Plane Without a Pilot is just an amazing punk band out of San Diego. They have a great live and have shared the stage with tons of legendary punk bands. They have been around since 2004 and have released 3 EPs and an awesome album. Have also played shows throughout the Southwest. I got the band to tell their story...
Brian: The name is Brian Gower; I play guitar and sing lead/ background vocals.
Kyle: My name is Kyle McIntyre; I play Bass/Lead & Backing Vocals.
Patrick: Hello there, my name is Patrick Lalli. I am the drummer.
How did the band start?
Kyle: The band started in 2004 out of the monotony of high school, just some kids that wanted to play music. We started with playing covers and jamming out probably like most bands do. At this time I was the sole singer/songwriter, some originals were eventually created and we started playing local venues around town. Our music was a soft rock/jam band thing with no real direction; we had a hard time telling people what genre we sounded like. Around this time we had 6 members in the band, but due to personality differences and conflicting interests the 4 others left over the initial 6 months.
Brian then threw up the idea of scratching all the old songs, and starting over new. It scared me at first but after I thought about it a little more we didn't really have anything to lose. We reinvented our music, making it more upbeat, faster paced; also I moved to bass, all we needed was a drummer to make it a 3-piece. Years later and more drummers than I can count, Brian and I are still playing together. We have been through a lot of members, shows, and life.
Brian: It’s been a long 8 years and a huge learning experience. This is the first and only really serious band Kyle and I have been in. We learned how to play, write, and perform music in this band. What once started as a jam band transformed into a pop punk trio then evolved into what we currently are, a Rock n Roll/ Alternative group with a dash of new wave Punk.
How did you come up with the name?
Kyle: One day walking home from school I was listening to Brand New's "The No Seatbelt Song" off of Your Favorite Weapon Album, when he says "...I shot the pilot, begging you to fly this for me..." I though whoa that would be really scary, a "Plane Without a Pilot" and boom it stuck.
Who would you say are your influences?
Brian: The biggest influence on my music is myself, and my life. Haha! Now that’s pretentious answer, if I do say so myself! It’s true though but I digress… let’s see my favorite bands are Green Day, The Clash, Social Distortion, The Police, The Living End, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Sharks, The Gaslight Anthem, Fenix TX, The Ramones, The Loved Ones, Denver Harbor, Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello, Alkaline Trio… and the list goes on.
Kyle: I would have to say Brand New, The Ataris, The Clash, Saves the Day, Green Day, The Police, The Strokes, Thrice, Rancid, Weird Al, Tom Petty, Sum 41, Brian Setzer, The Offspring, Muse, The Matches, Leftöver Crack, Choking Victim, Flogging Molly, Fenix TX, Blink-182, Face to Face, the English Beat, Elvis Costello, ELO, Denver Harbor, David Bowie, The Dear Hunter, The Cure, CCR, BTO, Boxcar Racer, Bloc Party, and Bob Seger, there’s more but this is a pretty good cross section.
Patrick: Some of my personal influences are 30 seconds to mars, The Who, Blink-182, Johnny Cash, Richie Spice, Buju Banton, The Killers, Frank Zappa, Green Day, The Ataris, Foo Fighters, Kanye West, U2, Coldplay, Social Distortion, Dr. Dre, and Incubus. To name a few Artists and the drummers who inspire me the most would have to be Ronnie Vannucci, Carter Beauford, Travis Barker, Buddy Rich, and Keith Moon.
What is the punk scene like in San Diego?
Patrick: I’m new to San Diego, but I’ve always been a fan of southern California punk rock and it seems that San Diego is at the heart of it all.
Kyle: In my opinion, the punk scene in SD is almost non-existent anymore. I've noticed a spike in bands that claim to be punk or pop-punk but lean more towards metal with heavy breaks and drop-C chords. Not what I consider punk.
Brian: I’d say in San Diego there are music “clicks” not so much punk scenes. To kind of play off of what Kyle mentioned, you have the youngsters that all play that new modern metal pop punk style. The kind with double kick blast beats and breakdowns, detuned heavy guitars, and the auto-tuned singers. I recently heard it’s called “easy core”. Get it? It’s not “hard” it’s “easy”! I don’t really get it. I’m old.
Then in the 21 and up scene there is A LOT of indie rock bands. You know those stuck in the 90’s bands?
We don’t really fit either scene so we just play our style of rock anywhere we can. Seems to be working for us. Heard fans say it’s a breath of fresh air. I kinda like the sound of that.
Describe the song writing process...
Patrick: I don’t write the songs, but recently I’ve been helping in the creation of the actual music...well beat and groove wise.
Brian: For songwriting Kyle writes the songs he sings and I write the songs I sing. I write all my songs on an acoustic guitar first. I think the best songs are straight rockin’ and raw. If sounds bad with just one vocal and one guitar it’s gonna be a shit song from the start.
Anyways, I usually like to have my songs written and rehearsed on my own or sometimes-even demo’d before showing the rest of the guys.
I like to have the lyrics written, or at least started, before I go forward adding guitar or song structure. I will usually have one good line that really sets the tone for the whole song. Then I just go from there. I believe that the lyrics and melody are the most important parts to the song.
Once I show the “bones” of the song to the guys. They add all the rest. Kyle is a very versatile bassist and amazing singer. Patrick is a smooth, dynamic, highly talented drummer. The two of them add parts to the song to transform it from a singer/songwriter type song into some badass rock n roll, baby.
Kyle: Songwriting to me goes two ways, lyrics first, song second, or song first, lyrics second. I usually write lyrics first then add music over it. Recently we've been doing song first and then add lyrics over that, its really fun but harder in the fact that your lyrics have to match syncopation, dynamics, and melody of course, there is a lot more editing of words this way.
You released "It's About Time”; tell us about the album...
Brian: This album is a great pop punk record. It’s a blend of Fenix TX, Sum 41, Rise Against, Sugarcult style of pop punk. I feel it’s a great first record for a high school band. We don’t play the songs much anymore, expect for the ‘hits’ like “Song For You” and “What I Would Do”. We actually have a music video for “Song For You” on youtube. It’s pretty kitschy, but I am still proud of it.
As I was saying before, the songs on this album were a collection of the songs we wrote in high school. At the time we were stoked that we finally recorded them and also had something to sell. Recording this album was a huge feat. I played a lot of guitar. I mean A LOT. Dubbed rhythms, leads, arpeggios, and acoustic dubs… it was a really fun process.
Kyle: I only wrote one song, but I still poured myself into the production of this record. I did bass for all songs in one day. I was really stoked. Vocals were the hardest part; I seemed to always be sick when it came time to lay down vocal tracks. Some great songs on "It's About Time", definitely a great recording experience.
You then released "A Different Point of View"; tell us about the EP...
Kyle: We don't like to slow down, that why we made this EP we lost a drummer but still wanted to produce something, so we went acoustic for a little bit. I wrote 2 songs, Brian wrote 2, we added a previously recorded track off of "It's About Time” to sweeten the pot. I was surprised to hear what we had gotten out of this one. Everything sounded huge. We put a lot of time into this EP; I guess we really wanted to put out a polished product.
Brian: As Kyle mentioned this one was an acoustic record but we wanted it to sound like a full on rock record. We added cool percussion and backgrounds to fatten the overall sound. I also learned a lot about song writing this time around. These songs had to be great without overdriven guitars, driving drumbeats, and huge bass tones. They had to stand on their own.
Oh yeah! We also had a friend, Tracy Johnson, guest sing on “A Little Closer” with Kyle. She added the sex appeal that my falsetto just couldn’t measure up to.
I learned a lot both times when we recorded about protools engineering, editing, and producing from engineers that helped with these releases.
What else have you released?
Brian: Back in the day we released some EP’s “Your Name Here” and “A Door to Nowhere”… good luck finding those ones. Haha
Kyle: But more recently we’ve put up some new song demos on our facebook page.
Who are some of the bands you have done shows with?
Brian: We’ve played shows with bands like The Ataris, Authority Zero, The Higher, Houston Calls, Amber Pacific, Peirce The Veil, The Material, opened up for members of Home Grown, and a ton of talented local and touring acts.
Do you prefer to do shows at large venues or small clubs?
Kyle: I like both really, you have the large venue where many can hear you, and the small club where you can grab a drink with some fans and talk about this kind of stuff.
Brian: I feed off the vibe of the room. I always say “I’d rather play for 20 people who love us instead of 2,000+ who think we’re rubbish.” But then again playing in front of 2,000 people who love your music and go crazy for your music isn’t too shabby either…
A good way to avoid answering that one, huh? Haha
Have you toured?
Brian: We’ve toured up the coast a bit. Also through Arizona and Nevada. Looking forward to touring a lot more this year. This is a beautiful country gotta get out there and see the damn thing!
Is there a favorite band you like to do shows with?
Brian: Currently our favorites are local friends of ours. Hello Fiasco, Stereo Summer, Gatsby’s Fiddle, and The Plastic Revolution.
Is there a favorite place you like to do shows at?
Brian: SOMA San Diego kind of gave us our start so we will always consider that our second home. Hmm… I also really like House of Blues in downtown San Diego, nice digs. The Timeout Tavern in AZ was really great to us, very accommodating. Soda Bar and The Ruby Room in San Diego are awesome. Great sound, good vibes, and the owners know how to treat their bands. Also they have excellent local breweries on tap. Free IPAs anyone?
Kyle: The Ruby Room in Hillcrest has been great to us. We love playing there. Also Winston's in Ocean Beach, great place. Also Tin Can in Bankers Hill area.
What do you see is the future of Plane Without a Pilot?
Patrick: I see 2012 as a fresh new start for the band. I want to hit the ground running and never stop. I feel that this is going to be a good year for us. We’re gonna be doing some new recordings with Jeff Forest and embarking on several smaller tours within California, maybe even up the entire west coast.
Kyle: We are currently working on some fantastic songs, soon well have those recorded and pressed. Then we’ll share it with tours
Brian: Definitely recording the next PWP record, which is going to something worthwhile in it self. It’s all written just need to head into the studio to start laying down tracks. It’s going to be very eclectic. A mix of many alternative, rock, punk, latin, country, and reggae overtones. The title is going to be “Just Another Unsung Tragedy”. We’re hoping for a 2012 release date.
I’m also looking forward to more shows. Bigger national act showcases, small bar shows, house shows, coffee shops, big events… we love what we do and love to play for any one.
Also, I look forward to playing more music with these guys, Pat and Kyle. Kyle and I have grown a lot as friends, musicians and band mates over these 8 years, yet Patrick seems to be the perfect fit. It’s like he hasn’t missed a beat… I swear that’s not meant to be a lame ass joke. Anyways, let’s keep the good times a rollin’!!!!
How can people contact the band?
Kyle: Facebook, Myspace, and Youtube. Personal pages as well.