Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pigeon Park Is An Emerging Artist Pick

Pigeon Park
When Nick Weber (vocals) and Kevin Okabe (guitar) were writing music in the hallways of school a few years ago, they didn't really know where it might lead. Everything just started falling into place.

Artur Leppert (bass) and Hunter Elliott (drums) had already formed a duo, but were looking to expand their sound. It was as the four of them were just coming together that they happened to hear Logan Pacholok (guitar, vocals) at a winter talent show.

They were blown away and invited him along for the ride. Nothing after that, however, was anything but chance.

Pigeon Park is an emerging artist pick from Vancouver. 

Named after an area that once served as an unofficial dividing line between the prosperous and struggling sides of downtown Vancouver, Pigeon Park had no problem booking shows. Their initial draw was their diversity. With each member having different musical backgrounds and interests, it was easy enough to play a gamut of sound ranging from blues and reggae to roots and indie rock.

"It's something that's a bit of a challenge, especially with the press. They hear the first track off the album and assume the rest is going to sound similar," says Okabe. "Instead, they're hit with an abundance of genres. Some people like it. Some don't."

Expect some of that to change in the years ahead, but not entirely. The blues-rock infused opening track of their new self-titled EP has the band leaning toward a heavier, smoky sound. However, having the freedom to take music in any direction can be addictive.

The song, Lovelight, started like most Pigeon Park songs. One member brought in the spark for it and then the rest of the band turns it into an elongated jam session with each member contributing. Except Lovelight was a bit different in that Okabe, who writes many of the songs, was much more specific.

"I was a bit of a control freak during the jam process, which is a rare thing for me," said Okabe. "I don't like telling people what to play, basically ever. In this case, I just had a really specific vision of how I wanted the song to sound."

Part of the reason is related to the inspiration. Love doesn't always present itself clean. It's often saddled with indecision and doubt. The second track, Figures, which has a lighter and jazzier pop-rock sound, conveys the same idea in a different way. Written by Weber, it titters back and forth on he bright and biting sides when you fall for someone.

"Most of it has to do with me learning a lot of hard lessons, like most people go through," says Weber. "They are things that have made me a better person. On the outside, it can all seem so simple. But when you live through it, it all feels more complicated."

How Pigeon Park makes richly diverse work.

The two songs are different, but even those differences don't fully represent the dramatic and occasionally jarring contrasts that have become part of the Pigeon Park repertoire. Although most songs are somehow grounded in blues, the band frequently moves in any direction.

"Our diversity was never something we planned," says Weber. "Sometimes it happens quickly and other times it takes a long time for it to grow into something we feel is 'us.' Whatever direction it happens to turn can be hard for a fan to accept. It might even mean losing people, but it's part of who we are."

There are some advantages, however. It's not uncommon for the band to adjust during live performances, leaning in one direction or the other. Several fans have told the band that every show sounds different and that makes sense. The band members say every show feels different.

"We've never really had a consistent set list. People tell us that we ought to keep the same set list, but we never have," explains Pacholok. "There are differences between cities. Things tend to get a little more metal-ish as we head east so we never truly decide what to play until we see the venue and feel out the vibe."

Pigeon Park
Being an independent artist helps too. Okabe says it can be great in the sense that they retain 100 percent control over what they produce. The downside is it takes a little more time to manage the business side, the music side, and keeping a day job. Leppert is equally balanced in his take, adding that it's important to enjoy what you're doing as much as making music that people dig. And, he says, you have to keep getting better.

"We're pretty much married. When you spend 40 days on the road together in a cramped van full of stinky feet, it really brings you together," says Okabe.

Other tracks down the EP punctuate the point. It's easy to catch the chemistry in Statues Of Feathers even if it took longer to come together. It was only after little bits were added across dozens of jams that an outro riff helped make the track happen. It's Not That Likely too, which ends the EP, is a short, quirky little song that seems a million miles away from Lovelight. But then you'll smile with the band, just the same.

The Pigeon Park EP Lands 4.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

It might take a little time for Pigeon Park to catch the bigger break, but count on one to come. Some of the typical band hardships have already played out. Even this EP, which they tracked in house after an exhaustive summer tour and during a particularly cold Canadian winter, wasn't pain free.

When they were done, their management agency dropped them. So they headed back into the studio with someone willing to give them more time. They tapped Vancouver producer Jordan Oorebeek to produce it, and found themselves with a richer, fuller sound.

You can find the Pigeon Park EP on iTunes. Each track deserves its own listen, given the genre jumps, but there is no question this band has the talent and chemistry to see it all come together. You can also hear the EP on Bandcamp, along with their first release, Sun. To follow the band, look for them on Facebook.
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