Thank goodness for band reunions. While some music fans get beyond frustrated when acts reconvene, others get excited. I am in the latter category. Usually, reunions mean I either get to see a band that got me obsessed with a genre (Sleep, Kyuss, Nasum) or learn about a band that aligns perfectly with my current tastes. Hypnopilot, a Calgary act who formed in 2002 and dissolved in 2008, drops perfectly into the latter. Their groovy rock perfectly channels spacey feel, groovy, serpentine riffs and rollicking snare heavy drums. It is unsurprising, then, that Kyuss helped bring it all back together.
“I came up to Calgary in November to see the Kyuss Lives! show – we all went to that together – and the afternoon before the show that night we had a jam at Slaughterhouse and that kind of got the ball rolling,” explains Garwin Poff, drummer for the trio which includes bassist Cory Pierce and guitarist/vocalist Matthew Simmons. He dotingly dubbed the show a “bit surreal” despite mentioning its less-than-encompassing track listing before explaining that Hypnopilot never had an official dissolution.
“In 2008, my wife and I got our first child, and in 2009 we made the decision to move back to Lethbridge to raise the family,” he explains. The band remained in contact, playing a one-off show in April 2010, while Simmons released solo material under his Residual Comrade moniker. Residual sounds even more like Kyuss than does Hynopilot and every instrument and piece of equipment is played by Simmons. Meanwhile, Poff jammed with Lethbridge locals. With the benefit of hindsight, the memories of Hypnopilot became rosy.
“What [originally] brought us together was Matthew [Simmons] put an ad in FFWD, saying, ‘Vocalist/guitarist looking to start a band,’ and he listed off Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Clutch, 13eaver and Corrosion of Conformity. I immediately saw that, and said, ‘Oh, crap. There you go. That’s kind of like, there is my CD collection right there,’ ” recalls Poff, who later enthusiastically bonds with us over the 2011 Sled Island Sleep performance. “Right off the bat, our first meeting as strangers, we went to a rehearsal studio and jammed first time meeting.”
After jamming on their influences for around a year, the trio began playing gigs as Prescribed Burn and changed their name soon after to Hypnopilot after a track from Norwegian act Honcho’s Corporate Rock (2002) album.
“It was a real vibe that kind of kicked off our sound,” says Poff. “We stuck with that low tuning and rocked out riffs and, like you said, it’s kind of magical, three complete strangers get together, brought together on a connection to music… [That’s] why we are getting back together. We jam with other people and it’s pretty cool, but it’s just not the same.”
During their tenure, the trio released their self-titled debut album in 2005, alongside their 2008 Evergreen EP. In 2009, they recorded another EP dubbed Final, a digital download only release that just recently came out on iTunes and CdBaby and also helped kick the band back into action. All three are available online, and copies of both early records will be available at the show.
“To walk away from it, you miss the songs and you have a new appreciation for what you created and to me it feels a lot more special now then it was in the past,” says Poff.
On top of all that, unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that stoner/sludge/doom is huge right now in all its bastardized formations on a local and international level. On a large level, everything from the death/doom of disEMBOWELMENT to the indie sludge of Baroness to the desert rock of Kyuss and nihilistic dirge of Eyehategod is enjoying renewed attention and notoriety. Locally, The Weir, Witchstone, Herschel, Chron Goblin and Bloated Pig are making waves. Echoing a statement made by Bloated Pig elsewhere in this section, when they started out they had no contemporaries and it was difficult to book a show where they fit on the bill. That’s since changed.
“To put on a full on heavy stoner rock show was almost impossible to do,” said Poff, whose band performed with an array of punk and metal bands. Far from remotely bitter, he fondly remembers performing at local metal institution Vern’s Tavern. “We noticed in the past few years a more similar vibe to bands coming out.”
So now, to start, the band will perform their reunion show. Afterwards, they’ll look into performing more gigs in Calgary and Poff’s current home city, Lethbridge, and eventually consider recording despite the distance. Think something along the lines of the Saint Vitus reunion, which has thus far gone swimmingly. Sadly, their heroes in Kyuss have not been so lucky.
Enjoy the Hypnopilot reunion show at the Distillery on Sunday, August 5 with Witchstone, and Lethbridge’s Lustre Creame, who will be releasing their debut CD at the same show.
By Sarah Kitteringham