Interview: The Pigeon Detectives

Pigeon Detectives - New 1

The Pigeon Detectives aren’t a band to go and see live if you’re going to stand at the bar sipping something overpriced with only the occasional tap of a foot to acknowledge the music, writes Laura Fiteni.

The crowd in The Globe, Cardiff tonight are jumping up and down furiously, shouting themselves hoarse as they scream angsty, sarcastic lyrics back to frontman Matt Bowman.

Wrapped up in microphone leads and whipping up a fury on stage, the venue can barely accommodate the massive presence and frenetic energy of the Northern indie-rock outfit.

Luckily, I got to speak band members Jimmi Naylor (on drums), Ryan Wilson (rhythm guitar) and bassist Dave Best before they start working up a sweat on stage.

Crammed into a cupboard sized room with the industrial groaning of the sound check creeping under the door, it’s hard to imagine the calm and collected, well-groomed men in front of me becoming the frenzied animals I know them to be on stage.

Having heard lots about their summer festival experiences, we start talking festival season. It becomes apparent very quickly that the boys prefer playing the smaller independent festivals despite having played the Saturday at V Festival this year.

“Although V festival was really good and there was a big crowd, one of our favourites was Brownstock which is making quite a name for itself right now.”

“It were a really good little set up,” Ryan chips in with his Northern twang . “Some of the bigger festival, no disrespect to the people who go to them but I think perhaps they go to just get absolutely leathered. Some of the smaller, less corporate ones, it seems the people are more into the music”.

When asked about their festival essentials, the boys come up with a few obvious (and some less so) suggestions; “money for food and drink, face wipes, deep -heat for performances, Diorolyte for when ” … at Jimmi’s last suggestion I quickly turn the conversation over to their latest DJ’ing ventures!

Jimmi: “We’ve been Dj’ing for a couple of years now, when we started getting bigger as a band, clubs started asking us to DJ at after-parties – to put our name against the set y’know? It’s easy but enjoyable”

Ryan: “Our first DJ session, we just turned up with our iPods! The resident DJ there was like ‘what the …..?’ But we’ve got better at it and we’ve DJ’ed all across England and Scotland now. We do Propaganda quite a bit – it’s the biggest indie night across the country.”

Finally I strike a topic that provokes a response from bassist Dave Best.Having mentioned their performance of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Girlfriend’ in the Radio 1 Live Lounge and asking what they would cover if ever asked back, Dave springs into action.

“Oooooh there’s that new Sugar Babes songs in’t ther? CHOOOOON”  he says excitably looking at his fellow PD’s.

Touring since the 17th of September following the release of their fourth album ‘We Met at Sea’, the boys divulge their less-than-wild touring antics.

“Since we’ve become a bit bigger, we just sort of get chauffeured to and from hotels and venues.  We’re never on the bus long enough for it to get messy even.” Jimmi takes charge again as Dave turns his attention to a banana.

“When we first began, it was hard being on tour for weeks and weeks. Imagine being in a boy’s bedroom…. it stinks! With twelve men on a bus, by the fourth week its like ‘oh God’”

“What do you miss most about home?” I ask. The normal answers emerge; Sky TV, a home sofa, the other half, specific teabags. However, I quickly uncover that the absence of Yorkshire tea aboard the tour was a big problem for guitarist Ryan Wilson than I could have anticpated.

Following a tweet complaining about just that, Ryan reveals how a special box of Yorkshire tea was sent to the boys by the Yorkshire tea team! This is evidently a good move on their behalf as the boys look ecstatic!

Talking of twitter, I ask the boys about their less -than-shy approach to social networking sites, referring to occasions when the PD’s have addressed ‘dirty little gig b****es’ and thanked ‘sexy Scottish b*stards’ via tweet.

“That’s just generally the way we talk”, explains Jimmi. “It’s kinda post gig excitement that. You’re still buzzing y’know.”

“We’re obviously quite energetic on stage and it passes onto the crowd. Half the time you come of stage and we’re all still ‘adrenalined up’. We feed off the crowd as much as they feed off us. I think we just get a bit excited”.

Considering the commitment from their followers, particularly from one fan as Ryan lets on, it seems to be a rather successful if not conventional method of communication!

“Jimmi’s genuinely got a stalker,” he explains. “Anytime Jimmi mentions anything on twitter or either of us mention Jimmi , this one particular lad goes crazy. He turned up in a bar in York once because he thought Jimmi was going to be there!”

The interruptions from the sound check going on outside are a reminder that the boys soon have business to attend to. I asked them how they prepared before going on stage. “Matt drinks half a pint of Gin”, says Dave piping up again for a few seconds.

“The rest of us are pretty chilled out ; couple of beers, have a chat, rub each other down and go on stage,” Ryan clarifies. When it comes to chilling out afterwards, “We’re all a bit different actually” he says.

“Sometimes after a good gig, adrenalines still going, some band members will run to the nearest bar and go party and some just want to chill out. Depends on how much energy you have after the gig really”.

Jimmi adds in, “We’re generally more chilled because it’s so intense. For about ten minutes after, we don’t even really like to be bothered because we just need to sit down. We’re all a little bit achey and tired but you don’t feel it when you’re up there playing, it’s generally the next day when you’re like ‘ooooh me back!’

When asked about the contrasting response to the new album between the fans and the critics. Ryan said, “I’m not denying it’s nice to get good reviews but it has to be more about what the fans think. The last album we felt we were stereotyped a bit and it can p*ss you off when you put a lot of time and money into an album but its water off a duck’s back really. The fans seem to like it and they are whose paying for it.”

“The best thing as a band is touring and that’s nothing to do with critics. It’s nice to have a good review but it doesn’t really affect us,” Ryan confirms.

Before I leave the boys to have a few pints and ‘rub each other down’ before the gig starts, I take the opportunity to ask the lads’ advice for new bands starting out. With a decade’s worth experience touring, gigging and creating music, Ryan replies straight away; “Gig as much as possible.”

Jimmi, who also spends a lot of time in the studio with new and up and coming bands agrees. “It makes you a better band. Start Networking. See what the crowd respond to and work on that”.

“Oh and don’t act like Liam Gallagher,” Ryan chirps. “Only act like a big time b*stard when you are one! And don’t be naive and believe all the bulls**t either!”

Leaving the interview, the only thing I can say I enjoyed more than chatting to these genuinely awesome lads was watching them perform an hour or so later. Matt Bowman completes an awesome show in Cardiff by inviting the crowd to flood the stage during the encore (despite the bouncer’s efforts to prevent this happening) and everyone crashes around the stage in true Pigeon Detectives style!

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