Song of the Week: Pirate

Pirate might be my personal favorite song on Cereal Killers. Even the fact that Tommy Vinton just told me, “The two cymbal hits I do before the choruses and the cymbal swirls in the beginning of the song were inspired by Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee” cannot diminish my affection for it.

The bit about everyone being crazy was based on all the people I met on our first couple of tours. I had a habit of befriending female fans in different cities and going on long nighttime walks with them. Perhaps because I (almost) never made a pass at them, or perhaps because we were usually drunk, or maybe because of both they would share all kinds of details about their lives, which were invariably fucked up. It was uncanny: everybody I met, no matter how normal they acted in the daytime, seemed to be nuts.

And that seemed worth celebrating.

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Pirate has all the elements that should make for an amazing live song: power chords, stops, “whoah oh oh!” bits that everyone can shout along drunkenly. But I don’t think we ever played it more than twice on stage for some reason. Maybe it was too complicated, as Tommy kinds of hints at with his recollection of writing it:

“The four of us were very unique in our own ways, which made for interesting songwriting. When the four of us were in a room trying to come up with cool riffs and ideas, it would usually result in a song that took crazy rights and lefts, ups and downs, short stops, you name it. Usually the song would then be dissected by either us or a producer to make it more cohesive, or dare I say ‘listener friendly.’ Pirate was one of those songs that never went through that process. The song starts weird, has different tempos, takes those crazy unexpected turns, but worked just the way it was originally written. The lyrics and singing, along with underlying music and rhythms just seemed to work. And I’m glad we didn’t fuck with the original arrangement. Song still stands strong today”

Sandy has this to say:  “For me, on a very short list of songs we didn’t play ENOUGH live — perfectly captures that rootless, post-college head space and one of our more fun vocal arrangements. I remember trying to do the post-chorus bass bit with a fancy (rented) fretless bass, as I always wanted to use one, but it just didn’t work out. Probably the last time I attempted to play/write with one. Don’t worry, it only had four strings.”


  1. ….interestingly, my college buddies and I had this disc in our fancy schmancy new sony 100 disc changer back in the day….and the “shuffle” algorithm on this particular machine seemed to heavily favor Pirate !!!! over the course of a few days and nights, Pirate would pop up repeatedly! …which was nice….

  2. Oh man, “Pirate” just brought me back to many early 90s weekdays standing in the slush on the New Hyde Park LIRR platform with my Discman at 6:45 AM in 18 degree weather dreaming I was heading for a caribbean vacation instead of my advertising job on 50th & B’way.

  3. Might be my favorite track on CEREAL. If not, then it’s tied with NOTHING ON MY MIND. Harmonies are mind blowing. “The pirate in me is lost somewhere at sea” is pop-melancholy genius. I want/need you gentlemen to reunite and play KILLERS in its entirety because I want/need to finally hear it live (after attending 30+ concerts dating back to the SON OF SAM days and never once hearing it ever … assholes).

  4. I was in a nostalgia mood and just discovered this site. I think it’s totally amazing and cool that you guys are documenting your songs like this, so many years later. I saw you play in Columbus, OH, and once at the 930 Club in DC, but Cereal Killers and Mutiny were true staple CDs for a number of years. We met briefly behind the theater in Columbus, and you asked me and my date to come have beers (or, at least you asked my date). I’ve always wished we’d done that.

    And, yes, Pirate is great. “I feel like I’m trapped in a book about someone else.” Genius.

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