By ANNA PAIGE
For The Outpost
Hana Pestle, the Billings singer-songwriter who relocated to Los Angeles to launch her music career, had much to celebrate on her 20th birthday in June.
Pestle, who has been relentlessly touring the country to drum up support for the release of her debut album in September, has a blossoming career that has set the indie rock darling onstage opening for Blues Traveler, Live and Collective Soul, among others.
In addition to a successful live career, Pestle’s newest single “Need” has more than 3 million plays on MySpace and is in the running to be included on the soundtrack for the next Twilight movie, “New Moon.”
Pestle has aligned herself with a dynamic team, including Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody, who co-produced Pestle’s album with Michael Herring (Prince, Christina Aguilera). The album has been under wraps since its recording in 2007, but Pestle released a self-titled EP in early 2008, which featured three songs from the album and a cover of “Hallelujah.” The full-length album, titled “This Way,” will be released Sept. 22 on Moody’s label, FNR Records.
Pestle has scheduled three concerts in Montana while she’s in the area visiting family, including a solo acoustic performance on Friday at the Venture Theatre, and spoke with music journalist Anna Paige about her visit to Montana:
Paige: How are you enjoying your time back in Montana?
Pestle: I just love Montana and I always love coming back. I’ve been all over and seen pretty much all the states, and I appreciated Montana when I was here, but the more I’m away, the more I realize what a special place it is and how beautiful it is. I love being back and I love being with my family.
Paige: Tell me how you are feeling about playing a show back home after being on the road, performing in so many different venues in front of so many different crowds?
Pestle: It’s almost like a big family/friend reunion when I play shows here. It’s a big party and I always look forward to it. I’ve never played a show at the Venture like this. I was in musicals, a play here and there or voice recital, but I never played a show, so I’m really excited.
I’m just changing it up a little bit this time. I terms of seated venues, they’re a lot of times quieter, and it think it’s going to be interesting. I’m excited to see how it turns out.
Paige: I saw the video for “Need” online; it’s a lovely, brooding song. Did the song make it to the Twilight soundtrack for the second movie, “New Moon”?
Pestle: I haven’t heard anything and don’t know if it’s too late. I’m still crossing my fingers. I wrote the song when I was about 14, so it’s a song that has grown up with me. The chorus has stayed the same, but the verses have changed a few times. It is one of the songs that is closest to me; I poured so much into that song.
I wrote the song when I was young about an impossible love, and a lot of the girls who are fans of “Twilight” are teenagers. That is what gets them about “Twilight,” the melodramatic “can’t have him” stuff. Those girls are really attached to the song, which is a really cool thing.
Paige: Did the success of the song translate into new fans at your concerts?
Pestle: I went on the road in February and saw a lot of new faces. People would bring their “New Moon” books for me to sign. I just thought, “This is surreal.” I gained a lot of fans and they really love that song, so even if it doesn’t get in the movie, I think it was definitely worth it.
Paige: You released a live EP in June. How has that been received?
Pestle: For a year, I was selling the same four-song EP, and, you know, it’s the same four songs. We had set on my album coming out later this year and needed some more music. I went into the studio, and, all one take — just me and my guitar — I played straight through the songs. The response has been really good and it was fun to have something that quick and bare bones, and I was glad that we did it.
Paige: It seems the EP sticks to what you’re know for on stage: a stripped down acoustic style. Plus, you included that wonderful cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” But you’re still working with Ben Moody on his label to release a full-length album?
Pestle: The full-length, titled “This Way,” will be released Sept. 22 and available on my merch store, hanamerch.com, and at shows I will be playing. We plan to do a wider release in February but wanted to start with a slow release for my fans.
I’ve been waiting for so long to get this album out there, and it has songs people have heard and a couple people have never heard before, all with orchestra, big guitars, drums. I’m really proud of the album, and I can’t wait for it to get out. I’m ecstatic that it’s getting close.
Paige: I have to commend you because you have become a poster child for the DIY music movement and social networking. Do you think utilizing so many different forms of online media has propelled your career?
Pestle: It has propelled my career massively. Without MySpace, without Facebook, there are just so many different networking sites that I’m using. My mailing list is online; it’s just a HUGE help. You can do so many things so easily. Blogs, for instance — you can get whatever you need out there so fast.
The “Need for New Moon” campaign was a perfect example of that. Within a week, I was getting 400 friend requests a day. There is no other way that you can get that instant access to people all other the world other than those networking sites. It’s really helpful, and I wonder how (bands and musicians) did this before.
Paige: What’s next for you?
Pestle: The road is where I’m going to be for a long time. I live for playing shows. After I leave home I’m going to be on the road until December — that’s immediate — but really I’m going to try to promote this album as much as possible and that means performing as much as possible. The road is where I belong. I’m going to be there for a while.
Hana Pestle performs at the Venture Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14. Guthrie Brown and Phil Griffin, who play in a band called Gut Pill, will play an acoustic set before Pestle. Tickets, costing $6, can be purchased at the Venture Theatre box office or by calling 591-9535. Pestle urges people to purchase tickets in advance, as seating is limited. She travels onto Bozeman to perform at the Leaf and Bean Aug. 15 and to Great Falls Aug. 21 to perform at Bert and Ernie’s.