Sheffield band PILOSA have been attracting plenty of interest since the release of their debut album “Such Animals”, and stealing the show at last year’s Tramlines Festival. We interviewed Dan Hilton, Gareth Chaplin and Adam Follett to find out what is next for PILOSA and what brought them together.
Q. How did you all meet?
Ad: When Cats:for:peru disbanded, I had a little bit of time off producing some bedroom electronica stuff, but after a while I was just itching to play live again. I didn’t really have any idea how I was going to do that, so reached out to like minded friends and we just thought we’d see what would happen. When we started out, we also had a guitarist and bassist and we were much closer to being a ‘guitar band’, so I’m glad things turned out the way they did really. I’ve known Gareth and Dan a few years prior to the band and have always loved whatever music they put out there.
Gareth: My missus had been in number of musical projects with Ad over the years and I’d been to gigs and always liked his stuff. I pursued him relentlessly for years suggesting that doing ‘some sort of electronic band’ would be a good idea. Eventually I wore him down and he agreed. I’d always fancied doing stuff to a click for the challenge of it – there really is little scope for making any mistakes. Dan and Ad had know each other for a while, but until we met in the Washington to discuss how and what we were going to do, I’d not met Dan before.
Q. Where does the name come from?
Dan: Pilosa is the group of mammals that includes anteaters and sloths. It comes from the latin word for ‘hairy’ too! I think when we came up with it 2/3 of the band were sporting beards so it seemed appropriate in a somewhat tenuous way!
Gareth: At the time when we were discussing the name I’d been to the Natural History Museum where they have a giant ground sloth – it seemed like fate.
Q. How would you describe your sound to people unfamiliar with your work?
Ad: It seems to depend on the song really! We tend to draw influence from indie rock, synth-pop, and hip-hop I guess. All 3 of us bring something really different to the band, which I think works in our favour.
Q. What has been your career highlight to date?
Dan: I guess launching ‘Such Animals’ at the Leadmill in January would be a particular highlight. Playing ‘A Carefully Planned Festival’ in Manchester last October was loads of fun too.
Ad: We also played Washington at Tramlines at about 11pm on the Sunday and were worried they’re be no crowd, but the exact opposite happened – it was pretty chaotic.
Gareth: I think we’re all really proud of the fact that we wrote and record the album all by ourselves.
Q. Talk me through your writing & lyrics process, is it a collaborative effort or does one member have sole responsibility?
Ad: Either myself or Dan usually bring a fully demo’d track to the band and see what we can do with it. Sometimes it stays pretty faithful to the demo, other times it morphs into something else. As we only work with electronic beats when demoing, Gareth really has the scope to change the whole feel of the track when we work on it with acoustic drums.
Gareth: I suppose the demos act as a starting point but after we’ve all figured out our parts they can change quite dramatically from the original. Semaphore is probably the best example of this, the version on the album, whilst structured the same, is really quite different to the original demo in terms of the song’s feel. The great thing about having the demos to click to work with, is that we can work really quickly to figure out tunes rather than having to spend ages ‘jamming’ them together, then if we feel any changes to the arrangement are required this can be done afterwards.
Q. What are your influences, both collectively and individually?
Dan: I think we’ve all got a very broad range of influences. Genre magpies if you will – taking elements from all over and combining them in ways which hopefully sound fresh and new.
Ad: I guess I’m more looking at producers than bands, so it makes things quite interesting to try and make these songs as a collective.
Q. What are your future plans? and what are you working on at the moment?
Dan: Right now me and Ad are taking part in February Album Writing Month (fawm.org). It’s an online challenge we do every year which gives birth to the overwhelming majority of what end up being PILOSA tracks. The idea is to attempt to write and record 14 original tracks during the month of February. So far we’ve both always managed to hit that target – but it can be a struggle at times combining it with all the usual life commitments and distractions!
Gareth: After FAWM is finished we’ll start work on the next release, an EP perhaps, or maybe an album, depends how many of the songs lend themselves to being used in the band setting.
Ad: we usually end up with a couple of keepers a year which is great. Sadly, we both tend to get writers block for the other 11 months.
Q. Tell me a story or interesting/funny fact about one of the other band members?
Gareth: Adam was a founding member of the Beastie Boys, however Adams Horovitz and Yauch kicked him out as having three Adams in a band would be ridiculous. Dan (Hilton) is heir to the Hilton hotel empire. Once in his possession he’s going to turn the hotels into a worldwide network of David Bowie themed museums. The Leicester Hilton, just off Junction 21 of the M1, is going to be Labyrinth themed one; it’ll be great, well worth a visit.
Dan: Gareth’s middle name is Xander after Xander Marro, the American underground puppet maker. He likes to try and keep this under wraps.
Q. Is there anything you would like to plug?
Dan: I guess I’d like to plug Feb Album Writing Month (fawm.org). It played a huge part in bringing the band together!
Ad: Our next gig is 25th February at Shakespeare’s – a charity gig with all proceeds to the Sweet Relief fund.
That’s followed by some other dates already in the diary for 2017 around Sheffield:
25th Feb – Shakespeare’s
7th March – Plug (supporting Dutch Uncles)
27th March – West Street Live
23rd April – Mulberry Tavern
Q. If Donald Trump leads us into world war 3 and everything is obliterated what will you regret not having the chance to achieve with PILOSA that could have been a possibility? What are your career goals?
Ad: I’d regret not building that nuclear bunker, personally. Oh, and not doing a vinyl run…