Live at Leeds is the best - Pigeon Detectives

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By Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers

Pigeon Detectives lead singer Matt Bowman spends much of the interview talking about the spirit of Live at Leeds and the spirit of the Leeds indie scene.

The funny thing is, by the end of our conversation it’s clear that it is his attitude which sums up that spirit better than anything.

He still lives in Leeds, records in Leeds, walks his dog in Leeds and this May bank holiday his band will be headlining the annual Live at Leeds festival at the 02 Academy – or opening it. It’s up to you how you interpret it.

“We’re proud to be doing Live at Leeds. It would have been easy to have taken the money and played in the evening at the 02 but we decided to play first in the afternoon to get people buzzing from the start.”

With three top 40 albums under their belt and a similar number of top 20 singles, the Pigeon Detectives are the last band standing from that generation of indie rock n rollers who briefly threatened to inject real excitement into British music in the mid-Noughties - well, them and fellow West Yorkshire outfit The Cribs.

“Our new album was written to be played live and to be played loud.

“A lot of records I hear on TV and radio are just an illusion; chords put through a machine, them a computer.

“Our’s is an honest record with no jiggery-pokery. It’s got soul. It grabs you on the first listen.”

Formed in Rothwell, although early classics like I Found Out, This Is An Emergency and I’m Not Sorry threatened to take the Pigeon Detectives into the big league, there was always something about the music industry which didn’t sit easily with this thrillingly energetic live band.

“We were caught up on the whirlwind, doing what we loved doing, flying to Japan one day, America the next, living the dream. But there’s definitely a game to be played if you want the big record deal and want to sell a million records.

“It never affected our songwriting but there was definitely pressure to change and dumb down. But the problem with true rock n roll bands is there’s nothing’s fake about them. Nothing’s put on.”

Having been wined and dined down south, the band decided to remain true to their roots.

“We’re fiercely proud to be from Leeds. The music scene up here doesn’t close ranks, it doesn’t exclude someone who’s different.

“In London, they’re all whistling the same tune and trying to convince themselves they’re right to do so.

“But we’ve found there’s no need to bow down to the yellow brick road. The essence of Live at Leeds is about local talent getting a platform and coming across something new you didn’t expect.”

Forthcoming Pigeon Detectives album We Met At Sea will be released on old skool label Cooking Vinyl.

Matt says the band is proud of the new record and he’s pleased to announce it’s got one fan already.

“My wife is our biggest critic but she’s been whistling it round the house the whole time. I take it as a good sign.”

Pigeon Detectives play Live at Leeds at the 02 Academy on Saturday, May 4 at 2pm.

For tickets and info, visit