INTERVIEW: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Janina Sabaliauskaite

GNT sets out Pigs x7’s second album with a tease. Whereas last year’s Feed the Rats took all of two seconds to show its hand, King of Cowards keeps its listener on tenterhooks, delaying the inevitable with a snaking psych bassline and a series of thundering false starts. It’s an opening indicative of a band rising in both confidence and ambition, yet while content to bide their time on record it’s clear Newcastle’s finest farmyard five-piece were in no mood to dawdle.

“In the past we’ve taken everything so slowly that it’s taken years to do anything, and we wanted to change that a bit,” reflects guitarist Adam Sykes on the quickfire turnaround between records. “Chris [Morley, drummer] came on board last autumn and we were excited to get working with him on new stuff, so as soon as he joined we got cracking.
“We were touring in Europe and had a few days off, so instead of doing nothing we thought we might as well try to use that time,” he continues. “I had a quick look on Airbnb and found this amazing barn conversion in the middle of nowhere in the hills in Italy.”

“It was a really productive time,” recalls vocalist Matt Baty. “The nearest town was at least half-an-hour’s drive away. There was nothing around, so we were completely isolated there. We’d get up in the morning, have breakfast and begin working.”

Having slotted seamlessly into the band’s live show, it quickly became clear that the addition of Morley was to have a positive effect on the band’s creative chemistry. “It helps when you’ve played with someone,” Baty explains. “I’ve known Chris for a long time. I lived in Manchester for three years and I ended up playing in Gnod, and Chris was their drummer at the time. It’s one thing being able to tell that someone’s a good musician, but it’s another having collaborated in the past and knowing how each other work. I always thought he’d be a perfect fit for us, so I’m really pleased he was happy to commit.”

With the writing process largely completed, the band returned to the North East to record at guitarist Sam Grant’s relocated Blank Studios. Having laid Feed the Rats down in the original Ouseburn premises, it was only appropriate that Pigs should be the first band to use the new purpose-built studio on Warwick Street. “The new space is incredible,” Sykes says. “Sam spent a long time designing it and building it, so he knows every inch of it. We were doing the tracking, and to an extent it was already sounding like a mixed record. It allowed us a lot more freedom to experiment and spend a bit more time on the process than we had done previously.”

I’m interested in how the brain works in terms of guilt and sin, and where these frameworks of right and wrong come from

The fruits of their labours should more than appease those baying for another riff fest, with standouts ranging from turbo-charged, hurricane force romps GNT and Cake of Light to the hulking, sludgy behemoths Shockmaster and Thumbsucker. Moreover, King of Cowards is a record permeated by ideas; a quality epitomised by remaining cuts A66 and Gloamer, which pack in more twists and turns than any of their predecessors, despite clocking in at a fraction of their length.

“We did want to approach the new album a bit differently,” Sykes confirms. “We’d been sitting on those old tracks for a couple of years in some cases, but because we wrote the new record in a much shorter space of time we’ve not spent years playing and building these songs live.” Indeed, with all six numbers relatively untested, it’s clear he and Baty are itching to blast them out onstage. “The old songs were such big long slabs, but the new stuff should give us a bit more freedom to play with the live set,” the frontman enthuses. “All of them still kind of meld into each other – we still want it to be mantric – but the shorter track lengths definitely work in our favour a bit.”

“Since we started this band I’ve never sat down with a pen and paper and thought ‘right here’s the subject I want to get off my chest,’” Baty continues, when quizzed on the record’s lyrical content. “It wasn’t until just before we came to recording and I got around to writing everything down that I realised there’s this thread of guilt and sin running through the entire album.” Subconscious or otherwise, it’s clearly a topic to which he dedicates plenty of thought: “It’s all internal monologue I suppose!” he laughs. “I’m interested in how the brain works in terms of guilt and sin, and where these frameworks of right and wrong come from. It’s very easy to trace them back to religion, but it’s not just there. I’m not saying that everyone should be free of guilt – that emotion exists for a reason – but it can be easily exploited. It can be a very debilitating feeling, but by the same token it can be a catalyst for positive things. I’m very quick to judge myself and internally get a stick out and beat myself with it – but when I’m feeling more clear-headed I can analyse those thoughts and realise that they’re not rational.”

Finally, we look ahead to this month’s album launch at the Star and Shadow Cinema – another familiar haunt bearing a fresh face. “We’ve all got strong connections,” Sykes professes: “Sam’s Blank Studios is attached, and we’ve been visiting, playing and putting on gigs there for years. Chris was actually one of the volunteers who built it when he first moved up. We’ve got a lot of love for the place, so it seemed like the logical venue for the launch gig. We’re getting in some nice things… some amazing lighting; a great sound engineer; a really good support act [beguiling Londoners Mésange open the show]. We want to make it a bit special –hopefully there’ll not be any noise concerns this time!”

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs launch King of Cowards at the Star and Shadow Cinema on Thursday 27th September. The band also play Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Thursday 25th October. The album is released on 28th September via Rocket Recordings.



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