I pulled into a driveway and I saw four punks sitting on a dimly lit porch.
“Do you smoke?” someone asked me as I sat down on a plastic patio chair. I turned down the smoke and took in the scene.
It was 80 degrees out, but Madison Tate Logan, second-year broadcast journalism student and Pillow Talk’s drummer, was still wearing a black beanie and skinny jeans to match.
The four punks sitting and dishing out playful jabs to each other on the porch make up Pillow Talk, which is just as much of a quirky, hodgepodge of a family as it is a band.
After all, they’ve been through a lot together.
FUNK AS PUCK
It started in August 2014 when Logan was a WUSC-FM trainee and walked in on Jordan Basl’s radio show. His pop punk live radio set is what caught her attention, and in that moment decided she needed to be his co-host.
So, Basl and Logan joined forces for a freeform radio show called “The Dope Salad,” which later led to a pop punk specialty show called “Funk as Puck.” Basl discovered that Logan had a knack for playing drums and a band was born.
“By the way: founder, front-woman, fearless leader,” bass player Andrew Svenson said, pointing to Logan, who laughed and went back to lighting her pipe tobacco.
Logan would text Basl lyrics and he’d send back music to match. Over the course of six months, they had most of an album written before they had even decided on a band name.
Meterognomes, Hockey Moms and Knitting Circles were a few that were thrown around, but Pillow Talk was the one that felt right.
Pillow Talk had a community of support from the get go; 40 people came to their first show, better than Nirvana’s first performance, Logan likes to point out.
When Logan started hanging out with her Zumiez co-worker, Adam Jones, Pillow Talk’s current vocalist and guitar player, the band became a three-piece. Jones hit the ground running — he started playing with the band at the beginning of February and had to learn eight full-length songs for a show in March.
And that March show was where they found their bass player, Svenson.
“That was complete serendipity, by the way, because if that day hadn’t worked out like this, I wouldn’t be part of this band right now,” Svenson said. “Six hours before their show, I got shot down for a date.”
That night, Basl announced on stage that they were desperately searching for a bassist.
Svenson decided joining a pop punk band might be the cure for a mopey night, and the band welcomed him with open arms.
They decided to be a band of four. Basl and Logan talked it over after the Saturday night show and decided on Sunday that Svenson should join the band. But the next day changed things.
“Then Monday night, we lost Jordan.”
CHEERS: FOR JORDAN
On the night of Monday, March 31, Basl died by suicide.
“You have this initial shock of losing your best friend, and then it’s like, ‘I’ve been playing music with this kid for six months,’” Logan said. “We have an entire album written. We have an entire band put together.”
So, what now? Should they keep going? Were they going to let go of all the work they had done? Or would they do what they set out to do: put out an album?
They decided to do it. They’d put out the album, but it wasn’t that easy.
It would take $2,000 to record it right, so they started a fundraiser on GoFundMe.
They raised the money in three days.
“All Jordan wanted was to be on stage and to play these songs and have people listen to his music, and we had already decided that we were going to record an album — that was our goal,’” Logan said.
They changed the album’s title to “Cheers: For Jordan” — that’s what Basl would say instead of “goodbye.”
Logan and Jones both pulled up their jeans to show off matching ankle tattoos, reading “cheers.”
During the recording process, Logan had a specific vision — Basl’s vision. The ultimate goal was to finish what Basl started and make the album he would have wanted.
“There was never a moment where we were like, ‘We should stop this,’ because it was a good healing process for all of us,” Logan said. “I remember when we told his mother that we were going to [record the album] — that was kind of like the moment where I knew it was something that we had to do.”
After “Cheers: For Jordan” was released in July, the band started looking to the future. Since then, they’ve added another member — Justin Mosteller, Pillow Talk’s lead guitarist.
“We’re transitioning from being Jordan’s memoir to focusing on us as a band, as a foursome,” Logan said, “without Jordan.”
‘THIS’ PILLOW TALK
Pillow Talk found their niche in Columbia, with its wide audience for pop punk, and the fact that South Carolina is knee-deep in the nationwide revival of the genre. And it’s all thanks to the community that Jones calls, “the angsty teenagers.”
Logan agreed, adding that while the genre used to have a specific sound, it’s growing and changing every day and appealing to larger audiences — pop punk doesn’t just mean Blink-182 anymore.
Pop punk’s definition is broadening, and more young bands are falling into the genre’s spectrum. They’re getting on bills together and creating the foot-tapping music that’s getting attention, whether that’s from the show-goers or the people sitting at the bar.
“We kind of make you listen to us,” Logan said.
There’s no denying that men dominate Columbia’s scene, but Logan doesn’t know who to blame: the scene or the women in it.
“Anyone can be good at an instrument — it doesn’t matter who or what you are,” she said. “Get out there and sweat on the stage.”
There’s no doubt that Logan leads the group, but each member brings something particular to the table. With inspirations ranging from the Misfits to Lady Gaga to Miles Davis, each adds an element to their sound.
What they’re working on now isn’t the Front Bottoms-esque sound they embodied before — this next album is inspired more by newer groups, like Sorority Noise.
“We have the bones of an EP that’s going to sound like ‘this’ Pillow Talk,” Logan said.
“You might hate our album,” Mosteller said, “but you’ll remember it.”
Even though Pillow Talk is in the midst of big changes, they’ll always stay true to their roots.
Grief can set down roots, but it doesn’t have to stunt growth. Pillow Talk plays with all the enthusiasm Jordan Basl would, and they move forward.