A project of actor/singer/guitarist Michael Pitt, Pagoda were formed in 2001 when Pitt met fellow actor/musician Ryan Donowho, who played drums. Friends such as Christian Zucconi of the band Aloke filled Pagoda's revolving bassist position. The band made its recorded debut with "Muskrat," which appeared on the soundtrack of The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, director Asia Argento's film adaptation of J.T. Leroy's novel. Pagoda added cellist Indigo Ruth Davis to the fold, and in 2004 they went to Milan to record tracks for their full-length album; producer/engineer Luca Amendolara liked the band's sound so much that he became Pagoda's full-time bassist. In 2005, the group released a five-song demo that caught the ear of director Gus Van Sant, who cast Pitt as the lead in his film Last Days and featured two of Pagoda's songs on the soundtrack. A video for "Happy Song," which the band filmed when Zucconi was still part of the lineup, appeared on Last Days' DVD release. Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore worked as a music consultant on the film and was impressed enough with Pagoda that he signed the band to his Ecstatic Peace label. Just before the winter 2007 release of Pagoda's self-titled debut album, the band's website announced the new lineup of Pitt, bassist Willie Paredes, drummer Reece Carr, and cellist Chris Hoffman. Former members Amendolara and Donowho returned to working with bands in Italy and acting, respectively.
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