Hailing from Leeds, alternative rock outfit Dinosaur Pile Up has been taking the US by storm with their new album Nature Nurture. I was able to catch the band's performance with Brand New and caught up with singer/guitarist Matt Bigland a couple of weeks later about touring the US vs. the UK, touring as a three piece, and his thoughts on the public's obsession with slapping a label on everything.
If you could just say your full name and role in the band, for the record.
Yea, well, I mean, hey, I'm Matt. I play guitar in Dinosaur Pile Up and I sing as well, and you know, do all that, write the tunes and generally do the stuff.
There are certain influences that I'm sure you get compared to a lot (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins). What other artists have had a strong (perhaps less noticeable) impact on the band, and are you happy with the 90's-esque alt-rock genre you've been tagged to, or would you consider switching up your sound on future releases the way Brand New does? (Submitted by member Vance Mook)
There are really big, like obvious influences, you know in the kind of songs you write, all those bands are exactly the ones, but I don't mind that either, like, if I was going to be compared to any band, I'd like it to be those bands, because they're my favorite bands. To answer the second part, like are we okay with being put in that spot, Yea, we don't mind that at all. At the end of the day, we're just doing what we want to do, so we don't really mind what comparisons people draw. I feel like we're doing something contemporary and like, rock, isn't a hugely fashionable market, like sometimes in the world now. We just want to play the music we want to play.
Bands that are lesser known influences, I'd probably say like The Beatles and The Beach Boys, I guess you could hear that in the vocal harmonies. I suppose that's kind of obvious. They're really big influences for me. Bands like The Kinks as well. Also, like Grandaddy, I'm a massive Grandaddy fan. A lot of the songwriting from early Grandaddy stuff really inspired me, songwriting wise. I sometimes feel like a lot of people don't know about Grandaddy. That was definitely an important band for me.
Would you consider switching up the sound on your future releases?
What do you mean?
For example, say for the next record, you'd say: "We're going to do something completely different," whether that be a slower, more acoustic record, or something more poppy. Basically, an experiment.
Ahhh.... I don't know. I sometimes feel... I mean every record will be different for sure. The time between records you grow and experience things and you get into different things. There's always going to be a progression But I don't think I'd go for like extremes, like making a heavy metal record and then making an acoustic/folk album. I don't think I'd ever do that. I feel like, the way I write is the way I want to write. What's most important to me are the songs, and how I feel about the actual songs. I'm not really looking to experiment with genres.
I'm wondering what your song development process is - jam first, craft later, or start with something solid like a hook or melody and build upon it? (Submitted by member MelissaMDaniels)
I'll write a song in my room before it even gets to the band, but often, I'll be singing like a drum beat or a melody or I'll play a chord progression on the guitar and I'm like, that's cool and it feels good or whatever. I just kind of dive in like straight away and build it around that immediately. And then, I don't write everything for it before we take it into a room together. Then we see how it feels.
It's increasingly rare to see a three piece band these days, for touring. What are some of the pros and cons to touring as a three piece?
Well, we love touring as a three piece. As far as recording, everything that the band has released so far, I've recorded on my own. But that's sort of circumstantial. The next record, we're going to be doing as a band. You know, it's not like I want to make every record on my own. Through circumstance, I've made all the releases, but we can't wait to get in the studio as a band and do a record together. It's going to be killer man, I can't wait.
Touring as a three piece, I don't know. I think it's really an intense thing. In a band that has more members, people can hang out and split off. Some bands live, I feel a second guitarist, that fourth member, he fills in gaps, musically. In a three piece, everybody has to be on their shit, everybody's part is just as important as everyone else. I find that really..,. you have to rely on each other a lot. Me, Mike and Jim are super, super close. On stage, you have to rely on each other to be there. Even off stage, you have to support each other as friends on the road. There's three of you, like a triangle You all have to be involved. I really like that. It kind of makes us a much tighter, close-knit group of people.
I've seen a lot of discussions recently about certain bands and whether or not they are "punk rock" or "punk" or "pop/rock." What are your thoughts on the public's constant need to slap a label or a genre on bands?
Yea... I think it kind of sucks. Like, genres and titling things can suck sometimes, because you know, people feel the need to label something so that they can call it something, so that it's easily understandable, or whatever. But, you know, I sometimes think that sort of thing sells the band short. An awesome alternative punk band can just be like labeled as a rock band. What is a rock band? There's loads of rock bands. We've been called "pop-punk" before which I strongly disagree with, actually. I don't think we're pop-punk at all. I think of us as an alternative rock band. I think the term alternative as well has changed over the years. Since I was a tiny kid reading Kerrang magazine and stuff. Alt bands were definitely something different. Even the word emo has changed. Emo now is something that it definitely wasn't in the beginning. I don't know, obviously everyone has to call something, something.You can't really judge a band my a word or two words. Surely you have to dig a little deeper to see what they're like.
What's it like touring the US vs. the UK? Do you notice a difference in the crowds?
I mean, we absolutely love touring the US. It's awesome. It's taught us a lot about touring. We've done a bunch of tours over there now. A long drive for us in the UK was six hours. Now, that's like a totally average drive. We've been doing big drives in this last Brand New tour. Even when we were out with Middle Class Rut. Some of the drives were like sixteen hours. There's mammoth drives.
The crowds, yea there is a difference. We find that US crowds, there are some real rock fans in the US. We love that mentality that you guys have of getting to a show in the afternoon. They're super pumped about going to a show. They'll sit out in front of the venue all day. And then as soon as the doors open, they'll run into the venue and then their at the bar and they'll watch the whole gig, all the bands. Then they'll go to the merch, buy a t-shirt and hang right to the end. It's an entire day. I'm not saying rock fans in the UK suck or anything. They're awesome as well. It's just, there isn't that mentality of total commitment. The whole day is shaped around the show tonight.
What is your ultimate goal as a band? What is your personal goal?
I mean, the goal with the band is, we just want to play to as many people in as many places as we can. You know, I kind of feel, you only live once. If you want to do something, you just have to take a chance and do it. Right now, we're having a great time and doing that and we just want to continue that and play to more and more people in more and more places. Just make good music and never compromise the music. I think as a band, that's our goal.
As a person, I just, you know, it's pretty similar. I love writing music. I love doing that. I always think of how short life is, potentially. You never know when your time is done. I just want to do as much as I can in that period of time. Write as much music and experience as much as I can.
What's the reaction been like to the new album?
The reaction in the UK was awesome. There were a lot of people waiting on it and they were super stoked on it. We released it over here and played our biggest show in London. There was an amazing reaction. The first album was released in the UK as well and a lot of people got into that. In the US, this album is the first time people are able to hear us. It just feels like that excitement is growing in the US like it did in the UK. I think people may even get it more in the US. The reaction has been insane. "Derail" is on the radio nationally in the US. Even on the Brand New tour, playing the songs that have been on the radio, people really connect with it. It's a really exciting time for us, to be doing all of this touring for the album. For the rest of the year, we're going through Japan, parts of Europe and India.