With deep roots in West Michigan, Midnight Pilot band members are finding key connections in ‘the center of the music universe’ as they create some engaging indie-rock/Americana music. (Audio, video)
SCROLL DOWN TO LISTEN TO THE TITLE TRACK FROM THE NEW EP
Grant Geertsma and brothers Kyle and Kris Schonewill have been playing music since they were all in middle school in West Michigan.
And over the years – no matter where they were – they still made getting together and creating music a priority.
That hasn’t changed a bit.
Along with bandmate Dustin Wise, the group now based in Nashville and going by the name Midnight Pilot releases a new EP, “Hold On,” today (Jan. 13).
Geertsma and the Schonewill brothers all graduated from Holland Christian High School – Geertsma and Kyle Schonewill in 2007, with Kyle’s brother Kris walking across the same stage in 2009. Kyle studied audio engineering at Belmont University in Nashville after high school, and decided to stay put after he graduated there.
For Kris and Geertsma, Nashville seemed a fun new place to try for a while – especially to make their brand of indie-Americana music.
“It is the center of the music universe, so it is a great place to start a musical career,” Kyle Schonewill said. “We love it here. All of our connections in music are here, and we have top-notch recording studios directly at our fingertips at all times.”
With ‘Hold On,’ the band aimed for a relaxed, narrative approach. Inspired by artists like Beck and Randy Newman, Schonewill said the singer-songwriter vibe is a bit different for group members. The new EP has more band wallop than their 2014 EP, “Let Go,” but less rock ‘n’ roll than their full-length, self-titled 2015 album or their 2016 EP, “The Good Life.” (Listen to the new EP here and watch a video of a track from the band’s self-titled album below.)
AUDIO: Midnight Pilot, “Hold On”
“We like to vary up our sounds per EP,” he said. “On ‘Hold On,’ we are probably most proud of the arrangements of everything – especially the strings.”
Schonewill said over the years, the group has worked hard to grow its name, mounting a few small tours and playing some memorable shows. But it remains heavily focused on making lots of new music.
“We have just naturally been drawn into making music,” he said. “We feel like that is where our strengths lie, and the creation of the record is our favorite part.”
With that in mind, the band is still assembling its tour plans for 2017, with an eye toward returning to West Michigan to play for hometown fans.
“As of right now, we are focusing on making more and more music, and playing a few shows locally,” Schonewill said. “We do really hope to get back up to the Holland-Grand Rapids area soon. We have had some of our favorite shows ever there.”
The band’s new collection swings from a vibe like that of Beck’s “Morning Phase” to songs that more closely mirror the feel of Randy Newman.
“We hope that they first of all, just have fun listening to it – our music is so much about fun,” Schonewill said. “We hope listeners feel like they could connect emotionally with it. Songs like ‘Hold On’ are meant to be hopeful and inspiring, whereas a song like ‘Always Be a Fool’ is about heartbreak.”
The variety is not only relegated to song style and lyrics. The Midnight Pilot musicians show their versatility on “Hold On” by playing strings and keyboards on instrumentals as well as guitar, percussion and vocals.
“We love making music,” Schonewill said. “And we especially love getting to make music with our best friends. That is truly the reason we do it. When you make a record, you literally start with nothing. But taking that ‘nothing’ and turning it into ‘something’ is something truly special.”
Schonewill said nothing is better than getting to go through that creative process with friends.
“Because you blend all these personalities and musical backgrounds, our sound turns out to be pretty eclectic, and it changes from time to time,” he said. “We really like the freshness that brings to the music. I think it just comes from each member of the band bringing their own individual influences to the sound.
“These songs have our hearts and soul poured into them,” he added. “A lot of work, energy, thought and time go into the making of an album, and we hope that you can hear it in the music.”
VIDEO: Midnight Pilot, “Give Me What You Gave to Him” (from “Midnight Pilot”)
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