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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It feels like it’s been a remarkable year for a lot of the noisier Tyneside bands, with the likes of Blown Out and Khünnt releasing essential albums and playing to ever bigger crowds. Leading the way are Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, who turned in a world-class set on the main stage at this year’s Supernormal, followed it with a jaw dropping hometown show at The Cluny later in the year, and are now releasing their debut album, Feed The Pigs, in January. It seemed inevitable that the band would end up on Rocket Recordings, the highly regarded label which is the home of kindred spirits like Gnod, Teeth Of The Sea and Hey Colossus. Catching up with Adam Sykes (guitar) and Matt Baty (vocals/keyboards), talk turned initially to the way Feed The Pigs sounds – building on the strengths of their earlier, limited releases but taking it somewhere far huger and more involving.

“We have Sam [Grant, Pigs x7 guitarist] to thank for that,” Sykes explains. “He runs Blank Studios, so thankfully we’re able to have a thoroughly laidback approach to recording. The first track on the album, Psychopomp, has seen a previous release in a different incarnation [a 50-cassette run on Box Records]. We tend to have everything fairly fleshed out before going into the studio but after playing Psychopomp live for the past 18 months or so it’s changed quite significantly and so we wanted to re-visit and re-record it.”

When you’ve become used to seeing a band play in front of a local crowd, it’s always weirdly uplifting to watch them triumph away from home, as Pigs… did at Supernormal did this year and, for example, Richard Dawson has done in the past. Coming after a period in which it seemed like Newcastle was musically fertile but perhaps a little insular, I wondered if the band were conscious of this shift. Sykes thinks not. “It’s not something we’ve been too aware of. I’m unsure if the word has spread any more than it has over the past 10 years or so. It’s hard to have much of a perspective on the external influence of a city’s music scene when you’re in that city but if the word has spread at all, I don’t think we’ve had much of a hand in that. Richard on the other hand is, without doubt, Newcastle’s finest and most important export. With the exception of maybe Venom.”

I’ve heard numerous people – from audience members to journalists – suggest that Pigs… might be the best live band in the North East right now, or even the country, and there is something pretty magic(k)al about a Pigs… gig in full flight, where the waves of noise and onstage chaos combine to achieve a kind fucked up transcendence. Unsurprisingly, Baty attributes this to the band’s key influence. “We summon the higher powers of Buck-Ra, who spiritually merges our collective Fast-gons to make us one with the audience. It usually takes around 30 seconds of feedback at the start of the set. We don’t begin until Buck-Ra shows us the red sign!”

I think in terms of audience there’s a general open-mindedness, which is positive and should be encouraged at all costs

Matt Baty once claimed that the band only ever listened to one song (Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath, from the album Black Sabbath). But while the Aston overlords are clearly fundamental, I wondered if the various members brought their own influences to the Pigs… sound. I shouldn’t have bothered. “As far as I understand it, Matt only listens to wrestling theme songs,” explains Sykes, and Baty elaborates, “I listen to Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts’ entrance music when I wake up, then Razor Ramon’s around midday to keep my energy levels up. Finally I’ll listen to Golddust’s entrance music just before bedtime. On days of celebration I’ll throw Mr. Perfect’s theme in somewhere.”

The band’s burgeoning popularity has roughly coincided with the current boom in what gets variously labelled as noise rock or the dreaded ‘psych’, a term Pigs… find as useless as everyone else. “‘Psych’ has definitely become increasingly overused and continues to confuse people, myself included.” Sykes points out. “Having said that, we certainly don’t mind when it’s attributed to us, I think it means that we use a wah pedal.” Baty concurs. “That’s essentially it. Reverb, delay and wah pedals. I think psych music needs to use two of the three. It’s a pretty broad label and covers a lot of styles but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I think in terms of audience there’s a general open-mindedness, which is positive and should be encouraged at all costs.”

The band recently announced that the Tyneside leg of their London/Newcastle album launch double-whammy would be at St Dominic’s Catholic Club near the Byker Bridge on Friday 20th January, a surprising choice of venue. The chance to offer a happy hour notwithstanding, there were other compelling reasons, as Sykes points out. “We simply wanted to play somewhere we hadn’t done before. Venues in Newcastle seem to be being swallowed up by student accommodation or money-hungry promotion companies. The drinks at St Doms are cheap and it has a dance floor.” “It was quite frustrating trying to find somewhere to have the launch that has an extended licence,” Baty adds.  “We didn’t want it to be an ‘in-and-out’ sort of affair so our options were quite limited in that respect. Newcastle desperately needs the Star & Shadow back. It really, really does…”

As for the rest of 2017 once the album is released? Sykes unveils their master plan. “We have a handful of gigs in the UK at the start of January with our dear friends Tough Tits, then another handful around Europe at the end of February, a few festivals, maybe another record. All watered down with a glass of Tonic Wine.”

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs launch Feed The Pigs via Rocket Recordings at St Dominics Catholic Club, Newcastle on Friday 20th January.


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