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Long Way Up

music ThreeMileThree Mile Pilot revels in uncertainty on new EP, ‘Maps’

San Diego, Calif.-based indie rock band Three Mile Pilot put fans at ease in 2010, when it re-emerged after a 13-year silence with an emotionally stirring 12-track LP, entitled The Inevitable Past Is the Future Forgotten.

The album closer, “The Premonition,” has left a somewhat spooky impression to this day, not simply because of its booming piano and organ, but because of singer/guitarist Pall Jenkins’ pensive final lyrics: “I miss the sun.”

Those words couldn’t ring more falsely now, as Jenkins—whose first name is pronounced “Paul,” or, as he explains, “Pall Mall, like the cigarettes”—gets ready to discuss the band’s latest five-track EP, Maps, released in July.

Before he is able to begin, Jenkins goes on a scavenger hunt inside of the studio, in search of his sunglasses. Minutes later, he’s still empty-handed, forced to either look the mid-July sun dead in the eye, or squint.

Despite the faint glimmer of hope left by The Inevitable Past, Jenkins seems to prefer embracing the darkness, or the unknown, as demonstrated on Maps. The EP marks a first for 3MP, in that the title is reduced to a simple monosyllable, rather than a baleful one (see The Chief Assassin to the Sinister), but the lyric content and melodic elements are just as introspective and gloomy as ever.

In the magnetic first track, “Long Way Up,” for instance, Jenkins’ gritty vocals are heard singing, “there’s no road to this town/there’s no map to the underground.” Meanwhile, singer/bassist Zach Smith chants sweetly, “it’s a long way/it’s a long way up.”

“The concept of the lyrics is kind of [about] getting older and moving along into different things,” explains Jenkins. “People seem to think they have a map, [yet they’re] struggling to find a way. [The concept] also has to do with the band a little bit. Building it back up again has been this map to find out where we’re going, who we are.”

The band—which formed in 1991, when Jenkins, Smith, and drummer Tom Zinser were finishing high school—began working on material for Maps at the tail end of crafting The Inevitable Past, and split their recording time between Stereo Disguised Recording Laboratories in San Diego, Smith’s house, and Jenkins’ house.

Asked about the inspiration behind the abstract lyrics on songs like “Blu”—“I climbed down to the bottom of the sky/inside, outside, upside-down”—Jenkins said, “I think a lot of lyrics writing is a weird, unconscious, cerebral moment. They just come, they float into your head, [and] you write ’em down.”

On Thursday, Aug. 23, 3MP will head to the Catalyst Atrium, where they will perform some of their new material off Maps, with Chris Fulford-Brown on keyboards. The show is one of seven that make up the band’s West Coast summer tour.

While the last time Smith was scheduled to rock the Catalyst for The Rob and Zach Show, he was unable to make it because his wife went into labor, Jenkins assures fans that none of the band members are expecting a baby this time around, and that a live listen to the new EP is the only thing that’s due for Santa Cruz. 

Three Mile Pilot plays at 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, at The Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15. For more information, call 423-1338.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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