Singer-songwriter Israel Nebeker will perform with his band Blind Pilot on "Last Call with Carson Daly."
The nationally televised show will air on NBC at 1:35 a.m. Thursday, following "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."
The group has roots in Portland and Astoria. Last fall, their song, "Go On, Say It," was chosen as the iTunes "Single of the Week," an honor that bumped the band into the national spotlight. The band's debut album, "3 Rounds and a Sound," was hailed by National Public Radio as one of "The Top 11 Debut Albums of 2008." Writer David Plechl talked to Nebeker about the show.
How did you get hooked up with the Carson Daly show?
"He heard a track on a mixed CD. We didn't send it to him. He heard it, and they contacted us and we said, 'Of course we'll come on your show.' It's a pretty great thing. We've just been practicing all day every day. We really don't want to mess up on national television."
Who is in the band with you?
"When we play in Portland, we play with nine people. When we went on a bike tour, there were four of us. There will be six of us on the Carson Daly show. It's always been myself and Ryan Dobrowski on drums. The band started as the two of us. Other more permanent members are Luke Ydstie and Kati Claborn. Luke is also from Astoria. The four of us went on the bike tour."
How did people react to the band showing up on bikes?
"It was great. We figured that the environmental factor spoke for itself. People that wanted to hear that message would hear it without us having to necessarily tell them. There was that, and then people were also just inspired by the adventure aspect of it.
"Plus, being on bikes, we had no choice other than to hit all the small towns between the big cities. These are places that don't normally get a lot of bands, so they were happy to see us."
Did you grow up in Astoria?
"I grew up in Gearhart. My dad, Royal Nebeker, teaches at Clatsop Community College and was head of the art department. I spent a lot of time in Astoria tagging along when my dad went to work."
How long has the band been around?
"Ryan and I were both playing with bands in Portland in the fall of 2006. We decided to kind of move out of the Portland scene for the summer, write a bunch of songs, and make paintings and do this project out in Astoria. Our attitude was, let's go make music in Astoria and go on a bike tour that probably won't even work. We prepared for the bike tour out here, and also came up with the name for the band."
Why do you think you guys are getting recognition now?
"I don't know. I don't question it. All this stuff came really unexpectedly. We had the iTunes Single of the Week and people responded really positively to it, even by iTunes standards. It was all dumb luck, really, how it came together. There was the Starbucks pick of the week and we ended up on a mix CD in the store. We were also chosen as one of NPR's top albums of the year. That was the biggest thing for me, because I respect NPR, and love it so much."
How would you describe the music you've made with Blind Pilot?
"Simple. Very folk-influenced. We're just trying to make honest music in a modern music world. The structures of the songs are basic. The songs are pretty simple. Then we just have fun making music and arrangements over the top. We also want to make music that's upbeat and gets people moving or inspired. So there's that too."
Anything else we should know?
"I met Luke out in Astoria a few years ago. We would always run into each other but never played music together. One day, I ran into him at a bus stop in Portland. He had his bass slung over his shoulder. We were looking for a bass player and we couldn't find someone that would fit. I knew him as primarily a singer and guitar player. I didn't know he played bass. It was a really key thing when he joined the band. It just synced everything together."