Air Traffic Controller Live In Studio

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With their confident indie-pop sound, Dave Munro and Air Traffic Controller are a breath of fresh air in an often overly self-conscious contemporary music scene. There is no pretension with Air Traffic Controller, only genuine songs performed by honest, relatable people.

Named after the position that Dave held in the military years ago, Air Traffic Controller is one of Boston’s leading breakout groups. With positive reviews from the Boston Phoenix, Boston Globe, and an MTV “Best Breakout Artist” nomination in 2009, this band seems to be on their way to something good. Nordo, the band’s recent full length release, is certainly a large stepping stone in Air Traffic Controller’s growth and progression towards whatever success awaits them.

Produced by Berklee College alum, Bleu, and complete with fully-arranged orchestral strings, Nordo has met many of the band’s expectations with its release. Dave said that he “hoped to make a splash locally…and at the very least for the album to be embraced by the fans.” Now that the band has played at WERS and other regional radio stations, they are going to kick off a college radio campaign and “hopefully get a similar thing going nationally.”

Dave and Steve are both pretty excited about doing a real tour that is “several states in a row… and with the wonderful producer Bleu who produced our record, so it’s going to be a great chance to have a reunion.” Because so many different people contributed to the studio recordings of Nordo, the band will be doing two types of show on this next tour. “Some of the shows we’re doing intimate string shows, that will be acoustic… and then for some of the shows we’re doing a full rock band with everyone from the album. There will be a sort of reunion there, so we can get the whole band together.”

The first song that the band played today was “The Work,” a comforting song led by a swirling organ pulse that floats over similarly light vocals. Because there were only two bandmates in the studio today, the band took this song “down a notch,” while it is “more fun on the album.” “Can’t Let Go” tells a sobering story about somebody in a car chase with lyrics like “we can’t keep driving like this / because one of us is gonna end up dead in a ditch.” And the last song played in-studio today was “Don’t Blame,” a meticulously structured ballad that still has enough energy to engage its audience.

When asked what is the most rewarding thing about being in a band, Dave said “We’re trying to connect with the audience, and that’s really the most important thing… if we could have a whole bunch of loyal listeners loving the songs, that would be enough for me.” Steve also contributed by saying “we try really hard at the music and we want this music to be really good… planning the songs, making the arrangements, finding people to play, and when it’s done it’s so helpful and meaningful to us to know that people have a favorite song.”

Dave and Steve may have decided to perform their songs a bit differently than they sound on the record, but those special, exclusive recordings were great to hear and really show the range of capabilities that Air Traffic Controller has. It’s no surprise that this band is getting so much positive critical reception, and they are definitely a band to keep an eye and an ear on in the future.

By Chris Paredes
Photo by Jeeyoon Kim

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