Saturday, 8 December 2007

interview: pete and the pirates

Pete and the Pirates have been biding their time for a while. Formed five years ago by a bunch of friends in Reading, things seem to be coming together for them. I first caught sight of the band at the Brixton Windmill nearly a year ago, and as mentioned previously, they have progressed tremendously since then - releasing two brilliant singles, Come on Feet and Knots.

I caught up with Tommy (vocals - pictured above on the left with the other Pete) and Jonny Sanders (drums) and Pete Cattermoul (bass / vocals) before their gig at Fleche D’Or on 17th November. The venue is incredible - set inside what was previously a train station in the east of Paris. As well being pleasing on the eye, it’s always free. So to set the scene, we’re sitting at a table in the outside bar area. It’s quite chilly and I’ve already put my coat in the cloakroom. They have theirs on and look really warm. At that point I was regretting not borrowing my flatmate’s dictaphone, but I didn’t really trust myself. Last time I went out with a dictaphone, I woke up at a house party with a blinding hangover, my bag sans dictaphone and some really funny video footage of me drunkenly singing Prefab Sprout’s The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll


How has the tour with The Young Knives been?

Tom: Really good. It’s been very much an intensive, learning experience. We’ve been playing gigs for years but this was the first properly organised tour we’ve been on. It’s definitely toughened us up, not only in terms of how tight we sound now but also in terms of our relationships with each other. It’s hard to get on with the same people, day in, day out.

Jonny: You have to learn when to stop, and just avoid being cunts to each other.

Tom: The Young Knives were really nice guys as well. They shared their alcohol with us and were just very generous, basically. Sometimes, you end up playing with people who are just really obnoxious. We had a one-off date recently with Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong and he wouldn’t make eye contact in the corridor, which is just a bit sad really. There’s no hard feelings between us though, we blew them away musically anyway! (this would seem to be backed up by this review – J).

J: What’s been the highlight for you guys so far, as a band?

Tom: Coming to Paris, doing stuff like this. I love travelling, it’s a real bonus for me. SXSW in Texas this year was great fun too.

J: I heard you had to leave the other Pete (Heffernan, guitars/vocals) behind though for SXSW?? Was that due to work commitments?

Tom: It wasn’t about our jobs - Pete couldn’t get a visa because his passport was so tatty from carrying it around in his back pocket the whole time. He always had it on him for ID.

Balancing a job and being in a band is really strenuous though. It’s alright at first, but it’s when you start having meetings with industry people that it gets tricky, because they say “Let’s meet on Monday afternoon” and you have to take a half day off work for that.

When you’ve only got 25 days a year holiday or something like that, it gets used up really fast. David (Thorpe – guitar) actually got fired for having too much time off.

It reaches a point where you have to face poverty, where you just don’t have the money to leave the house to go for a pint or a cup of tea. You have to be prepared to put everything into it, it’s definitely brought us closer together.

Pete: Some bands get it easy, they don’t have to cram themselves into a little Fiesta going round doing gigs. Some of them get to start in Lagunas.

J:What song are you most proud of?

T: Tough question.

Jonny: I’d say the quieter ones. I’m really proud of them.

J: I’ve often noticed at your gigs that you (Tom) seem a bit on edge, a bit anxious, smoking mid song. Do you struggle with nerves at gigs?

T: It’s just a sense of adrenaline really, more than anything else. I sometimes get anxious if the crowd doesn’t really get it, but these days I feel a lot more confident because you know that the audience is there for you, and they’ve spent their money

J: Do you prefer playing live or spending time in the studio?

T: We’ve spent a lot more time playing gigs than we have in studios! It’s hard to say really because of that.

Jonny: When we play live, everything’s a bit chaotic. We’ve tried to retain this with the album, it’s certainly not overproduced. There is a certain dynamic to our sound, but we really don’t want to pin ourselves down.

J: If you could be a character from any film, which character would you be?

Tom: Steve Martin in The Jerk.
Jonny: I’d be Jim Carrey’s character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Pete: I’d be Darth Vader. In the 3rd one when you find out he’s Luke’s dad.
Jonny: Maybe I’d be R2-D2.
Pete: We don’t want everybody to think we’re Star Wars geeks. I think I’d be Marlon Brando…in that really good film, can’t remember the name…
The others: One Eyed Jack?
Pete: Yep. That’s it.

So there you have it. Quite an intense interview really, partly due to me not really writing enough questions. They are playing at Club Showcase in Paris on 4th January, so I might have a few more questions for the guys then. Little tour of the UK next February also.

The thing I like about blogging is that I can do pretty much whatever I want. So I got a bit of backstage footage of the boys designing their t–shirts to go on stage in with added banter. Enjoy.

Their debut album, entitled Little Death, will be released on February 8th through the excellent Stolen Recordings. It was produced by Gareth Parton (did Hummer and Mathletics for Foals) and on first listen, it sounds fucking great. I understand Mr. Understanding will be the accompanying single (Shoot me. Terrible pun. I know!).

FACT Magazine describe Little Death as ‘an unashamedly sugary guitar pop album, heavy on harmonies and smart, choppy songwriting’, which I think is pretty accurate. My in-depth verdict on the album will surface in about a month, once I’ve listened to the album more than once.

Below is a little taster for you though, the excellent She Doesn’t Belong, a dreamy ode desperately trying to be about everything but a girl who is seemingly out of reach. It fails this objective beautifully and really makes me think of cold, crisp winter days and hangovers. Have also streamed Come on Feet to remind you of the summer. There is also a free song, Not a Friend, for download if you sign up to their mailing list here.

Pete and the Pirates – She Doesn’t Belong (exclusive)

Pete and the Pirates – Come on Feet

visit their myspace///buy from stolen///buy from hmv


Also, check out Zarcorp - it's Faley from Late of the Pier's blog. It has a retro picture of my hometown, which I'm really starting to miss in a weird way. Check it out. Hot tunes also including a sweet version of their next single, Broken, taken from a gig at The Social in Nottingham. I hope it was either the Good Shoes or Mystery Jets support because I was there but I have absolutely no idea. Gigs can be hazy sometimes.

I'm off on holiday to the mountains for a bit. Might have internet, I dunno if I will but if I do then there'll be updates. If I don't, then I won't. Then I'm back in England. Last night out in Paris was pretty good, Turzi followed by Girl Talk. More on that another time.


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