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

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Fuzz rock, the style most often given to describe up-and-coming five-piece Pit Pony, does not do them justice; a diverse range of unique sounds makes the band what they really are. Driven by bass-heavy tracks with the force of a monster truck kept on rolling by a salvo of relentless drum lines, twisted and strangled guitars make up the meat of their music as well as providing unforgettable tunes, which are all backed up by the formidable voice of frontwoman Jackie Purver, whose style is raw and honest.

This is the sound of Pit Pony that so many have loved through electrifying live shows and single releases since their formation in 2018. And now, in their first release since 2020, a long-awaited debut album, World To Me, will cast light on previously unheard sides of the band whilst maintaining the distinctive quality established by antecedent singles.

One such idiosyncrasy is that the group are steeped in the culture of the North East. From newly-released single Supermarket’s cover, which proudly features a Newcastle United tattoo, to the video for latest single Sinking, which shows South Shields some love on celluloid, and childhoods spent under the influence of Jimmy Nail… the list continues. “I think we’re all from different parts of the North East,” laughs Jackie. “I’m South Shields, Andrew’s [guitar] Durham, Potter’s [bass] Newcastle, Garth’s [guitar] sort of Teesside way, and Joey’s [drums] Northumberland, so there’s only North Tyneside that we’ve not got! But I think it’s important because it kind of shapes your tastes and your interests. There’s a lot on the album about water, and I think that’s a lot to do with growing up next to the sea and the Tyne.”

A noticeable feature of Jackie’s voice is the preservation of her natural Shields-tinged accent: “Sadly it is deliberate; everyone has to think about it because nobody really does it. It should be natural, but the way that music is, people don’t naturally sing in their own voices – but it’s more authentic.” Garth adds, “If I listen to something with someone singing in a different accent, for me, I instantly don’t believe what they’re saying. It’s dead mainstream. I love the Arctic Monkeys, it’s that thing of just writing songs that you mean… And they’ve maintained absolutely ginormous fan bases, not just churning out crap.”

There’s a lot on the album about water, and I think that’s a lot to do with growing up next to the sea and the Tyne

This candid nature shines through on more than one track on the new album, including Best Is Yet, an ode to youth, the lyrics of which band wordsmith Jackie wrote when reflecting on her time as a seventeen-year-old with an oyster of a world before her. Complete with references to William Blake, she recalls studying and enjoying his book Songs of Innocence and Experience – somewhat potent, given the track’s subject matter. Jackie takes lyrical inspiration from poets such as Larkin and Shakespeare, ranging from wonderfully insightful (“And you know I’m not the one to make a promise I can’t keep, so I promise you love”) to anger-filled outbursts (“No fight, no flight, just stupidity, that’s right”).

As for how the songs on this twelve-track album came together, Pit Pony’s songwriting process is a solid team effort. “We wrote a lot of it in lockdown, sending ideas backwards and forwards,” says Potter. “Andrew’s really good at putting things together on the computer that we couldn’t even dream of doing.”

“When we have a nice riff or verse sorted, Jackie’ll provide a melody, which gives the song a lot of its intent and meaning,” adds Andrew. “Black Tar [the album’s first single] is a good example, because that was originally one me and Joey came up with, which was initially sounding a bit like Ty Segall or a bit Brian Jonestown-sy – when Jackie brought the lyrics and it had a spikier meaning we just doubled the tempo, went all out on it!”

“Some of the songs really formed and became what they sounded like in the studio, for example World To Me and Sinking. They were both two tracks in particular which had heavy input from [producer] Chris McManus.”

The album’s title track is the type of song to make your ears prick up. From its first sombre strum, it is entrancing and profound. Jackie tells its story: “World To Me is actually really personal. Me and Garth have a little girl, so it touches on motherhood and having a baby. It’s about how your perspective changes about what’s important to you, because everything else sort of pales in comparison when you have a child.” The track also features a number of other special appearances, including Garth’s father’s guitar, a clarinet performance from Jackie’s brother, and a giggle from their child woven into the mix. “It was quite emotional,” bassist Potter remarks, “I remember feeling a bit like having a lump in my throat because it was just like, ‘Ah, that’s the take’. You could just tell it was quite special at the time.”

In aid of the release of World To Me, Pit Pony will be performing a pair of sets; the first a semi-acoustic show at Newcastle’s RPM record shop, the second a more adrenaline-fuelled affair supported by bigfatbig and William Denton Wilde at Zerox’s Shooting Gallery, both on Friday 1st July, ahead of a short UK tour. “It’ll be the first and maybe only time we ever play with an acoustic guitar,” says Garth about the in-store show. “We did it once in practice, and it sounded great, and we really enjoyed it!” And listeners, whether live or on record at home, will doubtlessly be well pleased too.

Pit Pony release World To Me on 1st July via Clue Records. They play an in-store at RPM and later at The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle on the same day.

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