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Pilotcan

revival gets off to a flyer (with Keiron Melotte)

By • Apr 1st, 2019 • Category: Feature

“We hate it when our friends become successful,” goes a probably not tongue-in-cheek song by Morrissey.

However, Keiron Mellotte bears no hard feelings despite a few of his contemporaries making it big.

“I think when you grow up dreaming of playing Top of the Pops or headlining massive shows, failure isn’t an option,” he says of his band.

Pilotcan’s earlier stab at fame and fortune. “Mogwai were suddenly huge… as were Snow Patrol… so on one hand we were lucky and got shows/support we would never have received.”

However, success didn’t follow, for pretty straightforward reasons.

“We just weren’t good enough,” says the frontman candidly. ”I, for one, couldn’t play or articulate what I wanted to create.”

That first tilt at stardom saw the band play some big shows, record sessions for John Peel, and make three albums, but with the band’s progress stalled, there came a 15 year hiatus.

“We had our fun and toured and travelled and we had the best time. So I have no regrets. I’m in my 40s now and I have more energy, or creativity than I ever had in the ’90s.”

This creative spurt saw Mellotte writing another album’s worth of material for what will be the band’s fifth long-player, due out next year.

But for now, they are concentrating on their fourth album, ‘Bats Fly Out From Under The Bridge’.

A plethora of lineup changes saw Mellotte as the only constant member, even long-term collaborator Joe Herbert missing out on album #3, pieced together in the studio after what must have seemed like the final split.

“I missed his energy,” the singer says. “Pilotcan is myself and Joe and whoever else we bring along.”

Despite the gap, Mellotte hasn’t been idle. His ‘other’ job is running the legendary Evol, a fixture in the alternative clubbing scene in
Edinburgh (and now, Dunfermline).

“I’m sure I am very much better known from Evol,” he admits. “It’s been 27 years of my life and it paid for my house.”

The club takes its name from an album by American noise rock combo Sonic Youth, and like Pilotcan’s new album’s title – the ‘bridge’ referred to is in Austin, Texas – the band owe a debt to the US of A.

“The sound of American college rock, country, Motown, and US bands always seemed much more interesting to me than what was going on in the UK,” Mellotte says. “I think I share that with a lot of other Scottish bands.”

Which had some effect on his own band’s sound.

“A friend asked me ‘Why do you try and sound American?’ I didn’t really have an answer. So (producer) Paul Savage would stop me every time my accent went Transatlantic in the studio and make me redo vocals. It made me realise how easy I am influenced as a songwriter by the things I listen to.

“But between that and learning to play better guitar I feel these two new records are way ahead of the first three.”

So now the band are back, they’re here to stay?

“For me it’s like a scab. I just can’t not pick at it. I’m a lifer.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing it till they carry me out…”

‘Bats Fly Out From Under The Bridge’ is now on EVOL Records. More at facebook.com/pilotcan.

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