Hey! You're Part of This Piebald Reunion
Travis Shettel explains the brief return of Boston's finest and how they haven't practiced and it might be terrible.
Piebald grew out of the same Boston music scene that birthed hardcore heavyhitters like Cave In and Converge, but Piebald was always more classic rock-minded than their metal-infused peers. The band was together from 1994 to 2008 and released a ton of celebrated songs over their 14-year tenure. Anyone worth their weight in early 2000s nostalgia can sing along to “American Hearts” or “The Monkey Vs. The Robot.” The group briefly reunited in 2010 to play The Bamboozle festival, but has been quiet since then… until now.
Recently, Atlanta's Wrecking Ball fest announced that Piebald would be performing alongside acts like Thursday and Drive Like Jehu—and today, the band announced that they would also be playing a handful of shows on both coasts. We caught up with frontman Travis Shettel at a dark Los Angeles bar in the middle of a beautiful day to discuss what to expect from these tour dates, the odds of there ever being a new Piebald record, and why you shouldn't Google the word "facial" unless you know exactly what you're getting yourself into.
Noisey: So have you been kicking around the idea of doing some Piebald shows for a while?
Travis Shettel: Yeah, for the past few years, Matt Galle, who booked Piebald, would reach out and say, "Hey, this festival in Atlanta would love to have you guys and here's the offer," and we'd say, "Eh, it's not the right time." Who's going to want to practice for two days and then play a festival in Atlanta? We at least need a reason to do it and also probably play other shows because just playing Atlanta doesn't make a lot of sense. This year, I think we took it a little more seriously when they offered and I talked to Luke [Garro] and Andy [Bonner] and said, "Why don't we play a couple of shows and make our way down to the festival because we know can play Boston, New York, and DC, and it'll be fun." So the idea got started and some shows got booked.
Have you practiced together yet?
No, it's going to be terrible. [Laughs] I'm a little worried about that.
I'm sure the muscle memory will come back to you pretty quickly.
Right, and I think everyone has been playing at least a little music in some form, so I don't think there will be the guy who's like, "I haven't played bass in five years now!" But, yeah, we have not played together in a long time.
Do you feel like Piebald is bigger now than when you were an active band?
Yeah, it's because people have passed it onto their younger siblings or even their children in some cases at this point. It's just a whole new generation of people listening and I think the same can be said of a lot of bands from our era. I also think with the passing of time, people have become more intrigued to see us again. That's also such a big thing now—bands getting back together to play shows.
Have you had pretty constant offers for Piebald to perform over the years?
The Wrecking Ball thing has been coming in every year for the past five years, and then there have been a few other through offers via Facebook saying, "Come down and play Chicago," but we didn't have it together or weren't looking for a show at that time. I also want our reunions to be special and have a little more meaning than to fly out for some festival that's unrelated to where we came from.
You're wearing a Cave In shirt. How do you look back at that period of Boston music?
I wish I remembered more about it, but it was awesome. I mean we played Cave In's first show and played a lot of shows together. Then there's the Converge dudes; Jake [Bannon] and Kurt [Ballou] went to Andover High which was where I went to high school and Kurt was kind of like a creative guiding light. We were a little bit younger but he took us under his wing and I think he was a good mentor to that scene. Maybe he didn't specifically have something to do with Piebald or Cave In forming, but he helped us creatively. Then we all moved to Boston and he had a studio in a basement and tons of shit got recorded there. That was a great time. A lot of fun shows, good people. It's cool, I like that it seems to have a lot of meaning to some people who weren't there.
So when can we expect Piebald's comeback album?
I have very high doubts about that because personally, I think that people who want to see us play aren't looking for a new Piebald song. They want to hear the songs that they remember from the past. Also, the idea of making a new Piebald album is scary because it has to be good, and all of us have to think it's good, and not just one song, but ten songs? With other bands I can do that because there's no weight on it, but now I feel a lot of pressure when it comes to Piebald. Again, I don't think the world cares if we play a new song, but they care if we play or not.
So what's the set list going to be like for these shows?
I have a couple of weird ideas. For example, I want to put together a medley of old songs because I don't want to play them in their entirety.
Like Weird Al-style.
I love it. I love Weird Al.
Do you guys have anything else planned?
Right now, it's just these shows. I think we have it in our sights to play the bigger places in the United States over the in the next two years in different stints because we want to play places like Chicago, Austin, Detroit, and Seattle. We're also hoping to release the Piebald catalog on vinyl on my label Chain Letter Collective but that will take some time. They put out the new seven-inch by Fakers and stuff by this band Facial who are really good. Good name, too. Google search that one.
See Piebald's dates below. Tickets go on sale this Friday at noon, local time.
Jonah Bayer is somewhere between a monkey and a robot. Follow him on twitter at @mynameisjonah.