The Pigeon Detectives; still relevant?

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In April this year, The Pigeon Detectives released their fourth album We Met At Sea. Shortly after, they announced their UK Tour – twelfth out of fourteen stops; Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth on October 31st. That’s right – on Halloween. So while half of Portsmouth was dressing up as vampires and Draculas, The Pigeon Detectives and their two support bands The Mexanines and Hares rocked the Wedgewood Rooms. Did they mind missing all the trick or treating? Dave Best and Oliver Main from the The Pigeon Detectives had a few minutes before the show to give us an insight into their Halloween habits, what they think of the current music scene and how they’ve managed to stick together for more than nine years.

Instead of missing out on Halloween, The Pigeon Detectives brought it to the stage in the form of matching costumes and make-up – scary! “We used to dress up and stuff, but now, our priority is being on the stage and playing music for the people who want to hear us”, says Dave. Friends since childhood, singer Matt Bowman, guitar players Oliver Main and Ryan Wilson, bassist Dave Best and drummer Jimmy Naylor formed The Pigeon Detectives in 2002. And while many indie bands like them have risen only to vanish again over the years, The Pigeon Detectives have stuck together – and still sell out. “We’re friends. It’s as simple as that. We argue where to go to have dinner, and then we are best friends again, but when it comes to essential things, we always are able to agree on something”, says Dave.

Their fourth album We Met At Sea received mixed reviews, some of them criticizing a lack of originality or change. While it is quite different from the first three albums, it possibly lacks some catchy songs. Whilst third album Up Guards & at Em was seasoned with elements of pop music without sounding mainstream, the fourth album finds its way back to indie rock maybe without catchy hooks like ‘Romantic Type’ or ‘Take Her back’ from the first album Wait For Me. Dave: “We just don’t want to write the same songs again, we’ve done that, so we don’t have to do it again, and that’s why we change. It’s not an experiment, just a natural development to keep ourselves interested and interesting”.

Charts don’t really matter to the band anyway, says Oliver. “Doing gigs is what makes us happy, that’s were we belong. We don’t like to be told by people what kind of songs we should write. Guitar bands are not much played in the British radio anyway. It’s more about pop music by really really rubbish bands these days.” And talk about change; the first time I met The Pigeon Detectives was in 2007 when they were playing in front of 150 people in a tiny club in Munich, presenting their debut album. Not only has Oliver’s beard grown drastically – the audience has too.

Their biggest gig counted 50,000 people at the Gloucester festival and their list of countries they have played in has lengthened a lot over the last few years, including – for example – Russia, Scandinavian countries and the USA. Surprisingly, Germany still ranks in first place when it comes to favourites countries. Their live shows are as popular as ever, Matt Bowman still climbs every box and wall he can during his performance and people go ballistic with songs like ‘I Found Out‘, ‘Romantic Type‘ or ‘I Don’t Mind‘. In the end, that is what counts – not some critics who haven’t had the time to listen to the album carefully enough to detect the fun the band still has with making music. Therefore, their gig on Halloween was again an absolute fantastic performance, exactly what you expect and it’s likely that the audience was as much as exhausted after an hour and half of dancing and celebrating than Matt was.

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