2007 was a productive year for music which saw the revival of the northern indie sound. Arctic Monkeys, The Cribs and The Kooks were just a few bands that dominated the music industry and look at where the all are now. As the years went on, many bands put down their instruments (RIP to all those indie boys in the band we all loved and fancied), or many left the music scene for what may seem like forever to find that future sound.
A particular band, known as The Pigeon Detectives, whose songs include ‘Found Out’ (that song from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging) and ‘I’m Not Sorry’, did just that and today they bring us a new album, a sound that is dissimilar to the reminiscences we encounter when playing their early work. Brigid Harrison-Draper spoke to lead singer Matt Bowman about the new sound, where the fuck the band has been for all these years, and fishing (yes fishing).
Brigid: So you’ve been away for four years! David Bowie’s dead, Donald Trump’s the President, we’re not even in the EU anymore! What’s been going on in the land of The Pigeon Detectives?
Matt: Funny you mention all those kinda cataclysmic events alongside our absence, I’d first of all like to say it’s got nothing to do with us but basically we’ve been in our rehearsal space writing songs, recording songs. This album is bringing us in a new direction sonically in terms of the music sound so it wasn’t something that could be done overnight, it took some time so basically the absence has just been song writing, song writing and then even when we thought we had enough songs we wrote a few more.
Brigid: I listened to your latest single ‘Sounding the Alarm’ and I thought it sounded a bit nu-wave, have you taken a different approach on this album?
Matt: Yeah absolutely we’ve taken a new approach. We definitely did with the standard plucking your guitar as loud as you can but one thing I would caution is ‘Sounding the Alarm’ was particularly chosen because it is probably the most different/abstract sounding song on the album and we wanted to spark up a discussion so people listen to the tune and think this is something different. I wouldn’t say ‘Sounding the Alarm’ particularly represents the album but it definitely signifies our attempt to do something different.
Brigid: I imagine there will be a few people who have listened to that song who haven’t listened to you for years and thought “god something’s gone on here” because you sound very different! So your new album comes out in a few weeks, for people who haven’t listened to you, how would you describe the album for them in three words?
Matt: I get asked this question so many times I should have an answer ready but I think this new album is brave, experimental and delicious.
Brigid: Is there any stand out songs from the album for you?
Matt: I mean I like the song ‘Enemy Lines’ it takes you on a journey, a slow fragile beginning to an aggressive ending.
Brigid: Yeah I watched the video for that before and I thought it’s very artistic, a very different kinda video.
Matt: Yeah I mean we worked with a great director on the video that was deliberately trying to be abstract, thought provoking, again just a little bit more subtle not like a standard performance video, a bit in your face.
Brigid: I don’t wanna make you sound old but Wait for Me turns ten in May, did you think back then that you would still be making music in ten years?
Matt: Look, back then I didn’t think we’d make it to a second album. We’re a very humble set of lads and we didn’t start off in a band to get a record deal or make money from it or tour the world but all these things happened to us and we are very grateful! So no, I certainly didn’t think we would be here in ten years time and yeah we are forever grateful for that.
Brigid: Can we expect anything to celebrate the ten year anniversary?
Matt: We would be mad not to wouldn’t we! I can’t tell you what because I haven’t told anybody yet but certainly plans.
Brigid: You’re from near Leeds and I know round that area it is a big place for music still and at one point Yorkshire was the centre of record breaking music like Arctic Monkeys, yourselves, The Cribs. Do you still think it is the centre for new talent? Have you heard any bands recently from that area and thought “God they’re gonna be something in the future”?
Matt: Yeah, I mean I’m always trying to support local and new bands in the area because I think there are great bands out there, but I always find it difficult to be involved in the music industry. I always struggle to know what’s happening and what’s going to be the next big thing and I will go and watch a band and I will think “God they’re gonna be massive” and then I’ll log on to the internet two weeks later and find out they have split up. I’m a terrible judge of what is going to be the next big thing but I’m certainly a huge advocate for new bands and bands getting out there and playing shows and doing it for the right reasons which is why we are a band, to play music and play gigs to the friends and family. I’d hate to be a band starting out to become the next big thing, because they are probably on a path to failure. Just get out there and play for the right reasons, if you’re enjoying yourself you have made a success.
Brigid: I suppose it’s more like being in a band is like being with your mates, having fun, it’s not all about getting famous and touring across the country and everything, it’s more about enjoying yourself.
Matt: Yeah exactly, you have hit the nail on the head.
Brigid: If you weren’t making music, where do you think you would be at this moment in time?
Matt: Probably on the dole or sat at a lake fishing/sat at a river fishing/sat at a canal fishing. I’m good at decorating, painting walls, who knows?
Brigid: Well at least you’re not doing that, or you could still go fishing in your spare time if you wanted to.
Matt: I certainly do! I take advantage of the spare time I get on my hands.
Brigid: The world from my point of view, it’s slowly falling apart with politics and everything that is going on, it’s in a turmoil and there’s a lot of journalists, I’m not going to name who, who aren’t fond of musicians or actors voicing their political opinion. Where do you stand on this point of view do you think everyone should be voicing their own opinion or do you think they should be keeping it quiet if they are on a high platform?
Matt: I mean it’s a difficult tightrope to walk, some people use their social media influence to sell records and from their point of view they want to keep both sides of the argument happy. Other people have a little more integrity and would happily lose record sales from a population that doesn’t agree with them. Personally, I believe in saying what you believe and putting your opinion across. At the same time, I get furious with people not putting their argument across not very well and just attacking the other side or people that don’t agree with them. I don’t think name calling gets anyone anywhere. I think debating, arguing, putting your point across correctly, educating and informing, that’s the way I think people with a position or people with authority should approach the subjects.
Brigid: Yeah I see. Social media is there for people to voice their opinion but at the same time, those opinions can not be well educated, it’s stuff you don’t want to see and you don’t want to read
Matt: I think the thing with social media is, like you’re sat in the living room having a cup of tea, stroking the dog and suddenly someone’s opinion appears on your phone it almost feels like they have invaded your private space in terms of them telling you exactly what they think. But then again when you sign up for social media you know what the rules are, you know what the implications are so if you don’t like it delete your Facebook account, if you don’t like it unfollow these people on Twitter, it’s not difficult to get yourself out of that forum. If you want to be in that forum then accept the consequences and get on with it.
Brigid: Now there’s a lot of people probably reading this interview at this uni, and they’re in bands, they’re having fun and they want to explore their musicality. What advice would you give to them if they’re reading it now and thinking “God I want to be as big as The Pigeon Detectives in a few years”?
Matt: I would say knuckle down in your studies, make sure you get a first, don’t bother getting involved in the music industry. Joking aside, the importance of social media and gratification is that you can post a track online straight away. You can log onto Spotify and listen to one song then listen to the next. I think bands need to realise the art of being in a band, like getting out there and playing gigs before they decide to go into a studio and record a single. You end up watching these bands who have made it on the strength of their demos and tracks they have put online, and then you watch them live and you think this band’s rubbish, and the reason is bands aren’t learning to be bands first, they are just getting this huge promotion by playing the game online or posting on Facebook/Twitter and things like that. So my advice to bands would be use the internet to your advantage but first and foremost learn how to be a band. Practice, rehearse, play gigs and do it how it’s always been done and how it should be done.
Brigid: Yeah and don’t drop out of uni just yet.
Matt: Yeah being in a band is your last option, don’t let it be your banker.
Brigid: And if that all fails you can always go fishing on the canal.
Matt: Yeah give me a call I’ll take you fishing
It’s clear that from all those years without new music have been used to spark a flame that many bands ignore. The Pigeon Detectives bring a new sound infused with nu-wave tones but not neglecting their Yorkshire indie sounds.
The new album Broken Glances is out now.