There it was. The social commentators at Vice magazine had declared it: The scene is dead. RIP indie. The Winehouse dream is over. Johnny (Borrell), we hardly knew you.
A cry of "Leave Brit-indie alone" stirred within me as the micro-documentary Big Night Out, intending to toll the death knell, painted the indie scene as terminally ill; less indie and more dependent on the kindness of others.
One band on which Vice briefly trained its lens to give a perfunctory kick in the nuts was The Pigeon Detectives. Remember them? I do.
You weren't human, or at least a teenage ball of grease from the intolerably-named mid-Noughties, unless you flailed around awkwardly, growing into your limbs, to the likes of ‘Romantic Type’ or ‘Take Her Back’. And if you didn't then you're almost certainly lying. Come on, your record collection can't only have been filled with the fervent melodies of Elliott Smith, Belle & Sebastian, and PJ Harvey.
It was a stitch in time that gave rise to the trendy troubadours like Razorlight, The Twang, The Kooks, The Kaiser Chiefs and The Wombats. I'd always thought of giving it a go myself, cashing in with a band named The The The The’s. It never took off, so instead I just settled for allowing the enslaving beat of The Fratellis to echo cruelly around my skull.
But if you believe the morbid and frankly cynical declarations, then sadly the indie party couldn't last forever, and at some point the obsessive hooks had to stop. All those years squeezed into drainpipe trousers, smoking rollies and cavorting like Pete Doherty has apparently done quite a bit of harm.
According to Vice, the last purveyors of the genre now reside in a very Hoxton shaped hospice. To personify: ostracised by the now trendier and gumptious cousins in Dalston and Stoke-Newington, the curly-headed mop of British indie is not how we might have remembered. The poor ailing fans of the genre now recoil at the sight in the mirror. Their tar stained and scabby fingers clutching on to old, dog-eared copies of NME. A collection of love letters to bands that don't exist anymore are etched into pale and pock-marked skin - The Dirty Pretty Things, The Libertines - a reminder that they should have gone home years ago.
So when I mention to a friend about my desire to fire a few questions at The Pigeon Detectives, stalwarts to flighty lyrics inciting adolescent rebellion (‘I’m Not Sorry’), she blithely remarks, "I bet you're the first person to ask them for an interview in years." While I'm sure that is not the case, the lads from Leeds still flying the indie flag in much the same way as before have fallen from public consciousness in recent times.
Maybe popping up in an irreverent clip by the people at Vice wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened to them. In fact, it might have been a stroke of luck. It could have people seeking out the soundtrack to their misspent youth, jingle-jangling the can which reads ‘Save Indie’.
Anyway, here is drummer Jimmi Naylor talking about the band’s recent exploits following the release of their fourth studio album We Met At Sea, fond memories and the somewhat snobbish attitude towards indie music of old:
Luke Holohan: The band recently undertook an autumn tour of the UK. What else is happening at the moment?
Jimmi Naylor: We’ve decided to take a small break in early 2014. But we’ll be back in the studio writing, come spring. We’re hoping to have a full festival season, then a UK and Ireland tour towards the end of the year.
LH: And you guys also did a 15-date sold-out UK tour in April and May. How does it feel to be back performing with new material again? What has been the reaction to perhaps the more pared back sound of the album?
JN: The new songs have fitted really well into the set. We seem to have a younger generation of fans coming to the recent gigs, who not only know the older tracks but are really into the new stuff. We wrote We Met At Sea with the purpose of making an album that would translate well live and I think that comes through during the shows.
LH: We Met At Sea is the band’s first album since 2011 and before that it was Emergency in 2008. Has the gap in releases been due to constant gigging and writing, or do you guys also take time out to pursue other projects?
JN: We all have other things that interest us, but the band is the number one priority. It seems like a long time between albums, but with the constant touring and writing time, there isn’t an abundance of time spare to pursue other things.
LH: The band scored top five hits with its first two albums and even played to a packed out Alexandra Palace. But what has been the highlight so far for you?
JN: Playing the Main Stage at Leeds Festival was a big deal for us. We have been going to that festival since we were 17 and playing the Main Stage was the fulfilment of a dream. Playing two sold-out shows at Millennium Square in Leeds was also huge. It was great to have all our family and friends from Leeds come down to see how far we had come and celebrate with us.
LH: I’m not sure if you are aware, but The Pigeon Detectives briefly featured in the Vice micro-documentary Big Night Out in which the presenter declared that the indie scene was dead. What’s your view, are the heady days of indie rock ‘n’ roll over?
JN: When we first arrived on the scene way back in 2005-2006, it was a brilliant time for guitar music. We’d drive down to London in our transit van and have a great time hanging out with other kids who liked to hit their guitars hard on stage with their mates. The word ‘indie’ has always kind of haunted us, but to us we were just five mates writing songs that we would like to hear and having a great time. It’s because of the inherent snobbery within the music industry, particularly in London, that the whole ‘indie’ thing is seen as a dirty word. This has led to bands avoiding being a good old-fashioned song and dance band for fear of not ‘being cool’. It’s a shame that’s the case, but I’m glad I was around to be a part of it.
LH: What do you make of Vice magazine and Clive Martin’s somewhat snarky comments that the most unfortunate reality of indie nights is the live music? On this particular night in Shoreditch he seemed to infer that indie lead singers were ‘arsehole frontmen shouting at their girlfriends’.
JN: I’m sure Clive is a very smart man, with lots of respect and credentials within his industry, but these kinds of comments seem like an example of the snobbery I was talking about. I’m sure him and his friends from Vice went home after their night out in Shoreditch and had a good laugh at these ‘indie’ bands who are trying their best to make a name for themselves, whilst listening to Mars Volta B-sides and polishing their gold statue of Faris from the Horrors. To me, all I can remember from playing and attending ‘indie’ discos is a load of kids jumping around, having a great time and discovering their favourite new band or tune without agenda, or cynicism.
LH: Any plans to head over to Dublin in the not too distant future?
JN: We love Dublin and hopefully will be heading over towards the end of 2014. We have a great time whenever were in Ireland and can’t wait to get back.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @Lukeholohan.