Interview with Matt from Dinosaur Pile-Up
The past year has seen quite a rise in stature for Leeds band, Dinosaur Pile-Up. Following the release of their album ‘Growing Pains’ they have toured extensively, gaining a reputation of being a force to be reckoned with on the live scene as well as spearheading a grunge revival. (Alister from Cloud Control told me they were one of his favourite bands at SXSW) They play a rescheduled date in Academy 2 on June 17th. I caught up with frontman Matt Bigland, literally just after sound checking in Stoke.
There’s always one question that a band get asked that you wish people would stop asking. What is it?
‘Probably either about Foo Fighters or Nirvana, people love asking about how into Foo Fighters we are or how into Nirvana we are. It’s kinda frustrating because we’re massive Nirvana fans, of course we are, along with a million other kids that were, God knows how old when Nirvana were kicking off or just ending. Foos are a great band I love their first few records and they’re great but.. a lot of people always ask us about that and I guess it’s like, can we not talk about the Foo Fighters cos they’re kinda huge and we’re kinda, getting there. People love ringing us up and talking about Dave Grohl and it’s like wait, we don’t we talk about us?’
Unless you’re getting Dave Grohl to produce your next album, why bother going over the same thing again and again and again?
‘Exactly, I’m sure he’ll get in touch about it someday and then we can talk about it.’
Your album ‘Growing Pains’ came out last October and you were one of the finalists in the XFM Best New Sound. How much of a kick or how important is something like that to you?
‘Well you know, it’s brilliant! It’s a massive honour to be on a list like that. Something like XFM is a great organization and a great radio station. With all those things, like XFM and the Mercury awards, I’m pretty sure every band that gets on those lists is pretty thankful and appreciative of it. Just being on that list means people will see your name and maybe listen to your music and stuff. For us, we were just pscyhed that they thought that highly of us that they put us on the list. We don’t really take anything for granted so when we found out about it we were just super excited and over the moon about it. It didn’t really matter that it didn’t go any further than that, we were just psyched to be a part of that.’
Just as it seemed Dinosaur Pile Up were get everything together, original members, Steve and Tommy left the band. In the run up to releasing your album, how much of an upheaval was it to get new members?
‘I guess that is a good question, it was an upheaval because of the big change. I was in the studio doing the record on my own which was what I wanted to do and then Stevie wanted to continue playing music, didn’t want to take a break an joined Japanese Voyeurs and Tommy was just a bit done with music in general and he kinda just stopped. That was a big change for me, I’d spend a lot of time with them and they were friends but at the same time I had been in the studio for like ten and a half months on my own. That time in the studio was a real push, creatively quite an intense period. Even though it was terrifying not having a band behind me, at the same time it was like, ‘I can deal with this’.
I rang up Harry, he was a good friend of mine, I was like, ‘Do you know anybody that can play bass and sing and stuff, or guitar, whatever?’ Not even thinking of Harry, we were just mates, just chatting about it. He had just come out of his band and he was like ‘I could do it, I guess’. It was really weird taking that next step between friends and being in a band together because it’s so much more of a relationship and heavy undertaking but it just kinda worked, he just fit in.
I’d met Mikey on tour, we’d hung out and got on really well. I got in touch with him and said ‘I know you’re playing at the minute but I kinda need a drummer and stuff’. He was just well into it. So, at the same time as I was looking at it like ‘Jeez, I don’t have a band behind me now’, which was fairly terrifying, what I always thought would be a huge upheaval, actually happened really quickly and quite easily. The guys just integrated themselves into how Dinosaur Pile Up works, instantaneously.’
So do you view Dinosaur Pile Up as a proper band or do you view Dinosaur Pile Up as a project that yo have other people playing on?
‘It was very much that in the beginning but now it’s a band, the boys are the boys. We’re a very close three, we’re very much a band. I write songs all the time and stuff but I still write most of the stuff, that’s my decision but it’s just cos I write all the time. We’re also writing songs together, which is something we’ve never done before, something I’ve never done before but just with Harry and Mikey, we’re that close and we’re on such similar musical pages, it’s not a biggie at all. It just works, we’re very much a band, we’re really close. Above all, really through and through we’re really super close mates.’
If you’re writing, you have to be completely honest, lay your soul bare and if you haven’t don’t that before it can be a bit of a shock to the system.
‘Yeah, for sure. I thing it’s just because we’re so close and we’re so open and honest it’s ok. And the guys too, they understand how I sort my stuff out, deal with it and stuff. We went recently wrote a song and when it came to the song being finished it was like ‘why doesn’t Matt just go and finish that off cos that’s the way he does it’. I was like ‘ok that’s cool’ that they just, get that. It’s good, you know, it’s good!’
You’re on Friends Vs Records, which is a great little label. How important is it for you to get that decent label support?
‘Having a decent label behind you is so important as a band because you need that support and you need people working with you not against you and building you up. You’re the three guys playing the music, you don’t need to think about the safety of the decisions being made behind you, that’s why you have a great label that you can trust and the people working at that label and you understand each other, it’s great.
And obviously, you always want to grow as a band, Friends is an amazing indie label and we never know what’s going to happen with Friends vs Records and us, we just want to consistently grow and get bigger and bigger. It’s a great level to be on.’
Your live performances are helping your reputation grow and helping you get bigger as a band. You were also on tour with Japanese Voyeurs and The Xcerts as part of the Rock Sound Tour. How much fun is it going to tour with the same bands for a month?
‘Killer! The Rick Sound Tour was a great, great tour. We knew Japanese Voyeurs already and obviously Steve drums in that band, used to drum in this band. We have a really close bond. I knew The Xcerts and we’ve become friends and on the first day we met each other and just became friends for life, we’re super super close.
It was a really amazing tour, there was such a good vibe all the time. I think it’s really important that when you tour with a band, that you just vibe off and that you all get on. I have super super fond memories of that.’
It seems that in the past couple of months, you’ve been touring you’re ass off and also did your first Northern American tour and also toured in Mexico. What was Mexico like?
‘Mexico was amazing, it was super bizarre. We were doing the Rock Sound tour in the UK ended that, had a week where I was doing some songwriting in London, literally then headed to South by South West, played there, which was super super intense. Really amazing, so many bands, all the time. We played a bunch of shows all of which were stacked out with people and all those really getting down with it, which is amazing. Then we literally go from SXSW in Austen to Mexico and play our first ever shows there and the first of those was to 5000 people.
It was mindblowing, we’d never been to Mexico, always wanted to and suddenly we’re there. It’s such and amazing place, it’s incredible. 5000 people getting down to our set which was mindblowing and we were still trying to get over South by South West. It was a crazy crazy period. We got back from Mexico and two days later, we’re playing on the UK tour. So it was kinda non stop for two and a half months. It’s great, it’s been really really amazing.’
Festival season is here now, you going to get any time off this year?
‘I don’t know we’re going to be doing lots of studio stuff in amongst the festival dates and then we’ll be touring again after that. Hmm, no we probably won’t get a break, at all. We don’t really mind that though cos that’s what we want to do.
We had a day off yesterday, was it yesterday? Yeah and it was so weird because we were exhausted and like ‘Yeah A day off would be good!’ I was sitting next to Mike and said ‘I literally don’t know what to do with myself, might just go to bed because I just don’t know what to do!’ We’re so used to the three of us being on the road getting out of the van, doing our thing, getting in the van going somewhere else. Having one day where we were just sat in one place was weird. So we’re just used to being busy, being out and playing to people.’
When you’re in the studio now are you demoing tracks for album number two or what are you doing?
‘We’re demoing tracks for whatever, album or anything but we’re also laying down new stuff probably for an E.P. That we’re going to put out. We want to leave time for album number two and give it enough space and time and stuff to chill with it, so we want to put out an E.P. Just to give people something to listen to. We like bands that put out loads of records. We’ve just recorded a couple of tracks for an E.P. I think we’re going to go back in and do some more.’
One final question for you. Didn’t you cross your fingers on your album cover. Are you superstitious?
‘Er, yeah, I guess I am. That’s so funny, no one ever notices that but it was right at a point where I was really exhausted, I had just come out of the studio, we didn’t know what was happening with the label, whether people were going to help us out, pick us up and stuff . I was talking to the photographer and he said you should cross your fingers for good luck so it’s always on the album. So I did it and you’re literally the first person that’s ever asked that. Yeah my fingers are crossed for superstition I guess, just to give it some good luck or whatever.’ (laughs)
Dinosaur Pile-Up play The Academy 2 in Dublin on June 17th and The Half Moon Theatre in Cork on June 18th . Tickets are available from ticketmaster.ie