This Saturday night, local music enthusiasts will get their first up-close view of one of the area’s most critically acclaimed original bands, when Pilot Scott Tracy make their live Savannah debut.
Formed by former members of such esteemed under-the-radar indie rock (as opposed to “indie-rock”) acts as This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, Man Or Astro-man? spin-off Clone Project Alpha and The Causey Way, PST is that rare beast: a killer band that proudly wears its influences on its sleeves; doesn’t aim for the lowest common denominator; and takes its craft very seriously while making sure it doesn’t take itself very seriously at all.
Plus, the late, great Wesley Willis was such a close friend and fan of the band that he even wrote a song about them.
Their two infectious, impressive full-length CDs on the celebrated brainy punk label Alternative Tentacles posit the group as one part over-the-top new wavey art-pop and one part middle-brow schtick. Yet regardless of the pretensions surrounding their cartoonish image as some sort of band/airline composite, the well-executed hooks of their clangy electric guitar and vintage synth-driven tunes are a much-needed shot in the arm for a local music scene that’s far too dependent on extreme examples of a handful of rock-oriented genres.
In a perfect world, this kind of music would fill stadiums and bank accounts.
I spoke with frontman and guitarist Scott Cox-Stanton (one of only two members of the group —the other being his wife Tracy— who live in Savannah) about the band, the biz, and how they have —or have not— begun to feel a part of the local music scene since relocating here.
How hard is it to tour when some of your bandmembers live in other towns?
Cox-Stanton: We’re split between Florida and Georgia, and we all have other jobs. But PST Airlines comes first. The geographical issue isn’t really a problem — the airline sees to it we make our destinations on time.
Do you consider yourselves a Savannah band, or do you feel set apart in some ways?
Cox-Stanton: Yeah, we consider ourselves a Savannah band, but we do consider ourselves set apart from the local music scene, too. I mean, how many local bands have the kind of corporate funding we have? How many local bands fly to their gigs? We don’t want to come across like we’re better than the local bands, but we are. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done our time in the old Ford Econo-Line. We used to show up smelling like gas fumes, but now we show up smelling like a 4-star hotel.
Since you’ve been here, what’s struck you most about the local original rock scene?
Cox-Stanton: It seems people in Savannah have a good time. I’m most interested in seeing Whiskey Dick. We could use a fellow like that for airline security. I don’t think we’d have problems if Whiskey Dick was at Check-In, meeting folks and telling them a thing or two about a thing or two.
Where and how often do you rehearse?
Cox-Stanton: Hunter Air Force base won’t allow us to disclose that.
A few songs on 2005’s Any City LP sound extremely like The Cars. Intentionally?
Cox-Stanton: We have no conscious plan to sound like any other band. Well, now that I think about it, “Return To My Home” was my shot at trying to be David Bowie-esque, and you think it sounds like The Cars. I guess The Cars are deep in the recesses of our songwriting.
How hard is it to be in a group that doesn’t seem tempted to try on the latest guise?
Cox-Stanton: Not hard at all. We do what we do and folks can take it or leave it.
Where do you fit in today’s music industry?
Cox-Stanton: The first letter I got from ASCAP said I owed them seven bucks. That left me scratching my head. That’s why we play music in the airline industry. ç
PST plays The Jinx Saturday at 10 pm.