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Pagoda

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BAND HISTORY A throw back to early 90s rock--when music meant more than just a band's image--Pagoda has already built a rabid word-of-mouth fanbase in their six short years of existence. In that time, they've been featured in Spin Magazine as one of the hottest underground New York bands to watch, signed to Thurston Moore's label Ecstatic Peace, and had one of the most anticipated indie releases of 2007. Their eponymous debut album is currently in stores nationwide and available from every major internet music retailer. Though displaying strong potential from the start, frontman and Pagoda founder Michael Pitt hadn't taken one guitar lesson in his life. His friend Rodrigo of the band The Hermitt, was the one who "kinda got me off the street--he invited me to crash in this one-bedroom apartment in Chinatown with, like, seven other people. And he taught me how to play guitar," he says. One of the first songs he wrote was "Death to Birth" which has since become Pagoda's most recognized song. Their debut album was recorded at Cellar Door Studio in Milan, Italy with producer and engineer Luca Amendolara. Sessions for the album started in August of 2004 and concluded in February 2005, in which time the band had recorded more than forty possible tracks for the final tracklist. With an album ready to go, the band set out to find the proper record label to release it. They would find that label while Pitt was working on Gus Van Sant's film Last Days. Hired as a music consultant for the film, Thurston Moore, of the legendary Sonic Youth, was immediately convinced of Michael's musical ability. "All I had lying around the apartment was a crummy electric guitar," Moore said. "After some hesitation Michael took it and began to belt out a solo rendition of Lesson Learned, the first track off the Pagoda CD. I was taken aback. Not only by his rag-tag confidence in playing to an audience of two but by the song which was hook driven and emotionally genuine. It was at that moment that I said, “dude let’s do a record.”" Before the album's release, a five track demo CD would be regularly given out for free at the band's shows. These five tracks would eventually make the final cut for the album, with two also landing on the soundtrack for Last Days, and be sought after by fans on the internet. Through the band's Official MySpace page the songs would go on to receive more than 200,000 downloads and new fans around the world voiced their support and appreciation for the music. Pagoda continued to play new venues across the country in support of the album with Luca Amendolara filling in on bass after former bassist Jamie Kallend's departure and Ryan Donowho on drums. Audiences began to recognize the evolution of the band--coming a long way since their much talked about debut set at the Sidewalk Cafe in 2003--into something long lasting. It was clear to everyone that Pagoda wasn't just a novelty act for Pitt--it was the real deal. "This is where my head's at right now," Pitt told Blender Magazine. "Most likely it's going to stay in that direction for awhile." In press releases for Pagoda's Ecstatic Peace contract signing, Moore also added "I realized he was just some (New) Jersey kid who moved to New York to play in a band, and the whole acting thing was just something he fell into. Music was his real deal." The band's final line-up was assembled in 2006. Included were Reese Carr on drums, Willie Paredes on bass and Chris Hoffman on cello. Though Pagoda has gone through many line-up changes, Pitt is confident that these artists will stand the test of time. "These guys are Pagoda, they are for the music and are gonna fuck all your heads up." After many delays, Pagoda's debut album was released nationwide to critical acclaim on February 27th. "[In interviews] Pitt stresses that he’s not just another actor slumming in a band. He needn’t bother: Even if this is an act, it’s a perfectly good one," Blender remarked in their three-star review of the album. Spin commented on Lesson Learned by saying "[it is a] grungy-around-the-edges rumbler on which Pitt growls momentarily about self-medicating with aneurysm-inducing aplomb." All Music Guide also added that "The ballad Death to Birth is a highlight, as is Alone, which takes the band's brooding in a heavier direction." As for the future, Pitt noted that the ten songs featured on the debut are only scratching the surface of what the band hopes to accomplish on future releases. Citing music from the Middle East as new influences, the frontman hopes to expand on Pagoda's signature sound on their sophomore LP. With a prominent place on Ecstatic Peace's showcase at the SXSW Festival--a landmark gig for any new up-and-coming bands--and a full tour in the works, 2007 is the year to turn on to Pagoda. And the year that proves that the band is here to stay for a long time to come.

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