January 16, 2015

2009 Blind Pilot Interview

Going back over the archives I found an interview with Blind Pilot's Ryan Dobrowski that I did back in 2009 for the now defunct Popwreckoning website. I conducted shortly after their new album was taking off nationally. They had just played their first late night show, gone on a tour by bike, and were headed down to Austin for SXSW. It's kind of fun to look back on a band on the rise. I love Ryan's shoutout to STRFKR and Mississippi Studios just as it was reopening.


When I moved to Portland last fall, my friend kept telling me that I had to check out this great local band, Blind Pilot. After picking up their album and catching a show at the Aladdin, I was sold. It seems like other people are too. They're getting high profile recognition on iTunes, NPR, and Carson Daly. Recently, I was able to ask Blind Pilot drummer and cycler, Ryan Dobrowski, a couple questions via email about their recent succes and upcoming plans.

QuickCrit: So, how was your experience on Carson Daly?

Ryan Dorowski:  Carson Daly was great. We got there pretty early in the day and didn't record until later in the evening, but it seemed like we always had something to do. Everyone was really nice and I'd say overall it was a really pleasant experience. We didn't get to hang out with Carson Daly or T.I. who was also there, but it was still a lot of fun.

QC: What do you think about all the national attention you're getting?

RD:It's great and exciting, but honestly a little weird. It doesn't seem like it was too long ago at all that it was just me and Israel biking down the coast and busking wherever we could.

QC: Have you noticed the difference at shows?

RD: The show keep getting better all the time. It is always the best thing in the world to go to another city and have a crowd of people singing along to your songs. We have some great musicians playing with us now and we're all really enjoying playing with eachother.

QC: I heard "White Apple" at the Aladdin in Portland. Are you working on more new material?

RD: Yes. Although it will probably be a little while before we have time to go back into the studio. We have a lot of tours coming up that will keep us busy until fall at least.

QC: At the Aladdin you had a full stage of musicians. Now that you are becoming more popular do you think you'll bring more of them on tour with you?

RD: It isn't really a matter of becoming more popular, but yes, more people will be coming on this upcoming tour. Not all 10 that were at the Aladdin show, but 6 of us.

QC: I really liked what Kati Claborn added to your songs. Will you be recording new material with that group?

RD: I think we will definitely continue to use Kati as she is really great to have in the group. What we will end up doing on the next album is still being worked out, but I'm sure she'll be in there as well.

QC: What are your upcoming plans?

RD: The plan is to just keep things going at this point. There is a lot going  on and a lot to keep up with, but  I think it is all happening in a really great way. We definitely want to do more bike tours and  definitely want to do a bike tour in Europe. It might not be able to happen really soon, but it will definitely happen.

QC: Have you looked into getting a sponsorship from any of the local cargo bike makers so you can bring along more instruments?

RD: I love the cargo bikes for around town, but I think for touring the trailer works best. I'd like to work on getting a better bike tour drum set, but other than that, I think we had everything we needed. I actually really enjoyed my little drum set just fine, but it is fun to think of ways to improve.

QC: What city has been your favorite tour stop? Which was the most bike friendly?

RD: L.A, was the biggest surprise. It was a great show and actually quite easy to bike around. We were also so used to cars going by us by the time we got there that it didn't seem to really matter. Portland is still the best though as far being bike friendly. Eugene is good to, but a lot smaller. I think you see everything in a little bit better light on a bike. Even though we're going to have to do some tours by more standard means, I'd love to bring bikes along so once we get to the city we can go ride around.

QC: Do you feel like you're part of a scene here in Portland?

RD: We definitely have a lot of friends in other bands, but I don't really feel like we're part of a scene. In fact a lot of the Portland scenes I find a little intimidating. I really was surprised that we were as well received here. It has been great meeting all of these bands and musicians in town that I had really only seen from the audience perspective. I used play in Sexton Blake with Josh Hodges and Ryan Byornstad who are now playing as Starfucker. I still love to see those guys and am glad to see them doing so well.

QC: What local band or venue do I need to check out that I might have missed?

RD: Definitely go to Mississippi Studios. I'm not just saying that because we play there soon. I think everyone was a little sad when it shut down and it is going to be one of the nicest mid size venues in town for sure.