This Piebald interview took place on August 24, 2007 at the Norva in Norfolk, Virginia. I would like to thank Luke Garro for taking the time out to do the interview and being such a nice guy. Make sure to pick up Piebald’s latest record “Accidental Gentlemen” and listen to it wherever you go. If Piebald is playing a show near your area, make the drive and catch an amazing and energetic show.
- State your name and position in the band.
My name is Luke, I play drums in Piebald.
- Give a brief history of the band and the origin of the name.
The band started, you know, as a high school band basically for the three other guys in the band besides me. Back in ’94 they started playing together, I think officially Piebald became a band a few years after that. The name came from a book they were reading and the word “piebald” is in it. And it was just an interesting word that caught everyone’s attention, without even checking out what the meaning was.
- Are you trying to do anything different on this tour since it could be the last tour you do?
Besides just make a show where we are always raging to the fullest on the stage with our performance, we’re not trying to do anything different. But I think after the feeling is that like “This is really only for the music”, there is no sense that we always have to be thinking of the next move and what we have to do to capitalize on this. It’s just really about each state of performance, consciously knowing that that they are going to start getting less and less in terms of how many shows we’re playing. Having that left just makes it so much easier to just get up there and have it only be about the music. There is nothing more to build on, you know? We’re just going to do this and we want to leave everyone being psyched that they actually got to see us, especially in these months.
- Which tour was most memorable and which tour do you wish never happened? Why?
I wish that this tour that we, the third time that we went to Europe, I wish that had never happened. Because it was after our, it was a month after one of our records came out. We did about a six-week U.S. tour, where actually The Format was opening for us, doing a co-headlining with The Jealous Sound, which was a great tour. We had a record come out in the middle of it and everyone went cool. And then immediately after that we had a European tour scheduled. And we had new management at the time, we really left everything up to them, whereas before that we had done everything, so everything got done exactly how we wanted to. If it didn’t get done right, it was our fault. Just a lot of simple things that the first time we went to Europe were fine, this time it was so wrong, everything, you know? Our back liner that we rented, the merchandise not getting there on time and us paying too much money for it to not even be there on time, our plan tickets being booked at the last minute so we paid twice as much, canceling U.S. shows where we had good size guarantees to play European shows that we were told were going to be huge and nobody was there because there was a soccer tournament going on. It was like all these things at once so immediately after doing the U.S. tour where we made a lot of money and we were going to be able to support ourselves, we lost it all in Europe. So we came home after two and a half months of touring with nothing and just having gone to Europe for a month. We ended up taking like, six to eight months off the road because of that, because of such a monetary and mental lost, that if that had never happened, who knows, maybe we would of done six months of touring instead of having six months off. So I wish that had never happened.
Best tour that we have ever gone on, oh we’ve done some great tours. We did a big tour years ago, it was us, Cave In and The Damn Personals. That was just a bunch of dudes from Boston, which was such a fun tour. We’ve done so many fun tours, we’ve gotten to play with so many awesome bands that are still great friends of ours today, even if they have gone off and those bands don’t even exist anymore, we still end up seeing them all the time.
- What was the idea behind of running the van on grease and what are the advantages/disadvantages on making the switch?
Well the idea came about when a friend of ours, a long time friend of the band, had started doing it and he did it successfully for four years. He convinced us to do it and our guitarist, Aaron Stuart, is a mechanic, so he was like, “Guys, I could probably do it for us, like I understand how to do it.” We already had diesel vehicle at the time, which you have to have a diesel vehicle to do it. We were just a little hesitate because you are physically altering your van, I mean it can be reversed, but something that is going to take up more room. It was just a change and we were a little hesitate, but at the same time he was so enthusiastic, our friend Mike was so enthusiastic about it, that we were like “Let’s try it.” We did it and the first tour we did, we ended up saving so much on gas and people were really interested in hearing about it. So it’s kind of good on every side, both monetarily and for the good of the world and to educate people and show them a good example that you can do stuff on your own. What we do is just one of the many different things you can do to make a difference towards the better.
Downside of it, really, there is only one downside of it that I can think of and it’s really so insignificant, and it’s that everything gets a little dirty. It’s tough to keep it clean because you are literally, we are literally, some people have electric pumps and we’ve tried using pumps but they always break. We literally like stick our arms in grease bins and scoop it out with buckets, so our hands get messy and stuff. Pouring it in, it splashes around, we haven’t been cleaning our van lately so it gets a little messy. And it takes up room. But other than that, it’s kind of the best thing ever and it has allowed us to keep touring the last couple of years.
Yeah, it’s way better on costs and everything.
Oh, definitely. Especially when we are doing a support tour, we’re not getting paid much money at all and if we have to get gas and hotel rooms every night, we’ll be losing money, we would have to have money saved up to go on a support tour. Now, we go on it and we make money, because in a month we are going to save about eight grand in gas costs.
So pretty much all you do is make alteration to the vehicle and then just get the grease from restaurants.
Yeah, just get the grease and dump it in the thing. All of our filtration happens in our system. We have a pretty custom system that is really tailored to our needs of being able to do long distance drives without having to refuel and our need of needing to filter the grease, but not having to wait for it to filter, it gets filtered within our tank. There are a lot of companies out there that do it, but they are not going to do it for the road warrior, they are going to do it for the dude that drives around the city and talks about how he runs vegetable oil.
So is it usually easy to go to restaurants and just ask for the grease?
Yeah, I actually have a car that I run on grease too that I converted in Boston. I’ve made relationships with four or five different places that have never failed me.
You save so much money.
Oh yeah, I don’t spend much on gas anyways, like I probably fill up my tank once every two weeks. So we’re looking at forty bucks every two weeks, but it adds up. It definitely frees up money to do stuff and I don’t have to worry about it.
- What do you remember about the first show you ever played with the band?
Um, I don’t know, not much. I remember being like, “Holy shit, I hope this is awesome. I hope that I don’t ruin this band.” But ultimately I was just excited, cause it was fun you know, I’ve always played my whole life.
When did you join the band?
Um, 2001. Right when they were recording “We Are The Only Friends We Have”, it was like fall of 2001.
- If you had to relive one show for the rest of your life, which show would it be and why?
Maybe our record release at The Palladium for “We Are The Only Friends We Have”, it was a really huge show. But the show we actually just played in Boston too, was kind of an awesome show. Those would be the shows that I would want to look at and have other people be able to see because there were lots of people there and the majority, you know, cheering for us.
But they are definitely a lot of other weird shows that, we did a show, actually on the tour I mentioned before with Cave In and The Damn Personals, it wasn’t a planned show, the scheduled show got canceled. This was in Cleveland, maybe in Columbus, no I think it was Cleveland. Some kid was like, “Hey, I know this dude has a bar”¦.
The tour manager from The Format opens a door across from where we are sitting.
Tour Manager: Let it be known that I have some serious high scores on Root Beer Tapper and I challenge anyone to have their name at number one by the end of the night. Peace.
Luke: It’s been documented (points to the recorder), so I’ll play it back for anybody.
Tour Manager: That’s all I got.
The tour manager of The Format retreats back into the room and shuts the door.
Who was that?
That was The Format’s tour manager, they call him “Muzz”.
So the show got canceled and this kid is like, “Yeah, my friend has a bar that you guys can probably play at, let me call him.” So he gets back and goes, “Yeah, you guys can totally play, obviously you guys can’t get paid, but he said he’ll let you guys drink all night.” Little does he know, some of these bands on the tour can drink and drink and drink. So we play in a bar that was literally a fifty to sixty capacity place, and I’m talking about sixty people would of completely made it so you couldn’t walk through there. And taking into account there are all the bands’ equipment there, taking up a lot of space, we all shared drums and stuff. So probably like thirty of forty people came, like we have it all documented on video too, but progressed through the night, like everyone was just drinking so much because the dude said we could drink for free. There were points where members of the bands were behind the bar with their mouths under the tap. Like the show, we don’t even remember playing it. It just happened, but it was a lot of fun. There were like weird forty year old ladies there that just probably came there and were dancing and stuff.
But then at the end of the night, the dude that owns the bar was like kicking everyone out and like throwing chairs and stuff. And we weren’t there, but supposedly he pulled a shotgun on the kid that told us to play there and stuff. That’s intense. Not something that I would want to relive, but definitely something you can’t forget.
- After having such a long run, how did the decision come about to disband?
I think the past year and a half, two years of this band have been slower than we’ve always been, in terms of productivity and touring and stuff. It’s tougher to communicate, two of the guys live in Los Angeles. It’s harder to hold stuff together and when something is steadily going down, you can’t help but think like, “Well, we don’t this to keep going to the point where it’s pathetic.” Not that we are going downhill, I actually think our shows now are better than ever. I think as a band we’re better than we’ve ever played. I think our fans are more enthusiastic than ever to see us play. I don’t think this band can do much more than we’ve already done. You know, we’ve put out plenty of records, I don’t think it makes any sense for us to write another record and put it out.
Yeah, and write one when you aren’t really into it.
Yeah, it’s not really us not being into it but it’s not going to like, I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but out another record on indie is not going to, it’s not going to change what’s happening. The music is a lot different right now, it’s been harder for us to really keep going with it. We just kind of want to keep it at a special point.
Yeah, and not have to wait till the end when it gets worse.
Yeah, we don’t want it to get pathetic and we don’t also want to like, you know, we’ve kind of done everything we can do and we are pretty happy with ourselves and that’s the most important thing. We feel pretty complete, we never were a huge band like a lot of bands we’ve played with have gotten huge, we are not able to buy houses off what we’ve done. Maybe those things would of change how we look, yet again maybe it would have ruined it. So it’s like, yeah I mean maybe we had a chance to sign to a major label, but we didn’t. Maybe that would have totally change the coarse of the band. We’re pretty happy with everything that did happen. So it’s kind of good to have it at a point where you are satisfy and you can take it, I don’t want to say retire it, but at least put a line where that era ends.
We’re still planning on playing shows, we’re not like, “This is it, we’re done. Last show.” No one has that mind set, but we are announcing that mentally this is where the band, as a developing band is probably going to end. I don’t know man, I feel like our live show is better than it has ever been. I’m very to continue to play shows, so I don’t know where it’s going to officially end, but we could be play a few more shows, we could play a few more weeks of shows. And that could be a year from now. I don’t think we are even in a rush to get it over with, we’re like, “Hey, we do a Christmas show every year and I bet we’re going to do it this year.”
- What aspects of being in the band are you going it miss and which aspects are you going to be glad are over?
I love performing and I love being involved in writing music, both of those things I’m going to continue to do. So the only thing I will miss is the actual songs that I’m playing and the actual people that I’m getting up there and playing with and the actual event of it being a Piebald show. I’ll continue to play and I’ll definitely play shows at some point with somebody else. I’ll just literally this band being on tour with cast of characters, getting up and playing sets as a Piebald show. That would definitely be something that I miss.
Things that I won’t miss, there are a lot of things like that, like having to tour, having to struggle with the band. You know, even if your band is doing well, it’s always tough to judge the success you have because you are always striving to do better. There are always tons of band that are bettering themselves too. So I won’t miss that. That struggle of like, always being on the edge of “Hey what do we have to do.” I’ll be really happy to relax and not have to worry about tour and merchandise and planning tours.
And doing things that you are expected to do as a band.
Yeah. Oh yeah, you have to keep doing it or else you don’t exist. Same as if you are running a business, if somebody else is providing the same thing is making more and making it more available than you, then no one is going to buy it. You have to compete against the other forefront. I’m happy to kind of like, throw in my towel or whatever, or pass the torch to somebody else is doing it and not have to get stressed out about that. And all the prices of touring, not sleeping, missing my home that I pay money for, missing my friends in Boston, missing a routine. When you are on tour, there are no routines. And if you think there is a routine, then things are going to change the next day. Last night I drove till six in the morning, slept till ten thirty, then got up and swam in Virginia Beach, and then got a hotel and tried to sleep but couldn’t sleep, and now I’m about to chug a Red Bell before playing.
- If fans were only able to listen to one Piebald record, which one would you hope they choose and why?
Oh, that’s tough. There are too many and I only played on two of them. I don’t know if I can really answer that. But I hope that our last record gets the attention that I think it deserves, I think it’s an awesome record. I don’t think it’s going to get the life, I don’t think we are going to give it the life we deserve. So I hope, in terms of one of those records that people really get into and then it’ll be one of those funny things that a lot of the songs never get played live.
- In your opinion, is it better to have meaningful lyrics that reach out to fans or vague, simple lyrics that could be about anything?
Meaningful. Yeah, I think the conscience choice to make clever lyrics or the choice to have simple lyrics is something I think artist do. I think there is nothing not cleaver about writing simple lyrics, I think it could be harder to write simple lyrics. I think it’s going to appeal to different people at different times, like the concept of what you’re writing. There are bands that have all simple lyrics, I couldn’t really connect with. I can connect with it on a performance level, but stuff that I listen to, I always like to”¦songs have much more of an impact if they’re not only catchy as shit or well performed, but it also connects with something mentally, even if you don’t know why it’s making you feel a certain way. As long as it makes you feel a certain way, that’s always good. And I enjoy on being part of music that is more than just the great performance and good song writing, if it could also mean something and it’s able to convey that meaning, it’s not like, maybe cleaver things or sometimes you’re like, what are they talking about. Like people don’t really get what you are saying but you don’t have to come out and say it, I think that is the biggest home run. Not that I think a song should always be like.
- What are some aspects of the music industry that you feel are hidden and people don’t know about?
I don’t know. Hidden aspects of the music industry. I feel like at this point, everything is known about record labels, but I can say things that suck about the music industry. I think that it sucks that there are so many record labels that put out crap, to be honest with you. I think it’s more of a crime to put a real lot of money into crap to the point where people have to accept it. I think they are a lot of people that still like to discover music, but then there is a whole layer of music that is just what people are exposed to. And I think there is a lot of bad stuff that falls in that layer, to the point where it makes peoples’ mind not able to recognize good music because they are just like”¦
They are getting signed, so they must be good.
Well, yeah. That’s some of the opinion because, a song that I think is so terrible, four million people buy the record. Maybe I can’t connect with that or I’ll never like popular music like that.
There are some people that only listen to what’s “in” and nothing else. And then other people are like “Well, if they are listening to them, then I should too.” So it becomes such a trend and that band gets so much notice because everyone else is listening to it. It shouldn’t be that way because they are a lot of good bands that aren’t signed or are signed to small labels that aren’t getting the notice they deserve, when other bands are and they aren’t talented or whatever.
Yeah. I don’t know what I can really say about what’s hidden about the music industry.
Well, something that is out there, but people don’t necessary take that much importance to.
The band is still always the last to get paid, but I think that is pretty known. It makes it really hard. Not only is the band the last to get paid, but the traditional income that bands are supposed to have, they don’t have anymore or they are getting deluded. Now with digital music comes digital collectors and all that stuff. There are more ways for the band to not collect all the money they should be getting.
There is a difference from having an actual record and having the CD booklet there and having all the work that the band put into it, then just downloading it off. I like having CDs and booklets and being able to read the lyrics and seeing the final product of all the time the band put into it.
Yeah, that’s one thing too, I still wish people valued packaging. That is essentially what record labels are selling, like you are selling the packaging.
Bands tour around and sacrifice the things in their life and the routines, as you were saying. Yet, people are downloading their music and not really appreciating it.
Yeah, it’s funny because since it’s so easy to do that, I don’t think people realize what an impact they can have. I have definitely ripped my friends’ CDs, which is the same thing. But it sucks that that could happen now. It’s just a change, it’s a change people are going to have to adapt to and they are adapting to.
Yeah and in the end, the band is the one suffering all the effects of it.
Yeah, but you know what is cool? Digital music, I’m kind of into it, in the sense that it doesn’t produce waste. I think in this world there is a lot of waste that is produce, not that CD packaging is waste, but it’s just limited to more objects that essentially at some point are going to get thrown out or are trashed to somebody. We put our whole back catalog up digitally and we didn’t have any efforts to make any more, so they are only digitally except for the ones that we have. And people buy them, which is kind of cool.
Where did you guys put it on?
They’re on iTunes and a bunch of other companies. We have a label that distributes every record digitally.
I think if people are going to download music, they should at least use something that they pay for at least.
Yeah, definitely. And you know, iTunes doesn’t just let anybody have music, you have to qualify to have music up there. It’s cool, I think there should be a screening process.
Yeah, it’s good to be able to buy records that are out of print digitally and still be able to enjoy them.
Yeah, distribution is infinite, well limited to Internet users and computer owners. Not every town has an indie record store, which up to a few years ago, it was the only place you could find our records.
- If the band had to write a soundtrack for a movie, which movie would it be and why?
Hopefully Will Farrell is in it, I love him.
It could be any movie from the past as well.
Any movie from the past”¦it’ll be Anchorman. That’ll be a good one. That’s funny, you know? I don’t know, it’ll definitely be a comedy. Something like that. I’ll say Anchorman, I love that movie.
- A year from now when someone listens to a record or talks about the band, what do you think they will be saying?
“I wish I had seen them.” Haha. “They were awesome live” “Those dudes are funny.” “Those dudes ran their shit off vegetable oil.” Haha, probably all those things, probably the same things people say now. ” Those assholes shouldn’t have broke up.” Or something like that.
- If you had to say some last words to fans about either the band or anything else, what would you say?
Last words, man those are so serious.
Like if it was the last show and you had the opportunity to say something to the crowd about the band or some random thing.
I don’t know man. I would want to say a lot, I don’t think you could say one thing that is supposed to inspire the world, not that one thing should inspire the whole world. I don’t know, I would tell people to think for themselves and spend less time talking and more time doing stuff. You watch “Flight of the Concords”?
It’s a TV show, there was something on it”¦I’m trying to think”¦.David Bowie. There was a character and he was playing David Bowie on it and there was something that he said that I was like “That makes sense.” I don’t know, I forgot what that was. You can scratch that part out.
I think, when in doubt, actions are always going to take you a lot farther then words.
So many people talk about doing this and doing that and changing this, but the majority of them don’t follow through.
Yeah, I think people just need to not get scared and not get lazy. That’s what I would say, don’t be scared, don’t be lazy.
- What is next for you after the tour ends and the band has ended?
I play in another band called Barnicle, it’s a female fronted power-pop rock. I also own a marketing company, so I do that all the time. I’m going to keep playing, I don’t know. Keep it open, I know what I’m going to be doing, but that could change in a week.
- Anything else you want the readers to know?
I just want them to know that we were always honest people, we were always honest with ourselves. We always loved touring, like think, our band has played so many shows. There are bands that have gotten way huger than us, but never played as much as us. If someone told me we played 2,000 shows, I would be like “Ok, that sounds about right.” We just played for so long. It’s funny, I even look back at pictures when I first joined, which there were still years before that. I don’t anyone would of ever thought we were going to be playing when Travis was turning 30.
It’s just crazy to see how long it has lasted and the number of shows you guys have played and the fact that you guys have actual talent. There are a lot of bands out there that are big and well known, but there are so many problems, they don’t play many shows or haven’t been around for that long.
Yeah, and changing members all the time.
Yeah, there are a lot of bands out there that only have one original member and everyone else has just joined. I think it’s better to have such a long run and play a lot of shows and being content, then being big and not being happy.
Yeah, and not being psyched, you have to have pride in what you do. If you’re faking it, it’s either going to show or catch up with you. Or you are just going to live a life where you’re not as satisfy as you could be.
You’re going to have to deal with it and no one else.
Yeah, it’s about what you’re comfortable doing and if you are doing something that is uncomfortable for money, you’re just not living a good life. First and foremost, you have to live a life that you enjoy and get proper satisfaction out of. It’s not about making satisfaction for the future.