Why Friday Pilots Club don’t need a genre to make good music
Drew Polovick and Caleb Hiltunen share the inspiration behind their genre-defying track “Look Better In Gold.”September 3, 2020
In a society that’s constantly obsessed with image and keeping up appearances, it’s easy to forget to be who you are. Decked in black and surrounded by gold, Friday Pilots Club tackle that notion in their latest music video, “Look Better In Gold.”
From their debut with 2017’s “End Of It” to their latest track “Breaking My Bones,” Caleb Hiltunen and Drew Polovick create a dynamic range of sounds fitting of any aesthetic. Though the duo fit under the alternative umbrella, they aren’t ones to constrict themselves to a single genre. Ranging from pop to rock, Friday Pilots Club move between different styles with ease.
“Look Better In Gold” holds a steady groove and slick bass and is centered around the idea that you should be free to be your truest self despite what others might think. Check out the music video and the band’s inspiration for the track below.
The band’s sound is quite dynamic. One moment you’re ripping with deep basslines. The next, you’ve introduced pop synths and falsettos. How did you develop your sound? With Drew being classically trained, how much influence does that aspect play into how and what you create?
DREW POLOVICK: I have never really thought about the development of our sound as a process. It has always come very naturally to us in the sense that we always just made the music that we wanted to hear and that inspired us. Our songs are supposed to be a reflection of our lives and our stories. Since Caleb and I come from very different backgrounds as people and musicians, there tends to be quite a bit of musical variety and an ever-changing sonic aesthetic. My classical training is really just a tool for guidance and utility rather than a rigid set of rules we have to follow. Being able to understand why certain chords or harmonies work in certain contexts takes a lot of the guesswork out of writing and arranging, which I think allows us to flesh out ideas more fluidly.
Would you say you belong to a specific genre, or do you think genres don’t matter in 2020?
CALEB HILTUNEN: I personally believe genres became obsolete as new genres were reformed by revolutionaries and mergers. Revolutionaries are still present, but it seems that in this period of time, you can find most of them reviving bygone genres/sounds or merging genres—adding elements of hip-hop into country or folk or scrapping any sort of lyrical narratives for a stream of conscious, writing supplied hooks by the level of technology we have access to when it comes to production. We have our feet in “rock,” or I guess just loud music, but we lean into other genres when we start writing lyrical narratives and melodies.
POLOVICK: Currently I would say we fall under the alt-pop/alt-rock label, but I don’t know if that distinction really matters beyond playlisting or radio in 2020. I think with the accessibility that we’ve been given by the internet and streaming algorithms, we’re consuming music more than we ever have before. We’re having our tastes broadened to all kinds of artists and styles that we would’ve had to look harder for in the pre-streaming era. As a band, we’ve always tried to follow the idea of “a good song is a good song,” and it doesn’t matter what genre it is or how you package it because good music will always resonate with people. That should be our focus rather than if we fit into a certain category or not.
Your latest release “Breaking My Bones” has a serious undertone, with the main focus on maintaining a social media presence. “Look Better In Gold” is more lighthearted sonically but sounds like it continues to focus on how society perceives you. What’s the inspiration behind the track? What do you hope fans take away from it?
POLOVICK: It’s funny… We write a lot of sad and angsty songs, but I think we’re ready to do something a little more uplifting with this upcoming project, and “Look Better In Gold” seemed to be the song to do it with. Lyrically, I think this tune is absolutely a continuation of the topics we talk about in “Breaking My Bones.” That song discusses the trouble with the presentation of self in the internet age, and “Look Better In Gold” talks about being the best version of yourself without having to compare yourself to others.
As millennials, as young people entering the workforce, as creatives trying to make a name for ourselves, a lot of our daily lives involve how we are perceived as individuals and how we perceive others’ successes in relation to our own, and this song is a rejection of that. It’s big and bombastic, and it’s not the most serious thing in the world. I just hope people have fun with it. From a musical/production standpoint, I was listening to a lot of Public Enemy and Beastie Boys at the time we wrote this. I loved the juxtaposition of all the weird samples they used and how the drums always had this lo-fi gritty thing going on. I wanted to bring that into 2020 and give it what we refer to as “the bigness.”
In the song, Caleb’s voice has an element of grit that is perfectly complemented by the deep bassline and moving drums. What’s your thought process when writing a new song, and is it difficult to find that point where everything fits together?
HILTUNEN: It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but either addiction, routine or some sort of insatiable curiosity pushes us forward into whatever needs to happen next. The only thing harder than writing a song is knowing when it’s done.
POLOVICK: A lot of the time when we sit down to write, we are asking ourselves two questions: What kind of song do we personally need to write, and what can we do musically that we haven’t done yet? I think [that] helps us keep it genuine, honest and relevant to ourselves as individuals as well as fresh and exciting. It can be either incredibly easy and take less than a couple of hours, or it can be extremely difficult and take weeks/months to crack a song and fit it all together, but “Look Better In Gold” was one of those songs that just poured out of us over the span of a couple of hours. Whenever a song comes that easy to us, we usually take that as a sign like, “OK, we’ve got something special here,” and I think that is absolutely true of this one.
“Look Better In Gold” is your second release of the year, and the band have an EP on the way. Can you give us any details on what you have planned for the rest of the year?
POLOVICK: Global domination. Mosh pits. Minecraft. Maybe a livestream show. Maybe some more music. Lots more content. The landscape of the industry is ever-changing, so we will see what happens, but you will absolutely hear more from us before the end of the year.