Their brand new single All’s Fair in Love and Warfare hits the scene like a nostalgic rock embrace this week – introducing the Deer Pilot sound and style in a manner that’s likely to leave you keen to hear more.
We were blessed with a chance to interview the man behind the music – artist and producer Bobby Danzi. We talk everything from nineties rock legends to song-writing, sound engineering, the LA scene, lockdown, creative plans, and plenty more. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Bobby – thanks for the interview, and congrats on the new single! For those who don’t know, what is Deer Pilot all about, and how long have you been making music?
Thank you, and thanks for taking the time to talk with me! Deer Pilot is basically what happens when I write a song. I know that sounds silly, but it’s the best way I can describe it!
I’ve been in a bunch of bands over the years, and for whatever reason when I write a song it seems to sound like Deer Pilot. Eventually it got to the point that I said, you know what? I’m just going to put these songs out myself, because I can’t seem to make them fit into any of these other bands!
In its essence, Deer Pilot is a no-punches-pulled rock band. There’s no vocal tuning, no fixing, no fakery of any kind. The goal is to sound like real humans playing music. The same sound you get live is what goes on the records.
I’ve been making music for a while now. I took up the guitar when I was 11 or 12 years old, and I just haven’t put it down since. I just can’t stop thinking about it!
I was in different bands throughout high school and college, and played with a few after graduating as well. I’m not sure what exactly it was, but none of those bands really clicked. I’m not sure if it’s the “magic chemistry” people like to talk about or not, but they all just seemed to fizzle after a while. Deer Pilot is, I guess, my way of not allowing it to fizzle.
Given that this is a solo project – how do you get the full band sound, and what can fans expect from a live show?
That’s an interesting question! Technically yes, Deer Pilot is a solo endeavor, however I try not to think of it in that way. I’ve never been into slapping my own name on a project, it just doesn’t feel like me. I kind of like the guise of a band name. Kind of like a Tame Impala, or Queens of the Stone Age situation.
Upon its first conception, the plan was to write some songs and then hire the best people for any given job on each song. I would make my best attempt at playing all that I could, and then as needed, hire the best bassist for this, the best drummer for that, a keyboardist, etc. So essentially, I had a few people in mind for different parts of the project.
As things progressed and we took the first batch of songs into the studio, I called on two friends of mine, Jake Courlang (bass) and Grant Dickerson (drums) to join me. I’d played with both of these guys in different capacities over the years, and they both just struck me as the right people for the session. Very thankfully, I was right! They both totally knocked it out of the park, and absolutely nailed the sounds I had in my head.
Jake has a really cool voice on the bass, playing punk rock, funk, and jazz stuff, and Grant is just the tightest, hardest hitting drummer I’ve ever played with, he’s a monster! The sound of the “band” songs is really those guys and me throwing a bunch of layers of guitars down, which is great, because that’s really the sound of the music I love!
In a live context you can expect just that – a three or four piece band just smashing through some songs! The goal is to be like Tom Petty; when you come to see Deer Pilot live, we are authentically ourselves. We sound like us.
Love the new song, powerful set-up and superb vocals – what an anthem! How did the track come to be, and what do you hope people get from it?
Thank you! So this track was actually slated to be on the first EP, however I decided to rework it a bit, and ended up re-recording the entire song, aside from the drum tracks.
I had first written this song when gearing up to move out to California. I was living in Nashville at the time, and was feeling kind of down. I really view this song as kind of a breakup letter to that city and time in my life. I was kind of heartbroken about a few things, and this just kind of poured out of me. I remember sitting in a coffee shop writing the lyrics. I was just like, yeah this kind of captures it.
At its core, lyrically, is the fact that sometimes life can beat you down, but that’s just the way it goes. You’ve got to pull yourself back up and keep forging ahead. I hope that people can pull some degree of hope or strength from it.
I get a strong sense of nostalgia from this style of music and writing. Who or what first inspired you to write and perform in this way?
I’ve been pretty outspoken about my love for 90s alt-rock over the years, so there is certainly a big influence there. I’m a huge fan of bands like Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, and STP, to name a few.
To the same affect, I really love 70s power-pop. As much as I love big giant riffs and larger than life drums, there’s something really special about a great pop song with some noisy rock guitars. Cheap Trick and Big Star are two bands that are just as important to me in that vein.
When I write songs it always seems to end up being some smattering of the elements of these styles that get thrown together. What’s left is bringing it to 2021, making it new and fresh. In a way it’s familiar, but hopefully still able to bring something new to the table.
Have you had a chance to try this out in a live setting yet – if so how did that feel, and if not; do you think the track will hit with different impact at a gig?
In terms of a live show, we’ve unfortunately yet to cross that bridge, due to the COVID pandemic. The band is so new that we just haven’t had the opportunity to play, aside from a live stream gig we did to celebrate the release of the first EP, Periods Of Panic, back in December. That show was myself, Jake, Grant, and one of my best friends, Chandler Martin joining in on guitar. My hopes would be to round up that crew again for future shows, as things begin to reopen. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’re eager for the chance to play!
As far as this track goes, it’s sonically a bit different from the rest of the songs that are out right now. I mean, this one is a real rocker. My hope is that this one really gets people up and moving, and having a good time.
What does the project Periods of Panic encapsulate or represent for you?
Periods Of Panic represents a very similar emotion to me that All Is Fair… does. All of these songs were written within a fairly short period of time, and my head was really stuck in this weird place. Essentially I had just quit a job, that was, on paper, a dream scenario. In reality, not so much. I was also in a long distance relationship. There was a lot weighing on me at the time. To make matters more interesting, I had decided to move to California, albeit 8 or so months from that time.
The title, Periods Of Panic kind of evolved from that time. I would just have these moments of absolute chaos and existential dread, and then need to reassure myself, like, “Don’t worry, in just a few months none of this will matter anymore. You’ll have a fresh start in California.” It’s kind of ironic. Most of those songs are about feeling alone and isolated and stuck, and then I finally moved out here and the whole world shut down!
What’s the alt rock scene like in LA lately, prior to Covid of course?
Unfortunately, I’m not really sure! LA obviously has no shortage of great and famous rock clubs, but I’ve yet to really experience them. I’m kind of a victim of bad timing, as I moved into town about 3 weeks before our initial lockdown on March 15 of last year. My hopes are that things are back to some degree of normalcy soon. I’m chomping at the bit to, not only play some shows, but to see some shows and meet some people!
You have a background in performance, production and recording – weave in some song-writing and we get the whole package. Where do you think your main passion lies in the musical realm?
I think my passion is kind of all encompassing. I just really love music, and love to create. I get the same buzz from writing a song that I do when recording or producing a song.
Shows are another animal, because you get to have this symbiotic relationship with the crowd, where you feed off of each other’s energy. That’s always really exciting to me.
In a perfect world I get to do it all. Straddle the line, somehow, between being a studio recluse, writing songs that people can connect with, and playing some high octane shows.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given as an artist?
I’ve had some really great mentors and teachers over the years, and have gotten some great advice. From a creative standpoint, I think the best advice I’ve ever been given is to just be yourself. Don’t chase trends, don’t try to be what you think people want you to be, just be you. People connect with authenticity.
From a more personal standpoint, my girlfriend is the one that pushed me to pursue Deer Pilot in the first place. I had sent her the first demo of No Cause For Concern, the first Deer Pilot song written. She told me that it was great, and that I should really produce it and release it. That little push of encouragement is what led us here today. Thanks, Hope!
What’s the best thing people can do to support indie artists like yourself?
Listen, like, share, subscribe! Social media is a powerful tool, especially now, when we can’t get out to see each other in person. I think any kind of interaction is awesome. Send a DM or tag us in a post. I’m more than thrilled when I hear from people that connect with the music. I wish we could come play some shows for you all, meet you and hang out, but for now we’ll have to be internet friends!
Bandcamp is a great tool for indie artists as well. We’re all set up on there now, so if you feel so inclined as to purchase any of the music, or make a donation, that’s an awesome place to do that! Hopefully there will be some merch for sale in the not so distant future, too.
Is there anything else we should know?
I’ve got a few more things in the works for 2021, so I would say to keep an eye on the website and socials. I’m hesitant to give anything away, but I think you’ll enjoy it!
In the meantime, I hope everyone checks out All Is Fair, and keeps on listening to the EP. The initial response has been so awesome, and I’m really grateful to everyone who’s given it a spin! And, hopefully, I’ll get to see you out at a show soon!
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