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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There’s a looming paranoia in the air. Maybe the vaguest scent of imposter syndrome too. It’s palpable and honestly best not dwelt upon too long, but Matt Baty, vocalist and lyricist with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, is definitely feeling it. It’s a regular occurrence with each successive album release or raise in gig stature; something that’s been with him since the start of the band over a decade ago, and carried through to their fourth album, Land of Sleeper, which is released on 17th February.

Years and years ago we would play three shows in town and I was concerned. I was always amazed that people came down to them. I’ve never lost that.” This expression of humility is typical, I find, of the band generally. Matt and I are joined in conversation by Sam Grant (guitarist and producer) and Adam Ian Sykes (guitarist), while returning drummer Ewan Mackenzie and bassist John-Michael Hedley are engaged elsewhere.

For a little more context Sam explains how Land of Sleeper follows on from their hugely praised Viscerals album of 2020. “From a pre-production perspective, the studio side, it is a reaction because there wants to be some sort of reimagining going on for a new album. It’s like the lining up of the planets really, because there was a number of different things going on. With Ewan back drumming on this record his style married with the writing that we were all doing, which was darker. There was a lot of heavier material, and on the production side it was a similar thing. I wanted to try and create something that offered another kind of shade.”

Okay, shade. Now we’re talking. Listening to Land of Sleeper is just one huge feeling of Lord-almighty-dark-as-doom-itself-mood-music-dread-in-the-pit-of-the-stomach. It’s deliberately paced to generate sonic euphoria and for letting loose completely. Get it on your headphones because it takes the listener on one hell of a journey, but one you can’t possibly be prepared for.

You may already have heard Mr Medicine released late last year as a taster of what’s to come. But that’s not true. Sam has already said that it was written to be “a sonic arrow, purposefully succinct with no fat and no detours.” Matt has called it an “outlier” in that the other songs bracketing it have more heft. Lyrically, however, when he sings: “Through noise we release ourselves. We can be…Fearless” that’s pretty much the album in a nutshell – when, despite any pervasive paranoia, he’s catapulting forward, no longer holding back in any way.

Land of Sleeper opens with Ultimate Hammer, a mid-paced riff-heavy confessional that slows halfway and rages as it grows darker, like a storm cloud looming in the near distance, before fighting the reduced pace and ripping free again. Matt’s roars are accompanied by a banshee screaming guitar solo. It’s one hell of a start.

It’s clear that Pigx7 are not a band that noodles around with song ideas on stage and then lays down the tracks in the studio. They write albums with the listener firmly in mind

Terror’s Pillow follows, with its see-sawing tones and guttural vocals mixing melodic simplicity with music to serenade nightmares. It’s absolutely brilliant. Big Rig explodes into life with the heaviest sounds yet on the album, then launches into an off-kilter spiral, a hurricane at sea getting its second wind, then a third, as it pitches up and down. The band are cast adrift, barely present then suddenly hands break the surface and they expertly battle the waves safely to shore. Six minutes of roller-coaster riding, fingernails digging in for dear life. It’s the storm before the storm as next track, The Weatherman, pitches up. Unsettlingly, quietly teasing out the dread ever further.

The lighter mood of Mr Medicine, a mere intermission, gives way and the album makes a bolt for the finish line. Pipe Down! mimics the opening track by becoming deathly slow before rebuilding. The gymnastics Pigx7 are doing in this song alone are bloody thrilling. The appropriately heavy Atlas Stone eventually spins off into the cosmos and meets the crunching finisher, Ball Lightning, as we transcend this wretched earth for, dare I say it, a spiritual existence. It’s exhausting and exhilarating.

The band agree this is their most collaborative album to date. Writing and recording together live in various spaces has led to more ideas and seems effortless. The process began right after Viscerals in 2020 so they’ve taken time to deliberate, cogitate and digest.

It’s clear that Pigx7 are not a band that noodles around with song ideas on stage and then lays down the tracks in the studio. They write albums with the listener firmly in mind before taking them out on the road. As both Matt and Adam confirm, “we now have a much bigger palette to pick from when it comes to set lists…and we do find that we’ll play songs on tour and listen back to the album versions and think they’re dramatically different, so they do evolve.” The inherent moods and tensions of these latest songs will undoubtedly be stretched for maximum pleasure when the band hits UK and US stages this year, including a trip to SXSW in Texas.

Each release has attracted new fans while bringing existing ones along without the band repeating themselves musically, which is an admirable achievement. Proclaiming to feel the pressure of expectation every time and as their profile rises, they also seem to feed off that energy. Sam jokes how despite their record label (Rocket Recordings) giving them “freedom to go with what we want to do” and how the album’s introspective sounds mean “it’s not going to do as well [as previous albums]”.

That remains to be seen, but honestly this could just as easily result in new swathes of fans discovering the band. “Music is powerful medicine,” as Matt puts it, and everyone needs to take the damn pills.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs release Land of Sleeper on 17th February. They play Sage Gateshead on Thursday 23rd February and The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Sunday 16th April.


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