Pile frontman and songwriter Richard Maguire is aware of his band’s growing cult — hell, being as Krill went so far as to write an EP about them, Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts Into Tears, “cult” is the right word — but he never thought it would get more obsessive when they toured Europe for the first time.
“I can’t usually watch bands for more than 45 minutes,” Maguire says, “but there were times we’d play for 50 minutes and say we’re done, and [European fans] would applaud and just stand there. They wouldn’t move. They wouldn’t leave and say, ‘It’s time to go home.’ They’d just wait until you played more. ‘You’re not done.’?”
The band was happy to oblige, having gained the endurance on a tour that’s spanned two different band lineups and started in Brooklyn back in February. It finally ends July 3 at the Bell House, where they’ll play with the Austerity Program and Couch Slut — two bands that are as diverse as Pile, but don’t mix howling-wolf vocals and shred-free guitar harmonies in the same way.
Pile started out as a solo act, with Maguire mixing blues vocals and country picking on 2007’s Demonstration and 2009’s Jerk Routine before he got a backing band that led to the discovery of their current sound. The distinct blend of melted guitars bleeding over warbled drums and twangy bass began with 2010’s Magic Isn’t Real before progressing on 2012’s Dripping and this year’s You’re Better Than This, which brought them a new level of press attention — though Maguire doesn’t pay attention to any of that.
“I can’t read what critics think of us,” Maguire says. “I don’t even know what fans cling to about us. I hope we have enough depth to offer more than one thing, or that people love us for our integrity, but truthfully, I don’t know.”
Though he’s unable to explain the mysterious obsessions, he knows how to keep fans happy: new music. Pile have already booked time in a recording studio on Independence Day to demo songs for the next album; apart from that and a couple beers, the holiday is just another day. In Maguire’s view, the only thing to focus on is where Pile go next.
“I’ll go on a solo tour to try out some new material on my own. Our goal is to have a new album finished by the end of the year. Some songs are already written.”
Having a general plan without all the specifics figured out is nothing new to Maguire. Before launching on the mammoth tour, he quit his job and moved out of his apartment. Wrapping up the tour puts him in a new position: that of a full-time artist without a place to call home. For now, he’s happy the finish line is in sight, anxious to return to Boston and take life as it comes to him.
“I could chill in our practice space, or go camping, or crash on people’s couches,” Maguire says. “I don’t have a place to necessarily live or a bed to go home to. I don’t think, ‘Ah man, I can’t wait to get back to my cozy, warm bed.’ That place doesn’t exist. But I’m looking forward to the comfort of knowing the geography of where I am and being able to get around without asking people. I’ll walk for about a week or so.
“It’ll be nice to spend some time in nature. I have plans to get out of the Northeast for a while. But it’s just a matter of time before it comes down to guitar and songwriting. It always does.”
Pile play the Bell House on July 3. For ticket info, click here.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 1, 2015