What: Blind Pilot
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030
The first time Blind Pilot ever went on tour, they did it on bikes toting their instruments in homemade trailers. Bikes as in, bicycles. No motors, just pedals.
That was four years, four new band members ago. Between Blind Pilot’s growing numbers and fame, a West Coast bike tour isn’t so practical anymore. But the band has maintained the same down-to-earth spirit. Their current mode of transportation is a gutted and remodeled 1971 school bus.
“We kind of just took out all the seats, and [bassist] Luke [Ydstie] is a pretty skilled woodworker, so he made bunks and a kitchen and all kinds of things that make it our home away from home,” frontman Israel Nebeker said. “We built it all ourselves, so it feels like home and has a lot of character.”
Between the home-y feel of the tour bus and close relationship the band seems to have, it conjures up images of family road trips, except your little brother isn’t throwing up and your big sister isn’t sulking because she couldn’t bring her boyfriend.
“We’ve been six ever since we started touring in motorized vehicles. It’s been three years now,” Nebeker said. “It’s really exciting to tour with all six of us. It’s a good amount of people where you’re with the same people all the time and they become like family, [but] where you can always get a little bit of space.”
Last time the indie folk band went on tour, they were playing new music from their September 2011 album, We Are the Tide, for the first time. The record was well received by critics, but the band was more interested in the reactions from the fans.
“The last tour that we did was about two-and-a-half months long, and our album was released during that time, and I just decided that I wouldn’t pay attention to good or bad before we got home,” Nebeker said. “The crowd has a perplexed look on their face trying to hear what you’re doing. It was a really gratifying and inspiring thing to see them get into the songs and know them more. Once the album was released, I could see people’s mouths moving along.”
Fans have had a few months to get to know the songs by now, so there should be plenty of singing along this time.
If you haven’t given Blind Pilot a listen since the band’s days as a duo, it’s worth checking them out again. The early sound was clean and minimalistic — lovely folk music with Nebeker on guitar and Ryan Dobrowski on the drum kit. But with the addition of Ydstie on upright bass, Kati Claborn on banjo and dulcimer, Ian Krist on vibraphones and Dave Jorgensen on keyboards and trumpet, the sound is much fuller. It’s still simple and charming, but most definitely different.
During their 2011 tour, Blind Pilot had multiple stops in Colorado, but we’re not so lucky this time, so make sure to catch them at the Boulder Theater.