Andrew Hyra, one-half of the pop duo Billy Pilgrim, is getting accustomed to having fans and critics compare them to a variety of bands.
The Rembrandts, R.E.M., the dB’s. You know, the usual. It’s part of the game.
But the final straw came recently, Hyra said. “A writer from some magazine in Louisiana said when he first heard our new album (‘Bloom’ on Atlantic), it reminded him of Kenny Loggins, of all people, and I’m like ‘Kenny Loggins?!! What the heck are you talking about?!’ “
Once Hyra calmed down, he realized who he was dealing with: the media, some of whom have arranged interviews with the Atlanta-based duo and have mistakenly asked aloud, “Which one is Billy?”
Hyra and Kristian Bush first teamed in 1989 and adopted Billy Pilgrim, a time-traveler in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five,” as their name years later. Their self-titled debut album last year brimmed with acoustic guitars and folk-savvy harmonies. Rock writers dubbed them “the Indigo Boys.”
“It’s the obvious thing to jump to,” Hyra said, “especially on the first album. It didn’t helped that we had Emily (Saliers of the Indigo Girls) singing on it. We’re from the same area, and last year we traveled with the same format, with two guitars and two voices. But we sing and write totally different songs.
“I see much more heartland rock in what we do, even when we have acoustic guitars, than the Indigo Girls. They’re a whole different genre of music.”
“Bloom” aptly describes Billy Pilgrim’s growth over the past year from a folk-pop duo to a full-fledged band now featuring former members of the Vigilantes of Love and a drummer from Bloomington, Ind., who studied under Kenny Aronoff.
Billy Pilgrim also had a year’s worth of experiences on the road, much of it opening for Melissa Etheridge, to explore in its songs.
“We were pretty new to this,” Hyra said, “hence you get some road songs and you get love songs for the life that you’re leaving behind you. There’s some naivete and innocence to a lot of the subject matter.
“I also like a lot of the characters we write about. It’s fun to write this kind of album. We went in thinking, ‘Let’s write some pop songs, some fun songs to sing.’ “
BWF (before we forget): Hyra’s younger sister is actress Meg Ryan. … “Bloom” was produced by noted engineer Richard Dodd (Tom Petty, Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison). … Helping out on the album were guitarists Mike Campbell (Heartbreakers) and Sonny Landreth and E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent, among others.
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