“I wanna make up a woman’s name and write seedy books”: Pigeon Detectives Interview

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The Pigeon Detectives have had a busy beginning to 2011 – with a new album, and a headline tour to boot, and a string of festival headliners coming up over the summer, the Yorkshire boys have opened 2011 in style, building on their reputation as the kings of the guitar band world. Before their show at the Bournemouth Fire Station, The EDGE’s Hayley Taulbut caught up with Jimmy the drummer, and Dave the bass guitarist from the foursome, to talk

So, you are coming toward the end of  the tour, how has it been, and how has the new record been received?

Jimmy: Really well, we’ve been doing seven new tracks, and they obviously don’t go down quite as well as the old stuff that everyone knows, but yeah they have been reacting really well to it. Lots of people have been dancing about, and some know the words, but we’ve been trying to do a good mix really.

From a personal perspective, which would you rather do – a set of all new stuff, or a set like you have been doing? Would you liked to have played the new record in its entirety?

Jimmy: Well, me and Dave are actually big advocates for doing a lot of new stuff , but I think we have come to a safe compromise. If we were to do too much new stuff we might risk killing the gig a little bit, especially this time around, because some of the new stuff is quite growy and to hear it for the first time, and to hear it for the first time live might evoke a different reaction than we would like.

Up Guards and at ‘Em definitely comes across as an album that grows, rather than the kind of instant hits you are known for writing – did this worry you at all when you were writing it?

Dave: No, we wanted to write it that way. We’ve done the whole ‘instant’ thing before – and I think the odd one of them on the new record is that kinda thing – but this time we wanted to write subtle melodies that are still catchy, but the kind where you listen to the album more and more, and it grows on you.

Were you worried about your third album at all, given that a lot of bands by this point already have a strong fanbase who come to expect a certain thing from them, and are torn apart when things depart from that?

Jimmy: I think it’s just important to write the record you want to write, because the moment you start writing for anyone else or what anyone else thinks you are going down a bad road. Because guitar music has been out of favour for the last few years on the radio, it would have been really easy for bands to come back with an overly electronic or crazy kind of sound that isn’t a direction they would naturally go in, and I think in ten years time they’ll look back and realise they should have done what they wanted to do. So many bands do that and I think it’s really curious – at the end of the day, you should write for the four of you in the band, and if people outside like it, then great!

You say that, but the first track on the album is a bit electro-y, and is a bit of a shocker from you guys – where did that come from?

Jimmy: Yeah, that were a bit of a curve ball. It was kinda down to just experimenting in the studio – we went to New York, and we were working with a guy called Justin Gerrish, who encouraged us to experiment with different sounds, so we used the synth and the keys, but we didn’t want it to be all about it. We wanted more of an eclectic mix of sounds as opposed to pursuing just one direction.

So, you guys have been around since about 2004 – did you think you would still be doing it, nearly seven years later?

Dave: when you first start, you’re not really sure what’s going on, because it is kinda born out of just wanting to play some songs infront of your friends. That first nervous time, when you first play and you are bloody rubbish, you don’t know what’s happening. But you get different answers in the band – if you were to ask Jimmy, he’d say he had known since he were 15 that he was going to be in a band, and that was going to be his career. But I certainly didn’t, that was the dream, but I had my mum telling me to think of other things as well. Looking back now, it is a bit crazy going from practiscing in Oliver’s bedroom at the age of fourteen, to being able to sustain a career from it, but we couldn’t be happier!

Given that it has been quite a while, is there anything you have looked back on and would have changed? Are there any decisions – musical or otherwise – that you have regretted?

Jimmy and Dave: [laughs] Jimmy: uh… we did this thing for the BBC where they made us go round the Doctor Who Museum, that wasn’t exactly the pinacle of our career.
Dave: [laughs]we didn’t know what it was! The BBC asked us to come down to Earl’s Court where there were a bunch of kids who we were meant to be giving a tour to, and it was at this point that we realised a little bit of us was dying inside, and that bit would never come back. It wasn’t exactly our finest hour [laughs]We let the powers that be know that as well, we were like “Why the fuck did you make us do that?” to the management and anyone we came into contact with.

Jimmy: Aside from that, sometimes in the past we have been a little bit reserved and guarded in interviews. Sometimes I wish we had just said what we wanted and maybe got some silly press or something. Some bands go out of their way to give a story –
Dave: I kind of don’t like that, it should be all about the music…
Jimmy: – yeah, yeah it should…

Looking ahead you have the last bit of the tour, and the summer of festivals – any other plans slotting in around this period?

Jimmy: Well, we have the European tour coming up about three weeks after this tour, then a string of European festivals coming up after that, and some more UK festivals that are being announced. We’re definitely going to have a packed summer – we haven’t done a good festival circuit for a few years
Dave:  I think we are going to be going to America and Australia too, so we are going to be all over the place.

Just a few to finish up, if you could colaborate with anyone – either on a musical or producing level – who would it be?

Jimmy: Producing I would quite like to work with Dangermaus, and it’d be cool to do some stuff with Beck, or Sabbatical or someone like that.
Dave: In terms of playing, I’d always like to do something with The Beatles, which is your standard answer really, I’d love to play with Paul McCartney. I’d like a massive hip-hop producer to get hold of us just to see where we could go, someone like Kanye West for you [Jimmy], see what he could do with the drums, or what about that guy… Timbaland! Yeah, let’s work with him.

If you could have a ‘Pigeon Detectives’ branded something or other, what would it be?

[long pause]Jimmy: I have some really provocative answers… [laughs]JLS have done condoms haven’t they? Perhaps that’s for… No, I won’t say that [laughs] Dave: Perhaps it’s to put people off… [laughs] Jimmy: [laughs]I can’t say that either… Um, trainers, high-top hip-hop trainers would be pretty cool – they gotta be white, look like they are brand new.

And lastly, if you weren’t musicians, what do you reckon you’d be doing with yourselves?

Dave: I think i’d like to be an author… Like one of them who has a pseudonym and stuff, so I could call myself something ridiculous like Danielle Steel or Jacqui Collins – I wanna make up a middle aged woman’s name and just write loads of seedy books [laughs]To be fair, I could’ve had a stage name, that would have vented that kinda desire [laughs] Jimmy: I’d quite like to be an actor, though I don’t know if I could do it. I never will be an actor, but it’s another job which would be pretty cool.

Did you do it as a kid or anything?

Jimmy: uh…. No! [laughs]Just one of those things that I think would be pretty good [laughs]It’d be another nice lifestyle I guess…
Dave: You go be an actor! Everyone said you wouldn’t be a drummer, and here you are. You go be an actor God damn it!!

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