Interview | The Pigeon Detectives

The Pigeon Detectives played a raucous sold out show at Electric Circus .

A travelling army of fans made the journey up to Edinburgh up from their hometown of Leeds and as a result, the atmosphere was fever pitch with a mix of Leeds United scarves and bodies flying all over the place for the duration of the band’s hit and sweat-fuelled hour and fifteen set.

Ending with a chaotic stage invasion, much to the distress of the out of depth and out of patience security guard, during the rather fitting finale of “I’m Not Sorry.”

Before all that I caught up with Matt (vocals) and Ryan (guitar) from the band for an interview.

10 years on from your debut album, do you keep setting yourselves new goals, or did you have one initial goal at the start that you’re sticking to?

Matt: I don’t think we have goals particularly. There’s a mantra in the band which is really the reason we exist and that’s kind of to take advantage of the adventure that’s put in front of us and the fact we do it as 5 best mates, we started as best mates and we still are. We’ve got all our original crew from the early days. As long as it’s still fun and we’re challenging ourselves as songwriters, we’ll keep doing it. As soon as it becomes stale or a chore or we’re writing music that we’re not really into, we’d call it a day then.

Just off the back of that, not wanting to sound offensive or anything, but having done the big gigs like Millennium Square, and Alexandra Palace, was it a bit of a comedown when moving back to smaller gigs again or does venue size not really matter?

Ryan: It’s a bit of a funny one really, because you obviously want to do as big and better gigs as possible, but at the same time this particular tour we sold quite a lot of tickets throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. We’re not the type of band that say ‘look we’re not playing gigs anymore because we can’t sell 10,000 a night’.

Matt: We got caught up in a moment that we never set out to be caught up in. There was The Kooks, The Enemy, The View, The Pigeon Detectives and that kind of explosion, it let a lot of those kind of bands, and ourselves included, play these enormous gigs, but we can’t let being part of that kind of NME created bubble define us as a band. Now that bubble’s burst and doesn’t exist anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t exist as a band. We played these shows on the way up to that peak and we find ourselves here again playing another sold out gig in Edinburgh, there’s people coming here that we’ve written songs for that kind of get something out of these songs and that means a lot to us. I think it’s just important not to let other people define your career; if you’re having good times, if people are still coming to see the shows, let other people decide what the barometer for success is. We’re doing a sold out tour, we’re all still talking to each other, that’s a success for me.

I’ve seen loads of my favourite bands playing here (Electric Circus) and found out last week that they’re shutting down in a couple of weeks, a bit out of the blue to make way for the art gallery next door. It’s one of these things that’s a shame for Edinburgh having seen so many amazing bands in the place.

Matt: It’s a sign of the times though, in our hometown in Leeds all the venues that we cut our teeth in as a band – Joseph’s Well – gone, Cockpit – gone, Mixing Tin – gone, Escobar – gone. These are venues we saw bands like British Sea Power, Editors, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks in and we played in them venues and not one of them exists now and they’re all either restaurants, cafés or comedy clubs, it’s a shame.

Do you think with the way things are going in music, I read another interview with you guys recently and is that it’s really just something you need to accept the way it’s going and move on, or do you think more could be done for venues to save them?

Matt: It’s a difficult one, there are venues closing left, right and centre up and down the country. It’s not that people aren’t attending gigs, it’s testament that tonight is sold out, and similar venues all over the country. Is it the economy? Is it business rates? Is it utility bill prices? I don’t know what’s closing them down, but if they can have 250 people in here all spending £30 each, but they can make more money as an art gallery with 6 people passing through on a Tuesday afternoon, I don’t know what’s going on.

Ryan: Music goes in huge circles, depending on the style of music that’s in fashion or whatever, bands like us probably generate a lot of tickets with venues full. We’re best when we’re on a stage like this in a live venue, but a pop act or a grime act are maybe not necessarily the ‘gig going’ type acts. When the music sort of changed around about 2010, it went all dancey or dubstep, that sort of thing at that particular point, that’s when we noticed the live scene seemed to step back a little bit. That would have affected paying business rates, paying staff and if you’re not getting fans through or people that could fill the venues then you’re going to struggle.

When I was growing up, my old band aimed for coverage in things like NME or the charts, and that’s what you had to aim for, that was really something as a band you could look at – is there anything now that bands can aim for with the downfall of NME? There’s not really one that I can identify as being the go to publication…

Matt: I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing (there not being a notable publication). Being in a band isn’t about collecting trophies, being on the front cover of NME, charting or being the face of Coca Cola. Surely you start a band to be in a band, so I’m not necessarily certain it’s a bad thing that some of these establishments aren’t there now. Some of them, especially NME were the masters of their own downfall.

Ryan: It’s a lifestyle magazine now, rather than a music one.

Matt: They spent so long championing bands that were big in London and meant nothing to the rest of the country that they disappeared and their readership dwindled. When your readership dwindles, your advertising money goes down and in the end, you’re just an A4 magazine that’s given away free at universities. That was probably the strongest journalistic brand for music in the country and it’s just destroyed. It’s terrible when you think people like Steve Lamacq used to write for it, John Peel used to write for it, it just got rinsed. It didn’t represent the music scene, it represented a tiny trendy section where the Libertines were all swimming around telling each other how great they were. I believed it for a time because I liked The Libertines, then I realised it was people writing about their mate’s bands, especially, when we got into the industry and then I felt a bit jaded towards it and 8 or 9 years later it doesn’t really exist anymore. It’s a shame, but if you’re a young band, start a band for being a band, play a gig for playing a gig, if 10 people come, then the next time there’s 20 people, that’s a success. Sell out a show, that’s a success. If somebody comes up to you tells you your songs meant something, that’s a success. It’s about being realistic and not preoccupied with collecting trophies. Do it for the sake of doing it, that would be my advice, enjoy yourselves, do it for the sake of doing it.

Finally, onto the new album ‘Broken Glances’. When going into record it, did you have ideas that you wanted to do something different and have a different outlook on it before you started, or did that come as you were recording it?

Matt: It started a year before we got into the studio, that was all planned out in the songwriting process. We were painfully aware that we didn’t want to make something that sounded like anything we’d done before. We’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world as 5 best mates on the back of our first two albums, and we’re not ashamed of that but we certainly didn’t 10 years down the line want to be defined by that album or those two albums. We wanted to show a different side to the band in terms of songwriting, in doing that we ended up with a collection of songs which then in the studio allowed us to experiment, leave room in the songs to allow them to develop and grow. It was a real conscious effort. The feedback from the fans has been good and getting people like Q Magazine heralding the band as being reborn and touting a new-found respect for us has been great. It feels a bit like mission accomplished. We’re still testing ourselves. TI think it’s the best songwriting we’ve ever done and the different approach in the studio in terms of experimenting has created something that’s unique for us as a band. We’ve been gobsmacked by the reaction to the new songs, when you see the crowd dancing along to a song that’s only been out for 5 days it indicates everything you’ve done over two years getting to this point.

Enjoy a taster of their new album release below:

Post Author: Richard Cobb

Leave a Reply