New Jersey Stage

Sunday, November 3, 2013


(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Tommy and The High Pilots, a Southern California band, will make a stop at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park on November 8, 2013. They'll be on a bill with Plain White T's and Parachute. Tickets are $23 in advance or $35 at the door.

In Southern California, all is not as it seems. And this band, which hails from Santa Barbara, isn't making the breezy music expected to come out of a seaside town.

Tommy and the High Pilots is a group of friends who have known each other for years and finally formed a band. Tommy Cantillon and his brother Michael (keys) have been playing and singing together their whole lives. Steve Libby (bass) has been a friend for over a decade. And Tommy met Matt Palermo (drums) when their previous bands crossed paths on the road years ago.

When singer/songwriter Tommy started writing the songs he decided to use your life instead of his own. "I'm influenced by and very interested in people and their stories," Tommy said. "I feel badly, in a way, because every time I talk to people I start getting song ideas. Not that there's some ulterior motive there. It's just the way my brain works."

It is born partly of necessity. The band spends so much time on the road that writing and traveling have to go hand-in-hand. It's no easy place to find inspiration but among the tour stops with Allen Stone, the Hush Sound and Ludo the guys have been able to create their sound. "The stories come from other people's lives, but there's plenty of us in there too. Being a way from home, the sacrifices that come with this life. Lyrically and musically, I think that stuff shows up a lot on this record." 

"I could give you a list that never ended," Tommy says about his influences. And then he does, running across decades to mention artists including Tom Petty, Radiohead and R.E.M. To create Only Human, the band worked with producers Matt Wallace (The Replacements, Maroon 5), Marc McClusky (Weezer) and Jason McEntire (Son Volt). Recorded in multiple studios all across the country, the songs reflect a feeling central to Tommy and the High Pilots: that restless dissatisfaction that comes before you settle into life. The songs strike a chord as power pop, with clear influences from the jangle pop of the 80s and anthemic sounds suited for an arena. The experiences other people bring to your life can run the gamut, like the songs on Only Human do: uplifting, exciting, dark, and hungry.

The album's first single, "Outta My Head" may be the most SoCal song on the album, in the sense that it came together in Tommy's head while he was walking on a beach in Santa Barbara, but it's got an edge to it that stops it from quite fitting into the super laid back SoCal tradition. It's infectious enough to make audiences pogo and, even when they've never heard it before, start singing along to the chorus. It's followed by, "Devil To Pay," which Tommy describes as a track he sees in red. It started in a hotel in St. Louis, as an exercise in chord progression inspired by Tom Petty. It turned into an exploration of the desperation and suffocation that comes with the end of a relationship. A few tracks later is "Young and Hungry" which is simultaneously an aggressive battle cry and a heartfelt apology with a nod to Springsteen's "Born To Run."

"The songs can be lighthearted but there's always this thing underneath," Tommy says. "Only Human means that you're making mistakes, that it's okay to be fallible. There's a darkness under there."

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The Stone Pony is located at 913 Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park, NJ. For more information visit