It’s always about a girl.
I’ve heard of girls breaking up bands, but I’ve never heard about a girl being the reason a band has gotten together. Especially when that girl has dated all the guys in the band. The kicker? She’s also a member of the band. For Chicago band, Northpilot, that’s just the case.
Lay that thought aside for a moment, and let’s talk about the music. Northpilot comprises Travis Shaver (guitar/vocals), Matt Cragnolin (bass), Dan Julian (drums), Danielle Mint (vocals/keys), and Justin Vittori (guitars/whistle). The Chicago transplants create an atmospheric pop-rock sound that encapsulates its listener in lush harmonies with haunting vocal lines floating overhead.
TVD had the opportunity to chat up Northpilot. Here’s the exclusive on their roots, where to pick up the best vinyl in Chicago, and whom they’d trust to land a plane.
How did the band meet?
Cragnolin: We all dated Danielle at various times, all within a one year period.
Shaver: Four of us are originally from Michigan, (Justin being the exception), and we all were in various bands that played a lot of the same venues. Dan moved to Chicago in 2005, and the rest of us a short time after. We were all between bands and figured it was as good a time as any to start one up. After a couple of line-up changes, Justin joined us a couple of years ago.
What inspires your sound?
Shaver: The arts—not necessary just music. Each of us have our specific tastes in music, films and books, and those are reflected in our songs.
How do you approach the writing process?
Shaver: Generally, I begin putting the pieces together, then get together with Justin to add some of the extra parts. When those processes are done, I bring it to the band, who put their contributions to it. Sometimes this process can take as little as a couple of weeks or closer to a few months. It just depends on how quickly a song gels and sounds the way we want it to.
Is it difficult to keep the sound balanced with so many people on stage?
Shaver: It’s always a challenge, but we try to make the transition from studio to stage as seamless as we can, and just hope that our arrangements come across live as cohesive as possible. Rehearsal is key.
Where did the name come from?
Cragnolin: We were throwing around a few names when we started out, and this is the one that just kind of stuck. We don’t really think the name of a band is very important. It’s like naming a pet; you have to name it something.
How do you plan to follow up the Bright Brigade EP?
Shaver: We released the singles “1000 lives” and “Maps and Dragons” this past October, and are working on songs for our debut long player, which we plan to release this Summer. That, and a lot of touring.
In an ideal world, which band would you tour with?
Shaver: M83 and Arcade Fire.
What’s the best record shop in Chicago?
Danielle, is it ever strange being the only girl in the band?
Mint: No, it’s definitely not, but it’s awkward sometimes since I dated each of these guys at various times. No, but seriously, they’re all my favorite bros.
If you were flying on a plane, and something suddenly happened to the pilot, which member of the band would you trust to land the plane?
Shaver: I’d probably say Dan, as he is the calmest of all of us. He’d tell us it’d be okay, and then we’d crash.
Cleveland, you can check out Northpilot at the Beachland Ballroom with Asleep, Bailiff, and The Commonwealth tonight. Eight bucks gets you in. That, my friends, is a steal for the cinematic experience you’ll be getting from this show.