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Dave Best - The Pigeon Detectives PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Shaw   
30 03 2011
ImageFormed in 2002, The Pigeon Detectives first came on the scene back in 2006, at a time when an army of bands were emerging from Leeds. They released their debut album ‘Wait For Me' in 2007 and fast earned a reputation as one of the most exciting live bands in the UK. They released their second album, ‘Emergency' in 2008 before taking a break. 2011 sees the band return with a new album, ‘Up Guards And At ‘Em' and a UK tour. We caught up with bassist Dave Best to talk about the new album, cartoons and catching pigeons.

Your new album comes out soon, excited?
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Yeah, we're looking forward to it. We've not had an album out for like two and a bit years or maybe three years, so we're excited to get out on the road and get back into the kick of things.

You mentioned that you've been away for awhile, what have you all been up to? Just writing the album, or did yous have a break?
We had a couple months break when we... basically we did our last tour and then finished off at Alexandra Palace in London and decided to take some time off. So we had like three or four months off where we all started playing golf, and stuff like that, just chilled out for a little bit. And then we had a longer writing process for this album. It took a while to write, we had about 50 songs, which we whittled down to about 10, so we had a strong process of elimination, if you will, for this album.

What can we expect from it?
Well, I think the first single that everyone's heard is the closest to anything we've done in the past, really. I mean, it's a definite progression, in terms of the sound, because we've been away for so long we wanted to make an album that was a whole album that had a start, middle and end, that you could appreciate as an album, whereas the first album was a collection of all our favourite live songs and stuff like that. But we wanted to release an album that people could listen to, and understand as an album.

Is that something that is still important to you, making an album as a whole, rather than downloadable singles?
Yeah, definitely. Especially with this album. Singles are becoming redundant, other than for people like Rihanna, at the moment, so I think in terms of longevity and stuff like that, it's all the more important to get an album which people will be able to listen to from start to end and enjoy as many different aspects of all tying together at the same time.

Yeah, cool. The album is called Up, Guards And At 'Em! - where did the title come from?
It's basically, our guitarist came up with it and it's kind of a call to arms I suppose, in terms of sometimes it's other people against you in the music industry, the music industry is kind of a crazy industry, and it's basically just saying us five sticking together, in an us against the world sort of thing.  That's basically the attitude we wanted to take with the whole campaign with this album.

ImageMentioning that, Your first album came out back in 2007, at a time when the music scene in Leeds was seemingly vibrant, with a strong contingent of great bands all emerging around the same time. Did you feel like you were part of a movement? Or was it more like you just you?
It's weird, because when you're in the middle of it, you don't stand back and look at it like that, so you don't know how good you had it back then. There was certainly a group of bands coming from Leeds that were all coming out together, we all toured with each other whenever we could and that, bands like The Sunshine Underground, Forward, Russia, Duels, Kaisers, Cribs, we all kind of knew each other so we were kind of, at the time, proud to be in this little group that wasn't from London. The whole music industry in England is run from London, so it was good get a bit of saturation in the North of England.

What's the music scene in Leeds like now? From the outside, it seems quite similar to Sunderland, in that at the heart of the city is a group of really creative and resourceful people doing things for themselves. Is that similar?
Yeah, it is. There's a couple of independent labels, ours included, in Leeds and we all know each other, and everyone is trying to achieve something. They don't have to pander to the industry and it gives people the license to be creative, and to do what they want, you know. In the music industry you get people trying to tell you what to do, but certainly other people we know and that we've dealt with in this part of the country have tried to let it be in the hands of the artist and let them decide what they want to do, instead of what the industry thinks they should do at the time.

Does that give you more control, and more freedom to do what you want?
Certainly in our band. We've never been told to do anything. We wanted to release an album within a year of the first one, and then we wanted to take some time off and we've done that. I mean, obviously it's been on our terms, I don't how much different that would be if it were a major label. I don't have that much experience, but I'm sure they'd be pulling more of the strings and telling you when you're going to release an album, how much time you're having off and stuff like that but we don't have that, with us we can pretty much do what we want.

Cool, it sounds a lot easier to do it that way
It can be harder, if you don't have the major record label clout and stuff like that, but usually with the investment from major labels you've got to pay it all back anyway and not have a cushy life for a awhile.
I suppose it's more fun to do it on your own terms as well
Yeah it is. I mean, we find it hard to agree with each other amongst the five of us most of the time, with getting involved in the whole creative side of it and deciding when the album is going to be released and that.

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What music are you listening to at the moment? Any favourite new bands?
I quite like this band from Hull called The Neat. Nick from the Kaisers is managing them and so he introduced me to them. I thought they were quite good. There was a band supposed to come on tour with us, I think they're from your neck of the woods, have you heard of Little Comets?

Yeah, one of them is from the same town as me.
Ah right. Well they were going to support us on our UK tour, but that's not going through any more, but I thought a couple of their tracks were good. There are a lot of good bands knocking about if you look hard enough. I think it's harder now than we started to get yourself on the map. There's so many guitar bands that are readily available on the radio, compared to when we first came out.

Is it true that you got your name from a 70s French cartoon? The band name, not your name
(laughs) No not my name. There's loads of different stories about the origin of that name, that one seems as good as any.

Well, it just makes more sense for my next question. What, in your opinion, is the greatest cartoon ever?
I do obviously love watching The Simpsons and that, but I'm loving Family Guy at the moment, that sits on my Sky + box at home. I'd have to say that at the moment. Obviously, you've got your classics that I used to love. I loved Tom & Jerry as a kid but right now it's Family Guy. I like American Dad too, but it's not as laugh out loud funny.

Cool, I like them both too. So when I was researching for this interview, I watched a lot of Catch The Pigeon. How would you attempt to catch a pigeon?
How would I attempt to catch a pigeon? Well, I've got a cat, which I bought in the last six months for my girlfriend. So I reckon I'd lure it into my garden with some, I don't know, what do they like? A fancy hotdog, or something like that, and then I'd just set my cat on to it.

That's a bit sneaky
Well, you know, I couldn't go round trying to catch one in my hands.
True. My favourite one was a "Pigeon Grabber", that was just a button they pressed that made a big claw come out. It didn't work though.

If you were a pigeon, who would you take a dump on and why?
I don't know, that would be disgusting, wouldn't it? I don't know. I don't want to say anyone individually. Maybe my teacher, Mr Longly, who gave me detention when it was Ryan from the band's fault.
What happened?
He cut a girls hair from behind, snipped the end of her ponytail off and blamed it on me, and I was the one that got told off. Maybe even Ry from our band, for doing that.
I would as well, that sounds really harsh
I know

Who do you think would win in a fight: a pigeon, or a rat?
A pigeon has got the aerial threat, hasn't it? I'd say a pigeon, it could just swoop in and take a good aim. I suppose the rat could go underground, but I reckon the pigeon would win.
What if the rat was like Jerry from Tom & Jerry? A clever rat.
Yeah, it depends on the personality. If it was a bog standard rat and a bog standard pigeon, then I'd go for the pigeon every day. If it was a more intelligent, piano playing rat, like Jerry, I'd probably go for the rat.

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If the world was about to end, what would be the last song you would listen to?
Probably ‘A Day In The Life' by The Beatles. A bit sombre, but it's one of my favourite songs, and I suppose it reflects both Lennon and McCartney and an impending doom.

Finally, describe your new album in five words
Exciting, ambitious, catchy. I'm struggling now. I suppose it's dynamic and, erm... usually with our albums it's fun, so I'll go with fun. That's hard that.
That's why I asked it. Thanks then, I'll look forward to the album. Anything you like to add?
No, not really. Just that if anyone is coming to the gigs, we're looking forward to doing them. We start doing that next week, then the album is out on April 4th, so we're excited.
Cool. Is it Stockton, you play up here?
Middlesbrough. I went to uni there, so every time I come back it brings back bad memories. I've got mixed feelings about it because I got jumped in the town centre a couple of times. It's not the friendliest of places, but I don't want to start slagging anywhere off.

Up Guards And At 'Em is released on April 4th, The Pigeon Detectives tour the UK throughout March and April. More information can be found on their website here


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