I think this interview speaks for itself. Pylons is a band with personality. It comes through in their music and as a group of friends. Listen to Macro Eye Close Up, read this interview, and go see them live. That’s all you have to do….
(S) Sam Fadness: Guitar and Vocals
(K) Karen Mooney: Bass
(G) Gretchen Hannum: Guitar and Vocals
(J) Jon Pardo: Drums
CCS: What’s the back history of Pylons?
G: Karen, Sam and I all grew up in the same town. I was introduced to Sam through my brother, and he was like “this kid likes punk rock, you should hang out.” I sent him a facebook message, and then met Karen through Sam; then we had three drummers before we met Jon. Karen and Sam met him at a mutual friend’s party.
J: A going away party. Her last gift to me.
(they all laugh)
J: I was lucky enough to jump in with these guys a little over a year ago. I’m super proud of the new record they have-
K: That WE have….
J: That WE have, but there’s a lot of stuff we play now, it’s my favorite stuff to play, and they all wrote it before I was a member of the band.
CCS: What town were you all from?
G: Libertyville, Illinois.
K: John’s from Miami.
CCS: What brought you to Chicago?
J: School. I went to Loyola. I teach, that’s all. I teach English.
CCS: What about the rest of you. Day jobs?
K: We all have day jobs.
G: Yeah. I work in an office, as long as nights and weekends are off, I’ll do whatever
CCS: So Karen does the artwork and stuff for the albums?
K: It’s fun, it’s great that I get to do whatever I want and they just like deal with it. I’m like, “I drew this thing, I get to put it on a shirt.”
S: It is a platform for whatever she wants.
K: It’s a scheme.
S: People should know the visual aspect of the band is her vision. When you see a t-shirt design or an album cover or a poster for our band, it’s her authentic point-of-view.
CCS: So what drives you guys as a band? What’s the ultimate goal here, to start touring, get signed, to stay independent … ?
J: I can’t wait to hear what our ultimate goal is.
G: Yeah, I feel like it’s kind of different for each person.
S: Yeah, we might want to be successful in different ways, but just we love playing music together.
J: Are we going around the horn on this?
S: Well, you asked what the history of the band is, and like Gretchen said we’re just all friends, we’d be hanging out anyways, we’d have nothing better to do.
K: Yeah at least . . .
S: It’s just a productive thing to do, ‘cause if we weren’t doing this we would just be hanging out at each others houses. Even if there is no success, no glory or anything. We’d be doing it anyway. Cause we just like gear, and music, and records.
J: A really close friend told me a band needed a drummer and then I made three really good friends.
K and G: Ah…
J: And I’m super happy about that, and that friend has come back to visit and I’ve thanked her every time. It was at her going away party.… And we make dope ass music.
CCS: And you can tell when you’re back there drumming, man,
J: Was I looking stupid?
CCS: Naw, man, you look like you’re having the time of your life.
J: That was one of my favorite shows we’ve ever played [with So Pretty and Bash Bang at Schubas] I was genuinely ecstatic.
G: I don’t know if you could tell, but he was giggling to himself.
J: I often feel out of breath, as a former smoker, and someone that doesn’t exercise a bunch, but I was on an endorphin high, there was just something about that show.
K: To circle back, I think everybody’s goal, ultimately, wouldn’t it be sick, if we were Rolling Stone’s famous . . .(All laugh) We can all just quit our day jobs and just be musicians.
G: That’s the goal for me, whether its too ambitious or not, I just don’t want to have a job.
S: We all got day jobs simply because it leaves nights open for rehearsals and shows. It’s a means to an end. It would be awesome to have the end.
K: Like, ultimately, magic genie wishing on a lamp goals, being really big would be awesome. But personally, I’m just really excited to see the band grow at all, and it has, but it’s a slow grow. And it’s cool that we can track it out: we started playing gigs at this venue, and now we don’t cause we’ve moved on to these kind of venues. And we’ve now we’ve maybe outgrown these venues, and it’s just a slow but steady, I don’t know . . . it’s fun.
G: It’s something to show for your time, you know.
K: It would be cool to someday, do small tours, soonish.
S: That’s very reasonable.
K: If that’s ok with the band.
J: I deny your request . . . (they all laugh)
S: We’ve all been in bands that have never done anything. So, that was the thing with this band. We’re gonna do it. We’re gonna get a rehearsal studio and we’re gonna make a record. And I don’t care if it’s the greatest record ever made. I just want to do it.
J: It might be the greatest record ever made …. (they all laugh)
S: Once you kind of let go of that and you just do it instead. That’s what this is. Let’s just do it cause we are friends and not just because there is something to attain.
G: Really that’s all it is. I started playing guitar cause I got in a band. You just have to over simplify things.
S: Yeah, you’ve heard it a million times, but it’s just fucking do it. Don’t just talk about it, cause we’ve been in bands where all you do it talk about it.
CCS: Where did the name Pylons come from?
K: I remember when the band name happened. We were all practicing in Mystery Street which is, you pay by the hour, and really good people work there, and we were all just still learning our instruments and then we were eager to start playing shows and we didn’t have a band name. It started as NASA but that’s probably illegal. (we all laugh)
CCS: Yeah you probably could have gotten away with it till you started posting on bandcamp.
K: So we basically sat down with a legal pad and we wrote down a bunch of words.
S: A lot of words. We had a band name meeting.
K: It was fun though. There was some good ones on there, we need to find that.
S: For song titles.
G: There was some really ridiculous ones.
K: But in our meeting we couldn’t think of anything, so we all went home and continued in a text thread, we were just spitting words back and forth, and there is this game called Starcraft that I played a lot as a kid and there is a lot of really cool words in it. That I don’t know what they mean, but one of them was Pylons, and that’s the one everybody liked. O.G. Starcraft.
S: And it’s awesome when people are like: “ You guys play Starcraft?”
K: The people who know are like “Starcraft!” and the people who don’t are like “Cool name!”
J: When I found out that’s where the band name came from, I was so excited. I never would have suspected.
K: It’s also a really vague word that could mean so many things. There’s lots of different kinds of Pylons in the world.
CCS: So do you guys write as a band?
G: It’s kind of split. I’ll come up with something that I like and I’ll show it to Sam and he’ll come up with something to play with it and vice versa, but usually if I write a song I’ll write the lyrics to it and same for him. So the majority of it happens individually and then we bring it to the band.
K: I think that it’s like that too because we don’t have a huge library of songs as well. Once we start writing more songs it might be a different dynamic entirely.
S: Every song is different. There’s no formula.
K: It just kind of happens.
S: Every song is it’s own puzzle. But if you look at a song like “Lost Cause” off the new album, which is the new single, that one was super fun to write Because G had the basis for that song and we had been jamming on it and I had this other song that was in the same key, but it really sucked, but there was that one good part and so we took that good part of my shitty song and made it the bridge on it. And so we took these three parts and made a song out of it. It was cool to take the one good thing from a broken song and add it to one we were jamming on. It was super natural . . . not like Supernatural . . .
CCS: How old are all of you?
G: No idea.
J: How rude.
S: Never ask a woman her age.
CCS: You can not answer, of course.
K: I’m 26.
J: Why’d you only point at them?
CCS: You can not answer too.
J: Well alright.
CCS: I’ll share, I’m 38.
K: I’m 26
S: I have to think really hard about this.
G: I’m 27, but I’lll be 28 soon.
CCS: Are there any Chicago bands you guys dig right now?
G: There’s a handful of bands that we play with a lot.
S: Let’s make a rule, it can’t be a band that we play with or are friends with.
J: I’m not friends with Haymarket Riot, I liked Haymarket before I knew you guys.
K: But they’re so good.
J: I happen to love Haymarket.
K: That’s not fair to say we can’t name bands we play with.
S: I just hate when someone does that in an interview…
K: And you feel obligated to call out your friend.
J: I wish that was the point of interviews. (we all laugh)
S: (indicating Gretchen) You’re like a big Chicago indie record label nerd, right?
G: Well anything that was at Touch And Go or influenced. And some bands that I really like, like Ribbon Head has a really good sound, and Salvation.
J: Are we only talking local bands right now?
CCS: You can name any band you want.
J: Uh, Car Seat Headrest is the shit. The variety of that band, in terms of how eclectic this rerun of their old album, it kind of sums up music for me. And I’m good, I got nothing else to say.
CCS: Yeah, Will Toledo is a god.
S: There is a song on the new Pylons record that I wrote when I was 18 and we brought it back, kind of a new version of it.
CCS: Which track is it?
S: Nuclear Horizon
K: There’s several songs on the new record that were old songs from when we first started playing together, pre-Jon.
J: Is Nuclear the oldest song that you’ve written?
S: No, but it’s been recorded before. It was rearranged for this band and this album.
G: I’m pretty sure you recorded that at my Dad’s house.
S: Yeah! It’s really rad to listen to that first version, and then listen to this one, cause my… well my voice is lower.
J: If you have it I want to hear it!
G: Well when we started the band and we didn’t really have many songs, we played a lot of Pixies covers and a lot of Ramones covers.
K: And Wire.
J: We haven’t covered a song since I joined this band. This is the biggest difference between all the other bands I’ve played with in my whole life and this band. I’ve never covered a single song with
K: It’s kind of a waste of time, cause we need to write more music.
S: We’re really creative, we’re always coming up with stuff.
J: In every band I’ve played with except Pylons, I’ve always felt like we need to have at least one cover we can throw out so the masses will be like “ahhh, yes!”
G: Well you guys don’t like any of my cover suggestions.
(a playful banter ensues where they all talk over each other)
G: We definitely joke about doing covers.
S: We’ll cover things in rehearsal. Like whatever I was listening to in the car on the way. But live there’s stuff we want to say with our own songs. It would be cool to cover something and make it different. That would be fun.
K: It’s not a bad idea.
S: Like to cover a Daniel Johnston song, and to really make it our own, that would be cool.
CCS: Well, that’s all I had. Anything you all would like to add?
S: All the bands we are playing with at the release show are all bands that either took us under their wing or have been our friends for a very long time, it’s all about community and including everyone.
G: My brother is in Totally Cashed. Just so that is out there.
J: Chicago, it’s community based.
S: I would say we are as inclusive as we can be.
It was a great time meeting these four. Hope to them again at the show.