Idiot Pilot's eclectic debut album, 2005's Strange We Should Meet Here, was a concept piece about someone who doesn't exist and lived a life that never happened.
But for the band's sophomore LP, Wolves, singer Michael Harris — one-half of the Bellingham, Washington, duo — turned his attentions inward.
"This record is a lot more introspective," he explained, calling the music he's been writing with his cohort Daniel Anderson — Idiot Pilot's chief music machinist — "dark pop." "It's a lot more personal, and a lot of the songs are about me and my experiences in life. It's sort of a therapy session, but not in an overbearing, cheesy way. It's much more personal, and the music is darker. But it's also more uplifting. It's the oddest thing. The overall mood is much darker, much more heart-wrenching and personal. But at the same time, I think it will be a source of relief for people to hear what we have to say."
Idiot Pilot have been working with producer Ross Robinson (Korn, Norma Jean) at his Venice Beach, California, home. They'll be recording 15 tracks total, but they don't think all of them will make the final track list. Wolves should be in stores before springtime and include the cuts "Red Museum," "Elephant" and "Scene From the Pit."
The LP's being co-produced by former Blink-182/ current Plus-44 bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus, who first learned of the band after a pal caught the Pilot live.
"A friend of mine in the U.K. saw them at a show in London and e-mailed me and said, 'You've got to check out this band,' " Hoppus said. "So I went to their MySpace page, checked them out, and they were so inventive, so different, that I immediately wanted to work with them.
"They're really creative guys," he added, "and they're trying to figure out what they are and what they want to do with their music. It feels like they're doing that on this record, and so it's cool to be part of that process. They have all these ideas and all of this enthusiasm. Plus, they have the knowledge and control to bring it all together."
Because Idiot Pilot are a two-dude operation, Hoppus suggested that his pal Travis Barker come in and contribute to the effort, rather than relying on computers to create the drum tracks for the disc. Barker tracked drums for five songs, and "with their musical sensibility, mixed with what Ross brings as far as making it aggressive and cutting and heavy, with my pop sensibilities, with their lyrics and melodies, mixed with what Travis does on drums, has just a really cool effect on everything," Hoppus said.
In addition, the Dillinger Escape Plan's Chris Pennie appears on the album, augmenting several of Wolves' tracks with his drumming prowess. Anderson said the one-two punches of Hoppus and Robinson and Barker and Pennie are bringing something new to Idiot Pilot's established sound.
"With Travis and Chris, they're just at two different ends of the musical spectrum, and it just seems perfect with the music we're doing," he said. "And Mark and Ross bring two totally different vibes that are equally as important to the music, and we've kind of put them together into this really cool thing."
And with Wolves, Anderson said fans can expect to hear a more seasoned, more progressive Idiot Pilot — one that experiments with various soundscapes but in a more mature manner.
"Our sound hasn't changed, and it won't alienate any fans at all, but it's definitely different," he said. "It's kind of drawing on a sort of shoegazer/ My Bloody Valentine kind of thing, and maybe even going as far as to say that it's a post-rock album — bands like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky, taking that influence in our music and really bringing it to the forefront on this one. It's heavy, but not in an aggressive way. It's just heavy in a really beautiful, kind of cinematic and epic way. ... We set out originally to make a really dark album that has just as many, if not more, hooks than any pop album you could put out."