Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – an interview.
Speaking to Matt Baty, the softly spoken, down-to-earth frontman of the amusingly named five-piece Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs (aka Pigs x7), you get little sense, at first, of the intensity, some might even say ferocity, of their sound. Drawing influence from the psychedelic tendencies of old-school outfits like Motörhead and Black Sabbath, as well as the sludgier doom metal of more recent decades, Pigs x7 was formed in 2013, in part as a reaction to what they saw as excessively serious posturing within the doom scene.
“We came up with Pigs initially because I think that’s how we were feeling about ourselves mentally at the time,” he jokes, as we talk over the phone from his hometown of Newcastle. “And then repeating it seven times was just making it as obnoxious as possible. I like the tongue-in-cheekness of it, because in the world of music we’re involved in there’s a lot of chin-stroking and head nodding with clenched teeth and the bottom lip out, and that’s something we were kind of keen to avoid, I suppose.”
“It’s going back to that element of rock music, how it started out, you know? We set out to make a fun band, and I suppose the music reflects that as well. We’re not very serious people and I don’t see why our live performances should have to be deadly serious either.”
The wild essence of those legendary live shows, which cemented the band’s reputation as a rising force in the world of metal, is also captured on their records, and was inspired by a revelatory teenage experience. “Round about the age of 15, my parents drove me and my friends to Manchester to watch System Of A Down. I understand they’re perhaps not the coolest reference point ever,” he adds, laughing. “Well, supporting System Of A Down was a band called The Dillinger Escape Plan. We went to that show not really knowing anything about The Dillinger Escape Plan at all, and they came on and absolutely wiped the floor with me. The energy and the intensity of what they were doing just totally blew me away.”
“I remember having an HMV gift card,” he continues. “And it had about 10 quid on it, so a week afterwards, in the school break, I took myself to HMV and I was looking through the CDs and I saw Calculating Infinity in there. I was like, ‘Oh my god that’s that insane band I saw last week’. So I bought that and took it home and listened to it, and the intensity and the energy that I’d seen in the live show was captured on that recording. At the time, I was listening to a lot of your bog standard nu-metal and commercial metal music, but as soon as I discovered that band all of that just seemed so stagnant and insipid – really rehearsed, really polished, ultra-produced. I’d go with that show as being a pretty influential one.”
Pig’s first album, Feed The Rats, released last year, channelled that immediacy to great effect and the same approach, Baty says, has been taken on their latest record. After all, why change a winning formula? “We’re doing it in pretty much the same amount of time we did the last one. We’ve just got to go into a studio and bash the songs out like we’re playing them live. As soon as we start to take our time and overly consider things I think we lose something. Quite purposefully we’ve booked time in the studio that we think we can do that. Once I get off the phone to you, I’m going to head over to the Blank Studios and I’m going to do the vocals on the closing track of the album and that’s everything recorded.”
One thing that has changed with this record, though, is the band’s ability to hire studio “luxuries”, thanks to funding from the PRS Momentum Fund, he explains. “Sam [Grant, guitar] is a studio engineer, and had a vision of how he wanted this album to sound. He put together a wish list of things he’d like to work with, so we’ve been able to do that. We’ve hired a really nice drum kit and a couple of extra bits of gear for the recording – compressors and things like that – that have made it sound great.”
It’s an avenue Baty encourages other young and developing musicians to consider. “It’s not really all that complicated. PRS do a few rounds of funding every year and the application isn’t too taxing. You highlight where you are as a band or a singer/songwriter, what you’ve achieved, then say what more you hope to be able to do with the funding.”
With that second album nearly complete, Pigs x7 are looking forward to playing some more shows, including their third appearance at Raw Power festival at Tufnell Dome, which Baty describes as “an amazing room – it’s almost like an old dancehall sort of feel to it.”
“It’s always nice when we’ve played live,” he adds. “Especially at some of the more leftfield festivals, where people will go and take a chance on bands. They might not know anything about us, but when you see a schedule of a festival that you’re at and there’s a band called Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, it’s like ‘Well, I might go check them out because it’s a hilarious name.'”
“The best instance of that happening was at Supernormal Festival. We played there two or three years ago and this lady came up afterwards and said ‘My son really enjoyed that – he wanted to come and say hello to the shouty man.’ I looked down and there’s this kid there that was maybe four-years-old. She said he really loved it and thought it was great. Isn’t that brilliant?”
Pigsx7 will be playing Raw Power Festival at The Dome and Boston Music Room at Tufnell Park Saturday 26th.
Words: Alex Mcfadyen
Photo: Jose Ramon Caamaño