The Pigeon Detectives Interview
The raucous messy haired frontman who burst onto the stage, whipping up a frenzy in the crowd was a far cry from the casual, modest band member we met backstage. As we were led into a backstage dressing room, we got to meet the lead singer, Matt, and ask him what life is really like after a decade in the music industry. His casual look and relaxed tone told us he’d done so many of these interviews before.
You’ve already played 5 dates of your tour, how have the fans reacted to your new musical direction?
Yeh, it’s been good. I think it’s important you learn how to write a good set-list and kind of segment the new songs in between some of the more well-known hits, and that way people appreciate the even-flow of the set, and they can go mad to the ones they know and have been singing along to for ten years and they can sit back relax and take in and enjoy the new stuff, so we’ve been getting a great reaction.
You’ve said that this album is reflective and documents your career over the past decade, in that time have there been any career highlights?
I think that my personal highlight was my first platinum gift I gave to my mum. We never really started the band to collect trophies, but when you can give it to somebody and they hang it on their wall with pride, it certainly means more to her than it does to me, I mean I don’t even have mine on display anymore, but you know she still polishes hers and its centre place in the living room, so that was a career highlight for me. And then from a selfish point of view, you know playing things like Glastonbury, going to America, going to Japan, you know things that I can enjoy from a selfish point of view they’ve been great as well.
You have toured a lot over the past decade, what’s been your most Rock n’ Roll moment?
I mean, to be honest, we were quite a chaotic band in the early days and you can assign whatever attribute you want to the word ‘chaotic’, I’m not sure I want to go into too much detail, but yeh we’ve enjoyed ourselves as a band, that’s probably as far as I need to go. I sometimes think the enigma of Rock n’ Roll has gone with kind of all this Facebook and Twitter access people have and snapchatting. Yeh but as a band we’ve been in some scrapes; we certainly didn’t let anybody down who wants to be a rockstar… we didn’t waste our opportunity.
You’ve announced you’re playing Live at Leeds this year, are there any more festivals you might be playing?
Yeh I think we’re confirmed for about eight or nine it’s going to be a really hectic summer.
You guys have known each other since school, do you think it is easier to write music by having such a close relationship?
I think it makes writing the music harder, that were so close, because there’s no dictator in the band, and when you have five people and five different opinions, things are really difficult in terms of making decisions and you know, trying to please people in something so personal and uncompromising as writing music, and trying to kind of please other people when it means so much to you can be really tough. But on the flip side, I think our strong friendship is actually the reason we’ve managed to do five albums, it’s the reason we’re still here after ten years, you know it’s the thing that’s bound us together, but at times it has been the thing that’s made it so testing.
You have covered Avril Lavigne’s ‘Girlfriend’ and Hot Chip’s ‘Ready For The Floor’ in the Live Lounge. If you were to do a Live Lounge of a song in the charts at the moment what would it be?
Oh, jeez, I’m gonna show my age now, I’ve got no idea what’s in the charts. I honestly couldn’t tell you. Do you know what, I’m going to take a punt and say Ed Sheeran’s got a new song out, because I know he had an album come out last week and he’s done a couple of things, whilst I wouldn’t go out and probably buy, I’ve heard them and thought ‘eh, that’s alright’. So whatever Ed Sheeran’s current song is.
After playing so many live shows do you still get nervous?
Absolutely, I can get debilitating nerves and there’s no telling whether they’re going to come or not, they can come from something that’s happened during the day that kind of knocked me off my stride, or it could be something somebody says to me just before we go on. Sometimes they’re horrendous, sometimes I just have a few butterflies but definitely. I feel a kind of responsibility for the people that come and watch us and take time out of their day to not watch the soaps and to come and physically attend a rock concert, so I think that weighs heavily on my heart before a show and it make me feel nervous, but that’s a good thing, because we still care.
I know this question must drive you crazy, but I’ve heard lots of interesting and funny stories about where your name comes from, is there an actual story behind the name?
There is, but you’re right, I have been asked it so many times I can’t get into answering that now. Google it and pick your favourite version of the thirty versions.
I’ve heard one about a pigeon writing songs in your shed for the band?
Yeh, we can go with that one, absolutely!
Who chooses the music on the tour bus?
Erm, do you know what we have one of them boom boxes and all of our phones sync to it, so it’s just whoever gets there first and they can just sit on their phone and flick through. It’s quite good though, everyone’s got such different musical tastes in our band now. When we first started, we all listened to the same bands, we all listened to The Beatles, Oasis, The Strokes, Interpol, and then over ten years people have kind of migrated and found their own kind of musical paths and their new favourite bands, so it’s real cool, like Ryan sits and plays best of the eighties for an hour, and it never crossed my mind to be playing Wham or Culture Club or Tears for Fears, but being forced to listen to something a little bit different and actually quite enjoying it, it’s a good thing. So I actually really enjoy it when other people play music on the tour bus, it gets you out of your comfort zone and makes it a bit different.
Final question for you, obviously you have a big student following in Birmingham, is there any advice you have for those wanting to make a successful career in music like yourselves?
It depends how you judge success, if you judge success by record sales and big figures, it’s probably not the industry for you anymore, with the invention of Spotify and things like that. If you judge success by becoming a millionaire overnight, it’s probably not the industry for you, because the money’s just not in it anymore. But, if you judge success on being able to tour the world with your four best mates and not having to get a proper job for a decade, then just believe in yourselves, gig as often as possible, and have a real D.I.Y. I think the more control you have over your own destiny, the more likely it is to happen, so put your own music out, arrange your own shows, sort out your own artwork, make your own videos, don’t wait for somebody to come and write you a big cheque to do it all, anyone can buy a camcorder and make their first music video, so just get out and do it for yourself, make it happen.
Looking at the diversity of the fans who moshed, danced and screamed for them, it is very clear that despite a decade in this tough industry, The Pigeon Detectives are still alive and well.