The Pigeon Detectives interview: A decade of Wait For Me

Henry Lewis caught up with the Leeds indie outfit to reminiscence about debut album Wait For Me ahead of the band's ten year anniversary tour.

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 16th Oct 2017.
Originally published: 12th Oct 2017

Image: The Pigeon Detectives (credit)

There's little left to say about the indie explosion of the mid 2000s. Band's were seemingly springing up from everywhere in a pair of skinny jeans, converse and leather jackets, ready to spank their guitar as frenetically as possible, telling tales of teenage heartbreak, getting pissed with your mates and all the rest of it.

Taking inspiration from The Strokes and then their anglicised equivalent, The Libertines, the likes of the Kooks, The Fratellis, Razorlight and more all entered a scene that saw the NME at the peak of its powers and a time where indie bands made onto Radio 1 regularly, whilst also scooping BRIT awards and having their antics captured on TV for all to see.

Leeds' The Pigeon Detectives slotted into the scene perfectly, with debut album Wait For Me dropping in May 2007, entering the charts at number three and providing indie staples 'I Found Out', 'Take Her Back' and more. Ten years on, the record is a solid reminder that guitar bands were once all the rage, and that while a lot of indie 'landfill' will be forgotten forever, some of it is still guitar music gold.

Ahead of the ten year anniversary tour of their debut album, including dates at Liverpool's O2 Academy on Monday 23rd October and Leeds' O2 Academy on Sunday 5th November, we spoke to The Pigeon Detectives.


The Pigeon Detectives tickets

Firstly, congratulations on the ten year anniversary - how have you managed to keep things going when so many of your contemporaries are no longer bringing music out and playing live?

I think the key to our longevity as a band is our friendship. We've come across some many bands over the years that don't get along, but we've been best friends since we were toddlers, so maintaining that relationship always came easy to us. I think if we weren't so close as a unit we definitely wouldn't have lasted this long. Thats not saying that sometimes we don't want to kill each other, though.

What’s going on in the world of The Pigeon Detectives at the moment then, just big rehearsals for the tour? 

Yeah, at the moment were bunkered down in a rehearsal studio in Leeds trying with all our might to remember how to play all the songs from Wait For Me. There's some in the set that we haven't played live for ten years, so it's taking some time to get back into the swing of them.

Wait For Me was one of the integral albums of my youth - how many people have said stuff like that to you? Do you get a sense of the importance of the record in people’s lives from what you’ve heard from fans?

We hear that sort of thing from fans all the time and it's a really lovely, fulfilling thing to hear. We wrote those songs as a bunch of daft kids in their early twenties and never knew that they would strike a chord with folk, we just wrote them to entertain ourselves. The album seems to be the soundtrack to a lot of peoples youth and that's just brilliant.

I think the general themes of being young and unbridled and full of life and energy resonated with a certain generation of people and the fact that so many are coming along to the anniversary tour ten years later is a testament its impact.

That entire golden era for indie music was brilliant - what was your favourite album from back then?

You know what... I really loved The Rakes first album. The band struggled after their second album and kind of fizzled out, but there's a great spiky, angular energy to the first one that always takes me right back my skinny jeans, leather jacket days.

The Pigeon Detectives tickets

Was there a healthy relationship between all the indie bands or did it get nasty? (in my head I’ve got you and the Kooks boxing each other or something)

Generally all the bands got along really well. The press (in particular the NME) did always tried to drum up rivalries between bands in the scene, but we never really met a band we didn't get on with. It's funny you mention The Kooks, because the tabloids at one point mis-quoted Luke, their singer, as saying that we we're a rubbish version of them, or something.

Luke actually came up to us in a bar at Lowlands Festival in Holland and apologised, saying it was taken way out of context and it was all rubbish. We respected that a lot. He didn't need to do it... plus most of us are over 6.3ft and he's tiny, so it was pretty brave.

Yorkshire, in particular, was massively important with Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Milburn etc all smashing it around that time  - were the venues of Sheffield and Leeds etc a properly exciting place to be?

Yeah, the Yorkshire scene was a great place to ply your trade as a young band. There we're loads of awesome venues, like The Cockpit in Leeds, which did their best to push new bands into the spotlight, and because the north had such a good reputation for bands, there was always someone of influence watching the your gigs.

Latest album Broken Glances pays thanks to your fans across its 10 tracks was this a conscious decision ahead of writing tracks for it, or did this happen quite naturally?

We never lyrically aimed to thank the fans when writing the songs, but I think that comment is more in reference to the whole vibe of the album. I think the tone and the themes throughout the ten songs reflect a journey that we and the fans have taken together. We're all a bit older, all a bit wiser and life has had its digs at us, but we survived and now we look forward with a quiet optimism. I think it's an album we needed to make and the album our fans deserve.

How much of the new record will feature on the Wait For Me tour? 

Unfortunately not a lot, I'm afraid. The last tour we did earlier in the year was a Broken Glances tour, in which we played most of the album, but we wanted to make this tour a pure, unapologetic celebration of the first album and what it meant to people, so were just going to concentrate on that era.

The Pigeon Detectives tickets

You’re playing the entire album through - did perfecting any of the songs cause you any issues?

It's funny how quickly you remember how to play the songs you haven't played in so long. It's like muscle memory kicks in as soon as you play the first few notes... It's more the pure energy of the album that we're struggling with. It's basically 12 balls-to-the-wall bangers played at a furious pace, and after two rehearsals we've gone home dripping in sweat.

It was a lot easier to go at 90mph for 60 minutes when we were twenty one. That said we're pulling out no stops. We're going to launch into the shows with all we've got and leave everything on the stage, like we always have.

What are your individual favourite tracks off Wait For Me and why?

I love I'm Not Sorry, as it's always been our live set closer. To me it's powerful and climatic and epic and means that I can go backstage and a bucket of water over my head in four minutes or so. I also love Better Not Look My Way, because, again, it works really well live and it is layered and takes you on a journey.

Find The Pigeon Detectives tickets below.

Liverpool - O2 Academy, Monday 23rd October

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Leeds - O2 Academy, Sunday 5th November

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