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The Pigeon Detectives

You had a quiet 2012, playing a European tour in February, and presumably readying your new album. Is there anything you’ve missed about being a band in that time?

Oh definitely, touring! I’ve missed playing gigs week in, week out … it’s the main reason we’re in a band to play music in front of people, to have fun on stage and getting reactions from people.

‘We Met At Sea’ is your fourth album to date – do you think it brings a changed style from your previous albums as well, perhaps in the song writing and the way you’ve developed as a band?

In some respects yes. We have changed as musicians and are all better performers on our respective instruments. I find that this album is a mix of styles whereas on previous albums we would have generally one sound that would carry through the album. Song writing wise, we nodded back to our early stuff in terms of getting that infectious, instantaneous feel through the use of melody but there’s a certain maturity to it we have gained which you may have heard on ‘Up, Guards and At ‘Em’.

The last few albums have been recorded all over the place; including Wales and New York. Did returning to your hometown of Leeds this time change things at all, or maybe make you more nostalgic – it’s where it started with ‘Wait For Me’ after all?

It certainly put us in a ‘back to your roots’ mindset. We have travelled the world but this time there was something nice about recording in our hometown again, with our own sound engineer and remembering what being in a band’s about. We tried to get that feeling back which we had when we recorded our first album in Leeds, where we had a point to prove and the stakes were high. In the end it worked well, we worked insanely hard.

 You’ve mentioned that you wanted to regain that live sound and ethos with the album, sometimes using live takes. Did you find it a bit more challenging to record in this way, or were you all just making sure you’d rehearsed well before the recording process?

Yeah, I mean we did A LOT of takes for most of the songs on there. We recorded most of the instruments together and tried to overdub as little as possible when it came to the core instruments. So it was a case of using one take with a good vibe to it but without too many mistakes. It’s harder than it sounds, Dave and Ryan could be doing the best take of their life but then I could be physically or mentally fatigued on that take, especially if we’d already done 12 takes! We rehearsed well for the sessions but when you listen to the song coming through the studio speakers you may end up completely re-writing your part or re-arranging the song so then everything has to be rehearsed again!

Talking about the last album from 2011, Up, Guards And At ‘Em, Matt voiced concerns at having felt as if you were “going against instincts” with it. What do you think led to you doing that, and how did you make it feel more natural and avoid that this time round?

We had written a lot of songs a certain way which became our first two albums and we wanted to do something different. Your heart needs to be in what you are doing and at that time we needed a change. ‘Up, Guards and At ‘Em’ was created by using melodies which are more subtle and the recording was made by putting each instrument to tape, piece by piece individually. To avoid that was simple: we went back to our instincts but obviously this record sounds more mature than our early records as we are all older and wiser! 

It seems hard to believe it, but next year will see you reach a 10 year anniversary since you formed. Have you got any special plans or ideas to celebrate?

We do have some plans which I shall keep a secret at the moment but I think what we should do is find out the anniversary of our first gig in Leeds and NOT play a gig that day. But just get together, drink some champagne and have a good chinwag. I think we have worked hard enough to chill on that day!

What have been some of your most treasured and memorable moments as a band so far? We’ve heard rumours of a lot of things, including a full-on fight with Kate Moss egging you on…

That moment is quite memorable, getting chucked in the deep end with many celebrities a la Keanu Reeves, Bob Geldof, Kate Moss at our first ever festival (O2 Wireless), you know that’s going to end up with some of us in a fight we were excited. Other than that I’d say my most treasured moment is playing Leeds and Reading for the first time. We’d built up a bit of fan base but when we stepped out on stage at Reading and there were people trying to get into a full tent, that was something else. No scratch that, it’s Paul McCartney tapping his feet to ‘Take Her Back’.

Are there any other moments you can recall where things have been particularly ‘rock star’; be it the old school breaking things in hotel rooms or something else?

Ha, er, I’ve ripped a toilet off of the wall. I say ripped, Dave pushed me into it and I dragged it off to keep me upright. I say pushed, he nudged me and I wasn’t exactly there in body or mind after being under the influence for a few days. That was in a Japanese nightclub, they tried getting the money back the next day.

Music as a whole has changed hugely in the time since you started; bands you once supported like The Holloways and Dirty Pretty Things have ended altogether. What do you think has been the secret or best way to stick together the way you guys have for so long?

I think it is very important to stay good friends and stick together through thick and thin. The music business has a lot of up and downs just as any other business does. We’ve kept a good work ethic up and just continued to enjoy writing, recording and performing music.

In terms of the shift in music altogether, which has definitely been away from the kind of indie-rock that you started out with, what do you make of the shift from guitars to synths and computer production nowadays?

I think a lot of it has no heart or soul and also some of it actually has no thought behind it whatsoever. Well the electronic music that’s on the radio waves anyway. But if you search there is some great electronic music. At the moment I’m liking Purity Ring, James Blake, Grimes, Crystal Castles etc. But in terms of what’s popular; the charts chops and change all the time, guitar music had gone silent chart wise in the early to mid 90s until Oasis came about. It runs in cycles.

Is there anything that you’re still ambitious and keen to achieve as a band?

Yeah we would love to headline a major festival. You see some bands headlining and they just can’t put on the show or work the crowd.

If you could give out an award to another band for ‘Best Album’ based on your own listening habits recently, who’d get it?

The last album which I loved was Beach House’s ‘In Bloom’ but I don’t know if it got the credit it deserved. It’s amazing, the songs are so simple and there’s not very much actually going on but it doesn’t matter, there’s such depth to it and an atmosphere created using only really a vocal, organ and guitar. The record just keeps growing on you.

Imagine your manager has just phoned up and told you you’re all allowed a three month holiday to go on a road trip together. Where are you heading and why?

America. We recorded there for two months and we had probably the best time of our lives. We’ve played a lot of towns there but it’d be good to explore all the towns we haven’t been and maybe delve into Middle America. We can do this in a Cadillac convertible with a cassette player and lots of cool beer in the back!

Other artists have started doing a lot of cool merchandise, and you’ve given fans a chance to have their names in the album artwork for ‘We Met At Sea’. What other merch would you really like to start making if you had the chance; home-brew maybe … some proper home-made jam even?

Chutney; definitely chutney. It’s amazing I’ve been trying lots of different flavours made in Devon, we could do some funky flavours. But no, not pigeon flavour thank you very much!

Don’t forget to check them out on 11th May at the Wedgewood Rooms!