Dinosaur Pile-Up almost didn’t make it to their fourth full-length ‘Celebrity Mansions’, but with a new label and a rediscovered enthusiasm, they’ve come out all guns blazing with one of the most fun albums of the year so far. “We’ve kept this band going from strength to strength through pure determination and grit,” frontman Matt Bigland explains.
Hey Matt, how’s it going?
Heyyyyyy there, it’s going great thank you! I’m drinking a coffee that’s hotter than the sun, and that’s fixing me up pretty good.
It sounds like you guys have been through the mill a bit since ‘Eleven Eleven’?
I mean, I guess? We’ve just been sloggin’ it out on the road in the US pretty much solidly for like three years. Is that a complaint? HELL. NO. We love touring, especially in the States and feel very lucky to be granted that opportunity, and we love being on the road with each other. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a hard grind though, damn! We’ve been pretty much killing ourselves out there on the road that whole time. But you know what? Fuck it. It was awesome.
Was there ever a point where you thought, this is it, I’ve had enough?
Haha, yeah. For sure. Probably like 100 times. But not “I’ve had enough” because I or we hated what we were doing, or each other, or touring or playing in a band – none of that. We love all of those things. It’s always been more of, “Fuck, I don’t know if we can keep on doing this…”
It’s hard to keep putting literally everything you’ve got into something when it feels like nobody cares. Mentally and physically. And for as long as we have. And when that’s not making enough money to keep it going sometimes, that can show you some pretty tough realities.
We’ve kept this band going from strength to strength through pure determination and grit. Some of the shit we’ve been through you couldn’t even write, but we never quit – I guess because we never wanted to. Life was just trying to make us fold, and we didn’t. And you know what? That feels pretty fucking great.
What was the turning point for you? It’s hard to imagine ‘Celebrity Mansions’ coming from a dark place.
I guess the turning point for us was when we just kind of said, “Fuck it if this doesn’t happen, and this all ends in six months – then fuck it. Let’s just enjoy it and see what happens.”
Not that we weren’t enjoying it anyway, but holding yourself to an impossible standard of ‘success’ or ‘failure’ after 12 years of grinding in a band like we have begins to feel ‘not so good’. I remember those conversations with Mike and Jim in middle of nowhere on some tour somewhere, exhausted and totally broke. We were just like, you know what? Fuck what everybody else is doing, we’re doing this one for us, and if it’s the last thing we ever fucking do – well then cool. Let’s just make sure we fucking love it. So we wrote a bunch of songs with that in mind, and we went and recorded ‘Celebrity Mansions’. And it turns out it fucking rules haha.
Is it weird being on a major now? You’re signed to the same label as Lily Allen.
YES. It is, haha. It’s a real trip for us. There’s a point I guess where you just accept that maybe you’re never gonna level up like that, that you’ll never ‘sign a major record deal’ and that stuff like that only happens to other bands. To be honest, when I did kind of accept that, everything felt a little easier. And then boom, Parlophone rang us up. And we were like… “Wait… what??” Haha.
Walking into the lobby of Parlophone every time we go there for a meeting or whatever and being faced with a 20-foot picture of Ed Sheeran is still a bit of a trip. We’re just happy to be here, you know?
Do you think the rules for being a successful band have changed since you first started out?
Yeah, probably? I mean social media is obviously a huge part of it all now. You still have to work sure, but I think people that are lucky enough to be born pretty are going to have an easier time of it – which kind of sucks. Because people aren’t just being accepted due to how they can write and play a song. They’re being accepted because they look good first, and I think that means a lot of real talent is overlooked. But then again, if you really want it maybe it’ll just take you a little longer to rise to the top. Say, 12 or so years? Haha.
How did you decide which tracks to include on the album, was there a grand plan?
There wasn’t a grand plan, really. We, including producer Larry Hibbitt, we’re pretty straight up about it. We were like, let’s only think about putting songs on this record that fucking KILL, and let’s only put the ten best ones of those on it. So we got all the songs together. Played all the demos, sat around, and everyone where we were all like ‘shit this is awesome’ we put on. If that didn’t happen, then the song didn’t go on.
Do you have many songs leftover? Four years is a long time between releases.
Yeah, a bunch actually! There are a few great songs left over, and a bunch of half-finished ideas that I really liked, so I’m definitely going to be thinking about those for the next one. I never stop thinking about the next record anyway. And yeah I don’t want to leave it so long this time!!
How do you keep evolving after so many years in the biz, do you actively try to find new sources of inspiration?
I don’t know really – I don’t like to be too contrived about songwriting. I think if you’re overthinking how you’re writing it, or what you’re writing or whatever – then it probably sucks. I just try to be excited by what I’m doing. And if I’m not excited then fuck it, leave it till I am.
Music has to be real. It shouldn’t be forced. I want to FEEL that energy from a song. This time I ended up just listening to a bunch of thrash metal and Beastie Boys, that got me pumped, and that gave me a lot of energy to write.
Also, circumstances really inspire me. So the chaos and excitement of touring really shaped this record.
Album aside, what else have you got coming up? Lots of shows?
Exactly! Loads of shows! We’ll be doing our usual thing of basically living in a van or a bus for like, I dunno, three years?! We’re kicking stuff off with some small UK shows around the release of the record, which are gonna be so fun. Then straight into Download which we’re pumped for. We’re gonna destroy that place! And then we’re back out to the States for a couple of months. And that’s just for starters. It’s gonna get busy!!
Taken from the July issue of Dork. Dinosaur Pile-Up’s album ‘Celebrity Mansions’ is out now.
Words: Sam Taylor