Photo credit: Michael McLaughlin
“It’s easy to imagine this song as a hit on 90s radio, and listening to it now makes you long for a time when rock and folk groups that were actually decent could find mainstream success with simple songs that touched on universal themes and ideas.”
Glide Magazine
“Breathtakingly delicate and redemptive”
Rolling Stone
August 14, 2020 – Earlier this summer, 90s indie cult favorite Billy Pilgrim announced some exciting news. Though the duo, composed of Andrew Hyra and Kristian Bush (Sugarland, Dark Water), thought their final recordings had been lost in a studio fire two decades ago, Bush found a remaining copy at his home during quarantine.
Today, the band shares their latest single, “Tumblelane,” complete with a special lyric video and news that the full-length album, In The Time Machine, also featuring their previous single “Call It Even,” will be released on September 4. Following the release, the band plans to release a special edition vinyl via Bandcamp, on pre-sale today. After years of embarking on separate dreams, the two friends have reunited to finish what they’ve started, and over the next few months they have a few more tricks up their sleeves to be revealed.
“‘Tumblelane’ is a point, a coordinate where the choice is made clear,” explains Hyra. “A choice to live in love, hope, faith, gratitude, abundance and to choose this over fear. I don’t want to live in fear anymore. Fear of a virus, of other people’s opinions, of hatred, money, lack of where have I been? I don’t remember with any clarity if my experience was shrouded in fear. We all have this choice, though most of us don’t know it, right now we are at that inflection point where the choice is clear, Tumblelane Choose love over fear, this is the necessary evolutionary expansion we are all up against RIGHT NOW.”
Glide Magazine debuted the track earlier this week, noting that “the song definitely has a 90s sound with its embrace of alt-rock and harmonies. While the song starts in a more intimate, stripped down fashion, it blossoms into a soaring, emotionally powerful rocker complete with soulful organ, pop-infused acoustic strumming, and a catchy chorus.”
Bush offers his thoughts on the track, “When you get caught up in the wave you didn’t see coming and it spins you in the heat of fear, the loss of control shakes you awake. From that place you have a choice, stand up and breathe or hide in fear of the next invisible wind. In the standing up, as the muscles give and take to hold you steady you can ask in the humblest and mightiest of voices, as you see the horizon, ‘where have I been.’ This song is that to me, I can see Andrew lift off the ground as he sings, and it pulls me up with it. I never question pure emotion when I hear it. It is always true, and it is ringing clear as a bell in this recording. Somehow he uses words as colors and his voice paints with them. This is Billy Pilgrim when we turn on the jet engines and open up the throttle.”
Along with Bush and Hyra, the musicians featured on In The Time Machine are Brandon Bush (Sugarland, Train) on keyboards; David LaBruyere (John Mayer) on bass; Joey Craig on guitar; and Sigadore “Siggy” Birkis (John Mayer), Marcus Petruska (Corey Davis) and Travis McNabb (Better Than Ezra) on drums. Producer/engineer Don McCollister, who owned Nickel & Dime Studio, co-produced the album along with the Bush brothers and Hyra.
Billy Pilgrim’s music has been featured as the soundtrack to some of the 90’s most iconic television scenes, on dramas like Melrose Place, My So-Called Life, and many more. With today’s obsession of the fashion, television, and of course, the music from that moment in history, the uncovering of the lost Billy Pilgrim archive couldn’t have come at a better time.
Billy Pilgrim – originally named for a character in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five,” a shared favorite novel of the pair – was the first band for Bush, who would later become the soulful half of multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning country duo Sugarland, as well a producer, playwright and solo artist. He met Hyra in Bush’s hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., in 1990 at an open mic night hosted by Hyra and his sister, Annie. As Bush prepared to move to Atlanta to attend Emory University, he persuaded the siblings to also move to the city, where a bustling acoustic scene was unfolding.
Their first major-label effort – the critically acclaimed Billy Pilgrim – arrived in 1994 and spawned the college and Triple-A radio hits, “Get Me Out Of Here” and “Insomniac.” The follow-up, 1995’s “Bloom,” hit No. 37 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and offered fans the melodic-yet-muscular “Sweet Louisiana Sound.” Billy Pilgrim’s videos regularly rotated on VH1 and the band was tapped for numerous high-profile opening slots, including Melissa Etheridge, the Cowboy Junkies, Matthew Sweet and Hootie & The Blowfish.
Following their release from Atlantic Records in 1996, Billy Pilgrim began tinkering with what would eventually become “In the Time Machine.” Nearly five years later, the album received its only public outing at the Eddie’s Attic performance that ended with Bush and Hyra following diverging paths.
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