INTERVIEW: Pile | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Pile could be your new favourite band. They may be your favourite band’s favourite band. You may have never heard of them, but the noise-rockers hold the same kind of enigmatic cult status in Boston, Massachusetts that Neutral Milk Hotel hold amongst indie kids the world over. Funnily enough, Pile front man Rick Maguire’s disembodied howl recalls Jeff Mangum’s own yelp, only if Mangum were stuck in a tumble dryer. Creating an otherworldly racket that sits somewhere between Neutral Milk, Fugazi and Shellac; one minute devastatingly vulnerable, the next crushingly powerful, Pile throw out the songwriting rule book in favour of unpredictable song structures and wildly inventive dynamics.

Despite forming in 2009 and having three albums under their belt, Pile have gone largely under the radar in the UK, though the release of their fourth album You’re Better Than This in March via indie legends Fierce Panda has seen things kicked up a notch, mainly through the booking of their first ever European tour which will see them stop by Newcastle’s Think Tank? on Tuesday 16th June. This European jaunt comes hot on the heels of a mammoth 73 date US tour, and as far as tour highs (quite literally) go, Maguire reels off a list that makes Pile’s colossal touring schedule seem not quite so bad: “…eating weed and going into float tanks in Denver, hanging out with our friend and former band mate Charlie in Seattle, SXSW was a great time, seeing the guy from Linkin Park at a breakfast place in Arizona, all of California, the Grand Canyon, every time we play in Chicago and watching [Florida hardcore punks] Ex-Breathers play for a week straight.”

“I usually lean towards anxious and self-deprecating lyrics, not because I consciously like punishing myself, but because that’s what seems to come out the easiest”

There’s been a spotlight on the Boston music scene of late, though the city has always been a creative hub, spawning the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and The Pixies, it’s perhaps in part due to Pile’s touring buddies and breakthrough artists Speedy Ortiz and Krill waxing lyrical about their contemporaries that the focus is on Boston once again. “Those are the only bands that are ever mentioned when I hear people talk about Boston music. But there are amazing bands like [New England] Patriots, Lair, Pucker Up, Guerilla Toss…I have friends that make amazing music and I like Boston because there’s a good amount of them that live close by.”

It’s perhaps this sense of a strong creative community that allows Pile to push boundaries with their music. You’re Better Than This is a record that jerks with nervous energy, pulsing between the abrasive, blistering noise of album opener The World Is Your Motel, the slow-burning loud-quiet-loud claustrophobia of Hot Breath and the frenetic stop-start outbursts of #2 Hit Single. A strange beast of a record with awe-inspiring twists and turns at every corner, it’s easy to understand why Maguire found it “difficult to write.” “I think we all have our own influences, and they change at a healthy rate,” he explains. “Musically, we’re all just sort of chasing the dragon, so to speak. It’s not always that complicated but I chose to make You’re Better Than This so. I usually approach writing songs as each one serving some sort of function relative to the other ones. I try to mull them over enough to make them interesting in some way and then I bring whatever I have to the rest of the guys and we finish it together. I usually lean towards anxious and self-deprecating lyrics, not because I consciously like punishing myself, but because that’s what seems to come out the easiest.”

Pile play Think Tank?, Newcastle on Tuesday 16th June.

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