5 Questions with Nate Gangelhoff of Banner Pilot
Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2011 17:11
I've been a big Banner Pilot fan since the release of their last album, Collapser. These guys do Midwestern punk rock the right way: lots of melody, lots of great lyrics about good drinks and bad weather. They just released their new album Heart Beats Pacific on NOFX leader singer Fat Mike's Fat Wreck Chords imprint, and it's well worth the $10 I spent on it. Please support these dudes and give this album a listen. I really, really believe in this band and give them my personal stamp of approval, for whatever that's worth. If you need a great new driving album or just some background tunes for having a few good people around to share a drink with, pick this up. Thanks to Vanessa at Fat Wreck for setting this up and to Nate for answering my questions. Best of luck, boys.
Please state your name, role in the band and give us a brief history of Banner Pilot.
Hello, my name is Nate Gangelhoff. I play lead guitar and bass on the albums and bass guitar live. I write most of the basic music, and then as a band, we turn those basic ideas into complete songs. That's my role!
Banner Pilot was technically started in 2005. I wrote music on my computer using a drum machine and a guitar pedal, and then Nick (Johnson- Vocals/Guitar) and I would write melodies over that. We released a demo under the name "Banner Pilot," but really, it was two guys and a goofy drum program called PC Drummer and not an actual band. Then we added Danny (Elston) on drums and released "real" music in 2006. Since then, we've self-released an EP and released three full-length albums on Fat Wreck Chords, plus we've done a bunch of great tours and other fun stuff.
Some of you guys are involved in other bands. How do you feel those other projects come into play in Banner Pilot? Do you use what you learn in those other bands or use other projects solely to showcase things you can't do in Banner Pilot?
For me, the other bands I play in or have played in are definitely less time-intensive than Banner Pilot. I'll write the bass lines, or the guitar leads, depending on the band, and that's it. And touring, if at all, is way, way less than with Banner Pilot. So I view those other bands more as a fun way to hang out with friends and play someone else's songs. Also, it's cool sometimes when the songs are way different than something Banner Pilot would do. I mean, we're not talking about jumping from country rock to death metal here; it's all punk stuff, to some degree, but it's still fun to do something a little different. It's probably the opposite for Corey (Ayd – Guitar/Vocals), since his other band (The Manix) is more like his ‘main band', as far as songwriting and stuff.
How has illegal downloading affected your band personally, and how do you plan to release music in the future? How do you acquire music in your own life?
It's hard to say since illegal downloading was already widespread by the time we started. In other words, there's no before/after for us; it's not like we were selling 100,000 albums and quitting our jobs, and then suddenly had an "Ohhhhhh, crap" moment post-Napster.
For a small band like us, it's probably been a net positive in the sense that way, way more people have heard us than would have otherwise. Still, it's a drag that so many people see absolutely nothing wrong about grabbing an album off of Mediafire or whatever. And I mean that literally; I think a lot of younger people honestly have no idea that it might be a lame thing to do that
In the future, I want to keep doing what we've been doing; release 30-40 minute albums on CD, vinyl, and MP3. That's what I'm used to, and I think it's a good system. But I have a feeling that the CD will go the way of the cassette in the next few years so who knows. Either way, I really hope that the concept of an album sticks around. I can imagine a future where 95% of music is consumed via digital streaming, with people making playlists of their favorite songs and bands deciding to just release 2 or 3 songs at a time rather than putting out 12 songs at once, since usually 10 of those would be mostly ignored. That would be a bummer if that happens.
For me, personally, I'm all digital now. If I get a CD, I'll flip through the liner notes once and then transfer it to my computer. I've also been using Spotify lately, which is really cool, but it's made me listen to music in a different way. Instead of purchasing and listening to individual albums, I'll just throw a bunch of stuff into a playlist and shuffle it, sort of like the nightmare scenario I described above! It's a great way to discover music, but I've found that it's totally decimated my attention span. I'll often skip songs 10 seconds into them, whereas I used to listen to a full album in one sitting, even when half of the songs sucked.
In a nutshell, the move to digital music has had plusses and minuses for me as both a musician and a listener, but overall I think it's been a (slightly) good thing. The main thing I miss is having a physical product, with lyrics and photos and stuff. You'd think that would be really easy to make a digital equivalent with iPhones and stuff nowadays, but no one's really done it.
What is a band or an album that Banner Pilot fans would be surprised to learn you were into?
I've been into a lot of UK indie rock lately. Los Campesinos, Johnny Foreigner, etc. I guess that might surprise people? Maybe not. If not, sorry for being so unsurprising, everyone.
Tour can be pretty boring. What are your favorite ways to kill time on the road?
We play the alphabet game pretty much non-stop. No, actually Nick usually brings Howard Stern episodes, and those are great time killers. But really, it's so much easier now than it was five years ago since we all have SmartPhones. It's pretty hard to get bored when you have the Internet in your pocket.