Pilot was released 3 years ago as of last week. I love that little EP of ours for numerous reasons. I remember walking into David’s living room after getting that phone call. I even remember what I was wearing as Savins never lets me forget it. A bright white beanie, a bright blue Henleys jumper & bright white 3/4 lengths all topped off with a little diamond earing in my left ear.
He shakes his head whenever he brings it up but either way I made an impression. To be fair so did he. After a few awkward pleasantries in trying to pretend we were friends David & himself started playing me a song they had been working on. There was no vocals, no bass, just one guitar & drums. I was sitting in the corner, not really knowing what to expect. I think I was more worried about having to try & lie about it sounding great when I was presuming I was only going to think it was half decent. That’s nothing against them either, it was just then my love with rock music was fading & if some of my favourite bands didn’t do it for me anymore then how could these 2 chaps.
So Savins starts with this little riff, kinda quirky but enough about it to make it memorable. Not bad I thought, where’s it gonna go from here? Then David comes in & the song instantly has a groove. It was a simple intro, nice enough I thought, nodding my head in time with the song whilst keeping an eye on what Joe was playing so I had a rough idea of what the bass could be doing underneath it. Easy enough I thought. But then out of nowhere this nice little intro had exploded into something massive. Fucking hell I thought, I knew they wanted to be more of a rock band & different to all the pop-punk bands we’d grown up playing in but I wasn’t expecting this.
I remember them playing up until around the 2nd chorus & then they stopped, obviously that was as far as they had gotten with it up until that point. I didn’t really need to say much. I didn’t even have to lie about it being really good because it was really fucking good. I picked up my bass & started playing along with what they had just played me. I’m not the best of bassists, I can’t do all those fancy note changes & I don’t have the quickest of fingers but I do have a good ear which enables me to learn things quickly. At not one point did I think this was an audition for me to get into the band. I was their second choice anyway & probably last resort but I remember Savins being surprised at how quickly I had picked the song up. I think he was happy at the fact there was real potential now for him & Dave to actually have a jam as a full band with a bassist.
It’s kind of a shame that the song I’m talking about is a song we never released. It was good & we played it live a few times & to be fair if Mikey had gotten his way this song would have been released by now but the fact is once we’d started gelling as a band even for just a couple of weeks the songs started following. We’ve often spoken about releasing this song as a b-side to a single & that still might happen but hasn’t been possible so far. Who knows, you might all get to hear it one day but at that moment in time we wanted you to hear the 5 songs that ended up making it onto Pilot even more.
The first song we wrote that actually made it onto the EP was QOD. Again with this one full credit to Joe, Dave & Mikey. They had written the majority of this song before I’d even started playing bass for it. At this point in time there was no James so Joe was doing his best to make his guitar parts do 2 guitar parts at once. As good as it sounded we always knew there would be a time that we’d introduce a 2nd guitarist but at that point we were just having fun writing songs again.
After QOD came Promises & in truth this was first song that I helped contribute to in terms of writing. That whole song stemmed from me playing those bass chords that last throughout the entirety of the song. I’m always a huge fan of bass chords & at that point with only having 1 guitarist I had a job on bass to help fill in the gaps as much as Joe did on guitar. I played those chords over & over & then Joe came in with the riff you hear in the intro. Dave then racked his brain for a good half hour until he came up with a drumbeat that he thought was good enough to suit the song (to this day I still think that’s one of his best drum beats, especially after watching him working it all out) We then looped that over for a little bit & I started singing the melody for the 1st verse, the lyrics that actually made it onto the song not being too far away from the 1st thing I sang. Then soon after I started sing the “look up, look up” part that leads into the chorus. 1 hour later we had finished the song, from top to bottom. It was amazing. To me it sounded like Brand New & I fucking loved that. I found myself actually really becoming attached to this band that was only supposed to be a bit of fun on the side. In fact, I think we all did!
After a while we found ourselves with 5 songs that we were happy with which meant we could actually have a crack at playing some of these songs live. QOD & Promises being 2 of them. Even Lights was 1 of them, however that song never actually made it on to Pilot but it did get released further down the line as a free download & then found its way onto the Deluxe version of Signals.
So we played 3-4 shows, no more than that & then Joe & co thought it was time to talk about adding a 2nd guitarist. I was hesitant at first, in fact very hesitant. I knew that the lads were keen to get James on board as they’d been in a band with him before & he’d been to watch us at a couple of shows but I didn’t really know him. In truth I don’t know what I was worried about but I expressed my concern of adding another member but we all agreed we’d have a band practise with him there. To this day he talks about how nervous he was turning up. I think he might have heard I wasn’t overly keen. So we set up, had a little chat & thought we’d play QOD. James being James had probably spent the night before worrying & stressing, playing along relentlessly with it the night before to make sure that he’d get it right the first time round & to be fair to him, he absolutely did. It was obvious to everyone that once we had played the whole song though that there was no way we could go back to being a 4 piece now we’d had a taste of what it sounded like with 2 guitars. Everyone looked at me & Joe went “What do you reckon then Sam” & we all laugh about it from time to time at my response. “Well you can’t fault how it sounds”. And with that James was in.
For me that’s when Mallory really started to kick in. We had 1 week spread over 2 practises where we wrote the 3 remaining songs that made it onto Pilot & for me personally it’s where I started to find myself writing rock songs instead of pop-punk songs. I’ve never seen myself as anything more than an average guitarist, an average bassist compared to so many other musicians out there but the one thing I do back myself with is song writing. I write near enough everyday & sometimes a lot of it absolute toss but every now & then I’ll get something I deem worthy enough to show to the lads. In Mallory it took me months until I could start finding my feet with it. That was until by complete accident I started playing the verse chords for Oceans.
I can’t remember how or what I was playing but out of nowhere I hit a duff note on my acoustic which turned out to be the very first note in Oceans. That sounds interesting I thought, it’s quite dark & has a little bit of a vibe to it. I had tried a couple of times before to write something from scratch for Mallory but after showing the lads my ideas the general feedback of it all was that it was a bit too poppy for what we were trying to do. This however had given me a feeling that this could become something pretty cool & if I was enjoying it then hopefully the others would also. So I sat in my room & fucked about with it for no more than a couple of minutes & just started singing the line “I’m a captain lost at sea, in the deep heading straight to the bottom”. Word for word, for no reason what so ever that was the first thing that left my mouth. I carried on for an hour or two until I’d reached the 2nd chorus & ended up playing it to Joe down the phone. “Yeah that sounds great” he said. Success! The first thing we did at the next band practise was play it full band & the very first time I heard it back I just remember being stupidly fucking proud of it. I joke about how I hate playing it at practise but in truth I really do, we’ve played that song well over 300 times by now so of course when it comes to rehearsing a song in a small practise room it does get greeted with moans & groans from us all but no matter what happens I’ll always look back with immense pride, especially when we play it live. Even the “Can you feel me dreaming of you” part is actually from a chorus I wrote when I was 13 years old. We were struggling for months to find a way to end the song & again I remember obsessively playing along to the song by myself in my room fucking around with different chords & melodies, desperately trying to find something to finish this song & getting absolutely nowhere with it. I must have got that fed up that I started playing songs from my old band. Eventually I put two & two together & realised that that melody line with Mikey pushing it to the top of his vocal range & with these new chords I’d thrown underneath it that this could actually work. Even jamming Oceans as a band we didn’t realise how much we actually liked it until we had recorded it. The same can’t be said about Keeping Secrets & Resuscitate though.
Those 2 songs from the get go sounded great in rehearsal & they were fun as fuck to play. Having a bit of confidence behind me I’d written the Keeping Secrets chorus at home & then we all worked on it together from that idea. I remember Joe playing those harmonics in the intro & James now settled in writng his riff that sits behind it & thinking this sounds so fucking cool. In typical Mallory style we looped the verse over & over so Mikey could get stuck in with the verses. As for Resuscitate it was born out of nowhere. We’d written the chorus a little while back but were trying to be too complicated with the verses. Once we stopped trying to be overly clever with it & kept it simple it all flowed out. Those 2 songs for me are my favourite off the EP.
It’s ridiculous to me that those songs built us a platform & played the hugest of roles to help get us to where we are now. Looking back on how relaxed it all was when we only writing for a bit of fun having zero idea that these songs would be the sole reason for us all to sign our first ever record deal which was something we all thought was too far gone. Well I had anyway when I had committed to binning off music & going full time into being an export co-ordinator that sold Chemicals (not illegally) to other people who were as miserable as I was to be stuck in that trade. Those 5 songs enabled me to quit my god awful job & reignite my love for music & song writing. Those 5 songs started it all.
I’ll always look back on the making of that EP with fond memories. When it was just 5 chaps with nothing better to do than write songs for no reason at all other for their own enjoyment. Who started a band purely because of their love for music. We never set out to sign a record deal, we never set out to support one of Americas biggest rock bands at a 9000 cap venue, we never set out to play Reading & Leeds main stage. Those were dreams, those were conversations that started with “Could you imagine ever”. It’s fucking mental really!