Echo Pilot is a Nashville-based rock band comprised of Ryan Van Abeele, Greg Serrato, Wes Braga, and myself.
After I produced and released my EP Finally I tried to promote that for a while but I felt like I was missing something. So I booked a one on one session with Suz Paulinski to discuss where I wanted to move forward. Her and I had a great discussion and she suggested I start a band instead of trying to be an artist myself. I thought this made sense so I went ahead and created a flyer to try and find band members.
I had a few bites on the flyer but nothing until I met Ryan Van Abeele. We met and discussed our goals and dreams for the band and everything seemed to line up. Before we left, we set up a date to jam. I set up my amps in my house and hoped for the best. You never know how it’s going to go when you meet someone to play music. Luckily this time it worked out. We wrote a short riff, named some Foo Fighters and Green Day and decided we wanted to move forward. It was time to out down some demos and find a bassist and a drummer.
Over the next few months we met and recorded songs we both had so we had examples to send our prospective players. I had been recording for years before that, so I took all the music production techniques I had learned recording myself and made the demos sound really good. We made our own flyer looking for players and played the waiting game.
Time for Bass and Drums
Drummers were first. We had 3 drummers try our for the band. With each we would schedule time at a practice studio, set up, and let ‘er rip. But with each of them, the vibe just wasn’t there. They were great drummers but didn’t fit what Ryan and I were looking for. We kept our hopes high, but as time went on we kept getting more and more discouraged. That is until we were messaged via Craigslist by someone named Greg Serrato.
The first jam was magic. As you can hear on our first single Field Day, Greg is a power drummer, and that was exactly what we were looking for. To exemplify this, we were jamming and Ryan and I decided to pull out a riff we were working on but didn’t have more than the guitar riff. Immediately Greg took it and played exactly what the track needed. Ryan and I knew we had a drummer. When were were done, Ryan almost immediately called Greg and asked him to be in the band. BOOM. We now has a drummer. Now it was time to find a bassist.
We blasted our second flyer again, sent out another Craigslist ad, and a Facebook post and hoped someone would bite. Luckily, this time bassists started to come forward and want to try out! But it seemed like the same story as our first drummers. The bassists that tried out were excellent and really great guys, but they just didn’t vibe with our music. We were getting discouraged, that was until Wes Braga recked out to us. He had just come off touring nationally with country groups and was ready to start an original project where he didn’t have to travel all the time. He asked for our song demos so he could lay some bass lines on them. We obliged and sent him the songs, not thinking he would do anything too special but learn the songs and maybe put some normal bass on them. But we were completely wrong. He totally blew us away! He learned every note of our songs without having to be told what they were. Needless to say we were impressed. We wanted to try him out in a room immediately. He came and it was magic. His licks were smooth and he had a great feel and sense of timing and melody on the bass that is very rare. We asked him to join the band and there we were. Echo Pilot.
We practiced for a couple weeks as a band and were itching to play a live show with the songs we had. Ryan had been digging on Facebook and Craigslist for shows and we found one. It was a house party with a couple other bands including Down Boy and Hungry on Monday. We showed up and rocked the house that night. We left knowing we had done as well as we could have at the time not thinking twice and ready to do it again.
Our First Gig and Recording Our First Single
Out of luck the lead singer of Hungry on Monday was playing a show at The End in Nashville and asked us to be on the bill. We said yes immediately. We played that show and again, though nothing of it. But as luck would have it, the lead singer was a student at the Blackbird Academy and he had invited his classmates to the show. One of them was impressed enough that we were asked to help him with his class project and record at the famous Blackbird Studios!
The experience was amazing. Our first recording experience was in Studio A and I felt like a little kid in a candy store. I wanted to touch and play with all of the analog knobs and gear scattered throughout the studio.
We spent 5 sessions at Blackbird Studios recording the song Field Day from start to finish, including recording in the room designed by George Massenburg.
Through that experience, I learned a lot about setup of a studio, how sessions should work, how to get a good drum tone, how to get energy in a take, and much more. I continued my education when we took the final tracks to Bryan Russel, a producer and engineer in Nashville, TN the owner of Redwire Audio, who worked on Coldplay’s X&Y, Volbeat’s [insert record], and many independent projects. I watched him clean up the tracks we recorded get them ready for mixing and mastering and he gave me advice on what mixing engineers expect to make it easy for them to just mix instead of having to take the time cleaning up tracks. We sent the song off to mixing and mastering and planned to release the track. However, our recording experience wasn’t over.
Dark Horse Studios and More Tracking
We had been recording demos in my home studio and playing gigs when the manager of The Naked Gypsy Queens asked if we could step in and take the place of the band because they had another obligation. We said yes immediately. It was the opportunity to record 6 songs for a class at the Dark Horse Institute, an audio engineering school in Franklin, TN.
We were given 3 days to lay down drums, bass, guitar, and vocals in front of about 10 students. The students were supposed to setup the gear, get tones, run the Pro Tools rig, and cater to the band as we recorded the songs. It was an amazing experience and I got the benefit of the education without ever having to set foot in a classroom. I saw what the professor was trying to teach the students as we recorded and how he recommended how a session run from start to finish. This was a great addition to my education as I learned a lot in this experience as well on how to better produce bands and be a good studio producer.
Field Day Single Release Show
When we were done with recording at Dark Horse, it was time to release Field Day, our first single. We were lucky enough to book The Analog, an awesome music venue in mid-town Nashville with Evan Castle, The A-OKs, and The Eldridge Band. It was a great night with great energy. A perfect introduction to a band’s single. I’m excited to see where this project goes. I love learning the songwriting. and process with a band.
Echo Pilot and Music Production
I wanted to tell all that in order to explain my experience and education as a producer and player. I know how it feels to be both in the room and behind the glass and I can get the perfect vibe for a song and know when something is good or not, despite my lack of formal education.
If you want to schedule Echo Pilot for a show or learn more about how I can help produce your rock band, contact me!