The first day of a new week is a perfect time to play a tune from PIGEON, very nice post punk / post hardcore band from Warwick, New York. All the fans of FUGAZI should definitely check it out. While they have likely drawn the most acclaim from the 90s post hardcore scene, their music brings angry, yet melodic overtone. Taste it below.
Hey guys! What’s up? I love the turtle on the front cover of your brand new album. Tell me about this fine piece of art [smiles].
Hi Ya!! Just living, juggling a thousand things at once! [smiles] Thanks so much! The cover was a painting that our frontman had done a while back. We’re a bunch of artsy fartsy full-fledged dorks, and the cover was just a piece that we all had loved the look and concept of. So when we had finished up the recording, we figured it would be a wonderful way to represent us. Big Survival, that’s our lives, just the way it is and we thought that that little turtle symbolized it well!
Please define what this survival means to you.
Well, personally, I believe that the better majority of things that we want, or will have to deal with in life won’t come easily, you have to work to the bone for things. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have things just fall in their laps for them, so your forced to make sacrifices, and claw your way through some difficult times. That’s just how the world is built, or so it seems. Regardless of where you pour your efforts, you can be worn down to next to nothing, but you keep moving. Life is… living, so survival is key. Big Survival is life [smiles] fun stuff.
Do you have a whole gallery of art related to the album? By the way, can I call it a concept album then?
[laughs] No, no gallery; plenty of pieces that coincide with the logic I guess though. You could call it that if you choose to, but it wasn’t planned that way. The material just more or less falls into place throughout the writing phase, which is very organic. The lyrics just typically wind up being pretty general in my opinion, which is almost what the concept of this “Big Survival” is as well, I guess. So naturally it stays within the same thread. We’re all surviving something I think. The songs end up representing that.
Before we get to the interview, however, I think it’s important to tick off the boring questions [laughs]. Tell me about your collaboration with Nefarious Industries.
[laughs] None of it seems all that boring for us nowadays! Our collaboration with Nefarious Industries is exactly that, great people, doing great things for some really great eclectic acts. They work the promotional end while we make strange foolish noise. No contracts or commitments, just a great support system with some wonderful networking. We’ve met and played with fantastic bands and even more fantastic people. They’re doing good work!
Alright. You stated that you have two releases. Tell me more about your debut outing. What kind of band were you back then? How have you changed over the years?
Our first release was a three track EP we had entitled “Feast of Crumbs”. It was recorded almost 2 years ago by our good friend Joey Castrovillari, and we hadn’t been a band for more than 6 months. We were just so excited about playing, writing, practicing, having this band we could just throw caution to the wind with, we got in the studio as soon as we could. We wrote the songs quickly, we were just bursting with enthusiasm and honesty and that’s what I love about that release! It was created with a great frame of mind. It has this raw feel, but I think that’s something worth preserving, it represents us well! Since, we’ve seen some lineup shifts but we’re all best of friends so we all stay active in the decisions and writing. I think that shows, but all in all we want to make honest music! Genres can be boundary markers and we love all music, so we will always be tip toeing through many different sounds, just maturing as creative people in and out of music.
How has your lineup changed over the course of PIGEON?
Our original guitarist was full time with us for roughly the first year or so, he had gotten a job opportunity outside of Philadelphia and as sad as it was to see him go, he was excited about the move so we supported his decision and made it work. There were nights he would drive 2 hours to get back home on a weeknight after practice, we’d throw him a few bucks for gas or food or whatever he needed. He would do the same for shows, race up to make it in time, play a 25 minute set, watch some guys play then turn around and drive another 2 hours home, after a day of work! [laughs] He’d even apologize he had to leave early! Then a great guy our bassist knew stepped in and lightened the load for him, so we’d play with two guitars sometimes or just our fill in buddy who eventually became a fixture. But not for too long, because he had to head home to his family across the pond in England to tend to issues there. Which left us scrambling a bit under unfortunate circumstances. That’s when a good friend of ours had stepped up for us and said he’d do it full time, despite being a very busy man. He’s been an asset since, great design guy, motivating enthusiasm, and spot on reliable. Not long after, the second guitarist made the trip back and picked up where he left off! Quiet friendly talented guy with a bunch of band experience, thrilled to have him! So we have three guitarists that are open to come and go as they please! [laughs] It’s a nice little community with a lot of input coming from a lot of places, which is an honor to be a part of! Everyone writes pieces for songs, plays when they can, pitches in when and how they can, and PIGEON just functions. [smiles] “Surviving”.
[smiles] Alright, let’s discuss what I love the most, which is… touring, of course!
You played a couple of shows in NY and NJ last month, right? How was it?
Touring is a wild beast! We haven’t been able to do much of it, but it’s an absolute roller coaster. One minute you could be having the time of your life and then the next, you could be sorting through a real disaster. So you have to take the good with the bad. Either way a hell of an adventure. Well we’re based about an hour outside of the city, right on the border of New York state and New Jersey, so we play around home a lot, but there’s some magic happening in our area! In my opinion we have some really amazing bands and really wonderful people doing great things for the creative scene, so we’re lucky to be in such a great spot.
Any plans to go further?
Sure, we would like to get further, play different areas. Meet new bands play an see different cities, that’s a great part of it! Something people dream of, but things have to be right, we’re working on more new material and we’re having a blast making some great networking connections! But soon hopefully we can get on the road a bit.
How would you describe living in Warwick, NY? Tell me a bit about your local infrastructure for music scenes.
It’s a real amazing place! Visually gorgeous, an adorable little historic downtown for walking. It really is even almost romantic! [laughs] Outside of downtown there are some haunting old farms, an fields with horses, but still close to a few urbanized areas including the Big Apple! So there’s no shortage of artistic influence or inspiration. The local scene here is booming in my opinion, so many great people, and great bands putting together some diverse acts, but remaining so supportive of each other! It’s a great place to be a musician! Hmm, the infrastructure, it’s a difficult call, it’s a fresh scene, a bunch of acts have been around a while but it seems now it’s turning into a community. We have a great place in town always booking local acts regardless of genre, with a creative menu and fantastic drink options from coffee to beers! That’s huge in my opinion, places to play shows, they’re unsung heroes, businesses make money but that’s fair, some are straight vultures but there’s some good ones out there, and we’re lucky to have them in town. So shout out the Tuscan cafe! But a lot of great people, just finding the places to play and push the DIY frame of mind can be a challenge. It always is giving our political structure and whatnot, but that can also be a fun aspect, staying creative, and finding new ways to make things happen. Book shows, have a show, go to them, play music, help your friends play music, do design work for them, anyway you can be supportive of the people around you, do it, when you can! I know it’s easier said than done, but we have to try. We know good people who understand this concept and institute it! It’s great to see.
[laughs] Nope, Warwick does have a great apple season, but we haven’t played the festival. It is apparently a village, I don’t know what that means nowadays, but… yup, nope haven’t done the concert series either. Yea, yupps do their thing too I guess.
Don’t let the village mentality affect your commonsense [laughs]. No, but seriously, how does your local mentality affect you, both personally and as a band?
[laughs] Village People are weird! [punchline drums insert here]
I think the local mentality has a lot of influence on the music scene, and my band because for the most part, everything is local. Coffee shops are independent cafes, restaurants use local produce, there is a farmers market with the nicer weather, and seeing it is a farming town, it’s small but great. Small independent bookstore even, literally almost everything in the downtown area is an independent shop; and then there’s a Burger King, which funny enough is the only place that kind of looks trashy! I think when people feel like they’re directly supporting shops and each other from a hand to hand, eye to eye standpoint, it is easier to relate to your community, easier to feel their own influence, and vice versa, for the proprietor who meets the people face to face and knows the names of people who are supporting him, there is a certain amount of respect for one another and the community that will come to surface. Being around it for an extended amount of time can definitely rub off on your mentality.
So what would you change about your neighborhood and why?
I would love to see it continue in the same fashion! There is an unspoken bond I think between the trendy kids bopping through the downtown and the older folks who come in for a nice lunch or whatever it may be, they can almost seem to understand one another, I assume it’s that community mentality we’ve talked about, but it would be nice for a few more places to come in and cater to the younger crowd a bit. I know this isn’t easy because a lot of it comes down to financing, but music and art, can be so beneficial! People learn skills while using their brains and their creativity, and influence and inspire each other with ideas! I think that’s beautiful. So a record shop, a comic book store, all the kinds of things that bring some more color in, pulls the inner youth out. Maybe another small venue, there is plenty of room, to do some more DIY type of house shows, cook offs, or whatever creative people can conjure up. More public art! Keep improving [laughs].
Do you face any problems with organizing shows, making them accessible for the kids, cops shutting down gigs, lack of venues, etc.?
Absolutely! I think the biggest issue is a lack of venues that aren’t trying to turn some major profit or suck the energy out of the community. I guess that’s the thing with capitalism, people capitalize on things that are pure and desirable, till it just sort of leaves a bitter taste. So without getting too political, I think it’s a big game of give and take, but honesty is key. Greed is a son of a gun. On the other side of the coin a bunch of people come out to bars for the party scene and drinks, and the music kind of just happens to be there. That’s fine, to each their own, but the downside is the younger people who just want to hear music, because they LOVE it are excluded, and that’s not to say there isn’t love or appreciation when in playing a bar, or for that crowd. I just like to think that the love is where great things blossom from. I know that seems romantic and idealistic but the attachment is concrete when music is the focus. So the people who love the music and love the scene, they’re the ones who want to do something for it, provide for it as it has provided for them. I think we should make room for all of it. Organizing shows is fun, so many great bands with hungry ambitious artists, with good people. For the most part we haven’t had any issues on that front, just punctuality, but hey, it is only rock’n roll. The law hasn’t been too bad, but the house shows aren’t booming… yet, there’s always the noise issue with the DIY network but being as responsible as you can, and trying to be understanding I think goes a real long way in cooperation. This type of show needs to be preserved. There’s magic in it. I have seen some of the most amazing shows right in my own living room. You can’t put a price on that in my opinion, again offers a real interactive sense of community.
What’s on top of the “up and coming places to be” and “cool things to do” lists for young people in Warwick? What trends do you see among kids around you? What’s hot? [smiles]
[laughs] Hipster shit! Frisbee golf, Drive-in movie theatres are awesome. Get good at being über-awesome then move up to the majors, like Brooklyn or Portland! Duh! What’s up Marc McGrath?!
Not the dude from SUGAR RAY!
[laughs] I wish we had drive-in cinemas in Poland.
Alright, do you feel that we have covered everything worth our attention? What else would you like to add?
[laughs] I bet, it’s an experience! Well as long as you have aviator sunglasses and denim jackets you can rule apparently. I think we did cover everything, you did a great job with the questions, so thank you for that and giving us an opportunity to be heard! We’re grateful. Long live art-core punk junk!
With love from the belly of the beast,
Thanks so much for doing this. All the best, guys!
You played a couple of shows in NY and NJ last month, right? How was it?