Making a record doesn’t have to be traumatising
“It was like a small room so we knew it’d be full and exciting and stuff.” Beams Matt Bigland, front man of the mighty Dinosaur Pile-Up. He’s discussing their show last night down South – a free gig at Birthdays, in Dalston. “It was nice, ‘cus we know a bunch of people that either work at that place or run it or whatever. It was just a fun show for us. A lot of people came down and it was good. Rockin’. It was a good chance for us to play some new stuff as well. Right?”
Matt looks to his band mates Jim and Mikey with a glint in his eye and a grin on his face. “Nailed it” he nods as the trio laugh.
We’re stood just by the canal outside The Flapper in Birmingham; hours before Dinosaur Pile-Up are set to play. The mood is incredibly jovial, and with good reason. At the time of writing, their latest record ’Eleven Eleven’ is just under two weeks from release. It’s coming out through Independent Label SO Recordings, with a number of singles already out in the open for everyone to hear. But back in Birmingham, on that sun soaked afternoon, details for the album were still very much under lock and key.
“It’s the first record that we’ve made together, which for us – that’s the most important thing.” Says Matt. “Obviously, like you said, it’s been ages since we… ‘Nature Nurture’ was like two years ago now, something like that. So in that time, we’ve just toured our asses off. Just after Nature Nurture came out, Jim joined the band, so it’s been two years with us as a three, like as the band. It’s been a long time coming us making the record together. For us, this is almost in a way the first record for us, rather than Dinosaur Pile-Up as me – Now Dinosaur Pile-Up is us. That’s one of the reasons why we’re just so excited about it, ‘cus it’s just fucking killer. It just kicks arse”
“It’s much more of a live record, ‘cus we just sort of made it in the room together.” Nods drummer Mikey, adding “A lot of the songs started with an idea that Matt would come up with that we’d jam out in the room”
“I think it’s like, as well, because we’d been playing live so much, we got pretty good at it, I guess,” laughs Matt. “This is the first record we’ve ever been able to put that energy down on record. On songs that are older songs now, live we’ll like to do something to a song to make it more fun for us. Making a new record together, we can put that into the song so you guys can hear them on the record as well.”
Another reason behind the big grins the three are sporting is down to the fact that they’re just really good buddies. A quick glance at the Dinosaur Pile-Up Facebook will throw up a constant stream of pictures of the three dudes hanging out and having fun on the road and in the studio. Backstage pizza parties (Mikey “It’s the only way we get by”) and hangs with friends they meet through touring. It’s a big reason behind Matt opening up and taking input from both Mikey and Jim in the production of Eleven Eleven.
Mikey reportedly annihilated his parts in the studio, finishing up in around two days (Matt likening it in wrestling terms to Mikey dropping People’s Elbows on the drums!) “I love being in the studio and working out the sounds of the drums and putting stuff together…“ smiles Mikey, with Jim very quick to note with a laugh “You kept sticking your oar in as well, it’s not like you did two and a half days of work and then just left us!”
“To be fair, the plan originally was to do a drum track every day, so we’d still be making the record all together. But…it was fucking funny, man. We went in and Mike literally did every track in two and a half days. It was unreal” adds Matt.
“It was crazy, but at the same, like Jim said, we very much made the record together.” Continues Matt. “Which is cool, and it’s super cool for me as well, ‘cus I love making records, but making a record on your own is pretty intense and kind of lonely in a way. There’s a lot to think about; it’s weird. Having the dudes around, and us doing it together, it was like – oh shit, this is actually…fun [laughs]”
“Making a record doesn’t have to be traumatising” smiles Mikey.
Likening their time in the studio to how it is on tour, the three are so used to each other and comfortable together that the work came quite easily (though they are quick to ensure me that they did work their arses off!) With Mikey finishing his parts ahead of schedule, his time was spent on other activities. “Mike obviously got wrapped up pretty quick and then just watched me cook.” Laughs Jim. “It’s good; communal time where you all get to sort of dislocate from the recording process and think about other things. The studio’s good for that kind of thing”
Matt adds “Mike would just slowly get drunk at the back of the room throughout the day, and we’d only catch what he was doing on camera, ‘cus we were being filmed quite a lot. Suddenly you’d see Mike at the back, thrashing to feedback and shit. It was super funny”
Continuing on the theme of Mikey’s ferocious dropping of People’s Elbows all over his kit, Matt adds “It was a good energy so we just got it. Some of the tracks are so intense. There’s one that’s just like – just unbelievably intense. I think Mike did it in a take. We did a safety just in case he didn’t get it, but he got it in the first take. It’s like ‘Territorial Pissings’ times ten, just like – what the fuck.”
Production duties for the new record fell on Tom Dalgety, producer to the stars. Dalgety has worked previously with Matt, co-producing ‘Nature Nurture’ in 2013.
“He was a nobody then, so nobody was name dropping him” laughs Mikey, a nod to his recent credits list. You might have heard of a few of the bands he’s worked with…
“Yeah, that was before his rise to fame.” Smiles Matt. “We were good mates with him before that, and obviously Tom and I had worked in a studio doing Nature Nurture. So even when we came out of doing Nature Nurture, Tom was always like – As soon as you’ve got the third one, I wanna hear it. I didn’t play him the demo’s for ages, until my manager sneakily sent them to him, and then he rang me up being like ‘What the fuck, I’ve just heard the song!’ He was pumped and I guess in that way, we were always going to make it together. It’s just lucky that when he blew up, he had the time. He really wanted to do it and we wanted to do it with him. It’s nice to do stuff with your friends, which is weird because Tom’s such a great producer – and he is, he’s amazing – but he’s also our age, so it’s not like you’re in the studio with Garth Richardson or whatever, who’s like obviously older now and super revered and everything. Tom’s our age, so it was just like four mates making a super heavy record. It was good. Right? Did I nail that? [Laughs]”
“I think that was what Tom wanted us to say” adds Mikey with a laugh.
As previously mentioned, a few songs have been released in the lead up to Eleven Eleven. Riff-heavy bangers ‘Red and Purple’ and ‘Grim Valentine’ have recently seen the light of day, but the riffs don’t comes close to the title track that preceded them both. “It was barely a single, it was just a riff that we decided to put out” quips Mikey, nailing it on the head. A gigantic riff as it turned out, a glimpse into the crunching riffs awaiting listeners with the new album.
“Like Mike said, we were like – let’s just put something out.” Agrees Matt. “Everyone was like – this is the first single, wow – and we were like…”
“It’s just a riff” laughs Mikey.
“Just a stupid riff. It’s been awesome though.” Smiles Matt. “This record is more ambitious. It’s bigger and heavier than what we’ve done before, so I’m stoked that people got to hear 11:11, ‘cus it’s an indication of where we’re going”
“It just captured the sound of what the record is gonna be, more than anything. Then we were like – we’ll probably put out actual songs afterwards.” Mikey continues, with a laugh.
“That’s right though. The other songs on the album aren’t really like 11:11.” Nods Matt. “There’s one other that’s rad and super big, but it’s not like the whole album is 11:11’s, it’s just like Mike said – It just sounds like the record.”
“It just captures the sound of it.” Agrees Mikey.
“I guess in a way it was also the first song of the record. When I was demoing it, that was the first song that I sent to everybody being like – shit, I reckon this is the start of it – and it was.” Confirms Matt. “So after that, that’s when all the songs got put together.”
As evidenced in the video for 11:11, the past few years have seen Dinosaur Pile-Up swept up in a whirlwind of worldwide touring, including three different tours of America, two Japan visits, Europe, India and the UK. New York giants Brand New are always hooking up with DPU, which is like a dream come true for the trio. “Touring with them is awesome.” Adds Mikey “We all get on with them and their whole crew, so it feels really natural. They’re fucking killer live”
Japan is one part of the world where stock in the band continues to rise at a rapid pace. Their social media posts are often filled with Japanese type and images that see them performing to thousands in Tokyo and Osaka (though they still find time to post about pizza!) They even recently had a fan come all the way over from Japan just to catch them at a show in Milton Keynes, which came as a bit of a shock for the boys. “She was rad as well” Matt enthuses “That was a trip for us. She literally got on a plane, saw us and…“
“By herself as well – can you imagine? ‘I’m just gonna go to Japan by myself to see a band that I like’” Mikey laughs.
The super stylised video has now racked up just under 80,000 views on YouTube – A mega reception for what could be perceived as a collection of holiday videos!
“The reason why we wanted to put all that footage in the 11:11 video is because that whole period of touring, from the release of Nature Nurture, was what made Eleven Eleven.” Says Matt. “It’s us being a live band, making that album together. So we wanted to put all that footage from that last year of those experiences which made the new record, we wanted to put it in the first video of the first song“
“Also, you go to all these different places and then a lot of people don’t see what you’re up to. It just seems like you’ve been away for ages, or you might not be doing anything. So we just wanted to be like – hey, we have been doing stuff. We’re still a band,” laughs Mikey “we might not have headlined the UK in three years, but we’re still doing stuff”
As incredible as Nature Nurture was, Eleven Eleven feels like a completely different record. A step up, it shows a definite maturity within the band and suggests that this could be the one that finally makes Dinosaur Pile-Up household names. But whilst there’s an added level of maturity within the music, the trio are still quick to joke.
“We’re pretty much in the dark. We just rehearse and go on tour when we’re told to” laughs Matt on the subject of upcoming singles.
“People tell us things and we nod our heads, not listening. We’ve already written the next record” Mikey adds, the trio cracking up with laughter.
Eleven Eleven, the latest album from Dinosaur Pile-Up, is out October 16th through SO Recordings. It can be pre-ordered here. The trio will be hitting the road across the UK this November, dates of which can be found here.