For an emerging band, the Brooklyn-based postpunk foursome Pill have an unconventional online presence. In fact, they have the bare internet minimum: naught but a scrappy, uninformative website and a Bandcamp page connected to their label, Dull Tools. This decision to keep space between their music and the Web was a premeditated move the band decided on after noticing how other acts approached the distribution of their music.
“Our mentality as we first started playing shows was, forget drawing attention to the internet. We play as many shows as possible and rely on word of mouth,” says Pill guitarist Jon Campolo. “I think, especially with the internet, the first thing people do when they start a band nowadays is make a Bandcamp. Interconnectedness and immediacy because of the internet is not always the best case. You need a reason to go to the show, a motivation to want to see the band.”
Campolo says that so far, Pill’s decision to remain behind the veil has been successful. Their music remains at the forefront, while prospective bookers (and reporters) interested in reaching Pill have to go through Dull Tools in order to establish contact, effectively making the label their middleman. For Campolo, the lack of social-media-fueled distraction keeps the focus where it should be.
“People in New York get really excited about music and they don’t even care what the band is called. If you’re at a show and you’re screaming to your friend, ‘Who the fuck is this band?’ — that’s a great thing,” he says. “You don’t need to check out all their bullshit social media beforehand and make quick judgment calls. All of that distracts from what it really is — which is the fucking song.”
Pill have been together for just over a year, but already, they’ve exhibited considerable moxie — witness a tireless performance schedule that has them bouncing back and forth between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Their live shows are a tandem assault: singer Veronica Torres’s seething delivery, Ben Jaffe’s blaring saxophone lead. On March 17, Pill released a self-titled debut EP whose five brooding tracks show great promise for the young band. Torres’s twisted tales, like in “Hotline” (“Oh, you wanna touch me where?/No, I’m younger than that/How old do you think I am?”) or her take on the adult entertainment industry, “Misty Eyed Porno Reader” (“Are you keeping my feelings and my body safe?/I think this is an opportunity for you to learn to be more flexible”), serve as standout tracks.
The lyrics for each song are posted alongside the music on Pill’s Bandcamp page. Campolo loves this, as he believes the lyrics are what deserve the most attention. “I’m so glad the label included the lyrics online, because they’re so much like a forefront of the music,” he says. “I feel like the instrumentation is really just planning those lines.”
On September 2, Pill will embark on their first-ever tour — titled Go Girl, For World Peace! — hitting major cities between New York and Atlanta. Upon their return home at the end of the month, Campolo notes they’ll have about six shows a month planned until December’s short East Coast tour supporting Parquet Courts.
Pill caught the attention of Chris Pickering, who co-operates Dull Tools with Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts, after playing a rampage of shows earlier this year. They were quickly signed to the local underground label. “We ended up playing three shows in the course of one week and Chris was at every one of them and he finally just said, ‘That’s it. Do you guys have music recorded? We need to put it out as soon as possible,’ ” recalls Campolo.
In between their upcoming string of shows, Pill will be in the studio for the remainder of the year working on the tracks that will form their debut LP. Campolo isn’t interested in divulging too much information on the process, opting instead to remain consistent in letting the music and concerts do all the talking for Pill.
“This is a band that was born out of just playing and not even necessarily talking about anything really. Just sort of a shut up and play mentality,” he says. “That’s sort of the manifesto of it, and we’re going to keep it that way.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 1, 2015