Travis Shettel Discusses Piebald ahead of Boston Calling

In addition to headliners such as Chance the Rapper and Mumford and Sons, Boston Calling Music Festival, coming to the Harvard Athletic Facilities May 26-28, will also feature many bands native to New England. Among them is Piebald, an alternative rock band hailing originally from Andover, Massachusetts. Singer and guitarist Travis Shettel talks to The Crimson about how his band came back together, having previously also included Aaron Stuart, Andrew Bonner, and Luke Garro, and how it has kept him young.

The Harvard Crimson: How did you guys meet and start the band?

Travis Shettel: Aaron and I went to high school together, and we went to school with Andy, the bass player’s sister, and through her we met Andy. And Luke, in the original four—the drummer—also went to Andover High School, so we went to high school with him as well.

THC: How did you come up with the name?

TS: The name was in a book when we were in high school and when we were searching for a name, so I guess around 1994-ish. I can’t remember the class, I don’t remember what the book was anymore. But I remember seeing the word and not knowing what it meant. So Aaron and I looked it up, and it means spotted and of opposite colors which really doesn’t have any specific meaning to us. But we just liked the word and thought it sounded cool … So we just went for it!

THC: Piebald disbanded for a couple of years. What led to the break?

TS: Everyone’s life took priority. People wanted to go back to school, people were starting families. We weren’t as popular as we once were, and it was harder to go on tour. Less tours were being offered, and it was a natural time to call it. Obviously, we remained friends. Growing up, you know?

THC: Did being a part of a band keep you from having to grow up?


TS: Yeah, I’d say so. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. And I’m almost forty. I should already be grown up, and I’m not. I think there is something about being in a band and traveling around that means that you might not realize that you’re getting older. It’s different when you’re surrounded sometimes by someone that might have a nine-to-five desk job. And I think it’s interesting because I had a youth in my twenties that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It was a unique experience. Not everybody gets to travel around the United States and Europe and play the shows with their friends. It still is. We’re playing shows now. It’s nice that it’s being re-appreciated.

THC: What’s changed in the time off?

TP: I’d say that we are more proficient musicians. All of us have still been playing even though Piebald hasn’t together. I was in a few bands in Los Angeles, Aaron was in a few bands, Luke and his wife played together. Andy’s probably played the least of us, but I do think that there is at least a slight [addition] to our maturity now. We’ve had at least ten years of life and playing, and as adults you may see things that change you a little, you know?

THC: What’s the connection like between you guys?

TS: I hate all the guys in the band. they’re terrible people. I play guitar and sing and I try not to talk to them if it’s possible.

THC: You’re joking, right?

TS: Yes, absolutely. I didn’t quite have a good/real response.

THC: What’s been your favorite Piebald song?

TS: Just one. Just one?

THC: You can pick a couple.

TS: Well it’s really hard, because I think I would’ve had a clearer answer for this ten years ago, but now … they’re like chapters in a book, and I can’t change them. And that book is part of my life. I’m sure I have one, but they’re all like our little children. One of my favorites is “Karate Chops for Everyone But Us.” I really like that one, it’s fun. I like the lyrics a lot still. We often play it first, so you just immediately see what may be the energy of the show from the first 30 seconds, and that’s kind of a cool feeling.

THC: What are you most excited about for Boston Calling?

TS: That I get to see Converge and Chance the Rapper. I’ve never seen Tool, that’ll be cool. So I’m excited to see other bands. See some friends, see other bands. And to drink beer? I like drinking beer. And it’ll probably be free, too.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22.