“This one takes a step back, not having an overarching concept, with more of a focus on transforming our sound.”
With everything in peril at the moment, it’s especially important to help those who are vulnerable. To rally around neighbors and community, and to make sure that people are assisted on the other side of this pandemic.
Boston noise punk trio Idle Pilot exemplifies this message. For their fourth full-length album, Balancing Act, which drops on September 9, the band is giving 100% of proceeds to the social impact nonprofit Violence In Boston through the end of the month.
I spoke with guitarist-vocalist Alex Miller ahead of the album’s release about paying it forward, finishing the project right before COVID-19 stopped everything, and the possibility of upcoming virtual performances.
How did you decide to have the proceeds benefit Violence In Boston?
I’ve been following them for a little while. Monica Cannon over there has been trying to get more funding to increase their staff, so we’re looking to send them some money so they can hire a few more people. I found out about them from going to different rallies, including the recent ones that happened in the wake of George Floyd’s death. … From being at those rallies, I found her and Violence In Boston to be super inspiring.
How much has the pandemic affected the release?
We’re lucky. We started recording in December, and before that we were writing material for like two years. We had these songs brewing for a while and were playing them out before we went into the studio. We finished mixing the album two weeks before Massachusetts went into full lockdown. … After that it was just mastering, which we got done remotely.
We were sitting on it for a while, figuring out what to do. We wanted to have a release show and have a big thing for it, but obviously we can’t do that anymore. We figured there was no point to holding on until who knows when things will start opening up, so we might as well put it out and have people listen to it.
Your previous release, Animals & People, came out in 2018 as a concept album revolving around a short story. What did you do differently this time around?
With that last album, we wanted to do this story that was kind of like a political satire, with all of these different bad actors … in the government. It’s basically a reflection on that; this one takes a step back, not having an overarching concept, with more of a focus on transforming our sound. I’d say that the lyrical content is more of a commentary on global warming and climate change, which has been on my mind a lot.
The inaction that is happening in government with the rotating cast of characters seems like it’s always the same old thing. There’s lobbyists with corporate money funneling into the system that contributes to nothing getting done. There’s no progress. That’s where most of the lyrical content in the new album goes.
What is the cover art by Richard Marscher supposed to represent?
Richard is a good friend of ours, he does these really cool experimental paintings on different mediums. … He uses the paint to fold into weird designs and it’s kind of like a Rorschach Test where you can think whatever you want of it. We thought it looked like a raven sitting on a perch; we had a few different names for the album, but when we saw that, we figured Balancing Act would be it. I feel like these days everyone is on a tightrope, and doing a balancing act with everything that’s going on, so it’s a fitting title.
Do you plan on livestreaming to promote the album?
Along with this month’s album proceeds going to Violence In Boston, we also plan on having a package up for $10 where you can get a t-shirt, some stickers, and a physical copy of the album. Nothing is concrete at the moment, but we’re looking to go into our friend’s studio to do a livestreaming concert.
I don’t know if it would be completely live; it’ll most likely be pre-recorded. That’s the closest we’re going to get to live music at this point, so that’s our course of action right now.