Two and a half hours stuck in traffic is not the best preparation for my interview with the Pigeon Detectives, a warm car and slow progress has meant I nearly dozed off on the way over to The Wedgewood Rooms and I am ten minutes late.
The uncomfortable feeling from being tardy is enough to snap me out of it and I quickly make my way into the Wedge to track down the band. I find Matt (Bowman – vocalist) loitering around the vacant interior, I apologise; he accepts and sends me through to the back room where Ryan, Jimmi and Oliver are waiting patiently for me. Matt doesn’t follow; apparently waiting for someone he will not be joining us today.
Swiftly getting started I try to break the ice by brandishing a few Pigeon Detective 7”s for them to sign (for all the kids reading this, 7”s are like MP3s only bigger, made of plastic and not shit). Ice cracked, if not broken.
With this tour being tagged the ‘Summer By The Sea Tour’ I wondered whose sly idea it was to book a series of seaside shows in the spring. “(It was) our manager’s really” Jimmi replies “we always do the main towns, Leeds, Manchester, London… it just (seemed like) a good idea to get out to places bands don’t always play” before conceding “and something different for us like you say, good for us to see the sea and different areas. The crowds are sometimes more up for it too as they don’t always get bands coming through so it has been really good so far”. However, with sixteen shows booked it is a fairly intensive run of dates so the band don’t actually get much chance to enjoy their surroundings; “Today we had a little walk around” offers Oliver “but yesterday we didn’t get there until 6 o clock cause of the traffic. Sometimes you get to wander round other times you just play the gig”.
So does headlining always beat supporting another band? Oliver reveals the band enjoy the challenge of opening up sometimes “We always enjoyed winning crowds over, it is kind of what we made our reputation on” the others nod in agreement “it is always a good feeling when you see the crowd at the end of your set going mental”.
With the festival season beginning I move on to this as the three of them were once regular festival goers, these days they are more likely to be playing Leeds/Reading than attending so what is it like going from attendee to billed act?
“We always went to the Leeds festival, the first year we didn’t go was the year we played” Jimmi admits before Oliver adds “I couldn’t go as a punter now, I’d miss the showers back stage and free beer” laughing he continues “on the other side of it where you all just shit into a trough, it is kind of nice that there is a portaloo, better than what we used to crap into” they all chuckle at this and Ryan smiles “That’s the quote!”. This rules a line under the tour talk.
Back in 2006 when the Pigeon Detectives arrived on the scene the shift from physical to digital format was still in the balance, singles sales were dropping but the physical format still had a place. Now the band are preparing album Number Four, the coffin lid is nearly closed on the humble CD and 7” single, CD albums are on the wane and only the trusty vinyl LP still has the will to live. Has this dramatic shift influenced the way the band approached their new record?
“It has become more disposable” Oliver agrees “You don’t have to read a music magazine (to find out about new releases), you just hear it and think ‘I like that’ and download it” considering this further he elaborates “If we sell CDs on the merchandise stand and say ‘here do you wanna buy this’ they say yeah but if you say do you want to go out to shop to buy this they say ‘I can’t be bothered’… Nowadays it is easier to go on line”. So with fewer CDs sales, what do people get signed these days “Posters they have ripped off the walls!” beams Jimmi.
Some bands may be changing the way they record an album these days, only thinking about a few tracks rather than a full record but Pigeon Detectives are old fashioned in this regard and respect the album format; “We know we shouldn’t but we do” Oliver says almost apologetically “We even think of it in two halves, but you realise no one else gives a shit about it anymore, we do though”.
With a mind-set like this I can only assume they find it frustrating that people can just ‘cherry pick’ tunes rather than commit to a full album purchase but Jimmi shrugs “I don’t really think about it” whilst Oliver grumbles “I don’t give a shit, it’s up to you but you are kinda missing out” before turning his attention to those bands that do cater for this market “It frustrates me listening to other records where I can tell they have done that, they front load the album, It seems to be the way to make a record (these days) but we can’t do it”.
The current tour may still revolve around Up, Guards And At ‘Em but album Number Four is underway “It is recorded but is in the mixing stages, got a bunch of tracks recorded but don’t know what is going on the album”. Despite the fact their guitar tech/driver has been “blasting out some really obscure hip hop” when I press them on whether this will be influencing the new record Oliver meets my gaze; “Probably not”.
So if not hip hop, what can we expect from the next Pigeon Detectives album, has their song writing process changed over the last few years or will it be more of the same. Oliver leads the conversation once more “We have gone for something more in the style of the first and second record” he muses “but there is a little bit of funk, even some heavier Queens Of The Stone Age thing going on”. Ryan and Jimmi then confess “The last album was a bit of a similar pace” they all nod “we consciously thought we needed some faster songs. Once we played it live (the last album) we realised this”.
Admitting it is a slightly clichéd question but asking it anyway, we talk about the difference between UK and European audiences. They always seems to be a general consensus that the Europeans remain more loyal to artists whereas the UK can be a lot more fickle but is this just a case of ‘grass is always greener’?
“I think it is quite true really, they still kind of idolise musicians a bit more than we do” Oliver ponders for the right words “(music is) less consumerable and Europeans are more polite with us”.
The World now however is an even smaller place, the ever increasing amount of social networking sites at our disposal mean the need for 24/7 interaction between bands and fans is at a level no one could have imagined in the 70s or 80s. So with this level of exposure does it not detract from the mystique of a band when you know what they had for breakfast every day?
“It ruins the enigma” concurs Oliver before explaining further “To our generation up north, the Gallaghers were the coolest people on earth, you never knew what they were doing” but he concedes that “nowadays you kind of have to do it”.
The other side of the social networking phenomena is that anyone, anywhere, can post what they like about an artist, even on the bands own pages, so is Facebook just a curse these days or a mixed blessing. “Facebook is a good way to self-promote but I don’t read what other people write”, sighing Oliver adds “you always get some dickhead, some kid just bored at home”.
At times the trio seem a little jaded with the business, so I ask them whether their interest in music in general has waned since being in a band, does it ruin it when you have got to see behind the curtain as it were. “It ruins it a little for you” notes Ryan “you can know too much, the whole business side of it and the politics…” Ryan is interrupted by Oliver as he picks up the theme adding “Lana Del Rey was supposed to be viral but it was all bullshit” he sneers “it is clearly a record label funding it…” before backing down slightly as he grins “but I am quite cynical, it could be real”.
It is around this time that the sound engineers in the main room decide to start sound checking the drums, this effectively drowns out the little room we are sat in so I quickly proceed to wrap things up with a more light-hearted question before I lose their attention for good.
If you could write a song for any film past, present or future which movie would it be?
Perking up Oliver instantly replies “A Tarantino intro song, he always does a cool intro song” before Ryan suggests “maybe a spaghetti western”. This then leads into a brief debate about the upcoming Tarantino western (Django Unchained) whilst I gather up my partially signed records and exchange polite goodbyes with the three of them. Before I leave Matt and David (Best) catch me so they can complete the signing of my vinyl and we all then saunter out of the saloon doors into the evening sun…