BN1 caught up with Dinosaur Pile-Up’s Matt Bigland at Tunbridge Wells’ Leefest (Fri 29- Sun 31 Jul) to talk about the band’s future, the best places to tour and why he refuses to believe grunge is dead…
NM: Dinosaur Pile-Up has gone through some pretty big line up changes over the last nine years… Talk to us about that?
MB: A good way to put it is that all the changes that maybe you’d do in a band to begin with, Dinosaur Pile-Up has always kind of done in the public eye. As soon as I’d recorded songs and put them out there, we kind of got a bit recognised. But all of our changes have been since then. The band has kind of been organically finding its footing, and finding the best line-up is part of that. Which obviously now it has, and Mike, Jim and I have been touring for two years and, yeah, it’s rad. We’re in a really good place, touring more than we ever have. We’ve been touring and releasing records globally which of course is mindblowing. It’s nice that the band is growing and progressing.
NM: So all the touring, that’s off the most recent record?
MB: Yep, so Eleven Eleven is our third record, and that came out last October in the UK. We’re doing a bunch of touring, and we’re just about to release that record in America and Europe in August, and that means that we’ll have released it everywhere – Australia, Japan, UK, India, America and Europe, which is awesome for us. So, now we’re just doing loads of touring off that record I guess. This year we’re going to be in Europe for about a month, then we’re in America for about a month, and then in India for two weeks or something, which is awesome.
NM: India? That’s not one that shows up on a lot of touring schedules…
MB: No… Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. There’s this real emerging rock market out there happening right now, and we’ve somehow sort of managed to be part of it. It’s weird, but it’s awesome. It’s so intense out there… When we first played there, we played a festival called NH7 and we just had no idea what to expect, but we walked out and there were around 7,000 people losing their mind. It was crazy, they were going apeshit, I haven’t seen anything like it. We were second from headline, but we’d never been there before, so it was just really surreal but mad cool. It’s so different and exciting there.
NM: What have been the struggles with trying to break the global market?
MB: There are a lot of places to play and a lot of places to release, so I guess it doesn’t really affect us directly; it just means there are more people to talk to and communicate to and play to, which is awesome. So yeah, it’s just rad. We get really stoked when we’ll be anywhere. Japan particularly, or America. Wherever people are singing back the words to our songs, it’s just a headfuck. It’s really awesome.
NM: So a bit of a high point?
MB: Totally, because it means people all over the planet are communicating with your band, however small those minorities of people are, it means you’re connecting which is really cool.
NM: Do you have a favourite country to tour?
MB: Everywhere really. I love going to Japan, it’s amazing there. Also, America, because the drives are insane, everything is really cinematic. The people have a lot of positive energy.
NM: Is it true what they say about Japanese crowds – that they sort of sit there in silence?
MB: In between songs, yeah. It’s dead silent, it’s crazy. It’s like there’s a rapture of applause for ten seconds, but then it just stops, and you could literally hear a pin drop. If you’re talking on stage, everyone can hear it.
NM: Do you feel more pressure in that environment?
MB: Yeah, you do. Everyone is so engaged, which is so fucking cool. Everyone’s really into it. So, Japan’s one of my favourite places. But honestly, I just love the fact that we have the opportunity to travel with the band, to see all these places, and play for everybody that wants to come to our shows. That’s a real opportunity and a gift that we really don’t take for granted. It’s really cool for us that we get to travel so much.
NM: You’ve certainly come a long way. So you started Dinosaur Pile-Up in 2007 on your own – how do the additions of Jim and Mike contrast with that?
MB: Yeah, I mean, it was awesome. I love making music and making records particularly and I just kind of love everything about it, so… It was awesome. But the thing is… Making records on your own, you’re making all the parts and stuff, it’s pretty intense and stressful. But I still absolutely loved it. But obviously now, having recorded with the boys, that’s a completely different process and it’s a lot easier and fun. But, like… As long as I’m making records in whatever form, I don’t really care, I just want to be making records. But it’s also… What’s great about now is that I also have Mikey and Jim and we’re very close as a band and really close friends, and so really close bandmates, kind of musically. So that’s rad because we’re a real band now – a team, I guess – and when you’re sort of taking on the whole planet or all these territories or whatever, it’s nice to be able to do it with guys where you’re pretty much a little family or whatever.
NM: So how did that come about, working with the guys?
MB: So, Mikey… I met when we played a show in Norwich, and he was the first band on. And I really liked the way he played. So we met at that show, and then played another show, and went to a party and got on like a house on fire. So when I was looking for a drummer I just emailed him like “hey, do you wanna get involved in this?”. He played… One of my favourite drummers is Dale Crover of The Melvins, and Mikey really reminded me of him. So that was that really, it was really simple. And then Jim… I’ve known forever. When Dinosaur was touring in the early days, Jim’s old old band was first on that bill. I met Jim there and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s been in a couple of bands since and then when his last band disbanded we were looking for a bassist so it just came together really nicely.
NM: In the past, Dinosaur Pile-Up have been compared to early 90s grunge, with some drawing similarities between yourself and Dave Grohl… How have you responded to that?
MB: Well, I mean, all of those comparisons for me are awesome because I’m so heavily influenced by them – by that period in the 90s. So are Mike and Jim. So when people say, how do you feel about being classed as a grunge band, we’re just like, well that’s rad. That’s why we started the band. So… That’s not an insult in any way – I think it’s cool. And also, I think we’re doing… We’re kind of making alternative music where… I kind of feel like genuine alternative rock now is sort of hard to find. But that’s what we’re doing, and that’s why we do it…
NM: Could you expand a little more on that? About the whole alternative rock scene not feeling so genuine?
MB: Yeah, I don’t know. I just don’t feel like there’s a lot of stuff knocking around. We just went on tour with Basement, which was so awesome because they’re such lovely dudes making killer music. But it’s hard to find bands that are really putting out alternative rock and punk rock and stuff like that that’s like, genuinely… It’s a weird thing to say, that it’s not genuine, but like, we just struggle to find bands that we feel akin to. But I guess that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing and why we’re so stoked.
NM: Talking to a few other bands today, they’ve mentioned guitar music. However it seems much more aimed at the pop market…
MB: Yeah, totally. There’s a lot of guitar bands that aren’t really guitar bands. That’s weird for me – it’s weird for us – because that’s not alternative rock. That’s something… It’s not good. We’re stoked to not be categorised like that.
NM: Do you think that alt rock or grunge could ever have a revival?
MB: I don’t feel like there’ll ever be a revival because streaming services like Spotify have made everything available, whatever it is. Which is rad, because they’ve got everything from every time period. So I don’t think there will be a revival in that way. But at the same time, you definitely see a 90s thing going on at the minute. Whether it’s just in fashion or trends or whatever. The thing is, people might be wearing 90s clothes or whatever but I don’t think they’re listening to good, Deftones, Pumpkins, proper 90s music. There’s definitely a thing, but I don’t think it’ll come back. But rock music will never die, and grunge definitely isn’t dead. And we’re going to be doing a lot more, and so are a lot of other bands. Maybe more people will listen to it in a couple of years, but it’s not really something you can predict.
NM: Regarding inspiration, how has that changed over the years? What are you listening to now?
MB: I always listen to the same early-late 90s sort of stuff. But I just try to listen to a lot of everything really. Obviously there’s great bands from that era still releasing, like Deftones. We find out about a lot of bands while we’re touring, so we listen to a lot of new stuff. We listen to Rozwell Kid quite a lot; they’re like this Weezer-inspired, heavy mod-rock kind of thing, which is awesome. Basement are a great band we listen to, so yeah. There’s always good stuff around.
NM: Sounds ideal! So, how about any future material? You’re about to release Eleven Eleven in the States and Europe, but what more do you have coming up?
MB: Yeah, I mean, I’m always writing. But because of the release, we won’t be working on a new record for a while… But I’m always writing, always working on the next thing. It’s just how I do stuff.
NM: Do you ever take a break?
MB: No, not really. [laughs]
Dinosaur Pile-Up play Reading & Leeds weekend on the Bank Holiday weekend, Thu 26 – Sat 28 August.
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