Last winter, just a few months removed from the release of the locally-lauded Planet Skin, Piles returned to the studio with aspirations of knocking out a new batch of songs for another album over the course of one weekend. Along the way, the band encountered scheduling conflicts and a building realization something was off. Instead of plowing through the session and making adjustments on the fly, Piles ultimately opted to scrap everything and start from scratch.
Undeterred by the wasted time, squandered money, and fruitless first attempt, the band workshopped some songs in practice and at shows and said goodbye to others for good, then booked time with Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings last May.
“I think re-recording it was definitely a smart idea because we had a chance to work out the little bugs and make changes. We ended up making a lot of changes,” drummer Drew Gricar says. “The fact that we played some of these songs out live before we recorded them with Shane was helpful. We had a response of feedback to it.”
With the first time in the studio—which was justified by the band as an opportunity to demo new material—behind them, the second time in the booth proved to be a charm for Piles. The trio blew threw an album’s worth of songs in a weekend, with singer-guitarist Jesse Harmon spending a some additional time laying down vocals.
“We got all the tracks done in two days. We ran through the songs pretty quickly,” bassist Nolan Truttschel says. “I mean, we had them done once already.”
The end product, Expeller, is a hazy and haunting eight-song continuation of what Piles put forth on its promising self-titled EP and mastered with Planet Skin. Dissonant guitars cut through a dark and dreary rhythmic storm of drums and a slurry of distorted bass. Harmon’s sparse and deliberate vocals remain a secondary component to Piles’ unmistakable post-punk atmospherics.
“Our sound hasn’t really changed that much. It’s a pretty consistent sound because that’s what’s comfortable with us,” Harmon says.
While Piles was able to rapidly wrap up its second stab at Expeller, the record’s release was delayed even longer when Gricar broke his foot last summer. Instead of letting circumstances get them down, Piles took the setback in stride. Gricar even calls it “a blessing in disguise” because it forced the busy band to slow its show schedule to a halt and spend some time with this new songs.
“They don’t feel old yet,” Truttschel says. “I’m ready to play them out. It’ll be fun.”
Piles will release Expeller Tuesday, March 14 on Gloss Records. The band will headline a March 17 release show at Riverwest Public House. You can watch the Nicolaus Ortiz-directed video for “Lacerate” below.