Three Mile Pilot at Catalyst Atrium
The reunited 90's indie band plays Santa Cruz on Aug. 23
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by Aaron Carnes on Aug 21, 2012
For a lot of indie rock fans, Three Mile Pilot is just some obscure band from the ’90s that Zach Smith was in before Pinback, and Pall Jenkins before The Black Heart Procession. But they recorded some of the best, least-appreciated indie albums of their time. Their last album, Another Sea, Another Desert (1997), had all the makings of a breakout alternative rock record but was only heard by a small group of individuals. It blended punk rock energy with sophisticated musicianship, unrestrained emotional intensity and pop sensibilities, pre-dating the emo explosion by a couple years, with a sound more nuanced than anything the mainstream bands after them were playing.
Unfortunately, the process of making the album, which was supposed to be for major label Geffen, was so frustrating the band broke up before it was released.
“At the time the label was really adamant about getting radio mixes from usm and we were young and headstrong. We were like, ‘No. This is how you signed us.’ We stuck to our guns and had to walk,” Jenkins says.
Geffen shelved the record but ultimately gave the masters back to the band, who released it on indie label Cargo nearly two years after it was finished.
Three Mile Pilot would stay dormant for almost 15 years, until the release of an unexpected album in 2010 called The Inevitable Past is the Future Forgotten.
“I feel like the new record is a score we had to settle. We always wanted to make another record,” Jenkins says.
The album is surprisingly different from the old Three Mile Pilot sound in nearly every way. It’s subdued, understated, mellow and textured with digital sounds. Not only have Jenkins and Smith gone in two different directions musically, but the new Three Mile Pilot has a vastly different approach to songwriting.
“We used to go into a practice space and pound things out for hours. Now we have our own studio, we’re just bringing parts in and working on each other’s ideas and overdubbing and building songs in the studio,” Jenkins says.
As understated and mellow as the new Three Mile Pilot seems, the intensity is still there. It’s just changed forms and grown more complex.
“As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten more refined in our playing and our studio experience. When I was singing back then I was screaming my head off. I’m 41. My voice doesn’t hold up like that anymore. The intensity comes from a more inward feeling than necessarily screaming about something,” Jenkins says.
THREE MILE PILOT
Thursday, Aug. 23; 8pm; $15