Rob Beckley - Pillar

September 1, 2006


Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org

Tell me a little bit about Pillar.

We've been doing it since January of '98 so in January I guess it'll be nine years. We've been doing it long enough to at least have an idea of what we need to do. It's not that we're rookies. It's just 18 year old kids going out on the road for the first time. We've been doing it for a little while. We actually started out in western Kansas at Fort Hays State University and it's cool. This record for us right now is going back to who we are. Just being simple Midwest people and thatís been our forte through the last however many years. Itís just been being simple minded country folk.

You started out in a rap metal style and moved to a hard rock sound. Why did you guys decide to change your musical direction?

When we first started, our first record had a lot of different styles on it. It wasn't just the whole rap rock thing. We did have somewhat of that influence of but a lot of the reasons we evolved out of was I didn't like doing the rap thing. I sucked at it so there was no reason to keep doing it. I studied jazz in college. I played saxophone. I have a legitimate appreciation for melodies. I really like singing a lot more than I did rapping so that was an easy evolution to evolve out of that. This is our fourth studio release and this is I think the biggest leap forward just in songwriting capabilities. That just comes from playing 2,500 shows and doing a ton of different studio work. Being informed by so many bands that we've been on tour with. You either get better or you quit. Fortunately all the guys got better with their instruments and we've become better songwriters. I think we don't lightly what it is that we do.

You appear to have songs where one is rather reminiscent of Tool, one is reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World, one reminds you of Rage Against The Machine, and one is reminds you of AD/DC. Did you intentionally try to put a really good variety of songs on the record?

I wouldnít say intentionally or 100 percent intentional. We do try to keep our records diverse because I personally hate putting in CDs and when you hear a song that you like, and then you go back and youíre like ďoh man, thereís one song I really likeĒ but you have to click through the whole CD to find it because they all sound the same. Thatís the most annoying thing in the world to me. I love records that are eclectic. That have peaks and valleys and that have little mood swings throughout them. Thereís one song that rocks and then thereís a little vibe track. Then thereís a song that rocks out and then thereís a ballad. Those are the types of records that I love listening to and I guess when we went into it, it wasnít 100 percent intentional but because thatís what we all like and I guess subliminally thatís what we were shooting for. We worked on this record for over a year so we had probably 25 songs that we had started working on and we whittled it down to these 13 tracks that we put on the record. Since we wrote for that long of a period of time, thereís different attitudes and different feelings I guess as opposed to going in for two months and writing a whole record in two months. Youíre going to have the same flavor on everything.

You sit there and you write 25 songs and then you have to whittle it down. How hard is that to ultimately decide on a select amount of songs?

It kind of sucks actually. Our guitar player especially but everybody in the band has arguments about why they feel like their song should be on the record. We released an EP that we only sold at live shows and off of our website. The two songs that made the EP, there were four live cuts and then a couple of songs that didnít make the record, those two songs actually one of which was my favorite song. I was like ďIíll fight this to the death, itís got to be on the record.Ē The final verdict was and this is what sold me, our manager said that it is a good song and nobody is denying that, itís a good a song but it should have been on our last album. It sounds like that Pillar. It doesnít fit the rest of these songs. Iím one of the guys who just wants to move forward. I donít want to stay the same band for four records. That sold me and I was like all right, letís put it on the EP. There were about four or five songs where we said these for sure were going on. We finished those songs up and we started shaping a few other songs and I think thereís one song on there, ďAngel In DisguiseĒ, kind of a slow song was one where we didnít know for sure if it was going to make the record because it was such a chill song. The cool thing was that it showed a vulnerable and different side of the band than weíve ever done before. Itís more the countryesque storytelling song.

I like records that have a variety like that because that tends to hold my interest a lot more.

Exactly. You donít find yourself putting in a CD and skipping past songs because they sound the same. We probably put together somewhere between five and 10 different track sequences for the record because we felt so strongly about the record that we wanted it flow a certain way for it to make sense. Our favorite songs are at the beginning and then the weaker songs at the end because everybody had an argument of which were the strongest songs. I feel like where the album ended up, every ounce of thought you could come up with, went into it.

The track sequence is very important and I never realized just how important it was until someone asked me to review a CD that a friend's band did that was just a demo. It wasn't fully ready and I listened to it. I told him the stuff sounded good but I think they needed to change the order of the songs. So many songs at the beginning sounded the same, so many in the middle, and so many at the end. If the track sequence is changed then people don't notice it as much. I explained to him that it would provide more a variety and that's when the full impact of that hit me. That's when I found out how truly important that is.

Yeah, and that's what we wanted. There are a couple of songs on there that are probably the two heaviest songs we've ever written. You can't put them back to back. There's a lot of thought that goes into it of creating the vibe that you want to come across.

How does this record differ from the last release that you put out?

The biggest thing I would say is just songwriting. The fact that we felt so strongly in the past with having to scrounge to put songs together, on this record we actually had an abundance of songs and we had to trim the fat so to speak. From track one all the way through, I feel like they all are strong songs and they all have something to offer both musically and analytically as opposed to some of our stuff in the past that's been thrown together last second just to finish a record. It's just a stronger record from front to back.

You're going to be releasing the record October 3rd. Why are you waiting until then to release it?

Because we don't have any say in it whatsoever. Trust me if I were to look at a calendar and say let's pick this day and let's stay away from this day, the one day I would have said let's stay away from is the 3rd and the 10th of October. Because they do releases on Tuesday and those would have been the two days that I would say don't do these. My wife is having a baby and the due date is October 7th. That's the worst day they could have come up with.

Congratulations!

Thank you.

What kind of touring do you guys have planned?

We have a headline run scheduled for the end of October. The Days Of The Reckoning tour. It's got three other bands. Dead Poetic, The Showdown, and Kids In The Way. I think it's about 35 or 38 cities so we will be very busy.

So soon after the little one arrives too. It's going to be hard to tear away from that.,p> I'm going to hopefully be able to take him out.

Are you guys planning on releasing any videos?

I don't know when it will be released but we just shot a video for the first single last weekend. I'm not for sure when it will be finished but I would say within the next month I'm sure it'll be out and ready for rotation.

A sneak peek on what the theme of the video is?,p> The overall theme was to go back to the Midwest where everybody waves at everybody and everybody helps each other out. Where I grew up out in western Kansas if something happens and somebody is on the side of the road, nobody is in a big enough hurry that they can't stop and help you out. The theme is I'm driving this tractor and it breaks down and Noah comes by in this old truck and picks me up. Then we break down and Mike and Lester come by in another truck and pick us up. We go to the show that's out in this old barn and have this party. That's the way it was for me growing up. Everybody would say "hey, we've got a party at John's barn tonight" or whatever and everybody would show up there. That's the theme in the video. We're trying to get to this party that's going on.

Reminds me of this NASCAR commercial where this SUV breaks down and they wind up riding to a wedding on a John Deere tractor. That's cool. I think people are totally impatient with each other and self-centered and no one ever tries to help somebody who's in a jam. It's good to remind people about that sort of stuff. You should never be too busy to help out your neighbor.

Exactly.

Any other thoughts or comments?

If people have questions and want to check us out, www.pillarmusic.com or www.myspace.com/pillar.

Pillar