An Interview With DINOSAUR PILE-UP About Their Formation, Biggest Inspirations, Latest Album And More!
Posted On 24 Aug 2016
Formed in 2007, Dinosaur Pile-Up broke out of the thriving Leeds rock scene (Gang of Four, Alt-J, Wedding Present) and instantly drew favorable comparisons to the cream of ‘90s US college rock such as Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, and Superchunk.
Named for a scene in Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong where a stampede of dinosaurs collides at the foot of a mountain, Dinosaur Pile-Up put out their first official release, The Most Powerful E.P In The Universe, in 2009 and have gone on to record two studio albums, 2010’s Growing Pains and 2014’s Nature Nurture. They’ve toured with Weezer, Pixies, Brand New, Royal Blood, Pulled Apart by Horses, among many others.
The official video for their single “11:11” displays the band at their most visceral, including shots of their show with Brand New in the US. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/CPr1JR1Iu3w.
On their past releases, front-man Matt Bigland played every instrument himself, but for Eleven Eleven the touring band (Mike Sheils on drums, and Jim Cratchley on bass) entered the studio to create a record more in line with their intense live energy that Kerrang! characterizes as “Crushing and swaggering. Like Godzilla in loafers.” — “It’s the first time we’ve recorded an album together in a room, like when we are playing live or rehearsing, we were able to shape the songs and put them down in the way we want to play them live.” Says Bigland, “Whenever we wanted something to be heavier, or more intense, we just changed it there and then. It was awesome.”
Learn more about Dinosaur Pile-Up in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Now that we are more than half-way through 2016, what are some words you would use to describe it? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for the band?
I would describe 2016 so far as awesome – and the rest of it is looking really exciting for us too. We’re just about to head out on tour for about three months which will be the longest tour we’ve done yet. We’re gonna cover the US, the UK, Europe and India in that time so it’s going to be pretty intense! Some of the highlights of 2015 was recording the new record, and releasing it in the UK and Japan obviously, and playing our first headline show in Tokyo after Summersonic Festival, which totally kicked off! It blew our minds. Getting to tour with Weezer through UK and Europe was also pretty sweet to say the least. Life tick.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? And specifically, how did Dinosaur Pile-Up come to be?
I started playing guitar when I was 9 years old and kind of meandered about for a while whilst sucking. Then I discovered Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine and The Smashing Pumpkins and I was pretty much obsessed with bands and music from then on. So I guess from a pretty young age I wanted to just play guitar forever yeah, I mean how much does 9 year old kid think about their ‘career’ or whatever. I just thought ‘all I want to do is play guitar’. I think Mike and Jim had a similar experience. One of my earliest musical memories is listening to The Cure with my mum in the car. I didn’t know what it was or anything, I just loved that chorus sound on the guitars. It just buzzed me! My mum played a lot of good rock music in the car. DPU came to be because I wrote some demos which i recorded in my basement in Leeds after leaving my previous band. I put them up on myspace and pretty quickly there was a lot of excitement surrounding what was originally a solo thing. Fast forward a couple years and I’ve met Mikey on the road, and Jim on the road. The rest is history.
Can you talk about your name comes from a scene in Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong?
It does. Had I have known I’d be talking about that in interviews 8 years later maybe I’d have taken it more seriously! I want to the cinema with a bunch of friends to see that sucky remake of king kong. Let’s be honest. It sucked. There’s a bit where loads of dinosaurs trip up and all fall down a mountain together, and pile up at the bottom. When we walked out at the end I joked to everyone ‘OK if I start another band I’m calling it Dinosaur Pile-Up’… 6 months later I had a bunch of songs and couldn’t think of a name. Dinosaur Pile-Up kind of fit so I went with it. Kind of funny I guess.
You are about to release a new record called “Eleven Eleven.” How do you think your sound has grown on this collection and how has it stayed the same?
We are and we’re stoked! Releasing Eleven Eleven in the US and Europe means this record has come out in the UK, Europe, USA, Japan, India and Australia – making it our first global release. We’re pumped about that. I think our sound has gotten heavier for sure with this record – but the writing and how our songs work has stayed the same. I think it’s very much stayed true to who and what we are as a band, whilst exposing and expanding our greatest strengths as a band.
What was the inspiration for your album’s first single, “11:11”? How creatively involved were you with the making of the video for the song?
11:11 is a song revolving around the year and a half of solid touring we did prior to recording the album – in which I wrote a lot of the new record. We would see the numbers 11 11 ALL THE TIME in so many forms. Times, departure gates, emails, platforms, room numbers – you wouldn’t believe it, it was so weird. Anyway, the numbers 11 11 became pretty significant to us and kind of coined that whole period of time on the road and the place where all the new songs came from. That’s what the title of the album is about and the where the inspiration for the song came from. We were involved in the making of the video yeah – the footage in the background and on the TV’s is footage from that year of touring all over the world. We just wanted to bring it all together in one place.
Matt, I’m curious to know why you decided to have the touring band join you in the studio to record “11:11”?
We made this record together because we were ready to, and with all that touring it would have been insane not to. We were so tight and close as a band we just had to make it together. With the previous two records the band wasn’t in such a rock solid position and thus I made them solo. But this time and moving forward we were going to make it together.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire Dinosaur Pile-Up? Who would you love to work with in the future?
We’re inspired by new bands all the time and bands we’re always been inspired by. Bands like Nirvana, Weezer, RAGE, Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones, Early Foo’s – they’ll always be an inspiration to us. But also there’s a lot of great new bands all over the place that inspire us. Fidlar, Tigercub, Demob Happy, Basement, Violent Soho. There’s a lot of good bands happening right now.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I hope listeners take away our energy, and take away a connection between them and us. The whole reason I became obsessed with music is because of the energy that it made me feel. Whether is it was the melody in The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame” that my mum was playing in the car when I was like 7, or the complete annihilation of the kick drum in Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings” coming through my headphones when I was a teenager – it made me fucking pumped. And I want that to translate. Punk rock and heavy metal made me want to explode and I still feel like that. And I want people to feel that same energy. Also when I felt isolated growing up, listening to those albums always made me feel like I was a part of something, and I didn’t need to try to be anything else. That’s also something really important that I hope our music can provide for people growing up, or that feel ostracized in anyway.