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Pilot program

Super Time Pilot rise from Quiet Desperation
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  September 1, 2009

VIDEO: A special presentation from Super Time Pilot.

People with steady jobs that pay well tend to harbor misconceptions about the day-to-day existence of creative types trying to make it. As opposed to the rosy scenario often depicted on television, it's a lot like blindly, frantically grabbing for sporadic nuggets of validation floating in an avalanche of failure, with disappointment and humiliation gushing down from a sewer pipe directly onto your head. And you're not allowed to take a shower after.

But the shit monsoon can be resisted. Case in point: Robert Potylo and Nikki Dessingue, who as Super Time Pilot have rediscovered playfulness and sincerity. Their partnership is the core storyline of a rad Internet TV show they've produced called Quiet Desperation. The Allston-centric reality-based sit-com portrays starving-artist ennui with dangerous levels of accuracy and hilarity. It also chronicles the making of (the real) STP's debut, Did We Happen To Begin?, which will be unveiled this Saturday at T.T. the Bear's Place.

Comedian and former BCN DJ Potylo (whom you used to know as the lovable metal/meat-head Robby Roadsteamer) and Dessingue (also a member of the electro-rockers Where the Land Meets the Sea) met at a soiree at New Alliance in October, and they're veeery happy they did.

"It was so much fun to witness her being like, 'Oh, I'm sorry I'm goofy right now,' " guitarist and vocalist Potylo recalls while sitting on his front lawn in Allston. "I'm like, 'No, your spirit's amazing, man. You're inspiring me to tap into the spirit I had as a kid.' She got me to a point where I started believing anything was possible again in terms of what I could do with a song, that maybe I'm not just a comedian who's supposed to write dime-a-dozen dick-joke songs. The more I ran with her, the more I would get into her world and she would come into mine, and everything changed. I started writing songs with how she would sing them in mind, she would sing them exactly that way, and we'd just play it to ourselves."

"Some of us musicians who've been doing it for so long keep trying to figure out 'What's going to set us apart?' says Dessingue, who does vocals, keyboard, and glockenspiel. "We forget that just having fun can set you apart."

They converged at New Alliance once again in May to bang out Did We Happen To Begin?, 20 minimalist, sing-songy studio tracks in a mere two days. Correctly described by regular Quiet Desperation cast member Tom Dustin as a children's album for adults, the record offers folky rawness, naked (nearly twee) simplicity, and improvisational gusto. Dessingue thought up the superbly discouraged lyrics for "New Explosion" while demo-ing, and she didn't have to change a word for the final version. This all could've gotten horrifically adorable, but STP dodge that bullet by singing about drugs in pretty much every song, and some form of doom in every fourth one.

And even though Potylo and Dessingue provide the soundtrack for Quiet Desperation, it's no literal reality show. Okay, its version of Allston does resemble many neighborhoods populated with talented people of meager resources. And it does satirize all kind of urban-bohemian hipster scum. Still, it's designed to be a format to showcase our local talent. Let's hope it'll help make it easier for everyone not to move to New York or LA, where all the sweet TV and movie plums are.

"You get to see the reality of this one storyline," Dessingue explains, "which is us doing this band. Then you see these portraits of people struggling in different areas, and it's like we're all one and the same. We've all been through that shit. We've all gone to the late-night shitty hangouts and drunk way too much. We've all had the five-minute slot to fill up at some godforsaken underground club and been treated like shit. We're all a bunch of troupers here."

Adds Potylo, "And possibly, someday, we'll help some really talented comedians and musicians stay in the area, living with something that is creatively fulfilling, instead of having to whore themselves out to corporate-function rooms and shitty comedy clubs, doing material that's not even close to what they're trying to express from inside."

SUPER TIME PILOT + JAGGERY + WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS + MEHRAN | T.T. the Bear's Place, 10 Brookline St, Cambridge | September 5 at 9 pm | $10 | 617.492.BEAR or

Related: The scene is now, Not so elementary, Various artists | Open Strings: 1920s Middle Eastern Recordings, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Music, Super Time Pilot,  More more >
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 See all articles by: BARRY THOMPSON

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