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Live Music Week happens bi-annually at WERS to raise money to keep our station running. We ask if you can pledge your support in order to keep us live on air, bringing you live performances from your favorite musicians. Pledges can be made here.
Dave Munro walks into the recording studio at WERS, starts tuning his guitar, and Alison Shipton tunes her violin. A couple of minutes later, Steve Scott (lead guitar and keys), big brother Richie Munro (drums), and Casey Sullivan (bass, banjo, and backing vocals) join in and start setting up. Air Traffic Controller, a Boston band that takes its name from frontman Dave’s previous job (as an air traffic controller for the US Navy), is playing Live for Live Music Week.
The band had a couple of guests for the recording — it was a special anniversary for a couple from Brighton, and they wanted to celebrate with their favorite band. While the mandolin, guitars, and violin were being tuned, the band chatted with their guests about their favorite spots in Boston, and then they rehearsed one of their new songs, that would be played for the first time at WERS.
The band kicks off the recording with “Ready or Not,” a song about that time when we’re alone but think back to the moment when we decided to take the leap with someone whether ready or not. Dave is passionate about the lyrics he writes and you could hear that through the microphone. The violin throughout the song reminded me of sounds I’ve heard with Noah and the Whale.
After their first song, Steve changed instruments and took the bass to start “You Know Me”, from their latest album, Nordo, which takes its name from a technical term that air traffic controllers use to refer to aircrafts that lose connection to radar systems. “Nordo is about being alone, lost, but also about the expectation and feeling of hope when aircrafts return or are found again,” said Dave, who’s explained the technical meaning but also the inspiration behind their album.
“[Nordo] actually stands for no radio, an airplane radio is what they’re referring to. So it means that he’s basically lost because he can’t talk to air traffic controllers and find out where to go… so I always thought it was sort of mysterious and sort of exciting, borderline emergency,” said Dave.
Air Traffic Controller is about orchestral folk/rock electro-pop – they fit somewhere in between the Lumineers and Passion Pit. Their latest album, Nordo, shows that eclectic mix. “A lot of why the album sounds the way it does is because (the producer) had a sort of an electronic influence on it, while the whole time I was sort of fighting to get the album to sound like it was recorded in a house –which it was– so I feel like that marriage sort of got us that sound,” he added.
When thinking about what public radio has done for Air Traffic Controller, Dave’s not sure where to start, but says its about the connection with people who love music. “(Public radio) gave us our start, it connected us with people who actually listen to music not just sort of catch it passing by, I think the audience who listens to public radio really cares about music and artists, and is always looking for what’s new and is always excited to reflect on what is great and old, which is what stations like this feed them, and we love to be fed to them,” he said.
The band is heading to The UK for the first time in November. Their producer has just finished booking tickets, and the band finally gets a chance to go and catch that European market. “We’ll be playing in London and surrounding areas – its our first time in Europe and we’re really excited”, Dave added. They closed with “Pick Me Up,” a new release from Nordo, and a catchy tune to listen to in the country/folk kind of way. It’s a song where the piano, the harmonica and the violin remind you of those long road trips towards home — and, unfortunately, the end of their time in studio.