The Pigeon Detectives have been through a lot in the last ten years – from the highs of a platinum selling debut album to a bumpy dalliance with a well-known independent label that singer Matt Bowman describes as a “thoroughly awful experience”.
But throughout it all the five-piece, from Rothwell, seem to have maintained a sense of perspective and, as they prepare to release their fifth album, Broken Glances, back on Dance To The Radio, the Leeds label catapulted them into the world, they seem in robust shape.
“I think we’ve done so much as a band,” says Bowman, 31. “We’ve had successes, we’ve had failures, and we’ve done it all together so there’s not a lot of other people who can understand what it means to be in the band or what we’ve been through. I think having that to share with each other has probably brought us closer.”
The singer describes the writing process of Broken Glances as “liberating”.
“If ever you were going to find yourself I think on the fifth album you’re probably at that point,” he reflects. “We felt like the shackles were off. We didn’t have to live in the shadow of Wait For Me or Emergency, which were our first two records, which obviously commercially were the most successful. So we weren’t trying to replicate that sound or that success.
“The music scene’s changed so much. We were under no illusions that it probably wouldn’t be played on the radio. Basically we didn’t have to satisfy anything other than ourselves when it came to the song writing process and it was a delight, to be fair. It was probably the free-est we’ve ever felt in terms of writing music since the first record where we didn’t have an agenda to write songs other than to play gigs.”
Hence Broken Glances features some of the band’s most open and reflective songs to date. Bowman puts a lot of that down to shaking off a fear of commercial failure. “On this one we just thought, ‘Sod it, let’s just write the songs that we want to write’. We probably wrote 50 songs for the album and arguably we could have put another album at the same time and it would have sounded totally different to the one we’re releasing.
“We deliberately chose these songs because we think they all sound in a similar vein and they create an atmosphere on the record. Rather than just being a collection of songs all thrown onto a CD, they’ve been thought about and considered. Hopefully it’s a piece of work rather than just a collection of individual songs.”
Numbers such as the six-minute long Munro also have a slower build-up than of old. “I think it’s taken us ten years in the industry to get to the point where we don’t feel like we have to reveal all on the first chorus or the first verse,” Bowman says. “We can hold a little bit back and we can kind of craft the songs, let the listener discover things as the song develops rather than having the first chorus be the same as every other chorus and you’re straight into the song and you know what you’re getting. This time round we’ve tried to take the listener on a journey.”
Bowman admits that if he’d heard their new material in the band’s infancy and been told this what they would sound like ten years on he would have found it hard to believe. “But that excites me even more, the fact we have managed to do this. It proves we’re not treading water or we’re not happy to settle and just put out easy options.”
Basically we didn’t have to satisfy anything other than ourselves when it came to the song writing process and it was a delight.Matt Bowman
Broken Glances is out tomorrow. The band play at Headrow House on Sunday – for fans who’ve pre-ordered the album from Crash Records – and Live At Leeds on April 29. For details vsiti http://thepigeondetectives.com/