Pylon performing at AthFest 2005 in Athens, Georgia, USA, June 24, 2005.
|Origin||Athens, Georgia, United States|
|Genres||New wave, post-punk, jangle pop, alternative rock|
|Years active||1978–1983, 1989–1991, 2004-current|
|Labels||DB Records, DFA Records|
Sound Houses previously known as The New Sound of Numbers
Vanessa Briscoe Hay
|Past members||Randall Bewley|
Pylon is an American rock band from Athens, Georgia. The band's danceable jangle pop sound influenced the Athens music scene and the 1980s American pop underground. Allmusic wrote that Pylon's "role as elder statesmen of the alternative rock explosion is unassailable".
All four members of Pylon were art students at the University of Georgia in Athens. Guitarist Randall Bewley and bass guitarist Michael Lachowski began playing music and attempting to form a band in 1978. They practiced in a studio in downtown Athens which Lachowski rented from Curtis Crowe, upstairs from the current location of the Grill on College Avenue. The room was lit by a single 40-watt light bulb, so the band referred to it as the "40 Watt Club." Crowe soon joined the band as a drummer. On February 14, 1979, the three held auditions for a singer. Vanessa Briscoe (now Vanessa Briscoe Hay) was chosen. The group was named for a novel by William Faulkner
Pylon played their first live show at a party on March 9, 1979. Members of The B-52's attended Pylon's third show. Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson of the B-52's were particularly supportive and helped promote Pylon's music in New York City, getting them a gig at Hurrah. Soon Pylon opened for Gang of Four in New York. Pylon's debut single, "Cool," appeared on DB Records in early 1980, and received many positive critical reviews. From 1980 to 1983 Pylon toured parts of the U.S., Canada, and the UK, playing with groups such as the B-52's, Gang of Four, Mission of Burma, Love Tractor, R.E.M., the Talking Heads, and U2. Pylon was the opening act for the first part of U2's first U.S. tour. Crazy/M-Train charted at No. 61 for Club play singles in 1982 according to Billboard Magazine entry in All Music Guide. At that time the members of Pylon were beginning to feel that playing together was becoming less fun and more like a business. They decided to break up the band in 1983.
With some help from the members of R.E.M., Pylon's reputation as one of the great underground bands of the New Wave era was solidified in 1987. When Rolling Stone named R.E.M. "America's Best Band" in November 1987, R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry said, "We're not the best rock 'n' roll band in America." Pylon, he said, was the best. In the same year, R.E.M. released their compilation album Dead Letter Office (1987):the album opens with a version of Pylon's "Crazy", which had been the b-side to their single "Driver 8". Confirming this judgment, numerous musicians from the Athens rock scene publicly attest to their deep reverence for Pylon in the film Athens, GA: Inside Out.
After a six-year hiatus punctuated with a smattering of reunion shows, Pylon officially reformed in 1989, and opened for the final leg of R.E.M.'s "Green" tour, The group recorded with Sky Records, and released a new album Chain, and a single, "Sugarpop". They played several more shows including the South by Southwest Festival in 1990 and 1991, but when guitarist Bewley decided to leave in 1991, the band broke up again.
Pylon came out of retirement again in 2004, and played their first set in more than a decade in August 2004 at the then-fledgling Little King's Shuffle Club. The band officially reunited for the second time when they played the New Year's Eve (2005) show at the 40 Watt Club; they later headlined the first night of the Athens music festival, AthFest (June 2005). In 2006, they recorded a so far untelevised segment for "Pancake Mountain".
On April 4, 2007, they performed an impromptu show at Little King's to announce the reissue of "Gyrate" on DFA Records, called "Gyrate Plus", which was released on October 16, 2007. They performed several key shows in 2008 including the Part Time Punks Festival in Los Angeles, a show taped for Georgia Public Radio in Athens, Georgia, and at the Revolve Film Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with Mitch Easter.
DFA Records re-released Gyrate and Chomp with extra tracks as Gyrate Plus (2007) and Chomp More (2009).
- Randall Bewley (guitar)
- Michael Lachowski (bass guitar)
- Curtis Crowe (drums)
- Vanessa Briscoe Hay (vocals)
- "Cool"/"Dub", 7" single, Caution Records, 1979
- Gyrate, album, Armageddon Records, 1980
- Pylon !!, EP, DB Records/Armageddon, 1980
- "Crazy/M-Train", 7" single, DB Records, 1981
- "Beep/Altitude" 7" single, DB Records, 1982
- "Four Minutes"/"Beep"/"Altitude", EP, DB Records, 1982
- Chomp, album, DB Records, 1983
- Hits, Compilation album, DB Records, 1988
- Chain, Sky Records, 1990
- Gyrate Plus, album, DFA Records 2007
- Chomp More, album, DFA Records, 2009
- "Crazy", b-side single of "Driver 8" by R.E.M., IRS Records, September 1985
- "Cover + Remix", 7" single by Deerhunter with a remix of "Yo-Yo" by Calvinist), DFA Records, October 2011
- Athens, GA: Inside Out (1987), archive footage
- Pareles, Jon (20 May 1989). "New Pylon Exhibits Its Old Drive". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
- Allmusic Pylon bio
- Strong, Martin Charles (2003). The Great Indie Discography. Edinburgh UK: Canongate. ISBN 1-84195-335-0. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
- Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. London: Penguin Books. p. 264. ISBN 0-14-303672-6. Retrieved 2011-01-10.
- Maslin, Janet (29 May 1987). "'Athens, GA.,' On Rock Bands". New YorkTimes. Retrieved 2011-01-09.
- Julie Phillips (26 February 2009). "Guitarist for famed Athens band Pylon dies". Online Athens.com (cred. Athens Banner-Herald). Retrieved 2011-01-10.
- Lesemann, T. Ballard (27 February 2009). "R.I.P. Pylon guitarist Randy Bewley". Charleston City Paper (Charleston SC). Retrieved 2011-01-10.