If you’re going to form a concept band, it’s got to be all or nothing. London-based trio The Pigeons have taken their concept and flown with it. Donning full-head pigeon masks and taking to the streets of the capital, Phil Pigeon (vocals, electronics), Jimmy Pigeon (guitar) and Tommy Pigeon (drums) – who between them have played with Vanishing Twin, Dana Gavanski, Rozi Plain, Alabaster dePlume and Michelle Blades – have created an avian extravaganza sure to get you shaking your tailfeather, and with track-tirles including ‘Pigeon Rock’, ‘Pecking At The Pavement’ and ‘The Pigeon 1000 Super Music Computer’, you can’t accuse them of chickening out.
Their debut album Bird Brain Gang transports us to a halcyon era for pigeon-kind before Ken Livingstone’s war on what he called the “sky rats” “infesting” Trafalgar Square. It feathers its nest with 60s garage psych, post-punk and sci-fi electronics, casting the pigeon as the ultimate urban outsider – roaming the city in gangs in the album’s title track, living off scraps in ‘Pecking At The Pavement’, shunned by society in ‘Spikes’, as the establishment try to force them out of the city, and fighting back in ‘Take Aim’, as they rain down warm, white vengeance from the skies. And if those topics don’t sound quite strange enough for you, things take a turn for the truly surreal in ‘Amanda Feildling’ a love story to the titular aristocrat and psychedelic drugs researcher, who claimed to have a telepathic relationship with a pigeon called Birdy, with whom she recounted passionate love-making sessions. This leads into ‘Pigeon Rock’, which provides a potted history of pigeon music before segueing into the wibbly experimentation of ‘The Pigeon 1000 Super Music Computer’.
We caught up with The Pigeons and asked them to create their ultimate avian playlist – check it out below:
Bird Brain Gang – The Pigeons
A bird’s eye observation of the tendency for humans to place themselves into oppositional groups, imagining they are better than the others, when really they are all the same, a bunch of bird brains. It’s an anti-war song, hence the Vietnam era fuzz guitar.
Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen
The quintessential bird rock song.
C.T.A. 102 – The Byrds
The outer space locked groove rock bridge is ripe for the pecking.
Over Under Sideways Down – The Yardbirds
Great existential blues psyche from the London 60s beat gods.
Oiseaux Exotiques – Olivier Messiaen
There’s a lot classical avant-garde lingering around in The Pigeons’ music.
Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens – The Stargazers
A good fun ridiculous song.
Big Bird – The B52s
Big Bird is a divine character of worship for The Pigeons.
Bird Dog – The Everly Brothers
JImmy Pigeon loves the Everly Brothers.
Wings – The Fall
Britain’s late saving grace, sorely missed, lo-fi sci-fi punk rock at its finest.
The Ostrich – The Primitives
The song that formed the Velvet Underground when Lou Reed needed a band to play his novelty track. Thoroughly trashy.
Poisoning Pigeons In The Park – Tom Lehrer
Does humour belong in music? We believe so, and here’s a good one from the mid 20th Century satirist
The King of Rome – June Tabor
A song about the racing pigeon who won a 1000 mile race from Rome to England in 1913
Article by Paul Maps
Photo by Dana Gavanski