GuilFest 2011 - Lineup


Matt Bigland (vox/guitar) | Harry Johns (vox/guitar) | Mike Shiels (drums)

"Growing Pains for me is a statement on how I've felt over the last year or so I guess. Trying to figure out who I am as a person growing up. Trying to get the right band together. Trying to make a first record with little money in a time when rocking guitar bands aren't really in fashion. It's all kinda been a 'growing' in to a reality that I wasn't totally aware of I guess. I used to get growing pains as a little kid a lot, and my whole situation reminded me of that feeling; me trying to grow into my own body..."

After 18 months blood, sweat, coffee, Back To The Future DVDs and hard rocking pop'n'roll shows, Dinosaur Pile-Up are finally ready to give the world the fearsome debut album it has been waiting for. You might already know the story of Matthew Bigland, and how he founded DP-U from the ashes of seminal Leeds outfit Mother Vulpine (in which he played with Pulled Apart By Horses frontman Tom Hudson). You may remember how after a period dubbed 'Leeds Best Kept Secret', the timeless east-coast pop-rock of the demos leaked out into wider consciousness, leading to one of the most frenzied rushes of excitement to greet a new guitar band in recent years. And then you'll certainly remember how they styled out the hype and the whispers of a 'grunge revival' with fantastically infectious debut single 'My Rock'n'Roll', which made them one of UK press and radio's hottest-tipped acts. A second single 'Traynor' followed, as did tours with the likes of Pixies, Future Of The Left, and The Automatic, and performances at Bestival, T In The Park and Reading/Leeds; the nascent band cut their live teeth in explosive style. There was only one problem; the world fell so fast and so hard for Dinosaur Pile-Up that they hadn't yet had the chance to make an album.

Wisely, Bigland chose to retreat. Where an artist with less vision might have rushed out something substandard to capitalise on the buzz, DP-U's debut had to be perfect. To make things even tougher for himself, he had a singular vision; like his idol Dave Grohl, he was determined to compose and play every single song on the album that would be 'Growing Pains'. He hooked up with scene production shaman James Kenosha, decamping to his residential studios, The Lodge in Bridlington. There, they spent an intense two-month period finessing the vision and laying down the ideal manifestation of Matt's vision.

"It was cool," he remembers, "we had the whole space to ourselves and set it up so all the instruments were pretty much in a big circle in the live room. We'd wake up at 9am, make coffee, and record until 3am solidly. It was pretty exhausting, and with me doing all the instruments and him doing all the recording there were kind of no breaks. Often it would just end up with me running round the room recording different bits of different songs and then singing till my throat hurt."

The results were worth it though and can be heard all over the crisp, summer-ready songs on 'Growing Pains'. As band signature tunes, 'My Rock'n'roll' and 'Traynor' survive to the final cut, but Matt's songwriting has expanded, spreading out to widen the DP-U canvas. The fizzing lead single 'Birds And Planes' sees Matt fly off on a fantasy stream of consciousness that recalls the vintage twisted highs of Weezer and Pavement. 'Never That Together' incorporates Berlin-era Beatles into the DP-U vision, and 'Hey Man' scales new heights of emotional melodrama, lurching from pin-drop quiet into a huge, lurching grunge beast.

Oh yes, the 'G' word, which has followed the band round since their very inception. Nothing wrong with being compared to some of your favourite bands of course, but that isn't even half the story. Matt best describes his vision as follows; "I guess I'd describe it as equal parts heavy and pop. I love melody so I think it's pretty 'sing along' also. Compared to today's market maybe it's alternative? But at the same time kinda heavy, whilst still being kinda pop. I don't know - Heavy Alternative Pop?? Can I say that? I liked the idea of people to be able to sing along to the songs, even if they were slaying or I'm singing about being hated or upset. I love bands like the Beatles and the Beach Boys so I think a bit of that got in there. I wanted to make a record that kicks people in the face whilst getting stuck in their head. Which for my music taste; so little does either these days. I want to knock people's teeth out with a riff or a kick beat, but at the same time leave them humming a melody for the rest of the day. If that happened I'd feel pretty happy."

DP-U has undergone a number of line-up changes since it's inception, and the band returns with two new faces in bassist Harry Johns and drummer Mike Sheils. Mike replaces Steve Wilson who has since joined Japanese Voyeurs, while Harry (formerly of Old Romantic Killer Band) replaces bassist and long time friend of Matt, Tom Dornford-May, who has taken his musical vision in a new direction.

From the instant ecstatic reaction of anyone who's heard 'Growing Pains' thus far, it looks like Matt is going to be happy for some time to come. It takes a special talent to take so many favourite, yet disparate elements of music and combine them into such a unique, fully formed whole. But that's exactly what Dinosaur Pile-Up have done. And while Matt will find that the end of one set of growing pains is just the beginning of another set, the satisfaction of getting the record out to the world is a win on every front. "This record means a lot to me obviously, because it a record I've been trying to get made for such a long time. Not specifically these songs, but this debut as a whole. And I'm super happy that it's finally done."

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