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What Comes Naturally: Pigs x7 Talk Following Up 'King Of Cowards'

Thursday, 14 November 2019 Written by Laura Johnson

Newcastle, a city perched on the Tyne river in the north east of England, is a relatively small place. A 10 minute taxi journey is all it takes to get from one end of the centre to the other, and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs vocalist Matt Baty and guitarist Adam Ian Sykes credit those intimate surroundings with helping to usher along the assembly of the uncompromising band, who take an alternative, almost noise-rock, approach to metal.

“If you’re into anything that’s remotely niche you start to bump into the same people, so that’s kind of how it formed,” Baty explains. He’s also a well known member of the local music scene thanks to operating the label Box Records for the last 10 years and playing in alt-folk star Richard Dawson’s band, alongside Pigsx7 bassist John-Michael Hedley. 

Completed by guitarist Sam Grant and drummer Christopher Morley, Pigsx7 came together after Sykes, Baty and Hedley’s ventures in other “friendlier” bands and as a result of mutual friendships, with an appreciation for Black Sabbath uniting them all. As a unit they've put out two albums through Rocket Recordings—their three-track, 36-minute 2017 debut ‘Feed The Rats’ and 2018’s punishing ‘King of Cowards’. 

When the band pitched up at ArcTanGent festival near Bristol this summer, they were nearing completion of writing its follow-up. Sykes and Baty were happy to discuss how the band’s previous steps will impact their next ones, winding the clock back to October 2013 when Pigsx7 played their first gig. “We’d been pissing about in the practice room for about seven months before,” Sykes recalls. During those initial shows, Baty stood with his back to the audience wearing what he awkwardly describes as something similar to a black hooded robe. That was partly down to nerves, which ended up being short-lived. 

“I thought to myself, there’s nothing to be scared of,” the singer says. “Looking at people and communicating with them is a very important aspect of this and it’s important to me when I watch bands or musicians. Just these little fleeting moments, it could be eye contact, it could be anything really. That’s important. And I remember thinking, ‘Nobody’s here to have a bad time or see us fuck up.’ Nobody goes to watch a band to be like, ‘Hope they fuck up, I hope this is rubbish.” You’re all in this together, in that space. As soon as I got my head around that, I was like, ‘It’s not that scary anymore.’”

Since then, Baty has upgraded his wardrobe. Most recently he paired his trademark shorts with a sequined hoodie gifted to him by Frankie Francis of Sunderland band Frankie and the Heartstrings, and he has developed a commanding stage presence. Occasionally he dishes out Tai Chi-esque moves and thousand-yard stares, when he’s not crawling between his bandmates. Despite appearing considered his antics never come across as contrived, which makes things all the more intriguing.

“I’ve never thought too hard about it to be honest. The way I move, it just feels really normal, it feels like the right thing to do,” he says. Later, he reveals that he takes great influence from Oxbow vocalist Eugene Robinson. “Performance-wise he’s so intense in the way he moves, there’s something really magical about it,” he adds. “Also very, very terrifying, but I don’t want the terrifying aspect of it.”

Baty’s moves are not just reserved for shows, either. They often make appearances when the band are recording, with the vocalist admitting he doesn’t distinguish between the stage and studio in terms of how he performs. “I still need it to be really physical and a visceral thing,” he says. “For me, it’s not a great deal of difference. I don’t think I’ve recorded anything in just my shorts, but I throw myself about a bit, I don’t just stand static. Sam’s really good at working around that and capturing that.”

Grant’s Blank Studios, also in Newcastle, is where Pigs x7 recorded their previous two records and it’s also where they’ll lay down the third, which could potentially arrive in mid-2020, around their spring UK tour and a recently confirmed New York show. Prior to ‘King of Cowards’, the guitarist relocated to a much bigger, grander space where he designed and built a studio from the ground up. It also doubles as a writing and rehearsing base for the band, which allowed them a great deal of freedom when creating the sound of the new record. 

On their second LP they deliberately wrote more concise and focused songs, wanting to move away from their previous jam-like way of composing. With the new material there was no plan to speak of. “I guess we approached this without intention on that front,” explains Sykes of their current manner of writing. “Just see what came. With ‘King of Cowards’ we wanted to see what would come of that, having not done it before. This time round it was just a case of what came naturally.”

“There’s not real hard and fast rules,” continues Baty, quickly offering up an exception. “Lyrics are always last. I don’t enjoy trying to come up with lyrics while there are songs that are half baked. I’ll try things out vocally, because it’s such a physical thing. I can get away with just working out different rhythms or different pitches, and how I’m going to project my voice at certain moments. The lyrics always come last.” 

“I’ve never actually said this,” Sykes adds coyly. “But when we’re writing, with everything else we know what’s coming. Especially with the last album, the lyrics were such a big part of the album that’s it’s such a nice surprise, a little extra that you bring. We don’t know what to expect, and it’s always good.”

“Thanks man,” Baty replies. “You’re alright,” Sykes says, before elaborating on his love of the frontman’s new material: “You say bastards a lot on the new album, I’m all about that, it’s a great word. It’s not used enough in music. Bastard!”

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Thu November 14 2019 - READING Sub89
Fri November 15 2019 - BATH Moles

Fri March 13 2020 - BROOKLYN New York - Saint Vitus (USA)

Thu April 16 2020 - MANCHESTER Gorilla
Fri April 17 2020 - BIRMINGHAM Mill
Sat April 18 2020 - BRISTOL Thekla
Fri April 24 2020 - LEEDS Leeds University Stylus
Sat April 25 2020 - GLASGOW Saint Luke's
Wed April 29 2020 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Thu April 30 2020 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Fri May 01 2020 - BRIGHTON Concorde 2

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