If you ever need evidence that the music scene in Belfast is thriving then look no further than Thursdays at Radar at the Bar Sub at Queens Students Union.
On this Thursday to start proceedings, the much talked about R51 kicked things off. Their contrasting pop rock and at times, loud melodic sounds, seems to work well in the live environment. Without doubt their strength is their female vocalist, Melyssa Shannon. Shannon impressed as she raised her voice to match the riffs and noise of the rest of the band. R51 are due to launch their new EP at the end of March in the same venue, one surely not to be missed.
Next up were North Coast based rock trio, Two Glass Eyes. This loud rock outfit powered through with energetic alt rock . Previously likened to an early Biffy Clyro, the band will be soon releasing their new album.
However the night was really only about only one band, PigsAsPeople, This was the fourth night of a six-date tour across Ireland. The rock noise 3 piece took to the stage amid a smoky and crowded room and immediately kicked things off with their track ‘Rashida’. Noisy, fast, loud and energy charged is how I would best describe PigsAsPeople.
Playing their way through much of their EP, ‘The Plot Against Future Plans’ which was released towards the end of last year, the band barely stopped for breathe. The crowd lapped this up, hanging on every riff and looking for the next moment to head bang. And as if we didn’t already know these guys were crowd pleasers they threw in a Nirvana cover as well for good measure. A nod to their post punk influences no doubt.
The track of the night for me, was an older track from the band, ‘The Quiet Earth’. What starts of as a meandering, gloomy, dark and drum lead instrumental stoked an eerie silence to the Bar Sub where it was hard not to be captivated by the performance. This song then builds and transforms into a goliath of a head bang.
Another slick and well thought out show and performance from the Pigs. After the conclusion of their tour I was lucky enough to catch up with Chris Leckey from the band and here is what he had to say. Michael Chapman, GiggingNI.com
“We were toying with all these sorts of band names and it’s easily one of the hardest and most infuriating parts of starting a band but we ended up with PigsAsPeople. The name came from the graphic novel Maus which depicts the holocaust…from there we decided, PigsAsPeople it is.”
For people who haven’t heard your music, how would you describe your sound?
“A lot of people would consider us a hardcore band, which by all means, is a fair assumption to make, it’s big, noisy and riffy but it’s definitely not hardcore in our minds. If we were to describe it it would be post-hardcore with elements of noise rock, sludge and post punk.”
What is the writing process of your music? Are there particular band members that tend to be responsible for writing lyrics/music?
“Generally we would write extremely fast, going as far as writing a song a week in some cases. We’re all the writers of the music with one of us coming in with a simple idea of something like “I’d love to write a song that’s a slow repeated riff over big drums” and we’d work with that idea until there’s something concrete. Sometimes we’ll have loose structure that we’d work on. We love working off each other, that’s why we love writing so much. When we’re in a practice space, we’d rarely practice, we’d mostly write and work on new material. In terms of lyrics, I would be the main lyricist but I’m always asking Stevie and Wilson what they think of the lyrics because after all, it’s kind of their lyrics too. Stevie would also contribute lyrics that we would use, he’s got this real sarcastic tinge to his lyrics would work really well sometimes.”
What is the subject material of your music?
“Good question, very good question. I try to write about things that are happening to me or around me that I feel affected by but not a literal way. I love using graphic and exaggerated imagery to portray what I’m saying. The last record we put out (The Plot Against Future Plans) had the overall theme of the fall of masculinity and how men are designed to be strong, masculine and independent but that’s not always the case.
“The songs try to deconstruct that notion through different scenarios be it through sexual assault (‘Bleeder’), the fall of an empire (‘The Duke Of Flies’) or something as simple as being depressed and rising up from it (‘Those Hearts Have Rocks’). In other cases I have written some more political lyrics such as ‘The Art Of Leaving Your House’ or ‘Viscous Speaker’, I guess you could say that ‘Idles & Us’ is our anti-politics EP.”
Is there a particular high point that sticks out for you all?
“We always talk about the best moment we’ve had as a band and it always comes down to two gigs we’ve done. The first would have to be playing Glasgowbury, it’s a festival that was close to our hearts but especially close to Stevie’s being that it’s his local festival. Nothing went wrong, literally nothing, usually there’s something that goes wrong that maybe only we would know about but this was just one of those special gigs that way. Secondly would be playing Mandela Hall, that entire performance is a complete whirlwind to us, it was the most intense we’ve ever played and it was awesome to have so many people there too.”
Is there a particular aim or goal which you hope to achieve as a band?
“Obviously in these sorts of instances the ultimate goal is to “make it” but you can’t just chase that dream on it’s own, there’s so many steps in order to get there. Right now our main focus is writing an album that will be something we can all be proud of. That’s the big goal of the moment.”
How did your six-night tour of Ireland go?
“We’ve just finished today, it was incredible. We were really sceptical that it was going to fall apart but it was honestly fantastic. Everywhere had a great turn out and to our surprise Dublin had sold out. It was just great playing all these places in Ireland we’ve never played before, we’ll definitely be back to them all.”
What are your plans as a band for the rest of 2015?
“Now that the tour is finished we’re just going to try and go with the flow for a bit and then get back into writing. We’ve done quite a lot in the past two months so I think we’ll take about two weeks away just to chill out and get back into the groove of normal life again. We’re hoping that 2015 will be kind to us and maybe even another tour will be just in the horizon.”