Welcome to the Ask Pilot section of the site. Here you can get your Pilot-related questions answered. We will do what it takes to find the answers to even the hardest questions. Just send using the form at the bottom of the page. We do our best to answer selected questions on a regular basis. Many answers to questions will be posted here. Some questions may get a reply via email. Others may be deposited into a motion sickness bag and released into the atmosphere. Please use good judgment and don’t ask tons of questions or silly ones like what is David’s favourite color… It’ blue BTW.

Questions and Answers

Question submitted by Daryl Treger: On the Morin Heights album’s lyrics/dust jacket, there is a small notation tucked away that says “No Handclaps”. Now, I assume that is referring to the fact that there were no handclaps on any of the Morin Heights songs, as opposed to on the previous two albums (and two biggest hits Magic and January) ?? Was there some sort of fan feedback at the time saying that the handclaps on Pilot’s songs were detrimental to the music or perhaps “campy”?!? Also, I couldn’t help but notice that some handclaps were back in the fold on Two’s a Crowd, and even are present (though to a softer degree) on the re-made Get Up and Go on Blue Yonder! What changed from Morin Heights to Two’s a Crowd that led you to put the handclaps back in? Finally, was anything specifically discussed for the re-recording of Get Up and Go for Blue Yonder with respect to the handclaps? Thanks so much for your response!

Ian responds: The “No Handclaps” message was a declaration by Roy Thomas Baker, who produced Morin Heights. Roy is probably best known for his production work with Queen and you will probably notice that Morin Heights has a much thicker and heavier sound than the tracks produced by Alan Parsons. Roy is not against handclaps but probably thought they lightened the mood of songs a little. His idea of handclaps was obvious on “We Will Rock You”! What happened between Morin Heights and Two’s a Crowd is that we changed back to Alan Parsons as engineer and producer. When we came to record “Get Up & Go” for the Blue Yonder CD we liked everything about the original and didn’t change the arrangement very much. The handclaps on the original didn’t bother Alan at all!

Question from Daryl Treger: I’ve always wondered what the interrelationship between the song Maniac (Come Back) on Pilot’s Morin Heights album, and the song Maniac on Billy Lyall’s Solo Casting album are…. apart from the obvious verses being the same. Note that Maniac (Come Back) was listed as being co-authored by Paton/Lyall, whereas Maniac is just written by Lyall. Since Billy’s chorus was totally different, can I assume that the Maniac (Come Back) chorus was written by David, and when it was replaced by a new Lyall-written chorus for Solo Casting, that that’s why the writing credits changed? I was also wondering why the same basic song appeared on both of these albums? Was permission needed to be granted for either version to appear? I also find it curious that even though all of Pilot played on various songs on Solo Casting, no one from Pilot plays on Maniac. Did Billy want this so that his version of Maniac would be “all his own?”

David responds: “Before we left for Canada to record Morin Heights and before Billy left the band to pursue a solo career, we had recorded a number of demos at Craighall studios as potential songs for the third album. Maniac was one of these songs that Billy had written. In Canada, Maniac was one of about 6 songs we had demoed that were considered for the album. When we recorded it, the chorus just didn’t work for our version, so I wrote another chorus. So the version that appears on Billy’s solo album is the original. Getting permission to use Maniac on Morin Heights wasn’t a problem. Billy left the band on good terms and we remained good friends. Pilot and Billy continued to have the same managers. It is just coincidental that we played on other tracks on Solo Casting but not on Maniac.” 

Question from Keith Norman: What is the significance of The LIbrary Door? The LIbrary Door could be considered to be the birthplace of Pilot.

David explains:

“I first met Billy Lyall when I was a part of another Edinburgh band. At the time Billy joined this band, I really enjoyed classical guitar. Billy offered to help me brush up my sight reading. We started to go to the George IV Bridge Library in Edinburgh for sheet music. It was usually pieces for guitar and flute that we would play together. When I quit the band, I lost touch with Billy. However, I continued to go to the library for more pieces of music, usually pieces by Bach that had been arranged for guitar by Andres Segovia. It was on one of these occasions that I bumped into Billy at the library door. Billy seemed a little embarrassed to see me at the library, but we got talking and he told me he had left the band and was now engineering at Craighall Studios. He invited me down to play guitar on the songs he was writing and offered to play keyboards on anything I wanted to record. This was a real opportunity and I didn’t realize what was going to come of it at that time. We had no great ambition at that time and just enjoyed recording. I managed to get down to the studio 2 or 3 times a week and I always wanted to write something new for the next session. Billy really inspired me with his songs. To me they were so different and original, it was like a friendly competition to see who could come up with a really good tune.”

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