Even if modern alternative music has become more electronic, there will always be a place for guitars, as you hear on Sierra Pilot’s new record, Phantom Pains. Released on September 22nd, it serves as the debut by the Canadian quartet. It moves at a brisk pace, clocking in at under 30 minutes, but that time is used effectively. There’s lots of anthemic, guitar-driven energy that exists somewhere in between hard rock and alternative. Within the album is a central theme of making the most of life and seizing opportunities that come before you. The band urges you to search for the good while finding comfort in the joys of tomorrow.
As a recording act, Sierra Pilot is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Taylor Leith. For Leith, Sierra Pilot is both a solo project and a band. He designs his artistry around authenticity. With Sierra Pilot, there are moments of catharsis and moments of sheer celebration. It’s what you would want and expect from a modern rock record; to the point and not overly convoluted. You can catch the band on the road in March, touring Western Canada with Skid Row and Buckcherry. The tour was initially set to begin around now but was recently delayed.
Leith joins us today for a special track-by-track rundown of the background and intangibles behind Phantom Pains.
“The opening track is very fitting for the album. It’s about celebrating the little things and being grateful for what you have. If you can find one good thing to be grateful for or make one good thing happen in the run of a day, you’re already miles ahead of so many people. Just the very notion of being alive; you get another day and another chance.”
“The song was written during the pandemic lockdown. I was thinking about all the people stranded, living alone, and how pent-up they must have felt. Especially those who had newer, exciting love interests in their lives and how much of a letdown that must have been. The song is about the urge to close the distance between and wanting nothing but that person. Fighting to see that person who seems so close but is way too far away.”
3. “Keys to the City”
“The only thing I can really say about ‘Keys To The City’ is that it’s a badass party song. It’s about the limitless possibilities that come with the urge to let loose with good company.”
4. “The Thief”
“This song was inspired by ‘Black Chandelier’ by Biffy Clyro and U2’s ‘With or Without You.’ It has a strong anthemic feel and vibrant melody with a power ballad undertone. People can fall in love with the idea of a toxic environment or toxic behaviour, even when they know it’s not the best thing for them. Ultimately, the song is a bit more general and focuses on bad habits that people can’t seem to shake, whether that’s love, addiction, or almost anything else.”
“This song is the most recent single to be released from the album. It’s a hard-hitting, hyper-sexual track about pure, animalistic instinct. I think we successfully translated those carnal desires in every moment of this explosive track.”
6. “Thunder and Rain”
“This is a very powerful song. When you first listen it seems uplifting to most, but the song is about fighting to your wits end for someone who is already mostly out the door. I think a lot of us can connect with the panic that arises in us when the curtain finally falls, and we see all the mistakes we’ve made to bring us to these pivotal moments in life.”
7. “Never Be Lonely”
“This one was wild to write… The original version sounded completely different than what we ended up with. It was originally written as your stereotypical love song that I had written for my girlfriend at the time (now my fiancée). I brought it to the producer, and he insisted we darken it up… His exact words were, ‘How would a rock n’ roll Post Malone do it?’ I’m glad he said that because we ended up with a song that is waaaaaay more unique. I absolutely love this track, and I hope you all do too!”
“I have very fond memories of writing this song. I remember coming into the studio all ticked off because I found out somebody was talking smack behind my back, which is never fun, but always good for song inspiration. ‘Mouthful’ is about being so unapologetically that you don’t give a rat’s ass about who you may upset in the process. It’s about owning all the parts of yourself that others may find offensive or crude. It’s also about all those things you may wish you had said to those people in that very moment when they crossed you.”
9. “Phantom Pains”
“This is one the most personal songs on the record, which examines my past run-ins with substance abuse. I see it almost as a love letter to my old self. It’s undoubtedly the most vulnerable song on the album where I’m looking back on something that, at the time, was such a huge part of my life. When you strip that away, it leaves a significant void that I can understand how some people would struggle to fill.”