Posted on April 25th, 2019
[as seen on Noisey]
By now, it’s a well established fact that Pile fans are deeply devoted to the band. But, as excitable as they may be, no one loves the band as much as Rick Maguire, the band’s driving creative force. When Maguire released Demonstration in 2007, the solo offering bared the name Pile, a function of not wanting to put his name on the release, even if he was the only person featured on it. As the years went on, Maguire built a band around him, and with a constant slate of new material, and a never-ending tour schedule, it became clear that he had no off-switch.
On May 3, Pile will release their seventh full-length album, Green and Gray. Seven albums in 12 years is no easy feat, but considering that there’s rarely been a year without they haven’t released something, it’s only fitting that they’ve crafted their most ambitious work yet. But along with Green and Gray comes some fairly noteworthy changes for the band. Guitarist Matt Becker and bassist Matt Connery have left the band amicably, making room for the band’s touring guitarist Chappy Hull to become a full-time member and for Alex Molini of Stove to enter the fold. While these shifts have been gradual, the one that will shock most people is a spiritual one. When Green and Gray is released, Pile will no longer be able to classify itself as a Boston band. Though Pile has been an integral part of the city’s independent music scene, with Maguire, Hull, and Molini all living together in Nashville, in many ways, it feels like the start of a new era for the band.
All these changes aside, Green and Gray feels like a natural outgrowth of the sounds the band was exploring on 2017’s A Hairshirt of Purpose. But while there are more genteel abstractions throughout the record, it also features some of the band’s most disgustingly savage compositions in their history, as Maguire unleashes his pent-up political frustrations in a way that’s direct but not heavy-handed. Yet, at the same time, Green and Gray offers the most transparent view of Maguire himself. Songs like “Firewood” and “My Employer” see him no longer using narrators as vehicles for his own emotions, as he plumbs the depths of his experience and puts the discoveries on full display.
Speaking to Maguire on the phone, as he preps to release the band’s most openly introspective work to date, there was an expectation that, maybe, 12 years of constant work had finally wore him down a bit. But as Maguire shows, that couldn’t be further from the truth.