Reading band Pete and the Pirates are currently in the midst of a UK tour, peddling their new release One Thousand Pictures.
We caught up with vocalist Tom to talk about releasing a new album after three years, negative reviews in Vice Magazine, and piratey behaviour.
You’re about to release your second album. It’s been three years since Little Death. Will fans notice a big change?
If they liked the first record then they won't notice a change. It's a bit more rock and roll. I think it's more interesting. A bit weirder. it's naughty and nice.
Is 'One Thousand Pictures' the same album that you set out to create or did it change direction throughout the process?
For me it's the album i've always wanted to make. I would say it's more 'us' than the first record, as in more immediate and energetic.
Is the order of songs on the album important?
It's important to a point... but you've got to remember lots of people have shuffle on their ipods, have playlists etc. It's definitely designed to be played in the order we put it in though!
How did you come to work with Brendan Lynch [Paul Weller, Primal Scream] on this album? What drew you to him as a producer?
Brendan had heard a bunch of our demo tapes for this new album, and was basically loving it. He had a meeting with us and said he didn't want to change much at all, just get a few microphones in and get some really good takes. This was the whole approach, really simple, really quite obvious. Don't overdo it, overproduce it, or over polish it. This is really the best way for a band like us to record. I wanted it to sound like us, in the purest, simplest form. Brendan basically said 'this is how i want to record you', explained the process in one sentence and straight away we knew he was the man.
Your sound is really eclectic. But if you had to describe it in one sentence what would you say?
It's like a dirty girl that you can still take home to your mother.
What’s a bigger rush – writing a brilliant song, recording it the studio, or performing it on stage?
Writing a brilliant song. You know when you've hit upon something, and after all, without the songs the band is nothing at all.
How would you describe your live performance style?
Often quite wildly varying. Sometimes very relaxed and contented... other times angrily or nervously bashing out our set. I think we are constantly getting better at playing live. When we first started out, it was really quite special to watch us. In a bad way. I really feel like every gig needs to be as good as the next, and I hate to think that we might have given a second rate performance. So however good or bad you think it was, we were doing our best, ok?
Your first album received widespread praise – with the notable exception of Vice Magazine who voted it their ‘worst album of the month’. How did you feel about this?
0 is good. better than 1 or 2. I'd rather get 0 than 5 even. I think you have to be signed to Vice to get 10. I hope we never get 10 in Vice. I don't think many people take them seriously anyway.
Is critical acclaim very important to you as a band?
It's nice to have people like your music! Whether it's your fans or the critics, it's encouraging to be appreciated - but it's also important to keep making the music that you want to make, and not listen too much to what people say they do or don't like. But what's most important to us, is that WE are happy with it. I can't think of anything worse than releasing an album we weren't happy with. You have to live with it for ever.
There are two Petes in the band. Which is ‘the’ Pete?
Please don't open that door.
What’s the most piratey thing you’ve done as a band?
Probably stealing loads of booze in a drunken raid on a certain venue's stock room. Don't worry, we're reformed now.
Do you have any interesting Pirate trivia?
I am constantly thinking of interesting pirates trivia, then whenever I get asked the question in an interview, I go completely blank.
What does your rider look like? Any unusual requests?
There is not very much out of the ordinary on the rider... how disappointingly un-rock and roll. Lots of premium lager, Rum and ginger ale are the staples.
What can fans look forward to on this tour?
Us being able to actually play the new record from start to finish! Something we never quite mastered with our first album. Strange, huh?
Interview by: Jayne Robinson
Pete and the Pirates play at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester this Friday. Tickets are available through Skiddle below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event