What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel the music they listen to is just as important as the music they make. With that in mind, we’re delighted to have mind-melting riff lords Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs in the hot seat, talking us through five releases that have had them inspired around their latest release.

(Photo Credit: Janina Sabaliauskaite)

El-P – ‘Deep Space 9mm(Fantastic Damage, 2002)

At the time of moving to Newcastle back in January, I was listening to a frankly obscene amount of Run The Jewels, having seen them in Manchester the previous November. Their show was so engaging and energetic that I fell into serious fanboy territory for months and months.

This led to me rediscovering a lot of old hip hop favourites, including this masterpiece by El-Producto himself from the album ‘Fantastic Damage’. I love how gritty the production is, sounding both futuristic and dystopian, with rhymes cryptic and overt, all smothered in sci fi references. The beats are maximal/minimal and the samples are weird as fuck.

I guess this hip hop binge aided me in staying focused on how the beats for ‘King of Cowards’ needed to be in order to help pop the riffs over on record. The whole album (Fantastic Damage) was years ahead back in 2002 with this track being a straight up highlight for me. The video is well worth checking out too.” – Christopher Morley (Drums).

Anna Von Hausswolff – ‘The Mysterious Vanishing Of Electra‘ (Dead Magic, 2018)

I saw Anna Von Hausswolff open for Swans in Newcastle a couple of years ago and was spellbound by her performance. Her vocal range is mind blowing and she has a beguiling quality both live and on record that only my favourite musicians can captivate me with.

I was excited when she announced a new album ‘Dead Magic’ earlier this year. I pre-ordered it straight away after hearing the first single ‘The Mysterious Vanishing Of Electra’. It’s everything I was hoping to hear from a new Anna Von Hausswolff song – bewitching and charged with a brooding intensity.” – Matthew Baty (Vocals).

The Stooges‘I Wanna Be Your Dog‘ (The Stooges, 1969)

It’s a really simple track, both in arrangement and melody, but so much more powerful for it. It’s also super edgy in terms of sonics of the time, being scuzzed up and as harsh as you could take a track like that without the whole thing overshooting its mark. There’s a bravery and a confidence in the execution that’s hard to put onto a record – something we try to aspire towards. All combined with that piano running through it, and the guitar tone in the solo, I don’t want to call it perfect, but as far as that world of music goes, it’s about nailed it across the board.” – Sam Grant (Guitar).

XTC – ‘Wake Up’ (The Big Express, 1984)

I acquired this record as a result of stumbling across a house clearance next door to my old house about 4 years ago…

There was a keyboard stand outside the front door saving a parking space for a removal vans imminent arrival, I asked whether or not the keyboard stand was up for grabs as I knew Matt Baty was after one at the time. “Are you a musician?” was the reply, “come inside, I may have something that could interest you….” I went into this house, which was possibly the most sad and terrifying thing I’ve ever seen, the previous owner had passed away in there 6 months prior, but had only just been discovered within the last week. An awful situation to stumble across. The person’s brother in law was charged with clearing the property and with me asking about the keyboard stand, he knew I’d potentially be able to help him…

There were records and musical instruments scattered everywhere, but were systematically being sent to the skip, I couldn’t let this happen. I was propositioned and ended up selling all of the gear for the guys family and splitting the money. It was a strange time. I was told I could keep anything I wanted too, the main thing being a short scale bass guitar which I use when I play live with Richard Dawson, I like to think I’m helping this guys love of music and cheap guitars live on seeing as his family were going to bin everything he ever owned. They were self proclaimed haters of music and only dabbled in a bit of Radio 4.

I rummaged through his collection of records and took a few bits, ‘Bitches Brew’ by Miles Davis and Meco’s ‘Music Inspired By Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk’ (Wow, what a ride) were the stand out gems in there, but one record I took a punt on was ‘The Big Express’ by XTC, mainly based on the fact that I love ‘Making Plans For Nigel’, but I’d not delved much further into their catalogue. Plus the unusual round record sleeve intrigued me too.

The record sat on my shelf for years after this, until around the time I was moving into mine and my partner Emmas first house together. Chris Morley moved in with us too for a short while and for the first week or so we sat around and listened to loads of records, I remembered this XTC record and decided to finally whack it on. What a treat it was. I found the opening track addictive immediately, I was listening to it daily around the time the second Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs album was being finalised and recorded. I love the counterpoint guitars at the start along with the synths and stuttering drums, it flows on so beautifully. It’s so weird, XTC really had a special knack. I love ultra tight gak era 80s pop rock, this record was a revelation to me, I love it. I’m not sure if it particularly inspired what I was doing around the time of the Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs album writing and recording, but I think it could have planted a seed that will influence and inspire a future version of myself.” – John-Michael Hedley (Bass).

TLC – ‘No scrubs’ (FanMail, 1999)

“Just put it on.” – Adam Ian Sykes (Guitar).

King of Cowards‘ is out September 28th through Rocket Recordings! Bag a copy (or two) here.

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