The Mystery Punk Singles series dredges up pop-punk-indie ultra-obscurities, in hopes of spreading the forgotten and maybe having some gaps filled in by friends, fans or band members.
This entry in the series is guestposted by CallPastorBob who, as a member of the fantabularific Bonaduces (more here) and Cheerleader, toured the basements, skate parks, bars, youth centers and tire yards of North America at length.
I came across Sky Pilot for the first and only time on a tour stop in Edmonton, a city that had never been all that keen on my presence (at least in band form). We were playing a campus pizza and beer place with lots of "crazy crap on the walls" if memory serves me correctly. They were the opening act and, in a live context, were pretty good if a little long-winded in the guitar solo department. My custom at that time was to pick up the demo/single/disc of any band we played with that I dug as long as my (very meager) tour finances could bear it. Their's was a 7" and, since I had no record player, I knew it would be sometime before I got a chance to hear it.
When I did finally lay the needle in the groove, quite some time later, I was blown away with the perfect prairie power pop that came at me. "Badland" started out with one of those odd but oh-so-right voices, laid back but far from horizontal. This lead into a dirt devil of a guitar riff before giving way to some choice "la-la-la's" and an up-tempo chorus ending with the kind of lyric play I'm always a sucker for: "...all the land you can stand / in one sitting".
At the time the B-side, "Trouble", gave me some. It's sudden and severe tempo shifts struck a sour note with me. Going from pop punk ripper chorus to Alberta plains drifter verse seemed an annoying take on the over-played but still adored Nirvana loud/soft/loud trick. Hearing it again in this century, I realise I was truly the troubled one. It's sprinting chorus feels like the time you had to run for your life, laughing all the way, after finally giving that tormentor some deserved comeuppance. Each verse is you stopping for breath, looking up at the sky, and wondering if this is the best day or the last day of your life. Absolutely killer.
So here, in all it's glory, is Sky Pilot's one and only (as far as I can tell) moment of recorded magic. Enjoy it for what it is - a classic that never even got the chance to be lost.
Sky Pilot 7"