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Feeling the Connection 

Blind Pilot's Israel Nebeker talks songwriting and his conversation with the crowd

Feel all the feelings with Blind Pilot - BEN MOON
  • Ben Moon

  • Feel all the feelings with Blind Pilot
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lind Pilot's Israel Nebeker sings with a silky smooth voice that has a way of drawing you in. That, paired with a pop-meets-folk-rock style and soulful lyrics, makes for one of the most romantic bands to come out of Oregon—or even the country. When "Three Rounds and a Sound" plays, music lovers stop. And listen. And feel all the feelings.

Nebeker says singer-songwriters often get lumped into the folk genre, even though it may not be the most accurate description.

"It's funny, when I first moved to Portland and started playing music, I didn't think of it as folk-rock. Even after our second album, we were really established and it still doesn't really make sense to me," Nebeker says. "It's really different than the folk of a couple generations back or the folk revival of the '60s. To me, it's an amalgam of pop and the style of our country's history. I guess that's a long way of saying, I was drawn to certain instruments, but all of my songs are based with my voice and guitar. I like the sound of the banjo, we play with a vibraphone and a trumpet, which aren't too folky."

As a songwriter, Nebeker finds it essential to give himself space and time to write, not finding the setting that important.

"I get out in nature or I like to be in a space that feels old or ideal—the opposite from brand new construction and a sterile environment. I like to be able to go for a hike or go to the beach," Nebeker says.

As a writer, Nebeker doesn't do a lot of songwriting on tour, though he does write down ideas.


"There's not a lot of space to write," Nebeker says. "Even right now, I'm wandering around trying to find a space where no one else is. You travel on a bus with 11 people, it's hard to find that space."

I asked Nebeker a lot about his writing process because his lyrics have always spoken to me. While music evokes certain emotions, lyrics can say exactly how you feel. For the next Blind Pilot album, I was curious if he noticed a theme, since the band's last album centered on the loss of connection and community.

"No patterns yet," Nebeker says. "It's hard to predict what will make the cut and what won't."

While the lyrical content of the next Blind Pilot album may still be up in the air, Nebeker and his crew have no intention of slowing down. With more touring and more new music in the works, fans will be swaying along to their sweet stylings for years to come.

And for Nebeker, it's all a dream come true. "This is the dream of mine I've had since high school. To be able to play music as a job, meet new people, it still is my favorite thing in the whole world."

Blind Pilot

Thurs., Nov. 16. 8pm.

Tower Theatre

835 NW Wall St., Bend.

$31/adv., $34/door

Portland-based indie band Blind Pilot plays swoon-worthy romantic tunes.


About The Author

Anne Pick

Music Writer | The Source Weekly
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