Banner Pilot's fourth full-length record Souvenir drops on April 15 via Fat Wreck Chords so we got on the phone with bassist Nate Gangelhoff to learn a little more about it:
How would you say Souvenir varies from your previous releases?
I guess the one thing I tried to do with the guitars was just trying some different styles of chords, trying to get away from just having power chords chugging along for every song all the time. I donít know if you listened to it youíd notice that necessarily, but as we were working on the songs they had a different feel for us in that way. I think we tried some different tempo stuff too, I think the songs might be a little slower than what was on our previous records, which is new for us. Just avoiding power chords all the time, avoiding the 4/4 beat the whole time, itís just minor things, but hopefully it all adds up as a slight tweak compared to our previous records. The main thing was we didnít want to radically reinvent ourselves, we just wanted to flip the notch a little bit.
I think the songs are a bit longer as well, everything is well over two minutes.
Yeah, thereís no songs on this record that are under 2 minutes, I think the longest is 2.5 minutes while on our previous records we did have a few that were shorter like that. So yeah, on average theyíre probably a little longer. We still try to, I donít know if we succeeded, but we still try to cut the fat so to speak. If weíre working on a song weíll wonder if we really have to go back to the chorus again or can we cut that part out. The first song on the record ["Modern Shakes"] was originally 1 minute longer than it is now, we just kind of thought that if we cut some stuff out the song would move more and be more energetic. On average it might be a little longer, but we still tried to keep it to the point as much as possible.
Would you say that there arenít as many hooks on this record?
I donít know. When writing the melodies and stuff we try to keep in mind ĎCan you picture someone hopefully singing along to this at a show or in their room or just humming along?í Thatís the idea to have some hooks and catchiness, maybe it didnít end up being quite as poppy and slick as Heart Beats Pacific was, but the idea was still to have some hooks in the choruses and stuff.
What made you choose Souvenir as the title?
The title was one of the last things we did, we had a few working titles, but none of them were clicking. Itís nothing super specific to anything on the record, it was actually the name of one of the songs for awhile and eventually we thought it sounded good as an album title. It surrounds the idea of what you take with you when leaving something and I think some of the lyrics sort of touch on the themes of moving on, leaving things behind and what you take with you.
And you started recording last fall?
Yeah, we sort of worked on the record shortly after the last one, but all the stuff we came up with was pretty bad and kind of sucky. Then towards the end of 2012 and into 2013 we started getting some better songs and working through them. We were going to record in the summer and hoped to release in near the end of 2013, but we decided it wasnít quite ready to go and we were probably pushing it a little bit and it would be too stressful so we waited until October to enter the studio. And it was definitely worth doing because at that point we were pretty confident with all the songs, there wasnít much else to figure out and it went pretty smoothly.
What makes you keep going back to the Terrarium in Minneapolis?
Thereís a few things, but one reason is that itís just fun to be there I guess. Itís not just one big room and youíre sitting there the whole time with the guitars and drums in your ears the whole time. Thereís a separate room where bands can hang out with couches, a TV and goofy video games. Then thereís a kitchen with a pizza making machine and all that kind of crap thatís fun to have when youíre in there for 14 hours a day. Plus itís in a cool part of Minneapolis, thereís stuff to do around there and thatís all great. But mostly itís just that itís a really good studio, it sounds really good and easy to work with so itís a good mix. Itís a pro studio that sounds awesome, but it also doesnít feel like work going there, itís actually really fun to hang there and itís worked well for us with each record.
ďColfaxĒ is one of my personal favourites and Iím assuming thatís in reference to one of the streets in Minneapolis?
Yeah, itís in Minneapolis, the song isnít necessarily about that street, but thatís the street the drummer in our band lives on and we all kind of live up the street. Itís a cool sounding name, but itís also a part of south Minneapolis that we all hang out around so it seemed like a good choice for the title.
Yeah, that was something that Nick [Johnson, vocals/guitar] put together which turned out pretty well. Itís footage shot in a part of Minneapolis 40-50 years ago which was sort of like a skid row. The city eventually put up condos or whatever they put up there, but that footage fits the vibe of the song and itís interesting to see that footage all these years later.
I think this is the closest Banner Pilot has gotten to a real music video?
Yeah, thatís the first one weíve released. Weíve seen people do some, one guy did a kinetic typography video with colourful text zipping around the screen which was sort of cool I guess. Someone else did a thing where they changed our song into Nintendo music and did a video thing for that, which was interesting. We havenít done anything until this, obviously weíre not flying somewhere and doing a live shot with producers or whatever, this was just done on Nickís laptop, but it was still pretty fun and hopefully weíll do this for some more songs on the record.
Whatís next for Banner Pilot?
Not all of our touring is booked yet, but weíre going to do a release show in Minneapolis and some release shows in other places in the Midwest, Chicago for sure, looks like Normal, IL, somewhere in Iowa. Next month weíre going to go east and do the bigger cities out there like New York, Baltimore, Boston, Philly. Weíre going to do the Fest in Florida in October like we do every year, which is always super awesome. Weíll do some more stuff in between there, we havenít booked it, but mostly touring America. We would like to go back to Europe, hopefully somewhere new like Japan. Hopefully a mix of the cities we know we do well in and some newer ones as well.