With an ever-growing fan base, Tommy & The High Pilots are touring the country promoting their EP, American Riviera. Lead singer Tom Cantillon formed Tommy & The High Pilots after the crumble of his previous band, Holden.
“We’ve gone through a lot of different trials and tribulations,” Cantillon said. “The thing that I learned from Holden was what didn’t work and what did work. I think that whole morale of this gang is a lot more positive.”
The members of Tommy & The High Pilots have a close past. Three out of four of them grew up together in Santa Barbara, Calif.
“My little brother’s in the band,” Cantillon said. “It was pretty easy to get him involved —- I’ve known him for a while. Steve, our bass player, I’ve known him since I was like in sixth grade and we played in different bands together.
Another member of the band is Matt Palermo, formerly of the St. Louis band Ludo.
“I was in a band way back and we used to tour around with Ludo,” Cantillon said. “I stayed in contact with him and we wound up kidnapping him for a little bit.”
Together, the High Pilots take on a new, collective form when performing.
“We take on the Tommy & The High Pilots form when we’re on stage,” Cantillon said. “We’re not just Tommy, Mike, Steve and Matt. There’s a whole different energy and something else going on and we just ride with it.”
The stage is the ultimate playground for the High Pilots to express themselves.
“I always tell the other guys to take caution because I don’t know if I’m going to swing around,” Cantillon said. “If you come up on stage while I’m in the middle of a song I might accidentally kill you with my guitar because once I get up there I’m possessed.”
For the band, the interaction with an anticipating crowd is the most pleasing aspect to performing.
“(Performing) is the best representation of our band,” Cantillon said. “There is so much energy and we love trading energy with the crowd. You always want to leave them at the edge of their seat, but you can’t plan what’s going to happen.”
And no matter where the High Pilots are, the songs continue to flow from the pen, whether on the East Coast or the West. But Santa Barbara has the band’s heart -— and its lyrics.
“'Where to Start' was written in New York and was based on what I experienced there,” Cantillon said. “Going from one place to the next brings inspiration. But most of our songs are based in Santa Barbara. We grew up there and it’s a huge part of who we are. It’s a very special place to us.”
Fans of Tommy & The High Pilots can expect much more from this up-and-coming band.
“We’re on the road through Christmas,” Cantillon said. “We’re always writing, all the time. As soon as it makes sense, we’ll be in the studio again. Then, right after the New Year, we’re going to try to get right back out on the road.”