Ones To Watch / Part Time Pilots Interview

Northern Irish punk rockers Part Time Pilots are, in the words of their vocalist Enda McCrory: “A boom brick shit house of a band”.

Now do we have your attention? Good. Please read on.

The band’s recent 8-track debut EP Lovely Girls keeps on receiving a great feedback from the fast-growing audience around the UK. Loud, energy packed riffs, sharp melodies and witty lyrics make this record a highly enjoyable ride. The fact is, you’ll find yourself playing Lovely Girls on repeat for days. The band’s various music influences mirror in each of the tracks, which all carry their own little story as the guys specify in our interview below. Besides that, you’ll also get to find out a bit more about the band’s background, influences, Irish music scene and how they’ve recently managed to get the attention and even a shout-out from Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem.

Enda McCrory – Vocals

Aarron McCallan – Drums

Michael Hodkinson – Bass

Eamonn Doherty – Rhythm Guitar

Tom Hodkinson – Lead Guitar

So what’s the story behind forming Part Time Pilots?

Aarron: Mike, Tom and I were formerly in a band called New Damage but we parted ways with our singer/ rhythm guitarist after 3 years due to different interests. We knew Eamonn from another local band called the Faded Line, he was also a good friend, who we all wanted in the band.

The idea when looking for a singer was to audition a few people but I drunkingly asked Enda to join the band when we were out in a club. Enda was previously in a band from Liverpool called The Benz, which he left after deciding to return home to Ireland. Enda came to the practice thinking he was in the band. Eamonn, Tom and Mike thought he was auditioning. When the practice finished Enda asked “So when are we practicing next?”. There were confused faces but luckily he wasn’t bad, so we let him come back.

If you guys were to describe your music in a simple word choice… what would you say?

Enda: Boom brick shit house.

Michael: Have a good time, all the time.

Tom: Sexy.

Eamonn: Catchy Punk.

Aarron: Versatile.

Can you tell us about your debut EP ‘Lovely Girls’ and its recording process?

Aarron: We started writing original material very early on. The first song we ever wrote was Jack The Lad, which was written after seeing Band of Skulls live. We wrote four songs Jack, 7 Missed calls, Hunting Season and Dance Fucker Dance, which we then recorded in Outland Studios with the intention of releasing them under the title ‘Partiebox’.

We continued to write more songs and decided to make the 4 track EP into an 8 track EP and changed the name to ‘Lovely Girls’. The name Lovely Girls came after a brainstorming session, in which we decided to settle on a name that would reflect our humour and love for Father Ted. The recording process was quick, we had to keep within the limits of our budget, which got us 3 days of recording for a very reasonable price and the time needed for mixing was thrown in for free.

Steve at Outland Studios is very easy to work with and made us all feel at home. We recorded our parts individually and drank a lot of beer and ate very dodgy burgers. The EP was finished in February and we are very happy with the way it turned out. We’re a very comfortable band in the studio and can’t wait to get into the studio again soon.

The EP ‘Lovely Girls’ is available on Bandcamp, check it out!

Part Time Pilots

What’s your favourite song on the record and why?

Eamonn: My favourite song off the CD is Hunting Season, as I find it the most enjoyable to listen to and play live.

Aarron: Drop The Hand is my favourite, its different than the other songs in terms of its drumming style. I also love seeing people’s reaction to the lyrics.

Tom: Mine would have to be Light Switch, mainly because when we wrote the song it was a different direction for us. When we play it live, it’s a shit load of fun to groove to!

Mike: The title track Lovely Girls would be my favourite track. There’s a lot of energy towards the end of the song especially in the solo. It’s lovely!

Enda couldn’t think of which song to pick and left for a fag…

Where do you get the ideas and inspiration from to write your music?

Aarron: Real life and drunken nights out. The opening song Hunting Season is about the Bumper in Liverpool. Enda had some of his student loan left at the time and could afford to go out two weeks in a row. He spotted a girl he was with the previous week, hence the lyric “A surly little blonde from the week before”. 7 Missed Calls is Enda’s bonfire song, if you’ve been camping anywhere in Europe ever, Enda was at the fire belting it out. Light Switch came from a riff Tom had which I hated, but we managed to rewrite it with a bluesy feel and it became one of our favourites. Jack The Lad is next on the EP, which we have already mentioned.

Punk Song was previously titled ‘Bottle of Twang’ (The song was a tribute to Buckfast. Twang is its nickname here in Omagh.) It was written an hour before a gig. We had played the venue recently and needed new material to mix up the set list and it went down well. Drop The Hand was one of the last songs we wrote before recording. We wanted a lively song, which people could dance to. Its risky lyrics often make people stop and say “huh?” and laugh. Dance Fucker Dance is a dig at how dance music has ruined many a night out for us. Lovely Girls was an innocent instrumental jam until Enda contributed his part, a verse about lesbians and a chorus about being sick of what’s on the radio.

Tell us what happened at the Gaslight Anthem show in Manchester recently. You threw your CD on the stage during the gig, is that right?

Aarron: I am a huge Gaslight Anthem fan so before they announced their Irish dates, I booked my flights and travelled over to Manchester for their two shows. I decided to bring some CD’s to the gig as I was meeting some friends that wanted ‘Lovely Girls’. I had one CD left in my back pocket and as Brian Fallon was talking, I decided to throw it on stage.

I have seen it happen before, where a band would throw a CD back into the audience, but as it dropped next to Brian I saw him look at it. “Is that for me?” he said. My heart stopped as he walked over and picked it up and inspected it. He asked who threw it and saw me wave my hands in the air. Brian and Alex had a small conversation before he returned to the microphone. The crowd at this point were shouting up songs they would like to hear. “Ssshhhh, I’m trying to promote this guy’s band” he said.  He followed by describing the cover “There’s a picture of a girl punching a guy… I’ve been there before”.

He told 8000 people to check us out and held onto the CD. It was the best moment of my life. I hope they like it!

So besides The Gaslight Anthem, who are your other musical influences and who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Aarron:  My main influences for the music we write would be Pearl Jam, The Bouncing Souls, Alkaline trio and The Menzingers. Four bands which play on loop on my iPod. I would love to collaborate with The Bouncing Souls. I was at a gig of theirs in Manchester recently and it looks likes it would be brilliant fun playing for their fans! I actually crowd surfed onto the stage and gave them a CD too! The Virginmarys would be awesome too as they’re quite similar to our sound.

Mike: Contrary to our style of music, I’m quite influenced by heavy metal music such as Meshuggah, Tool and Lamb of God, as well as other funk/alternative rock bands like Incubus. I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock such as Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy. I take a lot of influence from funk bass players like Ben Kenny, Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller and I think my melodic style comes from them, with a bit of slap bass here and there. I would happily collaborate with any of them but I’m not sure how mixing us with these bands would sound!

Eamonn: My influences come from the bands I grew up listening to, such as Nirvana and the Rolling Stones. These bands have influenced my guitar playing, as I have always been a fan of the rhythm section of these bands, which influence me in my role as the rhythm guitar player. I also enjoy listening to heavier bands, such as Meshuggah, Pantera etc.

Enda: A lot of English bands got me through Uni until I was chased. The Manics, Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, Noel Gallagher and The Beys etc. Nothing out of the ordinary really, I’m not going to say something weird just to be different but I appreciate a decent songwriter. Otherwise it’s just all noise, isn’t it?

Tom: I’ve always loved rock music with a twist to it. Bands like Incubus, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age as well as instrumental music like God Is An Astronaut and Explosions In The Sky are definitely up there. Jimmy Page and Slash made me fall in love with guitar soloing, hence how they end up on PTP songs!

What is the music scene like in Northern Ireland and how do you think you fit among the other bands over there?

Aarron: Northern Ireland is a small area with a lot of bands. It’s very hard for a young band to become known, and you really have to work for it. There are plenty of great bands, which we believe will become well known in the next few years.  It’s an exciting time for the Irish music scene. We are quite different from most bands over here, it is important to us that we recognise and take influence from the bands we grew up with more so than the indie bands that are popular now. We believe riff based songs that are fun and light hearted are tried and tested and work in making music, that people want to listen to and enjoy.

What do you think are the main attractions of your live performances?

We got riffs, we got sing along choruses, we got solos, we got banter and we’ve got a sound, you’ll not get anywhere else. As they say in Ireland “We’ve got the whole shebang”.

Do you have any other hobbies besides making music?

Aarron: Drinking.

Eamonn: Drinking.

Tom: Drinking.

Mike: Drinking.

Enda: Badminton.

What’s the biggest future ambition for Part Time Pilots?

Full Time Pilots? We would love to get our music to a wider audience. We have yet to play a gig across the water and we are eager to do so. We would love to play some gigs in Manchester and across England. We want to make this summer a belter for Part Time Pilots! After visiting Manchester for its many punk gigs, we have realised that it’s definitely a scene we want to be a part of. We would love to pick up some support from promoters and record labels. We will be working hard to grab attention this summer.

Many thanks for listening to Part Time Pilots. Check us out on Bandcamp, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

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