Boston, Massachusettes quartet PILE just released their new record, dripping, which offers 10 tracks of intriguing musical shifts, unique solos, and heavy builds. For all of you vinyl nerds like me out there, you can grab a limited copy (500) of the 12” at their Bandcamp page, and you should… Helping touring bands is a very good thing!
Currently on a tour of the east coast, you can find PILE hitting several cities and areas much warmer than Syracuse, NY the rest of this month, and that makes me a bit jealous. I got in touch with guitar/vocalist Rick Maguire to talk about the group’s formation, musical output, the scene in Boston, and how tour is treating them.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! If you could, PILE is relatively new to me and I think it’s going to be new to most of our readers, too. Can you introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
R- Well, the gentleman driving here is Chris Kuss and he plays the drums in the band. To my left is Matt Becker who plays guitar. And Matt Connery’s in the back, doing something really strange with himself, and he plays bass.
G- OK, well I don’t want to get too X-rated because I was on tour myself and it can get pretty hairy with the rhythm section in the back of a van, so let’s just go ahead…
G- How’s the tour been treating you so far, man? You guys have been going for about a week now, or two weeks?
R- Pretty good. All the shows have been… Last night we didn’t have a show scheduled, but we were able to pick one up and that turned out pretty good.
R- And yea, it’s been going pretty well. No crazy hi-jinx or anything like that, but it’s been going pretty well.
G- Well, you guys have to find some hi-jinx to get into, man! C’mon… you’re on tour!
R- I know. We might have to save that for the latter half.
G- Fair enough, yeah. Once you’re out of the south?
R- Right, or once we get really into the heart of it. Then, we can start getting weird.
G- Well, how long have you guys been out right now?
R- Uhh, about a week and a half.
G- Ok so you guys are just getting into the flow. You’re probably right about there at peak energy and performance level.
R- Indeed. It’s been going great!
G- Excellent! Well let’s talk about this record. Dripping is out, and it was released in October, correct?
R- It was.
G- And it’s 10 tracks. Tell us a bit about your tunes, man? Where did you find the inspiration to write your new material?
R- Uhh, I don’t know. Here and there. I think part of it was touring, going back and forth from home and on the road. A lot of it probably came from there.
But I don’t know. You keep doing something like that and that’s what ended up coming out of it. As far as inspiration goes, I don’t really know. It happens, I guess. But I’d say it worked out pretty well!
G- No, that’s great! Where did you record the record and who was behind the boards?
R- We recorded down in Philly with Dan James at the place called the Sex Dungeon. It’s like a warehouse they converted. It was just a space with nothing in it but dirt and trash, and over the past few years they built a really nice studio. So we just camped out down there, kinda like a compound for a while. You know, cooking there and drinking lots of beer. It was extremely hot because it was in a warehouse in July.
G- Well, right on! Did you have all the songs written before you went into the studio, or did you kind of build while you were there?
R- 9 out of 10 of them were done when we got down there. It’s so hard to work when we were down there.
G- Nice. And what is your writing process like, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
R- I guess it’s mostly me, since the band started sort of as a solo project.
R- But over time, it’s become more of a collaborative thing as far as dynamics and working on different parts, and what’s work and what doesn’t.
Ok. Well, you said that you recorded while consuming copious amounts of beer, and that’s actually one of the questions because I’m a party guy… You guys a party band pretty much, or kind of mellow? And if you’re a party band, what kinds of beers and booze do you want people bringing up to the stage for you when you’re on?
R- I don’t know if we’re like a party band or mellow. We just use alcohol as a crutch to get by…
(I bust out laughing, and this continues throughout the interview.)
It’s generally a social lubricant, you know? I guess it’s really more pathetic than it is about like, you know “Party on, Wayne,” but if you have to fall asleep, it really helps.
I’d say that, if someone said ‘Hey I want to buy you booze. What would you like,’ I’d say whiskey… Just as much as you can possibly find. Bryan would say Bloody Mary’s and margarita’s, whiskey and Longhorn beers for Becker, and for myself, a fine red wine, or, a terrible red wine.
G- Alright, dude right on! I like where this is going… it’s a fun interview. Let’s get back to it a little bit… What should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? I’m not trying to spoil any surprises, but can we expect any new material or special appearances, and what should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
R- It’s generally… No real surprises, it’s generally pretty loud and we obviously like doing it, so I hope that comes across. I don’t know, I’d say that mostly what to expect: Loud and hopefully a lot of dynamics just going up and down.
G- Dig it.
R- Yea that’s about it. And probably pretty drunk.
G- With it! Now, being from Boston, I’ve played The Middle East myself and a few venues out there… How do you feel about the scene in Boston and how are the responses at your shows?
R- It’s great! It’s the spot to be these days. A lot of people open up their homes for shows and stuff like that, and that’s been great. As far as venues go, there aren’t that many in town, so a lot of people start their own where they live or just try to look for an interesting place to have shows.
There are a lot of different types of music going on. You know, there’s a big indie rock scene, a lot of noise music, and metal and punk, too. There’s lots of stuff going on.
There’s people that put out the Show Rag, which is huge, because it shows everything that’s going on. If you submit your show, then they’ll write about it.
R- So, it’s grown for them, which is awesome for everybody else cuz then you can see all sorts of different bands.
G- Dig it. Right on right on! Now, to get a little bit subjective with you, since you have your new record out, do you have a favorite song you have ever written? Or, if you were to give somebody who’d never heard PILE before one song to make a fan, what would you give them and why?
R- Umm, as far as a favorite song on the record, I don’t know if I really have one. As far as what I’d give, I don’t think I have one of those, either. But as far as giving one to someone who’d never heard us before, I don’t know. Probably “The Jones” because it has a lot of ups and downs, and it’s fun to play.
G- And it’s off of Dripping, yes?
R- Yea it’s the last one.
G- Cool. And to break it open ever further, are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could pick out 3 bands to play a show with or to go on tour with, including Pile, what 3 bands would you select?
R- Oh man!
G- Feasible, because everybody says The Beatles, and everybody says Led Zeppelin, but it’s not gonna happen without some serious smelling salts, you know?
R- Right right. I think the ones that I would pick are probably… I mean, one is realistic and I think we’re going to go on tour with them in the spring.
R- This band Fat History month from Boston. Love those guys! So, like a Dream Bill?! Oh man… Maybe… Future To The Left would be a fun one. I gotta think of ones that would be fun, but not necessarily because of music, and not necessarily because they’re even fun people.
Pissed Jeans and… I’m gonna go with The Boss. Bruce Springsteen.
G- That’s quite a… Future To The Left, Pile, Pissed Jeans, and Bruce Springsteen… I would pay to see that show. That’d be a good time! I think I’d be so drunk by the end of the first band, I wouldn’t remember too much of what happened afterwards, but that sounds like a fun show!
R- Yeah The Boss would be a spectacle!
G- You know it! Always is, anyways. So, during your tenure and in your performance career, what is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? It doesn’t have to be the largest, just the one that holds a particular fond memory in your heart or one that went off the hardest. Where was it and what was it like?
R- I’d say a memorable one for me was probably in Keene, New Hampshire.
R- A friend of ours set it up, and we were trying to help out a band from Detroit, and they’d never played in Keene before, and apparently there was this thing called Pumpkin Fest that day that was overtaking the town… Pumpkins everywhere, roads were blocked off, this huge event!
So, we were supposed to play the show, and the guy cancelled it. It was going to be at his house, and for some reason he was really nervous he was going to get shut down. So meanwhile, there’s this band from Detroit is there, waiting, and they hear that the show is cancelled, so they’re bummed out.
My friend pulled something together over at this other person’s house, and it’s just kind of thrown together. I don’t think they’d ever had shows there before. It was in a basement, and there was like a gas tank in the middle of the basement, and there was really no good way to set up… There’s just this thing in the middle of the room. So, the bands set up in the corner, and it’s going pretty good, and our friend who set up the show was dancing, and… I have to think of a nice way to say it, but he kicked out the gas line, and so the basement just started filling with gas and it was stinking real bad and everyone freaks out. So, basically we loaded everything out of there as fast as we could…
G- Wow… That’s definitely a memorable one. Hopefully no one tried to light a cigarette!
R- No, thankfully there wasn’t smoking in the basement. There was smoking upstairs, which made it very terrifying, and there was some girl outside who… She was just so oblivious, who said ‘I don’t know what the big deal is. Gas heats the house.’
G- Yea… There’s a lot of bright ones out there, and maybe we can slip some chlorine into their gene pool so they don’t infect the rest of us, right?
So anyways, to finish up, PILE is a band that is on tour, and you’re also on the built. You’re traveling, recording, and trying to make it in this industry, and many kids want to be in your position, but it’s hard work. What advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
R- I would say work hard at what you do, but not to have that be your goal. Just work hard. I think that is the most important part. Having some goals, thinking that this is the next step for the band, and getting ahead of yourself, you can be disappointed.
G- Very good. Well, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me today. Play well, play hard, travel safe, and if there is anything I can do to help in the future, let me know!
R- Awesome! Thanks so much!