Mike Kinane and his band, Power on Pilot, have released some outstanding singles over the past few months. Time for a closer acquaintance.
What was the moment you knew you were on to something?
I had been writing songs for years and recording them first on GarageBand, then on Logic Pro, just little demos that were full of mistakes. I’d send some to family and friends to get feedback; everyone was super supportive and encouraging. In late 2021, I finally decided to start putting out some of these songs under the Power on Pilot banner, beginning with Rocketship. I was blown away by the response.
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
I find it amazing that I can record a little song in my bedroom, and one week later, someone in France, Spain, or Japan is listening to it.
It’s truly incredible and my definition of success.
Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text, or are the lines that you hope listeners will remember? And why?
I’m not a great lyricist, but on ‘Spinning On’, I tried to write a love song to my wife, Lisa, using as many power pop references as I could stuff into the tune. I kind of dig this verse, calling out the Buzzcocks, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, and Squeeze:
You’re number one with a bullet baby
Racing up my charts
You got my singles going steady now
A long-player in my heart
Will you be my critic’s darling?
My little Labour of Lust?
Another East Side Story? This Year’s Model or Trust?
When was the last time you thought, ‘I just wrote a hit!’?
I never think my songs are good enough to be a ‘hit’! The last song we released – Look to the Sky – was something that was just a Beatle-y piano chord progression I’d been monkeying with for over a year.
I never write on piano, so this was a bit out of my comfort zone. I finally decided to finish it with a melody in April. The lyrics are very non-sensical because I was trying to channel Noel Gallagher. You know – ‘slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball’ type lyrics that make zero sense but sound pretty damn good. So I didn’t so much write as steal from the professionals. John Giard came in with a great bass line, and Kevin Killen nailed the drums/guitars/production/mixing/mastering.
Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?
It isn’t for me. I don’t like playing live. It’s terrifying. Power on Pilot is taking the XTC approach – just record, don’t tour.
What compliment you once received will you never forget?
I’m not sure if it’s a compliment, but I received a message from someone to whom I was pitching a Power on Pilot release, and the response was ‘we’ve heard of you’. I guess that can be construed as a compliment?
What place do you occupy in the music industry?
Is there something lower than the bottom rung? If not, then the bottom rung.
If you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record, who would you ask?
Kate/Cindy from the B-52s – I mean, come on, they are phenomenal.
All the guys from the Lickerish Quartet/Jellyfish – soooo good.
I guess that’s 5 singers – sorry.
The record is done, the music is out. Is the best fun done now or is it just beginning?
It’s all fun or we wouldn’t be doing it, right?