human experience blah blah blah”

I mean, that happens all the time. So you have to try find the middle ground of not losing why people liked you in the first place, but also not falling into a rut. Finding that sweet spot is tough; not many bands pull it off.

I’d say that Jawbreaker and Against Me are great examples of pulling it off – each of their albums sounds different, but not in a forced way. And even though I like 24 Hour Revenge Therapy the most, I think I’d like Jawbreaker less if instead of releasing what they did, they just released four 24 Hour clones and Unfun/Bivouac/Dear You never existed. Superchunk and Sleater Kinney are two other examples of bands that pulled it off well.

Nick: I feel like we’re just getting better at we do, which is pop-punk, and I’m happy with that – that’s the music I love. On Collapser, we definitely did try to do some new stuff, more mid-tempo like “Starting at an Ending” and “Write it Down” which I was originally thinking could be acoustic when I wrote it. We may still try to cash in on the folk-punk wave though.

Sometimes, the better you become as a band, the more people like to try to tear you down. Is that happening to Banner Pilot? Is that from jealousy? Does that affect you?

Nate: Uh, I guess I haven’t noticed anyone trying to tear us down. Is that happening? Are there people out there trying to destroy us? I’m picturing some guy watching us through a monitor, stroking a cat and saying “Soon, my pretty.”

Nah, I dunno – I guess I haven’t really seen/heard that. If it’s people who are basically just like “We don’t like your band”, then who cares? I suppose something like what Against Me went through would bother me, but that’s not going to happen to a band of our size.

You’re playing The Fest this year. Any bands you want to see that you’ve never seen?

Nate: I need to sit down and go through all the bands on the website. Last year I did that and made a point of seeing as many new bands as possible. It was great. I stumbled on all sorts of great sets from bands I never knew of beforehand.

Nick: 7 Seconds! I played the shit out of The Crew back in high school. Other bands that I don’t see that often that I’ll make a point to check out include Bridge and Tunnel, Lemuria, Monikers, Dopamines, Menzingers and Toys that Kill.

Do you prefer playing festivals or shows? Are the short sets at festivals a positive or a negative draw for Banner Pilot? Or does it not matter as long as you’re playing to a crowd?

Nate: If it’s a fest against a single show, then I prefer a fest, no question. Tons of bands, including bands you don’t usually see live, a bunch of friends from across the country in one place… it’s great! If you’re comparing a fest to a tour, then you have plusses and minuses. Tours have more variety to them, and you have the bonus of being able to check out a new city each day.

But even then, I guess I prefer fests. They’re a lot of fun.

What’s wrong with a band that makes money? It seems, sometimes, that once a band starts to cash-in from their hard work – even without taking any short cuts – there are still ignorant fans that can’t wait to lump that band in with people who take the easy route. What’s up with that?

Nate: There’s nothing wrong with a band making money. Well, if it’s like “Hey, check out it out, Autumn’s Fall has teamed up with Vault soda to quench your thirst in a totally kickass way. Buy their new album Carbonate and get a coupon inside for free ringtones and a 20-oz. soda”, then it’s pretty fucking stupid. But in general, if you’re mad that a band has worked hard enough where they’re able to make some money off of what they do, then you are pretty stupid and spend your time getting worked up about ridiculous things.

Nick: Yep – in my opinion it just shouldn’t be what’s driving you. If you’re changing your music and image to make money, your shit isn’t from the heart and I don’t want to hear it. “Guys, my analysis shows that through the application of eye-liner we can boost sales by five percent” – Sorry, ya lost me.

Which three bands would you like to be mentioned in the same breath with? Which three would you consider an honor to be compared to when your career playing music is over?

Nate: Jawbreaker, Lawrence Arms, and Screeching Weasel would be cool. Those are all bands I’ve liked a lot over the years, and bands that I think kids will still be getting into for years to come.

Nick: Sounds right to me!

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Punknews 2008 Interview

Here’s a Banner Pilot interview Nick and I did back in 2008 for Punknews. Check it out below or on their site.

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While the actual release date keeps getting pushed back, Minneapolis, Minnesota’a Banner Pilot really have finished their debut full-length, Resignation Day. The follow-up to their 2006 EP, Pass the Poison, shouldn’t disappoint those who loved the band’s blend of Lawrence Arms, Dillinger Four and Jawbreaker-esque punk rock.

Punknews interviewer Zack Zeigler talked to the band’s vocalist/guitarist Nick and bassist Nate regarding their approach to the new album and what people can expect.

Have you noticed anything different about Resignation Day, the sound or the lyrics, opposed to Pass the Poison? What, if anything, persuaded that change in sound/direction?

Nate: Not really; I wouldn’t say we’re “going in a new direction” or “broadening our horizons” or whatever. I think the songwriting is better, but we’re definitely not doing anything drastically different, like adding keyboards or anything ridiculous like that.

Nick: We’ll save that for LP #2 — but we did try to mix it up the tempo more on this record! We play both speeds, 190 and 200 BPM. Lyrically I still draw a lot of inspiration from John Fante’s books and write songs about life’s challenges and coping mechanisms — yah know, screwy girls and drinking.

You released your first demo in 2005, what’s changed in you as a band since that release?

Nick: We got a non-digital drummer! He’s not as reliable and you have to feed him but he’s a better conversationalist.

Nate: Besides Danny [the drummer], I think that playing shows and writing songs has made us a better band since the 2005 incarnation — but not really different. I guess it’s sort of like the first question, not to disappoint, but we haven’t gone on any spiritual quests or anything over the last couple years. I like to think that the EP was an improvement on the demo and the new record is an improvement on that.

But who knows? I mean, every band thinks their new stuff is their best album yet. You never hear a band say “Aww, this new record is a fucking joke. We got high half the time and did stupid shit like hiring a tuba player and running all the vocals through a wah wah pedal. Ughh. Seriously, just get the last album.” Nope, it’s always, “We’re really stoked about the new album and we think it’s our best yet.” And then when the next record rolls around it’s all, “We made some mistakes on the last record. It wasn’t really ‘us,’ and there was a lot of stress in the band at the time, you know? But we’ve cleared our heads and now we’re really stoked about the new album and we think it’s our best yet.” That said, we’re really stoked about the new album and we think it’s our best yet.

What message do you want your music, particularly Resignation Day, to get across?

Nick: There’s really no manifesto this time around. It’s sort of all been said before. Meat is still murder, dairy is still rape, so on and so forth. Although, I recently heard the Brokedowns say on stage “you can’t soar with the eagles if you stay out with the owls” and that seems like a pretty great message so maybe we’ll co-opt it.

How have you been getting the word out about your new album?

Nate: We hand out tracks to people walking by, cold call strangers out of the white pages, etc etc. All the normal stuff. Plus we’ve been trying new ideas like putting up songs on our MySpace page. Once we have physical copies in hand we’ll be sending them out to magazines and distros and what not.

Nick: I know where Channel 11’s “backyard” is where they shoot the weather portion of the 10 pm newscast, we can hop up and down behind the fence and yell shit.

Nate: Yeah, and then if the news channel tries to give us shit, we’ll just say we were reporting legitimate weather news. “This album is going to be a total hurricane of awesomeness!” or whatever.

What’s your favorite song to play live? What’s your favorite song off of Resignation Day?

Nick: My favorite is probably ‘Saltash Luck’ or ‘Empty Your Bottles’; on the latter I get to play bass because neither Cory or I can play that drone lead yet and sing at the same time. That’s strictly for the pros.

Nate: I like the song ‘Cut Bait’ because it’s a pretty fun bass line to play. I think the best song on the record would be ‘Empty Your Bottles.’

If you could tell a kid that’s never heard of Banner Pilot to listen to one song off the new record, what song would it be?

Nate: Uh, gee, I dunno. As I understand it, no one really reads lyrics anymore, so it’d be hard to try to get a message across to a kid unless you were strictly going with the song title. So I guess I’d choose ‘No Transfer’ so they’d maybe learn about the importance of getting a transfer when you ride the bus.

What does the term “sellout” mean to you guys?

Nick: Um, what our record will do once this interview gets posted on Punknews.org? (That was the deal, right?) What the guy at the liquor store tonight said happened when I asked where my favorite bottle of Rioja was? Basically don’t change your music for money.

On your MySpace page you described your sound as a blend between the Lawrence Arms, Jawbreaker and Alkaline Trio. Were those bands your main influences?

Nick: I grew up listening to a lot of Screeching Weasel so that’s a main influence for me. We’re probably a hybrid of that with the rougher vocals of Jawbreaker/Crimpshrine/Hot Water Music. Lyrically, I look up to Blake (Jawbreaker) quite a bit, although Dingbat is pretty fucking sweet.

Nate: Mostly the first two. Not Alkaline Trio so much. Jawbreaker’s probably my favorite band, but we don’t really sound like them. I mean, seriously, does anyone actually sound like Jawbreaker other than Jawbreaker? Not really. A few bands sound like Dear You-as-performed-by-a-computer-program (ie, they understand the basic formula but it doesn’t sound right), but that’s about it. We get compared to Lawrence Arms every now and then, and I can hear that, so it’d be fair to call them a main influence.

What’s the last show Banner Pilot went to that they didn’t perform?

Nick: Nate and I went to see Tegan and Sara recently but swore we wouldn’t talk about it. $8 Heinekens? Wtf? It was great though.

Nate: All four of us? Not sure, unless you count any of the various Fest shows.

For those who have never been, what’s a Banner Pilot show like?

Nick: It’s incredible. We usually open with me staring at Danny while he checks some knobs and dials on his cymbals and I try to gauge when we can start rocking. Someone probably yells out “Boner Pilot!” and 15-20 minutes of blistering punk rock follow sprinkled tastefully with awkward banter. If someone breaks a string, Nate may play the dungeon song from Super Mario Bros. on bass, or we’ll break into a confused rendition of Lillington High.

Do you have anything special planned for the release of Resignation Day? If so, what’s the plan and where will it be?

Nick: Dillinger Four was cool enough to let us open their 3rd annual “Dillinger Fourth of July” at the Triple Rock and hopefully we’ll have the CDs by then. It’s also Off With Their Heads CD release show, so it should be awesome!

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Scene Point Blank 2008 Interview

Here’s an interview I did with Loren from Scene Point Blank back in 2008. Read it below or at their site.

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Minnesota punks Banner Pilot continue to turn heads with their vintage pop-punk sound. Scene Point Blank chatted with bassist Nate Gangelhoff about the band’s new full-length offering and their recent trip to The Fest.

Scene Point Blank: Nate, you’re listed as bass & guitar. Do you play both on the record?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yep, the previous guitar player quit while we were in the studio, so on the last album I did all the guitar leads and half the rhythm tracks. Plus I always do the bass. It worked out fine – I actually write the guts of all the songs on a guitar, not a bass, so it wasn’t weird or anything. The extra two strings didn’t fuck me up. Plus believe it or not they’re actually thinner than bass strings, so it’s kind of like Bass For Dummies.

Scene Point Blank: I really don’t know much about the death of Rivethead and the birth of Banner Pilot. How did Banner Pilot get started?

Nate Gangelhoff: Banner Pilot basically started with me writing some songs along to this drum program I got for my computer. I had a really hard time coming up with tunes until I was able to play along to a basic beat and keep time. So once I had that I wrote a few things and then Nick and me came up with vocal ideas over them. The songs were god awful, but got better over time. As for Rivethead, we were a band for a pretty long time, so it just sort of naturally ran its course after six or seven years. I think Banner Pilot had technically started before Rivethead broke up, but we didn’t actually have a drummer or play shows until months later.

Scene Point Blank: What’s the significance of the name?

Nate Gangelhoff: I dunno, I guess it sounded cool?

Scene Point Blank: You’ve gotten a lot of positive press on the web. Have you seen an increase in attendance on your tours from this?

Nate Gangelhoff: Well, not really, but I guess on the last tour there were a few shows that seemed to have more people. But I didn’t say “This is because of the web, right?” to any of them, so I can’t venture a guess as to why. I guess the longer you’ve been a band, the more chances there are that someone’s heard you and will check out a show.

Scene Point Blank: How did Go-Kart contact you? Do they have other Twin Cities connections?

Nate Gangelhoff: I think a guy at this radio station heard us and recommended that Go-Kart check us out. They don’t have any Twin Cities connections as far as I know.

Scene Point Blank: Do you think the record captures who you are as a live band?

Nate Gangelhoff: Kinda, but that record was a little different, I guess, ’cause it was three people playing four instruments, you know? Can’t do that live. But I guess that’s not a huge difference ’cause I don’t really have a unique guitar playing style or anything.

Scene Point Blank: Had you worked with Dave Gardner before?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yep, we’ve worked with Dave a few times on mastering and he’s awesome.

Scene Point Blank: How many bands are you currently in?

Nate Gangelhoff: Two main ones: Banner Pilot and Gateway District. I’m not in Off With Their Heads anymore ’cause they finally found someone who can tour all the time, but I’ll definitely help out if they ever need a bass player for a stray show or recording. And I’m sort of still in the Pyongyang Metro but that’s really sporadic ’cause the singer lives in Philly now. And I might be helping out a friend of mine this winter with his new band called The San Diego Chargers (Minneapolis).

Scene Point Blank: Have you ever had just one band?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yeah, it was just Rivethead for quite awhile.

Scene Point Blank: What makes Banner Pilot different than your other projects?

Nate Gangelhoff: Well, it’s not much different. But, with all the other bands I’ve been in I pretty much just write the bass lines, or in the case of The Gateway District, the guitar parts. So Banner Pilot is a lot more involved and time-consuming because I write the guts to all of the songs.

Scene Point Blank: How active is Gateway District? Is it a side project?

Nate Gangelhoff: It’s a little more active now. We did a 7″ in 2006 and then didn’t do anything until this past summer, mostly because we were all living in different states. But this summer we started playing again, wrote an album, recorded it last month and played a handful of shows along the way. So yeah I guess you could consider us to be “active” now although we won’t be doing any six-week tours or whatever.

Scene Point Blank: You’ve been in bands for quite a while now. Have your goals changed, or do you still get the same thing out of playing that you did when you started?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yeah, it’s really the same for the most part – fun for the same reasons. I don’t remember the experience of being in a band when I was eighteen being a lot different than it is now. I think that’s a good thing?

Scene Point Blank: A lot has changed for me since I was eighteen but, yeah, that sounds like a good thing that you haven’t burnt out.

Nate Gangelhoff: Yep!

Scene Point Blank: Moving on, The Fest 7 just finished. I think I first heard about you sometime after The Fest 5, although I never saw the band until the last year. How many Fests have you played (or attended)?

Nate Gangelhoff: This one was our third in a row. I think it was my favorite so far, too.

Scene Point Blank: What’s your highlight from this year’s Fest as a performer?

Nate Gangelhoff: It was a great show and definitely our best Fest set yet. The first time no one really knew us, and last year we stupidly played all new songs that no one had heard yet. So this year it was cool to play to a lot of people that seemingly knew the songs.

Scene Point Blank: I actually missed your set, but how was playing the Sidehatch? You had a pretty prime timeslot between Coalesce and Lawrence Arms.

Nate Gangelhoff: The Sidehatch was cool – a little dark; we had to buy a lamp for the merch table just to see anything. But besides that it was great. I’m guessing a lot of people checked us out before checking out the Lawrence Arms next door, but I can’t imagine that many Coalesce fans were into us.

Scene Point Blank: You never know, but that was a curious timeslot for them. You’d think they’d be allotted closer to some of the hardcore bands.

Nate Gangelhoff: True. But shit, that’s got to be hard to schedule like 280 bands over three days. You’re going to have a couple of weird pairings, I suppose.

Scene Point Blank: What was your highlight of Fest 7 a fan? Did you stay the whole weekend?

Nate Gangelhoff: I think my favorite band was Good Luck. My goal this Fest was to see as many bands that I hadn’t checked out before, and I caught quite a few good ones. Yep, we stayed the whole weekend but I got Fest AIDS pretty bad Sunday evening so the last set I saw was at around 7pm.

Scene Point Blank: Me too, but I didn’t crash until after Leatherface. Did you stay at the Holiday Inn? Did the official post-Fest show happen?

Nate Gangelhoff: Yeah, we had a room at the Holiday Inn. It was nice being close to all the shows – the last couple years we stayed at the Rush Lake Motel, which was pretty awesome in its own right but required a bit of a walk. I think they ended up scrapping the plans for midnight karaoke on the rooftop, actually. Bummer.

Scene Point Blank: So you got “Fest AIDS”?

Nate Gangelhoff: Indeed! Not as bad as last year though. Last weekend at this show I ran into probably fifteen people who went to Fest the previous weekend and every single one of them was sick!

Scene Point Blank: Fest AIDS kept me from going to that Arrivals/Off With Their Heads/Gateway District show on Friday. I was a little better than last year, in that I didn’t totally lose my voice this time around, but I’m still coughing a week later. Is Fest AIDS a unique thing, or are viruses like that a typical result of touring?

Nate Gangelhoff: Fest AIDS is unique, I think. When I’ve gotten sick on tour on other occasions, it felt like a run of the mill illness. But Fest AIDS is a somewhat different sensation. It’s almost like you somehow inhaled the weekend, this rancid mess of smoke and PBR, and have to sweat it out of your system.

Scene Point Blank: Did you tour on the way to FL?

Nate Gangelhoff: Nah, not this year but we did for Fest 5. It’s pretty cool ’cause there’s so many bands descending on the same part of the country at once that you end up having great shows along the way.

Scene Point Blank: Thanks for your time.

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Mutiny Zine 2008 Interview

Here’s an interview I did with the fanzine Mutiny Zine back in 2008. Check it out below or at their site.

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Hey Nate! What’s up?

Not Much!

I just finished your book “You Idiot” which was absolutely hilarious. How has the response to the book been so far?

– Thanks! Glad you liked it. So far the response has been whelming— not underwhelming, not overwhelming. Just whelming. I have six books left and will be doing a second printing in a couple weeks, and so far people seem to be digging it. Can’t complain!

Sounds like it’s doing really good! How many copies did you make in the first printing?

550, i think? Somewhere between 500 and 600. Not a ton; I didn’t want tons of boxes sitting around if it totally flopped.

Are you happy with the way the book came out?

– For the most part. There are a fair amount of typos, and in retrospect i should have cut down some of the articles even further. But, I’ll fix both of those things in later versions I guess. Overall, I think the book looks pretty nice and I think it ended up with a good mix of topics. Hopefully it’s a good book to have on tour, or in the bathroom– good for reading random 2 or 3 page snippets at a time.

Tell me about Arsenic Books, is it a company of your own or how did you get in touch with them?

I wouldn’t call it a “company” as much as a name I slapped on the book to give it a faint whiff of professionalism and prevent it from being dismissed outright by certain people. I mean, i think “self published” can be taken by some to mean “too crappy to be published by anyone else”, which, granted, is probably completely true a good portion of the time. Anyway, yeah– it’s basically nothing more than a pair of words I decided to put on the book.

The book is made up of a number of issues of your old zines You Idiot and Whiskey Plus. When did you first decide to make a zine of your own?

– My first zine was compiled when i was 13 or 14 years old. It was called “Pearl Jam Must Die”, and it was…. whatever the opposite of “good” is. Oh yeah, “bad”.

Have you always been into writing? How come you decided to start doing zines?

– Yeah, I’ve been writing goofy crap since I was like nine years old or something. It’s fun. I don’t remember why exactly I started doing a zine— probably mostly because I could. Kind of like why that guy climbed Mount Everest. And, in a way, creating the first 20 page issue of Pearl Jam Must Die was a similar triumph for mankind.

For those who haven’t heard of the book or your zines we need to make a few things straight. Neither You Idiot or Whiskey Plus were average music fanzines. How would you describe the content of your zines?

– That’s a tough question. Actually, it’s not really that tough; I’m just lazy at answering this sort of question. Uh…. I guess basically both zines examine and (over?) analyze various dumb things in our world.

I guess my next question is: How the hell do you come up with this stuff? Where do you find all these extremely stupid books and records you write about?

Some of them I’ve found at random garage sales or stores. Others, i’ve searched out– for example, by browsing through books on Amazon that have one star averages, or searching for phrases like “sketchiest diet”. You have to wade through a lot of crap to get to the good crap.

Do you read “good” books as well or is it the crap that gets your attention? What’s your favorite writer/writers and why?

Oh, hell yeah! I sure hope that no one thinks I spend the majority of my reading time devoted to stuff like Why Knock Rock? and Turmoil in the Toy Box!  Some of the authors I like are TC Boyle , Jonathan Lethem, David Sedaris, Michael Lewis, Matt Taibbi, stuff like that. I’ve actually been reading mostly non-fiction lately. But yeah, I definitely read “good” books more than I read “insane” books.

Some of the stuff you write about is so extremely stupid it almost sounds like you’ve made it up. Exactly how stupid are people nowadays?

Hmm, it’s kind of hard to answer that, since there are so many different people in the world. It’s kind of like asking “Exactly how depressing are armadillos nowadays?” I mean, I can’t say for sure. It depends on the person/armadillo. That said, there are a lot of really fucking stupid people nowadays. I have nothing against people as a whole, mind you.

At times when I read your book I got the feeling that you’re pretty much bored to death. I mean, I would have to be pretty damn bored to go out and look for stupid stuff like this.

Actually, I’m not really that bored. I dunno, I suppose writing this stuff amuses me, but I didn’t start doing it out of boredom.

One of my favorite parts in the book is when you give virtual reality a shot. I literally laughed my ass off when I read it. Can you give a brief description of that experience for those who haven’t read it yet?

Sorry about your ass! Briefly, I heard about this ‘virtual’ world on the internet called Second Life where people create avatars, spend real money, and then do crazily inane things like shop at malls, dance on dance floors, and so on. I gave it a shot and got kicked out of a country bar, banned from a strip club, set on fire, etc. It’s more amusing with the visuals of these things happening.

Have you been playing any on-line games since you did that test? Maybe it’s time to give it another try?

– I actually haven’t! You’re right, I should find a new one and give it a shot.

There’s also a really funny part in the book where you review records that you’ve actually haven’t listened to. Tell me a little bit about that. Did you give the records a listen after your reviews or are they still unplayed?

I go over it in more detail in the book but basically: I let my friend borrow my record collection, he sold said record collection for cigarettes and beer, I no longer had a use for my record player so I got rid of it, people started sending my vinyl to review for my music zine. So, at that point I felt I had an obligation to review their works, but did not feel that this obligation extended to purchasing a record player with which to actually hear them. So, I gave it my best shot by looking at the cover art and skimming through the lyrics and stuff. I still don’t have a record player, so nope– still haven’t heard them!

How come you decided to put your old zines together in a book?

– Doing a zine fucking sucks. I mean, writing one is fine, but i hate the whole stapling/collating part. With a book, boom, you’re good to go.

MUTINYZINE is a strictly online thing but I can imagine doing a paper zine is a lot of work for sure. But even though you already had all the text done for this book wasn’t it a lot of work to put it all together?

Sure, it was actually quite a bit of work to write and assemble it. But unlike with a zine, it’s a one time thing— there’s no copying, stapling, collating, etc.

What do you think of “zine-scene” nowadays? Do you have any favorite zines that you read?

Gotta be honest, nowadays I really don’t read any zines or pay attention to the whole zinester culture and what not. The only zines I still read are ones from ‘back in the day’ like Cometbus and Burn Collector and so on.

How about online-zines? What’s your opinion on that?

I guess I don’t really think of them as “e-zines” or “online zines” or whatever…. to me things on the web are just websites or blogs or whatever. Either they’re good and worth reading, or bad and not, is how I look at it.  So I guess I have a pretty mundane opinion on online-zines.

A little bird whispered in my ear that there might be a scond book coming out. Is there any truth to that? It would be awesome.

Yeah, i’m working on a couple different books right now– might be awhile since i’m busy with music stuff right now, but hopefully i’ll have a second one out soon!

Sounds great, are you willing to give away any details on that? What kind of book is it gonna be?

– Well, the first one is sort of based on the stories that were in Pick Your Poison, the other zine I used to do. It was more of a “personal zine” for lack of a better term and it was just various stories from my childhood and adulthood as opposed to the articles/research slant of You Idiot. As first I was just going to do a straight reprint of the old zines, but I went back and read them and realized a lot of the writing is garbage and some of the stories don’t hold up well. So I’m going to condense and re-write it all.
After that I’ll probably do a book full of work stories. I have some other ideas I’m kicking around too.

Apart from writing your playing some music. I know you’re in Off With Their Heads and Banner Pilot. Any more bands?

Yeah, i’m in two other bands right now– The Gateway District and The Pyongyang Metro. I’m not in Off With Their Heads anymore, though. So, just three bands. That’s a nice round number. Actually, it’s not. Shit.

So, you left OWTH? That band has quite a history in changing the line-up I’ve heard. How come you left?

Yeah, OWTH has probably had something like twenty members by now. I left just cuz they tour 11 months out of the year or something ridiculous and I can’t pull that off.

Do you have any musical updates you’d like to share?

Sure– The Gateway District has an album coming out this May, and Banner Pilot is heading in the studio to record a new full length next month. Should be fun!

Resignation Day has been getting some awesome response from what I’ve heard. How do you think the new Banner Pilot record will sound?

I think it’ll sound a lot better production-wise and there’ll be more variety to the tunes. Usually when a band says that it’s a bad sign, but i’m not talking about anything drastic here. I think it’ll be a lot better than Resignation Day, but we’ll see! Definitely excited to get back in the studio.

Ok, that’s it. Thanks for answering Nate and good luck with your bands and the writing!

No problem, thanks for the questions!

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White Collar Punk Rocker 2009 Interview

Here is an interview I did with the blog White Collar Punk Rocker in 2009. Read it at their site, or below.

With news of Banner Pilot signing to Fat Wreck Chords last week, thought it was worth posting this interview I did recently with bassist Nate Gangelhoff.

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.

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Rock Metal Punk 2010 Interview

Here’s an interview I did with a Belgian fanzine called Rock Metal Punk. Check it out at their site, or below.

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‘We actually don’t have a tour bus. Maybe if someone out there gives us a tour bus, we’ll tour more. If anyone has a tour bus they don’t want, shoot us an email’, says Nate from Banner Pilot as he answers our related Groezrock questions.

Banner pilot celebrates his 5th birthday this year. How do you look back on the previous years?
Nate: ‘It’s been really fun! I feel like we’ve gotten better as we’ve gone along, too, which is better than the opposite trajectory. And we will last as long as it’s still fun, and we don’t suck, or at least aren’t aware that we suck. Hopefully that’ll be awhile!’

The volcano made it hard for a lot of bands to get here. But you made it. I heard you’ve made a song about it. Do you intend to put it out on your next record?
Nate: ‘Heh, that was just a joke I made before we left. But yeah, maybe we should do that, now that we’re back. I don’t think there’s enough songs where the band taunts a volcano. I mean, probably a couple dozen, but the world could use more.’

You first studio album came out in 2008. The second was already there in 2009. Can we expect a third one later this year, or are you planning on taking more time for it?
Nate: ‘Well, that’s sort of misleading because Resignation Day got delayed for a long time. It was recorded in September 2007 and Collapser in April 2009. So, at that rate we’ll hopefully record a new album early in 2011. That seems about right. We already have a handful of new songs that I think are pretty good.’

Collapser was released on September first, 2009. It’s your first record on Fat Wreck Chords. A label that houses lots of great punk rock bands. Do feel like real punk rockers?
Nate: ‘Hmm, I guess I’m not sure what a ‘real punk rocker’ is. When I hear that phrase I think of Mohawks and bullet belts and stuff, and we don’t really fit into that. I’ve been meaning to get a bullet belt, but nothing yet. So, I guess I’m not sure. I think the two bands I grew up on as a kid that stuck with me were Jawbreaker andScreeching Weasel. I mean, I also listened to Dead Kennedys and what not but in the long run I don’t think that had as much of an effect on me. But aside from that, I can say that Fat Wreck Chords is a fucking great label and it’s really cool to be on the same label as so many awesome bands.’

Belgian fans of Banner Pilot will be really happy to see the band perform on the biggest Punk festival of the country. As this is your first visit to this festival, what are your expectations?’
Nate: ‘I didn’t know what to expect exactly, but I had an amazing time. Huge field, tons of wasted people stumbling around, and great bands! What would you want more?’

You’ll be in Europe through April and May, and then fly back to America to have some concerts on the west coast. Are you ever home? Or did home change in your tourbus?
Nate: ‘Oh yeah, we’re home more often than we’re not. We tour maybe, i dunno, 4-6 weeks a year? A lot less than a lot of bands. And we actually don’t have a tour bus. Maybe if someone out there gives us a tour bus, we’ll tour more. If anyone has a tour bus they don’t want, shoot us an email.’

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Maximumrocknroll 2007 Interview

This is an interview I did with the magazine Maximumrocknroll. I forget which issue number; I think it was in 2007 or 2008 but I’m not sure. Read it below, and check out MRR here.

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Zines often have a reputation for being selective windows into people’s lives, only revealing what they want or feel is appropriate. In contrast your zines feel extraordinarily honest. Do you feel your run of zines as a whole as truly reflective of yourself? Do you hold back to not expose things about yourself?

Well, my zines are definitely selective too, but it’s for the purpose of making the end result more entertaining. I mean, if something interesting happens to me on Monday and then I trudge through some boring bullshit on Tuesday through Sunday, I’m just going to write about the Monday. So in that sense, I think having a zine function as a selective window is a very good thing, and the zines that don’t do that tend to be ones I don’t like. Like, being “personal” doesn’t in and of itself make for good reading…. If you woke up and ate a bagel, did some laundry, and then read a book, I don’t really give a shit. Well, maybe that’s too harsh but I definitely don’t give enough of a shit to want to read about it.

Are you happy with the things the zine community have provided for you over the years? Are you happy with the role that you’ve played in that community?

Yeah, I’m happy with what’s been provided for me for sure. The community of distros/review mags/etc has been pretty… well, I don’t want to use the word “inspiring” cuz that’s a bit excessive… uh… “cool”? That’s a little better. It’s definitely provided me a way to get my writings read, and also to check out some good zines I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

However, other than writing zines (which thousands and thousands of people have done) I don’t really think I’ve played a role of any significance in that community.

I hear a lot of people frustrated that the volume of books collecting zines is destroying the validity of the zine as a medium on their own. Obviously, this is not the point of compiling them but it made me more conscious and I decided not to compile issues of my own zine, just keeping the back issues in print instead. As someone who has taken the plunge of compiling their zines, how do you feel about this with a few years of perspective?

Nah, I love that stuff. I totally prefer the “bunch of zines in a book” to a single zine. There’s something really satisfying about a bound book, and for some reason putting out a full book just feels more rewarding than releasing a zine.

If it really was destroying zines in any sense I might feel differently, but I don’t think that’s the case. The two formats seem to coexist just fine as far as I can tell. If anything is destroying zines, it’s the “blogosphere”, not books.

Who are the contemporary zinesters and artists that most impress you? What kinds of zines are you reading these days? What excites you?

The ones that I’ll make sure I have every issue of are mostly the older ones that aren’t published that often anymore… Cometbus, Burn Collector, Murder Can Be Fun, I’m Johnny and I Don’t Give a Fuck etc. I’m definitely forgetting some but to be honest I haven’t run across that many new zines lately.

Can you talk about the motivations for putting together “zine street”?

Well, at one point I was trying to get my zine distributed by as many places as possible, and it was tough finding any sort of comprehensive list of what was out there. So, I decided to get a list going myself and then I figured I’d put it on the web so other people could use it too. It ended up being more work than I expected, though, so I got lazy and quit updating it. I still think it’s a good idea and maybe I’ll get it going again someday in a format where people other than me can keep it up-to-date and relevant (ie, a Wiki or something). The current one, if it’s even still up, is probably hopelessly out of date.

Most of your zines are about humor. Why is this? What motivates you to publish thes things?

I dunno, I guess on the one hand it’s simply easier for me to write that way, and I think on the other hand it can be more effective. In You Idiot I try to point out and goof on various absurd things, and to take a dead-serious, non-humorous approach to that would be ill-fitting and make for a boring zine. If I wrote a serious, well-researched article about the ineffectiveness of anti-drug cartoons—talk about a snore-fest! Much better to just hurl insults at the subject.

Will “the punks” ever understand “the art”? Why not work in fine art? Why not find out where the mythical big bucks are? Why not just put your work all over the internet? Did you find that punks at Rivethead shows were interested in your zine? Did it mix at all?

Yeah, it mixed a little bit. I still sell zines next to CDs and t-shirts at shows and they tend to do OK.

How has your own definition of “success” evolved over the lifespan of your publishing?

Initially, I was just in it for the stamps. Now, it just basically boils down to writing as much stuff as possible that I’m happy with, and having as many people as possible read it. Note the word “basically”—if some company was like “we’ll publish 200,000 zines for you but half the profits are going to go towards melting the ice caps”, then obviously I would think about it harder.

So overall, I guess it really hasn’t changed that much—if I get a bunch of people to read my zine, and they enjoy it, I consider that a success. And that’s the same thing I was thinking when I started putting out Pick Your Poison.

What new projects are you working on?
Well, I’ve been doing a lot of music stuff over the last 2-3 years. I play bass in Off With Their Heads, Banner Pilot, The Gateway District and The Pyongyang Metro, and used to play in Rivethead. That’s stuff always been a lot of fun.

Writing-wise I’m finishing up a full book that compiles all the old You Idiot and Whiskey Plus issues plus about 60-70 pages of new writing. After that I’ll put out the Pick Your Poison book, which will have the first 4 issues plus two or three unreleased ones. I’ve also been writing a blog on and off but I sorta hate that shit so it’s updated very infrequently. I want to try doing it more though just because, despite how stupid it is, it is easy.

Even if I shift more towards books and blogs, I’ll always still put out zines. Typically here I would say “It’s in my blood” to cheesily end the interview, but that’s not true so instead I’ll end with “because it’s always easy to fold eight pieces of paper together”.

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Spinner 2010 Interview

Here’s an interview I did with Lauren Modery from Spinner.com. Read it on their webpage or below.

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It’s no surprise when a good band comes out of Minneapolis. Up-and-comers Banner Pilot have emerged as one of the city’s most promising new punk acts, following the Twin Cities musical lineage ofHusker Du, theReplacements and Prince, to name a few. One of the strongest and most steadfast genres in the city is its hardcore punk scene. With years of experience and two albums under their belts, Banner Pilot continue to wow audiences, and are on their way to SXSW 2010 to do just that. Spinner caught up with guitarist/bassist Nate Gangelhoff before the fest.

Describe your sound.

Imagine if Jawbreaker, Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio got in a knife fight and Jawbreaker won, but just barely. That’s what we sound like.

How did your band form?

I got this cheesy drum program called PC Drummer that helped me write song ideas. Previously I was pretty bad at keeping time and stuff, and it helped. Nick [Johnson, guitars/vocals,] and I had talked about starting a band for a while, so once I had some song ideas from fiddling around with PC Drummer, we added vocal ideas and released a demo. It was terrible. But we stuck with it, and then got a real drummer and started an actual band. And that’s the Banner Pilot story.

What are your musical influences?

I suppose Jawbreaker, Dillinger Four, Screeching Weasel, bands like that. I’m guessing those are the bands we collectively have listened to more than any others over the years.

How did you come up with your band name?

We were having a hell of a time coming up with something, so at some point we started looking through lists of old books. ‘Bannertail’ was one that seemed plausible, but still pretty stupid. We had a lot of stupid names we considered. Can you believe that at one point we were considering Break September? Break September! Anyway, Bannertail lead to Banner Pilot, and that one stuck.

Have you played SXSW before? If not, what are you most looking forward to at the event and/or in Austin?

Nope! Really looking forward to it. I think the two bands I’m most excited about areSuperchunk and the Muffs. But in general I’m just looking forward to hanging out with friends of ours in other bands, checking out the house shows, parties and barbecuest. Also, it will be nice to escape the frigid grip of Minnesota’s winter for four days.

What is in your festival survival kit?

One water for every two beers. That’s not really a “kit,” I suppose. Maybe this year I’ll make a physical kit that contains beer and water, in a 2-1 ratio.

What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you on tour?

We all got the swine flu. That was pretty crazy. Crazy terrible.

What is your music guilty pleasure?

You know, I’m drawing a blank. Stuff that would have seemed like a guilty pleasure years ago — say, Tegan and Sara — is now among my favorite music, and I feel no shame about it. So I guess I have overcome my guilt!

What is your biggest vice?

Probably my Stanley Maxsteel 83-069 Multi-Angle. It’s made of durable cast aluminum, and its 2 7/8″ jaw opening can hold a wide range of items. Oh wait, I thought you meantvise. Vice … Hmm, I guess I probably eat too many egg and cheese sandwiches. I’m out of control.

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True Punk 2009 Interview

Here’s an interview I did with TruePunk in 2009. Check it out below or on their site.

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Banner Pilot is a very young punk rock quartet from Minneapolis that formed in 2005. Their new album “Collapser” comes out on September 1st 2009 on Fat Wreck Chords. We sat down with Nate and asked him some question about his band and their upcoming projects.

What’s your name and what do you play in Banner Pilot?

Nate: My name is Mike Johnson (ed: ??? Weird typo on the website’s part. I did not forget my name!). On the record I play bass and lead guitar and live I play bass.

Your new album “Collapser” comes out Fat Wreck Chords on September 1st: how would you describe it to people who never heard of your band before?

Nate: Well, if I was describing it to someone who doesn’t listen to punk music I’d say it is fast music with loud guitars that sounds a little like Green Day. If the person looked at me in confusion after that, I’d say we sound sort of like Nickelback but better.

If I was describing it to someone who *does* listen to punk music, I’d say that we’re melodic punk rock similar to Jawbreaker or the Lawrence Arms. That’s probably enough for someone to have a decent feel for what we sound like.

You released a couple of albums before this new one. What changed in the approach of writing songs, if anything changed ?

Nate: The basic process has always been that #1, I write the guts of a song at home with a drum machine, then #2, Nick and me come up with vocal melodies over it, and then #3, we take that to the full band and flesh the song out. On the new record, there was less time spent on #1 and more time spent on #3. We were able to spend more time on the songs and have more input from everyone. It was fun to do and I think the end result is a little more varied and interesting.

How did you sign to Fat Wreck? Did you send a demo or did you receive a call from the label?

Nate: It was pretty straight-forward– we’ve always wanted to do a record with them so we sent a copy of some demos we’d been working on. They liked the songs, and that was about it.

Collapser” is filled with great pop punk melodies: what are your musical heroes?

Nate: Thanks! Well, I’m a pretty big fan of stuff like Jawbreaker, Dillinger Four,Lawrence Arms, Superchunk, Screeching Weasel, and so on, and I think our tunes end up sounding similar to some of those bands.

You come from the Midwest punk scene: how is it? In which ways does it differ from the east and the west coast scenes?

Nate: I like it. It’s a good scene; there’s been definite ups and downs over the years but I think the current crop of bands and basements and labels are pretty great. I’ve never lived on the east or west coasts, so I guess I can’t really say how our scene compares to theirs. But probably, their scenes fucking suck and ours is totally awesome. Just kidding. I don’t really know. But I will say, Minneapolis feels kinda like a little city or maybe a gigantic medium sized town — if that makes sense — and I think that’s conducive to having a good scene. If you live in a huge city, it’s so spread out it’s probably hard to really have a “scene”, and if you live in a little town there might not be enough stuff going on to truly form a scene. So I think we kind of fall in the middle of that and it makes it easier to have a situation where you have a lot of different bands and a lot of different styles but it all feels at least a little bit connected

It looks like there are a lot of new bands coming out on No Idea and Fat Wreck that have great records: Dear Landlord, Off With Their Heads,Banner Pilot, Dillinger Four, Lawrence Arms, and so on. How do you think that these punks bands (you included) are making great records while older bands (as Pennywise, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name) are getting to sound a little bit old? Do you think kids are looking for something new, fresh and different these days?

Nate: Well, it’s probably just a simple difference in style I guess; the first set of bands you mention play a slightly different style of punk music than the second set of bands. So if you like that type of punk music you’ll probably be into those bands right now.

I didn’t really grow up listening to the other bands you mentioned — I was more into stuff like Screeching Weasel / NOFX / Rancid / Dead Kennedys / etc — and I’m honestly not that familiar with their stuff. But all of them have been around for 15-20 years so even if they’re still putting out awesome records, it’s pretty hard for them to be perceived as new or fresh, you know? I’m sure the OWTH and Dear Landlord and Lawrence Arms records of 2026 will be awesome but I doubt they’ll be viewed as, you know, “new” by anyone.

A lot of labels are making a hard work to promote their music, even lowering down CD prices: Fat sells cd’s for about 8 dollars, No Idea for about 7 dollars. What’s your position on the crisis of the music industry, mp3 piracy and record labels selling less and less records?

Nate: Well I think there’s good and bad to it, but mostly bad. The long term result of everyone grabbing albums for free will be less bands, less labels, less music, and what’s left will probably be of lesser quality. In an ideal world, an album would only be available for free download if that’s the way the band wanted it to be.

The good part is that if you’re a band your music will get around more now. And that’s pretty cool on an individual level, but on a large scale I think music piracy/illegal downloading/file sharing or whatever you want to call it does more harm than good for music.

How does a band like Banner Pilot survive in this chaotic world?

Nate: With album sales down, I think bands will have to start resorting more and more to weird things like endorsements and product placement if they want to make money off their band, but we’d never resort to something like that.

Hold on a second, I need to take a drink off of my delicious Mountain Dew so I can get the energy to be xtreme and finish this question. Ahhh. That really hit the spot. I hear that Mountain Dew is available in a store near you.

Anyway, we’ve certainly lost money on the band, but we’d be insane if we started a punk band to try to make money. It’s a fun thing to do– we write songs and hopefully people check them out and enjoy them. If at the end of the day we can break even that’s a nice bonus, but all it’s really about is playing music and having fun

You have a twitter account (twitter.com/bannerpilotband): is it helpful for a punk band to keep it? I have subscribed to some twitter accounts of some bands but what I mostly read is 140 letter bullshit.

Nate: It’s just a goofy, sorta fun thing. I don’t know if it’s really all that helpful necessarily but I suppose it’s a way for people who listen to your music to keep up on what you’re doing.

You’re right, though– most twitter accounts are just full of inane self-absorbed blather. Still, it’s entertaining to scroll through a bunch of updates a couple times a day and it can end up being a useful communication tool (like with the Iranian elections this year for example).

Speaking of tours, you will be playing at The Fest 8, and I will be there: what do you expect from this? Have you already played there? Which bands are you excited about? Any new band at The Fest that you might want to recommend to people, Banner Pilot aside?

Nate: This is our fourth year playing. It’s a blast! We’ve always had a great time and it’s one of the highlights of the year. I would recommend that people check out The Dopamines– great pop punk band who put on a super fun show. The band Good Luckis also really fun live; they were probably my favorite set from Fest 7.

Will you tour Europe to support “Collapser“?

Nate: Definitely! I think we’re aiming to head over there in March or April. Not sure for how long or to which countries, but we’ll be over there!

Thanks a ton for your time! Your music is awesome!

Nate: Thanks man!

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