Tin Pigeons are meant to finish their soundcheck at Henry’s Cellar Bar and be interviewed at 6.30pm, but don’t manage this until an hour later. They are very apologetic as I follow them into their van for the interview, where they make me laugh so much that I fully forgive them for their poor time-keeping.
The first thing I learn about Tin Pigeons is that they have just found a mini table football set someone had abandoned on the pavement, and that they are very excited about this. As Fraser puts it: “It’s a bloody steal.” The second thing I learn about them is that they love Scotland, and love Scottish accents. Tom briefly (and rather unsuccessfully) attempts one, before apologising for any offence caused to my people.
Tin Pigeons are from the countryside, in the East Midlands near Leicester. “You literally couldn’t get any more central.” Morris dancing is big there apparently, but there is not much of a music scene. So they began to play music because they “weren’t good at sport and there wasn’t much else to do.”
The band don’t tend to write on tour, they wish they did, but because of the amount of travel, they just tend to watch films on the bus instead. Like John Hughes’ 1989 classic Uncle Buck. (We have a brief discussion about John Candy’s premature death. Say what you like about Tin Pigeons, but those boys love a tangent).
One aspect of touring that they like however, is visiting new places. They visited North Berwick the day before our interview, and loved Bass Rock. “So beautiful, and we never would’ve gone there, if we hadn’t come on tour. Touring is a bit of a holiday like that.”
When one usually imagines a band on tour, excessive consumption of drugs and/or alcohol might be something that springs to mind. But Tom confesses their only excess is the amount of Chinese food the band has been eating on this tour. “Had one last night, had one this morning.” All-you-can-eat buffets are quite good on a budget, and the boys are adamant that a clear strategy is vital when going in, claiming they have refined maximum buffet consumption in minimal time to a precise art. “You have to be serious. No carbs. We had three platefuls each in 15 minutes last night at China Red.” says Fraser. “Fraser had a pudding as well, he put jelly on a prawn cracker. We got some weird looks” claims Tom. “The staff were chasing us out the door with a broom.” Then Fraser gets a text from TP guitarist Duncan, who is apparently back at China Red for round three as we speak. Fraser speculates that Duncan may shortly have a heart attack. “I feel a bit sick just thinking about that.” Tom admits.
Back to writing. The band are unsigned, so the business side of things takes up a lot of their time. They feel a bit guilty sometimes because of this, but that’s why they love it when they do get to write. Fraser handles all the lyrics - “He’s always had a way with words, he’s very charming” – whereas Tom does the composition. Whilst they don’t write on the road, the two admit to randomly composing little songs about various objects. Fraser says this is down to spending so much time together that they just develop and share odd idiosyncrasies. There is a brief pause where Tom (who worries he shouldn’t be showing me this) gets up a video of their drummer Rory singing a ditty about Petit Filou yoghurt. Its very silly. “So we do actually write on the road, some absolute bangers mate.”
I ask what they think makes a good live show. “Energy, definitely. It doesn’t really matter what we sound like, as long as we look like we’re having fun” says Tom. “Its just so much fun. We could be playing to literally nobody, which we have done, and its still the best thing in the world” Fraser continues. “Like in Newcastle, there were maybe only 30 people there, but because everyone was absolutely loving it, it was such a great gig. Even if tonight isn’t crazy busy, if people have given up their evening to buy a ticket to our show, that is f***ing insane! That’s so cool, and whatever level that is, even if its just one person, its worth doing.” They love meeting fans as well. “To be able to speak to someone during tour who isn’t Fraser is honestly such a relief” says Tom.
Tin Pigeons are often classed as an indie folk band. I wonder what the boys think of this. “I think it’s fair to say that, yeah. Folk in the sense of the raw element to our songs, we’re quite acoustic-y. And also folk in its purest sense is all about storytelling, and our songs always have stories behind them, either about us or people we know” says Fraser. “Or petit filou” interjects Tom. “The bounce is the indie, and the guitar-yness is the folk.”
Their influences are quite folksy. Bob Dylan and Ben Howard are mentioned, and then we discuss Mumford and Sons. Fraser loves their debut album – “crankingly good” – but denounces their new music as too safe. “Wilder Mind (the third Mumford record) was so good, because they completely broke the mould, from everything everyone thought they were, like foot-stomping banjo solos, and went instead towards a blend of different styles. This new album just feels really safe, just nice pretty songs with simple choruses. Its good, its just got nothing on the last one.”
I ask what artists they think are pushing boundaries. “Ben Howard” says Fraser. “I honestly think he’s gonna be this generation’s Bowie. His records have all been experimental, and I think he’s gonna keep pushing boundaries and playing with soundscapes.” “I think its really important to push boundaries, otherwise you just go stale” says Tom. “As long as it comes from you, from the heart, then its always gonna be original” says Fraser. “Our latest single, that’s a similar vibe to our older stuff, but also we’ve tried to play around with the production a lot, and go somewhere new with it.” Says Tom. “If all we ever wrote were the same bouncy summery pop songs, I think we’d get bored. We write music for ourselves.” Says Fraser. I wonder if this is why they remain independent, to keep complete control. “Yeah. There’s a stigma at the moment that to be a successful band, you have to be signed, and have a whole team in place, and that’s bullshit. You don’t need it. It is the hardest graft, but it means we get to sit in a van talking to you in Edinburgh, which is so cool, and really humbling, and there might only be ten people there tonight, but who gives a shit, because we love it.”
After our interview, Tin Pigeons shake my hand and dart off to China Red, presumably to fill up on as much chow mein and ice cream as possible, before absolutely smashing their gig that night at Henry’s. To attend a Tin Pigeons gig is to witness first-hand not just a brilliant live band, but four individuals who obviously have a genuine love for their songs, and get a life-affirming thrill out of playing them. An inspiring band, and one to definitely keep an eye out for.
Tin Pigeons’ new single ‘You’re No Fun’ is out now (and it’s a class A banger).