Emily Recommends “King of the Road” by Piebald

Today, in a massive self-own, I downloaded my archived online diary, est. 2003. It was of course a huge, embarrassing mistake, but I did notice an entry from thirteen years ago: “Fucking Piebald fucking broke fucking up!” Some of the teenage melodrama I was writing about then — even though I can still easily conjure up that raw feeling, that daily heartbreak — was silly and unwarranted. But your favorite band breaking up? Man, it’s like a death.

Piebald grew out of the Massachusetts hardcore/emo scene in the ’90s, but to categorize them now seems impossible and maybe irrelevant. They’re less aligned with a sound and more with a feeling, their live show like a nostalgic party. To see them live is to witness joy, both within yourself, as well as what’s radiating from the band, from dudes playing for the love of playing. Piebald should’ve been bigger, but they’ve retained this heart, this thing that when you’re a fan, makes them feel like they’re yours, makes you feel included, like you’re part of it. They’re the band I’ve seen live the most, the band that defined my high school and college years, and the band that means the most to me.

Choosing a song here was difficult; do I go with something seminal like “Grace Kelly with Wings” or “American Hearts,” or do I pick one of my favorites like “Giddy Like a Schoolgirl” or “Holden Caulfield”? Ultimately, “King of the Road” has everything that makes a great Piebald song (but check out those others, too). It’s got witty lyrics, it rocks incredibly hard, and it gets a big response live. It’s about an ending, too: the death of their tour bus. In the last quarter or so of the song, Travis Shettel sings, “Now, it’s all the same.” And in ’07, when I read on Myspace that they’d ended things, I felt that. I felt like I had to grow up, get a boring job, change in some way. If a band that had warned of the dangers of getting a 9–5 and losing your soul in the process was quitting making meaningful art, what chance did I have of avoiding the drudgery of boring adulthood?

Turns out that you can always turn back to what you love, to the creative outlets that define you. Piebald did — they’re releasing new stuff, touring, back at it again. And I can, too, just by listening.

(Song recommendation by Emily Costa)