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.
- Go-Kart Records Website: http://www.gokartrecords.com