Barns; cabins; production studios. Basements; garages; apartment living rooms. These are the places where recorded music is made. The former surroundings are thought to give a unique kind of inspiration to the artist during the recording process, whether it be a view of the sun hitting the river outside a window or the weighing-in of all the ‘experts’ in the room. The latter surroundings would seem to force the artist to spring inspiration more directly from his own imagination, his own past experience and his own future hopes. Perhaps that is why most musical debuts seem so authentic, pure, free of clutter or filler. It is in that vein that Pilots & Errors presents July, an EP recorded in the simple surroundings of an apartment living room in Lexington, Kentucky during the summer months of 2010.
This album -- as are all albums which ring of truth – is about life. It is especially about the pangs of regret and the pain of the past; it is about how bitter love and life can sometimes be. Life goes by without stopping, and the hurts of the past can haunt you, can still feel real today. It can make you “sick, nostalgic, gut-wrenched.” But, as any person who has lived knows, it is your past that puts you where you are, and its ghosts not only haunt but hold out hope for the future. It is a future that may ring hollow with uncertainties but rich with the stuff of life. July is a search for truth, and sometimes to your roots – to your past -- you must return. It can be scary, but it’s not a bad thing. Indeed, it can point you forward.
The name Pilots & Errors evokes many of the same themes as the album. Certainly in this day and age, such imagery is likely to conjure up memories of terror and towers falling. But far beyond that, the metaphor is much more personal, brought down to where individuals live beautiful and messy lives. We all want to fly -- and sometimes it feels like we do -- but not one of us is perfect. At times we will fall down and live beneath the weight of our mistakes, overwhelmed by their burden. But those same mistakes can be redeemed and learned from, and we can take flight again with hope. Such a seeming dichotomy in life is not easy to navigate, but that’s why it’s life, and that’s why it’s to be lived.
It must be no coincidence that the month of July comes in the middle of the year, half of it behind you, now in the midst of its hot and joyful summer, aware of autumn approaching and its stark reminder of winter’s cold darkness that is just around the corner. And yet after… the renewal of spring once again, rung in with the playful, childlike sound of a banjo tune. Perhaps the experience of life’s joy and pain is not a dichotomy after all, but a give and take, an exchange, a union that makes us wholly human. The man who helms this project, Travis Wilburn, sings the best response to the mingling of pilots and errors: “I promise this, that I will give all of my best and then what’s next is out of my hands.”
- Richard Combs
released September 28, 2010
All songs written,recorded, instruments played, and vocals by Travis Wilburn except Zodiac; my re-imagination of an original tune by Diamond Caverns