If It Weren’t For Piebald, It Would Be Tears For Us All
I like a band whose music makes me smile. I like to be able to sing along at the top my lungs with every song, even if I have no clue what the lyrics are. Piebald is one such band. No matter what mood I’m in, Piebald always seems to fit. Before meeting them, I didn’t know much about Piebald other than their music. After spending a good part of the evening with them, having them turn the tables and interview me, and being labeled a “taker” for getting free merch, I can honestly say that the boys from Piebald are four of the most down to earth, funniest, and talented people I have had the opportunity of interviewing. If you haven’t yet heard Piebald, go listen to them now! I promise you, you will not be disappointed!
The interview was conducted with Travis (vocals, guitar), Andy (bass), and Stuart (guitar, vocals) when Piebald played a show in Montreal late last year. The guys enjoyed bashing Canada, crying, and emo… all in good fun, of course. Here’s a small look into the world of Piebald as seen through the eyes of yours truly. Enjoy!
Do you want to introduce yourselves?
Travis: I’m Travis and I play guitar, I sing too.
Andy: I’m Andy, I play bass.
Stuart: I’m Aaron, but everyone calls me Stuart. I play guitar.
In the form of a fairy tale, can you tell me the story of Piebald? It must begin with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after.”
Stuart: Excellent! So far it’s a great interview!
All: [Laughs and applause]
Travis: Can we all say a sentence and continue?
Yeah, that’s fine.
Travis: Okay, once a time… whoa I mean, once upon a time there were four strapping young gentlemen who played music.
Andy: Sorry, I gotta start over [laughs]. Once again…
Travis: Okay fine, start over, I don’t mind.
Andy: Once upon a time, there were four dudes.
Stuart: These four dudes didn’t know each other all at the same time. Two of the dudes, Stuart and Travis, knew each other and started playing together in ninth or tenth grade… they were young.
Travis: Are you making up this fairy tale?
Stuart: No, I’m telling the truth! Then they met Jonathan Sullivan and Andrew Bonner. They quickly became a happy four-piece band and started writing songs back in early 1996.
Travis: These dudes went on a few tours, graduated from high school, kept touring, got jobs, and went to college. They lived in a castle in Boston, Massachusetts, where they wrote songs. Then, one of them, Jon Sullivan, got a real job and didn’t want to do this anymore. So they replaced that dude with another dude named Alex Garcia Rivera.
Andy: This is the most boring fairy tale ever!
Travis: I know this is so horrible, I wouldn’t want to read this.
Andy: [Grabbing the microphone] These four young gentleman decided that they needed time off from questing, so they went back to their castles and they rested. Once again, Jon Sullivan joined them for a little while until they went on a quest for a new drummer. Riding in on Jon’s pegasus was Lucian Garro [Luke], who completed the foursome, and here we are today in Canada.
Travis: We’re very mad at Canada right now, by the way.
Why is that?
Travis: We left our hotel — which is probably 15 minutes from here — at 2:00, and we got here at 5:30! We got lost, first of all, and second of all, why are there two St. Catherine’s [ed. note: St. Catherine’s is the main street in downtown Montreal]?
There isn’t, it’s just really long.
Travis: Then what’s Cote-St. Catherine?
Andy: Cote-St.Catherine is in the middle and it isn’t on maps!
Travis: And we went to Salle L’X, which isn’t where we’re playing [ed. note: Salle L’X was the original venue for the show].
Nobody told you they changed the venue?
Travis: No! Then we came here and it’s been a pretty miserable day!
Stuart: Ottawa was even worse! It was just a bummer! We got there for load-in when we were supposed to. There were five bands on the bill and there was not adequate sound at all. I don’t mean adequate like we need monitors and stuff, I mean that it would have been nice to have a microphone and maybe a mic stand. The promoter let the show go on so long and let the five opening bands play for however long they wanted. We got cut off after 20 minutes and there were a hundred kids who were wondering what the fuck was going on. Then, the time before we were in Canada, the band Moneen set off fireworks during their set, apparently it’s cool to have pyrotechnics. The place had to be evacuated because of the smoke, and the fire marshall and cops came. So we haven’t even played a full set in Canada yet!
Alright enough Canada bashing [laughs]… next question. Can you mathematically describe your sound?
Andy: Yes, that is perfect!
Wow that was really deep [laughs]. For Piebald, was the highlight of 2001?
Travis: Writing and recording our record, that was our favorite part.
Do you all agree?
Andy: Yeah that was it… maybe playing again, too.
Stuart: My highlight was flying to California to do a bunch of shows, that was great. It was great cause we got back together and then flew to the West Coast. It was cool just to be back playing.
Are you distraught over the disintegration of Destiny’s Child?
Andy: They broke up?
That’s what I said! My friend told me in the car on our way here, I had no idea! [Ed. note: this was just a rumor]
Travis: I didn’t know that happened either! That means Beyonce is just going to have a solo project.
Andy: She’s an egomaniac and she had a good thing goin’ but you know she had to break it up ’cause her head was just too big for the group.
She’s in the new Austin Powers movie.
Travis: As long as she keeps making videos, I’ll be okay.
So keeping with the Destiny’s Child theme, which member of Piebald is “bootylicious”?
Travis, Stuart, and Andy: Luke!
Travis: I should get him later, he’s at the merch table.
Yeah, you’re missing the “bootylicious” member [laughs]! If you were to label Piebald as a specific musical genre, which would you pick?
Travis: Definitely emo, because we’re emo-licious
Can you define emo?
Travis: I don’t know and I don’t care! Emo is all kinds of music.
Do you cry onstage?
Travis: Of course, all the time. Crying is awesome
That’s good, it’s good to show your emotions!
Travis: I know, that’s why I do it every day. Those 45 minutes are the only 45 minutes of the day where I feel emotional, I cry during those minutes.
Andy: I cry too.
Travis: It’s actually very healing, very spiritual. We get up onstage and I start playing my guitar, all of the sudden I’m crying and I can’t control it.
Do you ever need to stop and take a moment?
Travis: There’s usually a chair onstage so I go sit in and just cry by myself while they keep playing [laughs].
I’m looking forward to the show, it should be interesting. I’m going to be very disappointed, though, if you don’t cry.
Andy: Oh we will, we always cry.
Does the audience cry too?
Stuart: Hopefully, we want the audience to cry because crying is cool [laughs].
Andy: They cry if Stuart yells at them!
I’m going to use that as a quote: “crying is cool.”
Stuart: No, for real, it’s so not.
Andy: Crying is not allowed in this band. In fact, if you cry and you’re on the road with us, bad things happen.
Stuart: Actually, there’s no crying allowed at all! You need a damn good reason to cry!
So what qualifies as a good reason?
Stuart: Family members dying.
What about serious injury to a limb or other body part?
Travis: It would have to be a pretty serious injury.
Stuart: No, you are not allowed to cry because of pain whatsoever!
Andy: Well if you’re short a leg, I think you can cry.
Stuart: Well if you lose a leg, you’re going home anyway [laughs]!
Moving away from the dismemberment… would you say youÃve been naughty or nice this year?
Travis: I wish I could say I was naughty, but I was definitely nice.
Stuart: This year, I don’t know… what do you think Travis?
Travis: You’re the judge, I gave myself a judgement.
Stuart: Well what’s naughty?
Santa has a list of naughty boys and nice boys. So naughty would be…
Andy: Crying [laughs]!
Naughty would be something that you felt really bad about afterwards. If you were a little boy, it would be something your mommy would have scolded you for.
Stuart: I did a couple things this year that I regret.
What would you say overall? Are you going to get coal in your stocking?
Stuart: I’m Jewish.
Are you really? So am I!
Stuart: I don’t have to answer that question, then, I’m good no matter what!
What do you want Santa (or Hannukah Harry, in Stuart’s case) to bring you?
Travis: A new sleeping bag.
Andy: Oh really? No way! That’s amazing!
Travis: Yeah, I need a new sleeping bag.
Andy: Travis has the most meager sleeping bag.
Travis: Don’t talk about the pillow…
Now he has to talk about the pillow since you brought it up.
Andy: Reach in the back of the van and grab the shittiest thing you see and that’s Travis’s pillow [Ed note: it’s yellow, old, and greasy looking].
Travis: I have had this pillow for 23 years, and I’m 24 now.
Andy: That was Travis’s first and only pillow. Last night we were in a hotel with nice, soft, clean pillows, and he put his pillow on top of his head and slept with his head on the bed.
Travis: I can’t sleep with those pillows, they’re too big and fat.
Andy: You’re too fat… that’s doesn’t really work though, does it [Ed. note: Travis is extremely skinny, and is therefore nowhere close to being classified as “fat”]?
Travis: My sleeping bag is all ripped on the inside, so I want a new sleeping bag and lots of guitar things, like pedals and stuff.
What is your favorite album to listen to here in the van?
Travis: Can we list more than one?
Yes, if you must.
Travis: Radiohead’s The Bends, we listen to that a lot. Sgt. Pepper’s, Pavement, we’ve been listening to Neil Young a lot lately.
Andy: Only because it comes on the radio and Stuart makes us listen to it.
Stuart: Do you guys like that Canadian shit?
No, not really.
Stuart: How can anyone like it? It’s Canadian!
Please don’t hate Canada!
Stuart: We don’t really hate Canada… we like you.
Travis: Canada doesn’t want to help us out! It doesn’t want to help us drive. It doesn’t want to help us get to where we’re going. It doesn’t want to help us stay in a hotel!
Alright, moving on then… I’m going to set the scene for the next question: you’re in the middle of the dance floor at a hip hop club. The ladies are all around you shakin’ their booties and you decide you want to “get your groove on.” What is your dance move, what is it called, and can I see it?
Travis: I have a move. In grade school it used to be called spaghetti legs, but now I don’t know what it’s called. I can’t show you though, there’s not enough space, I’d probably knock you out.
Andy: I can’t dance, so it’s I call it “running in place,” but it’s not the “running man.” It’s just picking up one foot, putting it down, picking up the other foot and putting it down [laughs].
Travis: When Stuart dances with a girl, he does the “I’ll freak ya baby” [laughs].
Stuart: For real, I don’t really use a dance move, I just walk in a give off “the vibe.”
What would you call that?
Andy: I’d call it “The Stuart.”
Stuart: The ladies love it, they just love it so much.
Andy: Could I use “The Stuart” sometime?
Stuart: Yeah, definitely.
Are you going to do your dance moves onstage tonight? I want to see “spaghetti legs”!
Travis: Always, we always dance onstage.
Andy: Stuart might give you the vibe later…
Do you know when you get the vibe?
Stuart: Oh, you’ll know when you get the vibe! We’ll have an extra super vibe, the “Jew vibe” [laughs].
Along with your dance moves, what pick-up lines do you use?
Travis: I wish I could say I’ve used pick-up lines. How about “are those space pants you’re wearing, because they make your ass look out of this world,” or “I thought very fine only came in bottles”?
Those are good! What about “is that beer in your pants? Because I’d really like to tap that ass.”
Andy: [Laughs] Wow, that’s great.
Stuart: I just ask girls to make out with me. I say “hi, wanna make out, please?”
Up front, yet polite with the “please,” very nice.
Stuart: Nah, I take back the please, I don’t say please.
Right, because that would be a sign of weakness.
Andy: I say “how you doin’?”
Travis: How you doin’?
If you could be a professional athlete, what sport would you play?
Travis: I’d love to be amazing at pool, billiards, or darts.
Pool like snooker?
Travis: [Laughs] Yes, thank you, snooker!
Stuart: Travis is really good at playing bum darts.
Bum darts? I’m guessing that’s pretty self-explanatory.
Andy: I’d play football, because I’m a jock.
Stuart: I would like to be one of the British Bulldogs.
Andy: So you’d be a wrestler.
Stuart: Yeah, I used to wrestle for real, it was fun. I had to wear tights and stuff, it was real wrestling, not the fake stuff.
Can you describe the other band members as a drink? It can be alcoholic, non-alcoholic, hot, cold, iced, whatever.
Travis: Stuart is whiskey, Andy is a glass of milk, Luke would be a Medory sour, and I would be apple juice.
Andy: Apple juice is definitely meager, I was trying to think of the most meager drink possible…
Travis: Water! No, tap water [laughs].
Stuart: Sad water.
I think apple juice is pretty sad. Okay Travis and Stuart, you both play guitar. Andy, you can answer if you want to…
Andy: Well not if you’re going to single me out like that [laughs].
Which of the following guitarist would you like to be the most associated with: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page, or Slash?
Travis: None of the above, Keith Richards!
Stuart: If I could play guitar like anyone in the world, I would probably have to pick Stuart from Piebald. That dude is amazing, he’s great.
Stuart: [Laughs] You know which guitarist rules? John Major from Lazycane. He’s one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen.
Travis: I bet I know who Andy would say… he’d say the man with the “H”… Hendrix.
Andy: Yeah, I’d pick Hendrix.
What are your plans for 2002?
Stuart: Touring all the time. Europe and then back home and then on the road again.
If you could be struck by any natural disaster and survive, what would you pick? For example, I would pick fog. Contrary to popular belief, fog is a natural disaster!
Andy: I was just about to call you on that!
I figured you would, everyone always calls me on it.
Andy: Is this something you talk about with a lot of people?
Yes, it’s a standard question [laughs].
Travis: I think I’d say avalanche… Actually, I would love to get caught in a tornado, who wouldn’t?
Stuart: I would like to fall into the middle of the Earth and climb out unscathed.
Andy: In other words, his answer is earthquake. I would say tidal wave, that would be fun.
By the way, I’d say that about 90% of “emo” bands say tornado.
Travis: Yes, but do they cry onstage?
Travis: But do they cry as well as we do? It’s hard work to fucking cry for 45 minutes!
Andy: We have to drink water all day!
It’s not a matter of how long, it’s a matter of where it comes from. It has to be from the heart.
Andy: Believe me, it’s from the heart!
Travis: If those are the only 45 minutes of every day that I cry, it’s saved up and I definitely mean it [laughs]!
For this last question, you guys have to join forces together as a group. It’s not a yes or no question, you have to do it! You must do a freestyle rap on rhubarb and speed limits.
Andy: If “the Wig” was here, we could do it.
Stuart: The Wig is the guitarist from the band Recover. We did three weeks with them on this tour, and we grew very fond of the Wig. It looks like he’s wearing a wig, but he has the ability to make up raps like you wouldn’t believe! Recover is an amazing band, you will definitely be hearing more of them.
Andy: Seriously, if our cell phone worked, I would call the Wig and have him do it.
Travis: We can do this! I’m going to sound like an idiot, though.
Stuart: I’ll do it, give me some beats.
Travis: Okay, ready? [Travis gives a beat.]
Stuart: My name is Stuart I really like rhubarb, I go really fast in my fucking car, yeah!
Not bad, Not bad. Any closing words, thoughts, or comments for your fans out there?
Stuart: I’m going to use a quote…
Andy: The quote is: “If this is it, please let me know. If this is love baby, please say so.” That was by my “good friend,” Huey Lewis [laughs].
Stuart: No, I’m going to use a quote from a song by the band Jets to Brazil: “To all the bands who mean just what they say, it’s not what you sell, it’s what you mean.”