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Not truly flying blind

BY RACHAEL LANDER | MARCH 13, 2009 7:30 AM

mp3 samples: Blind Pilot

"One Red Thread"

"The Story I Heard"

Some gauge musical success by the transition from gold records to platinum. Others use the number of Grammys won. Blind Pilot can chart its progress by means of transportation.

The Portland, Ore., act will play the Picador, 330 E. Washington St. at 9 p.m. today with the Broken West and Oui Bandits.

“[The bicycle tour was] a large part of the whole project,” Blind Pilot drummer Ryan Dobrowski said. “We wanted to record a little EP so we would have something. It was a really great, really direct way to do it. We got a great response and sold all the EPs we had.”

Sans map, Dobrowski and Blind Pilot lead singer/songwriter Israel Nebeker biked down the coast, stopping at any bar they could find, begging owners to let them play. Thanks to the watering holes’ openness, the duo was able to share its indie-pop sound up and down the coast.

Throughout the tour, the two men received an overwhelming amount of positive support, which encouraged the two to return home to record the band’s first album, 3 Rounds and a Sound. The album, released almost a year ago, was well-received and set the path for Blind Pilot’s first national tour.

“It wasn’t about getting famous or super wealthy,” Dobrowski said. “We just wanted to make a good album.”

3 Rounds and a Sound led to an appearance on “Last Call with Carson Daly,” much to the surprise and excitement of Dobrowski and Nebeker. Despite noting neither member really watches TV, Dobrowski said the night spent with Daly was a lot of fun.

“It was great,” Dobrowski said. “We’re all quite familiar with Carson Daly, mostly from our younger days. To be on national television was kind of a trip.”

Dobrowski explained the name Blind Pilot allows the band to carry a little bit of the place where its music began. From the members’ Portland apartment, they could see little pilot boats that help guide barges along a river, hence the second word in the band’s moniker.

“We needed to have a name for the band and wanted to take something from the place we were at,” he said.

As for the first part of its name, Dobrowski said it symbolizes the group’s start — not knowing where it’s going or where the band will take the members, though the pair hopes it will go far.

Since the bike tour, the band has grown in size because of the different people Dobrowski and Nebeker collaborated with on 3 Rounds and a Sound. For the national tour, four members will join the band, including Ian Krisc, Blind Pilot’s vibraphone player.

Krisc met Blind Pilot through its record label and lent his vibraphone skills to a few tracks on the album. With the tour, Krisc is looking forward to the time spent on the road.

“With most touring, the highlight — aside from playing the shows — is just the traveling,” Krisc said. “There’s a sort of displacement that goes with being on the road that can be hard to adjust to.”

One thing is certain for the college friends, neither expected Blind Pilot to be quite as big as it is starting to become.

“The praise we’ve gotten is overwhelming,” Dobrowski said. “We love music and we want to keep doing this.”


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