It is early in the morning when the doorbell rings, announcing my guest. None other than former Elegy bass player Martin Helmantel joins me for a morning of chitchat and a trip down memory lane. Hints and fragments of the past fly by, but our point of interest is the status of their acclaimed band 7 Miles To Pittsburgh. “Sure, Corona struck and the pandemic affected us with several festival appearances being cancelled…” but other than that the impact of the virus on the band was limited.
Martin urges to make me aware of the impact the pandemic has on his bandmate and co-founder of 7 Miles To Pittsburgh, Mr. Andrew Elt. The former Sleeze Beez shouter has spread his wings since the band disbanded and started to focus on tour support and international band- and tour management. As a stage manager Elt tours the globe perpetually. Tours from many of the acts he supports and manages are struck by the virus and global tours got cancelled and postponed, directly impacting in his income. Walter Trout’s tour was taken off of the agenda crushing most of his schedule. But “… we are in no rush to start recording the next album” Martin explains. He agrees that the timing would have been right, and the band indeed is working on their third release, but it is all about planning. `Revolution On Hold’ made quite some waves he admits. Being invited to NAMM by his endorser Warwick basses, together with drummer Dirk Bruinenberg who was present at the booth of British Drum Co. both musicians managed to garnish attention for 7MTP. When prior to their visit they are announced as the 3rd best rock album of 2019 in Australia, both members are in the hot seat with all of their promo copies flying off the shelf within an hour. “We only took a box to hand out, not to promote the band” Martin admits. Focus of their trip was their endorsements and extend their reach to the music scene in general. But, being warped sky high it definitely made them aware of the changing times and accolades of today’s music scene. Drowning in the slipstream of 100K visitors a day both endured the ponderous beating of the world’s biggest music fair where all the time there’s something happening anytime.
Discussing the band’s current hibernation Martin mentions demoing is ongoing. Taking some time to step back and look at possibilities the new album is in for some knob changes, literally. With both their releases being recorded and produced by the band it is time to reach out to engineers and producers to enhance their sound. “Yes, looking back in `Revolution On Hold’ was very organic and powerful….” Helmantel admits the album gathered attention for this as well as it became one of the focal points. “Perhaps we could have taken more time or bring in someone with no connection to the band…” he adds, stating it could have benefited in perhaps reaching a wider audience. I believe the album is a success because of this ‘in your face’ sound, although I understand the move to a richer and deeper sound. Richer and deeper is also one of the key ingredients of Martin’s visit today. Not only is he joining me for small talk, he carries a bucket of 7 Miles To Pittsburg American Red Ale, the novelty beer released during their last show before Corona struck. The red ale brewed by the Beardsmen of Veldhoven’s craftbeerbrewery Het Rijkshotel adds to the long list of novelty beers that are branded by bands.
“Unlike most however, Beardsmen reached out to us if we were interested in this cooperation”, making this a collaboration different from most. Not just feature the band’s name and logo but being featured on the bottles brewed by fans and friends of the band. This as a fact is proven by Martin sharing some insight on the process and the actual choices at hand the band made their pick. The American Red Ale as it lines up perfectly with the band’s name and the bison featured on the artwork of the acclaimed debut. “I just don’t think a Stout would have been the best choice to start with” the bassist laughs. “This is the best choice, but who knows what we will come up with in the future…”
“And I added another little gimmick to complete the experience” as he hands me the stainless steel “HEAVY METAL” bottle opener shaped like a bison… Spot on!
For sure it is an interesting collaboration. Usually we see established bands and renowned breweries join hands to further enhance their merchandise range as well as adding to the lifestyle of many band followers and devoted fans. This beer however has a sense of sincerity to it and it oozes the typical comfort of the band’s approach. Taking the world by storm, one step at the time…
7 MILES TO PITTSBURGH
American Amber Ale
6 % ABV
Most striking is the unmistakable identity of the band’s logo and artwork featured on the label. The bison grazing became an instant trademark of the band and adds to the clarity of this first brew. Less bright however, the presentation is spot on with all ingredients featured on the left side and additional info such as social media links on the label’s right. Simple, sober and precise. Upon its pour the beer immediate releases its typical likable scent. The head is open and off white, pleasant and crackling. Pretty impressive considering the beer’s low carbonation, which impacts on the beers body.
Where most amber ales drench in bitter malty notes (Hello Maiden!) this American Amber Ale flourishes with rich caramelly notes that fuse with the malty rich scent and its hoppy undertone. The Amarillo and Brammling Cross hops certainly the first tasting nip a pleasant one. Rich in taste, little subdued bitterness and a swirling blend of the hops that fuse with the caramel crystal make it an intense experience. The light bitterness and subtly fruity notes are exquisite. Subtle hints of acacia wood are waving in the palate making the taste rich and wide. With its lower carbonation the beer has a less powerful body but an unmistakably enduring nice taste. It all gels perfectly well and makes you enjoy slamming this beer and drinking it at a party or gig. Easy drinkable as well as it features nice tweaks and twitches making it a pleasant experience for beeristas. There a lot to it in subtlety.
At the band’s last gig the beer was introduced and immediately accepted by fans and music lovers. 7 Miles to Pittsburgh American Amber Ale is a homerun off the bat. No revolution to hold but a craftbeer that nests above the fold of any craftbeer journal. Purchase the beer at the band’s website or at their upcoming concerts, you won’t be disappointed!
7 Miles To Pittsburgh Facebook here
HBLS exclusive NAMM 2020 Report by Martin Helmantel here