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Three Mile Pilot

San Diego's Three Mile Pilot are perhaps best known to the indie rock world at large for supplying key personnel to Touch & Go buzz band the Black Heart Procession. Still, they spent much of the '90s near the forefront of a surprisingly active local indie scene. Three Mile Pilot made their mark with distinctively moody, bass-centered arrangements (in fact, they started out with no guitar at all) and a prog rock aesthetic that often resulted in long, winding, multi-sectioned song structures. Their abrupt shifts in key, rhythm, and volume earned them comparisons to math rockers like Slint and Don Caballero, but their poppier moments were more akin to the Pixies or Nirvana. After several unique albums for local indie Headhunter, the band went on hiatus as its leaders focused on other projects.

Three Mile Pilot were formed in San Diego circa 1991 as a trio featuring vocalist Pall A. Jenkins (aka Paulo Zappoli), bassist Armistead Burwell Smith IV (aka Zach, aka ABS#4), and drummer Tom Zinser. At times, they were augmented by horn player Jim French. This lineup signed to Headhunter and issued its debut album, Na Vucca Do Lupu, in 1992. In its wake, Jenkins took up guitar, giving the instrument a dry run on the 1993 EP Circumcised. For the group's second album, 1994's The Chief Assassin to the Sinister, Smith contributed piano and cello, further broadening Three Mile Pilot's textural palette. The album caught the attention of major label Geffen, which reissued it in 1995 with several additional tracks. However, the band's tenure at Geffen was stormy and very short, and it soon returned to Headhunter.

Three Mile Pilot added a full-time pianist, Tobias Nathaniel, for the recording of their third album, Another Desert, Another Sea, released in 1997. A self-titled five-song EP followed on the Gravity label, as well as a series of 7" singles for assorted tiny indies. During this period, Jenkins and Nathaniel broke away to form the Nick Cave-influenced Black Heart Procession, who earned a deal with Touch & Go starting with their second record, and built an underground following that grew to eclipse Three Mile Pilot's. While both Jenkins and Nathaniel remained official members of Three Mile Pilot, the band went on hiatus indefinitely, during which time Smith and Zinser joined with San Diego native Rob Crow (Heavy Vegetable, Thingy, etc.) in the off-kilter indie pop band Pinback. In 2000, Headhunter released a double-CD compilation of Three Mile Pilot singles, outtakes, and rarities titled Songs from an Old Town We Once Knew. Although Three Mile Pilot continued to work on new material from time to time, the relative success (and touring commitments) of the bandmembers' alternate projects effectively precluded an end to the hiatus. Then, seemingly out of nowhere 13 years after Another Desert, Another Sea, Smith, Jenkins, and Zinser reunited to record a new studio album titled The Inevitable Past Is the Future Forgotten, which was released in the fall of 2010. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Maps

1. Long Way Up

2. Wires

3. This Escape

4. Blu

5. Birdy

x

Track List: The Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten

1. Battle

2. Still Alive

3. Grey Clouds

4. Same Mistake

5. What I Lose

6. Left In Vain

7. The Threshold

8. One Falls Away

9. Days Of Wrath

10. Planets

11. What's In The Air

12. The Premonition

x

Track List: Another Desert, Another Sea

1. Way Of The Ocean

2. If You Cross

3. The Year Of No Light

4. Bolivia

5. Kill The Racehorse

6. Eastern Wave

7. Ruin

8. The Mending King

9. City Of Bones

10. South (The Opera Circle South) v

11. Glitter Wave

12. The Longest Day

13. One False Eye

x

Track List: The Chief Assassin To The Sinister

1. Shang Vs. Hanger

2. Circumcised

3. Aqua-Magnetic

4. The Chief Assassin To The Sinister

5. 97-Mt

6. X-Miner

7. Vux Intruder

8. Androsyn Guardian

x

Track List: Na Vucca Do Lupu

1. One Step Ladder

2. Sore Loser

3. Slow Hand

4. Pinhut

5. Walking With Your Mother

6. Illwrath

7. Unicycle Silencer

8. Horse Sweat

9. Paralyzed (Dressing The Kill)

10. Feeling Bald

11. Fig

12. Huvakraft

13. Dirt On The Flag Mud On The Wheel

x

Track List: Shape Shifter

1. Shape Shifter

2. Uhiju

3. Underslept

x

Track List: Songs From An Old Town We Once Knew

Disc 1

1. Nussun

2. The Silver Monkey Syndicate

3. The House Is Loss

4. Piano Plus

5. Piano Minus

6. Red Sensing

7. Sewn To Our Side

8. In This Town I Awaken

9. The Approach

10. Tripoli

Disc 2

1. Jadulastan Requiem

2. A Very Old Bass

4. The Open Sided

5. Terry D.

6. Cyrus

7. Everything

8. As All The Fish Go On Parade

9. The Trail

10. Piano Titanic

11. The Urquan Destroyer

Comments

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The San Diego explosion of the early nineties was stunning : 3 Mike pilot, rocket from the crypt, drive like jehu, tanner, inch, aminiature.. . i t meant great shows at the Casbah every week
Report as inappropriate
Just great !
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Excellen, I want more please3..
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Heard y'all on Pandora. Kick a** sounds and melodies!
Report as inappropriate
Amazing
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burkify
Awesome band. Happy to see they dropped a new record.
Report as inappropriate
They're great, but it doesn't get any better than the first album. Bass and drums and vocals was plenty. Wish i could hear some more basswork like that.
Report as inappropriate
An amazing band that led to even more amazing bands! Love them.
Report as inappropriate
no love for three mile pilot? followed up after listening to and reading about the pinback, and these guys rock too!! can see where a lot of pinback's feel comes from. go zach!

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