Leveling with Tommy and the High Pilots

The band will play at Mojo’s on Monday.

By Megan Suddarth

Tommy and the High Pilots are returning to Columbia to perform with band Langhorne Slim.

Even with a whirlwind full of new music, touring and a new music video, Tommy and the High Pilots’ lead singer, Tom Cantillon, takes time to discuss food, fashion, movies, personality types of his fellow band mates, Mike Cantillon (electrics, acoustics and keyboard), Steve Libby (bass) and Matt Palermo (drums) and the future for their band.

The band just released the new video for their song “Lonely Place” from their Sawhorse Sessions EP a couple weeks ago.

“We’d been throwing around the idea of doing a video for ‘Lonely Place,’” Lead singer, Tom Cantillon says. “I just thought it’d be kind of cool if we had different apparatuses and girls hanging on stuff. The song is really mellow and kind of artsy so that went with it.”

Touring certainly is stressful on a diet, especially when touring takes place during the majority of the year. Meals packed with Seven Eleven munchies and fast food joints can take a toll. So, The High Pilots try to stock up on healthier options on the road.

“We really strive to have fruit,” Cantillon says. “We’re big on chips and salsa and tons and tons of water.”

“And coffee,” Cantillon adds. “We’re addicts.”

Clothing attire is always something that seems to stick with audiences.  Suspenders, red blazers and denim are usually the options for The High Pilots.

“The High Pilots are usually in collars,” Cantillon says. “Mikey likes his denim jacket for sure – the little country boy in him. I’ve been wearing my black jeans like every day.”

Clothing options usually make a statement to the audience.

“I feel like there’s something of a sense of fashion that ties into music,” Cantillon says. “If it’s a bar, we always want to represent ourselves and the band. Wherever we are, in whatever setting, we want people to turn heads. One night I had a collared shirt on with suspenders and I tucked it in and one of the guys in the band that was opening was like, ‘Hey man, going to work?’”

Band members have their own specific personality that shines through. A successful group is comprised of different character traits in each member. A leader, a baby, a tough guy and a sweetheart make up the men of The High Pilots.

“Mikey’s the baby by default, but he’s also the funny guy,” Cantillon says. “Mikey’s got a personality; we call it ‘The Mikey-ness.’ Whenever he’s being interviewed or talking on stage, you get a little bit of ‘The Mikey-ness.’ I like to think I’m tough but I have to give it to Steve; he’s ‘The Rock’ for sure. Matt is the thoughtful one, very sincere. We all have all these traits but if I had to categorize those three, that’s where I’d put them.”

Every band needs a leader and for this band, Cantillon takes the lead.

“[I’d say I’m] Captain. Every band has a leader and I think by default I am the leader. Everyone has input in this band and everyone gets equal say but I start that process.”

The High Pilots take time to have fun and fool around and be normal but they get down to business, too. The band has been working hard and hitting the studio lately and plan to release a new record by the end of the year.

“We recorded about 20 new demos,” Cantillon says. “I’m really pumped about our new music. I feel like all this new stuff is way better than the old stuff – you realize what works and what doesn’t work.”

As tour dates pass and new material is released, The High Pilots are learning every step of the way.

“I think as we get older,” Cantillon says. “We get better at what we do.”

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