The Underground Sounds of America: Pile
Welcome to the latest installment of U.S.A.: The Underground Sounds of America, our series that shines a spotlight on the most underrated rock, metal, punk, and hardcore bands in the United States. Each week, we ask one band member to answer five unique questions so you can get to know them better. Because if you aren’t already a fan of the artist featured below…you should be.
If you’ve been looking for the perfect soundtrack to wander around an abandoned skate park in a bad neighborhood, then hoo boy, will you love Boston’s Pile. A mixture of wiry hardcore energy and down-home soul, the indie rock quartet has become a favorite among fans awaiting a new generation of tangible, human rock ‘n’ roll heroes.
For many, Pile’s mix of junky, hands-on sound and unpretentious ethos have made them their generation’s Fugazi. The band started in the late 2000s as a solo project for frontman/guitarist Rick Maguire, but was christened as a proper band in 2010 with the release of Magic Isn’t Real, the first album to feature guitarist Matt Becker, bassist Matt Connery, and drummer Kris Kuss. Since then, indie rockers, working-class punks, and hardcore kids alike have united at live performances throughout the US, UK, and Europe, over music that sounds like bumping your elbows on the pipes running through the dusty corridors of the human heart.
Pile sounds like the honest answer that you’re just too tired to swallow; the raw and exposed confession to the feelings you hadn’t realized you were having. It’s covertly intense stuff — even in its quiet, introspective moments, Pile is all clenched fist, grit teeth, flexed muscle. A mixture of jangling riffs, frantic drums, and hollered vocals, their music is devoid of window dressings or genre trappings. Instead, it’s the musical equivalent of that moment at the show in which you stop worrying about small-talk and the amateur photographer next to you, and just let yourself fucking flail.
How good are Pile? Good enough that local Boston indie rockers Krill wrote a concept album about a dude who questions his own worth after seeing the band live (the title track opens, “Did you hear the latest Pile album? / Not a stinker on it / I feel like I’ve never done anything good,” and continues with Krill asking Maguire if they ever want to play a show together).
Don’t take our word for it, though — listen to Cup, the first single from Pile’s upcoming Odds and Ends EP, and judge for yourself.
Impressed by a band so powerful it can make its musical peers cry, we got Maguire on the horn to hear his take on the band’s musical influences, legacy, and more.
1) If you had to play one Pile song to someone unfamiliar with a band as an introduction, which would you choose and why?
I suppose it would be Special Snowflakes [from the from the Special Snowflakes 7” and upcoming Odds and Ends EP]. It covers a good amount of ground in terms of dynamics that we use, and for the most part I still stand by it lyrically.
2) How would you describe the sonic journey that Pile has taken, from the sound of ‘07’s Demonstration, to A Hairshirt of Purpose, ten years later?
Pile has been a great vehicle to pursue musical curiosity, which is what I was hoping it would be from the outset. Because Pile wasn’t a band in ‘07, I wanted to record music that I could reproduce (or at least comfortably present) solo. When it turned into a band that could perform live, my options grew exponentially, and I’m still really enjoying the opportunity to explore them.
3) Name your five greatest musical influences.
2. Neil Young
4. Bad History Month
5. The Jesus Lizard
4) Outside of music, what hobby are you most passionate about? How might it inform the music that you play?
I like coffee, reading, and candlepin bowling. I guess the reading would be the only thing that informs my music. I also like exercising, and I often to listen to new music when I do so, which is ostensibly why our next batch of material is louder and more energetic than the last.
5) Who would be on Pile’s dream tour?
Run the Jewels, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Cult Leader and Rong.
Pre-order Odds And Ends here, and catch Pile on their upcoming tour:
Sep 28 - Somerville, MA @ ONCE Somerville (Rick solo @ Fuzzstival)
Oct 02 - Easthampton, MA @ The Flywheel *
Oct 03 - Rochester, NY @ Small World Books *
Oct 04 - Toronto, ON @ The Garrison *
Oct 05 - Kalamazoo, MI @ Bell’s Eccentric Cafe *
Oct 06 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean *
Oct 07 - St. Louis, MO @ Duck Room at Blueberry Hill *
Oct 09 - Denton, TX @ Dan’s Silverleaf *
Oct 10 - Austin, TX @ Barracuda *
Oct 11 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa *
Oct 12 - Nashville, TN @ The East Room *
Oct 13 - Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade – Purgatory *
Oct 14 - Durham, NC @ The Pinhook *
Oct 16 - Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter *
Oct 17 - Washington, DC @ DC9 *
Oct 18 - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church *
Oct 19 - Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus *
Oct 20 - Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus *
Oct 25 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair *
* w/ The Spirit of the Beehive
WORDS: Chris Krovatin
LIVE IMAGES: Ben Stas
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