Rock Pilots
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Rock Pilots

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"Rock Pilots"

by Tim Thompson

Badger Bowl
November 20, 2004

The classic rock cover band is as at home in Wisconsin as cheese curds and deer hunting. However, while so many of these bands are filled with aging crooners, playing the music of their youth with abandon, Rock Pilots oldest member is a ripe 22 with their youngest, bassist Tony Schulz, still finishing his senior year in high school. However, these four guys may be the only cover band around to actually resemble the rock gods whose music they perform. At least they resemble them in their arena band hey-day.

They opened with a somewhat unique take on an utterly familiar cover. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the Dylan classic, was performed Guns and Roses style. They moved through CCR and Bon Jovi, pulling the ladies to their feet to keep some action on the dance floor. The band was slated for three one hour sets. However, if given their option, they’d stay up there for five hours straight, working intently on getting every person in the mood and every foot moving.

The vocal duties are shared by front man Matt Moore and drummer Dillon
Denter. However, the control of the stage belongs to Moore. He moved from an acoustic to a tight, tobacco-burst Les Paul, offering a lead presence, a solid rhythmic performance and a tight harmony to fill in the mix. Guitarist Alex Schulz, with requisite 70s arena god headband and Led Zeppelin patch on his flare jeans, was solid and flamboyant. His tone showed his utter appreciation of the psychedelic guitar legends, pushing his wah and delay effects to the hilt and pummeling through the lead lines of his idols.

Bassist Tony Schulz kept his shirt wide open and shined during his extended bass solos, alternating from heavy slaps to intricate fingering. The drums, played by Dillon Denter, could have been a bit tighter and he seemed scared to hit the cymbals too hard. However,with heavy vocal duties throughout the
set, his ability to maintain the rhythm while supplying full harmonies and solid melodies helped keep the band both in check and in time.

Though Rock Pilots is a classic rock cover band, they intend to build up a solid collection of originals. The band philosophy is simple: the best way to lay a foundation for writing successful originals is to understand the work of the musicians they most respect, like Jimmy Page and Slash. After spending years working with music created by their idols, Rock Pilots believe they will have the best possible starting position. Not only will they have the experience of literally hundreds of shows, they also will have the musical education that will let them shine.

At least that’s the plan. Historically it has been incredibly difficult for bands to move from cover band arena into the world of originals Very few succeed. The stigma of a cover band career can hurt a band’s credibility in the silly hierarchy of Madison musicians. After 6 years of playing together, it may be time for Rock Pilots to work towards the future, use the experience they’ve gained and move people with their creative drive, not with the same tunes played by a hundred other cover bands. However, with youth and experience on their side, the Pilots can play whatever they want and they’re sure to get the dance floor filled.
- Rick's Cafe


Full Promotional CD Recorded at Sleepless Nights Recording Studio is Available



Rock Pilots is a four-piece Classic Rock band that thrives on covering the history of popular music from 1953 to the present. Despite their young ages, the band has been performing for several years at numerous venues between Lacrosse and Madison where they play 80-90 shows annually. Rock Pilots performed during the summers of 2004 and 2005 as the house band at Marley's in Wisconsin Dells where they performed every Tuesday from May through September before giving up the position due to other commitments. This talented quartet has expanded their influence into Madison by playing frequent shows in the area.

While the musicians have written their own music and plans to write more, they feel they cannot ignore the vast body of classic rock that already exists. The Rock Pilot philosophy is simple: the best way to lay a foundation for composing original music is by understanding the work of the musical genius they most respect. This not only includes legends like Led Zeppelin, Gun's N'Roses and AC/DC, but their local role models Midlife Crisis and Super Tuesday as well as regional heroes such as Road Trip and The Love Monkeys.

In a recent review of a live show at The Badger Bowl in Madison the Wisconsin regional music newspaper Rick's Café exclaimed:

The Band: "These guys may be the only cover band around to actually resemble the Rock Gods whose music they perform"

Dillon: "with heavy vocal duties his ability to maintain the rhythm while supplying full harmonies and solid melodies helped keep the band both in check and in time"

Alex: "solid and flamboyant...his tone shows his utter appreciation of the psychedelic guitar legends"

Tony: "shines during his extended bass solos, alternating from heavy slaps to intricate fingering"

Matt: "Control of the stage belongs solely to Moore...offering a lead presence, a solid rhythmic performance, and a tight harmony to fill in the mix"

Covering other artists has vastly increased each performer's musicianship. Each member has 100's of hours of practice perfecting the difficult licks and riffs that have inspired audiences for decades. Covering history's greats forces a performer to extent his current abilities each time a new song is attempted. If a vocalist can't hit the high F sharp, you're done. If the guitarist can't cut the wicked solos of the legends, the crowd is out the door! With 2500 watts of chest pounding bass, if there are mistakes in tunes the listener already knows, you might just as well pack up your gear. If the drum fills are not all there and in time, the audience seems to sense that something is wrong and the owner doesn't book you back. With the catalog of music Rock Pilots performs everyone from Baby Boomers to Generation X has responded with enthusiasm whether it be at their table or on the dance floor.

Rock Pilots brings to the show "Moore Power Audio" featuring a full array of Turbosound cabinets. The bottom is anchored through a thumping pair of dual 18-inch Turbosound subwoofers and the whole mix is done through a 32-channel Allen and Heath console assisted by Lexicon effects and DBX Driverack. This quality gear was not selected for volume alone, although it can rattle the house if that is what the owner wants. Rather, the components were selected for clarity and transparency that allows the character of the musician's quality amps and mic's to remain unmasked, even at lower volumes in smaller venues. The high energy show is illuminated by a truss mounted overhead system as well as frontal lighting and special effects.