What advice would you give to up-and-coming bands? This is one of the most popular questions we are asked. Our answer is always the same. Gig, gig, gig…
Playing gigs is the best thing about being in a band. Anyone who comes to a Pigeons gig can tell how much we love it. The Fresh Prince once said, or ‘spat’ the line “My life is a cage, but on the stage I’m free” in his 1993 mega-hit Boom Shake The Room. Now I wouldn’t necessarily regard my life as cage-like, in all honesty. However, I can more than relate to the second half of that sentence and I know many musicians who agree.
There can be a lot of politics in the music industry. When you begin writing and rehearsing songs with your mates in a cold, badly-wired practice studio on the outskirts of town, you never think about sales, publishing deals, marketing and targets. These things do however tend to squeeze themselves, ever so sneakily, into the life of a band as recognition and reputation get larger.
One thing that never changes is the rush of adrenalin you get when you’re about to walk on stage, and the euphoria of performing on stage. From gig one to gig 100, from performing to crowds of twenty to 20,000. I know this to be fact. I’ve played a lot of gigs.
Leeds has an abundance of great venues to play and none better for dark, sweaty and sticky gigs than The Cockpit. The now iconic Leeds venue has been the scene of some great milestones in my on-stage life, from my first and last stage diving attempt (don’t jump in headfirst), to my first, but not last, encounter with Matt’s wayward swinging microphones. Both of which ended with substantial head lumps and memory loss, though admittedly the memory loss could be the fault of copious plastic bottles of Fosters. Oh, that reminds me. Don’t play gigs drunk. It doesn’t sound good.
It’s obvious, I know, but the more gigs you play the tighter you get. So bug the promoters at Carpe Diem, Wardrobe, Brudenell Social club etc and hone your craft. The Pigeons were, frankly, a rubbish live band for at least five gigs when we started, but we took advantage of the amazing live music scene in Leeds and became a bit better with each gig. From learning to be sharper in between songs, to learning to duck if you see a microphone hurtling in your direction. Every gig is a new lesson.