Interview: Pigeonhole

Late October, atop the backdrop of a dilapidated Britain, North London mob Pigeonhole brought their narcotic cocktail of maundering monologues and biting riffage to The George Tavern for a short shot of reprieve. The Mic's Tristan Phipps was in jubilant attendance as the frenetic eight-piece took flight, and caught up with the troupe to chat morphing line-ups, divvying responsibilities, and the plight of a static crowd.

When exciting London band ‘Pigeonhole’ were first brought to my attention, with the punchy and unpredictable Figures, Figures, Figures, I was captivated. What initially began as a short one hundred and fifty words about a new release chaotically span into a full-length feature, in which I, much to frontman Marko’s enjoyment, described the infectiously fun ‘Figures’ as my favourite single of the year so far. And while I still stroll about my everyday life muttering Marko’s quirky lines under my breath, I have at least now had the privilege of seeing ‘Pigeonhole’ in rip-roaring action - albeit from the confines of performing in a small South London pub, in which all crowd interaction, or movement, was aggressively forbidden.

Nothing screams ‘punk’ like a strict seating policy, but this is 2020, and here we are. I was keen to sit down with Marko to learn more about the band I had so recently fallen for. To receive this information, I found myself venturing to the foot of the never-ending cone known as North West London, to a buzzing cocktail bar in West Hampstead where I was greeted warmly by frontman Marko, the brass section’s Pip and Allejandro, and a round of tequilas.

Now that’s more like it. “Not a place I necessarily wanted to go to, but I went up to Uni in Coventry,” reminisced Marko, thinking back to the not so distant past when the journey of Pigeonhole began. “I went purely with the intention of finding someone to do this band thing with. I wasn’t going to lectures anyway!” Despite holding a clear vision of wanting to be in a band, it was evident that the young men found their feet as they went.

“We’d do gigs with no bassist and no drummer!” laughed Marko. “We’d go around and just ask the drummers doing support slots after us if they wouldn’t mind filling in, just to do a steady beat. It was a shambles, really!” Since then it is evident that the concept known as ‘Pigeonhole’ has begun to find its feet, and in turn, build momentum. “It’s been a year… the first gig that we actually had a bassist and a drummer that we’d been working with… was Nambuca which must have been last October!” chimed Marko.

“I know what I want things to sound like. If it were down to me I’d play everything if I had enough arms and legs!”

“I was doing guitar and vocals before, and I can write on guitar, but I can’t really play well, especially when playing and singing.” With the introduction and dismissal of various drummers, bassists and guitarists, Pigeonhole are yet to show signs of settling down. However, with the introduction of Pip and Allejandro on the horns, the group appears to be slowly reaching its natural form as a free-flowing collective. No doubt a far-cry from what the core members could have predicted twelve months ago, somehow Pigeonhole appears to remain within the vision of frontman Marko.

“I do have a bit of this control freak thing,” Marko confessed. “I know what I want things to sound like. If it were down to me I’d play everything if I had enough arms and legs!” Whilst a bit tongue-in-cheek about his central role within the band, it is evident that Marko is currently driven to create an environment in which everyone can contribute. “Everything we’ve now released has been out in lockdown really. That’s why it was interesting to come back and start playing again. It’s a whole new set list, and the line-up (of the band) is completely different!”

“We’re going to have an EP that comes out early new year, and I want that to be a group project,” continued Marko. “It’s mostly just been me teaching people their parts, but a lot of that is just because not everyone is a competent or confident musician. We’ve started opening with a jam actually. Now we’re actually a band!” Initially it was hard to decipher how Marko felt about the recent changes in the bands’ structure.

“It’s so hard to pinpoint where all the ideas are coming from,” admitted Marko, reflecting on how the group has grown from a small band to the chaotic collective we see today. “But I’m happy with the line-up we’ve got now. It feels like everyone is on board, which is nice!” It struck me as a surprise that Marko had begun to surrender some of the writing and producing responsibilities, given how close to heart the Pigeonhole project had been for him, yet hopefully this will reveal itself to be a liberating change for the frontman.

‘With a fresh line up and new music incoming, this eight-piece are primed and ready to fly out of the traps in the new year.’

“I like to move around, and obviously now that’s a bit sh*t as you can’t hop into the crowd,” pondered Marko, echoing the thoughts and feelings of all live music lovers. While Pigeonhole have been privileged enough to play a handful of shows over the autumn months, it was little surprise to hear the fiery frontman long for a slice of normality. Aside from playing to a standing, moving, moshing crowd, I was keen to hear how Marko, Pip and Allejandro envisioned the future of Pigeonhole. “I’d love to do some more supports,” chimed Allejandro, as the rest nodded. “Fat White Family?”, continued Marko.

“They wouldn’t have us, they’d probably despise us! We’re too similar to them... and they once chucked a bunch of milk on us!” Seems like a story for another time. Although Pigeonhole are fast establishing themselves as powerful, punchy eight-piece, the band have drastically morphed and moulded from the outfit we’d have seen a year ago. With the introduction of new members, the writing and recording of new tunes, and a total Spotify revamp – this summer saw all change for the London band.

While everyone was visibly keen to return to the thrill of the live show, I gauged a different sense of anticipation from Marko, who will no doubt be a little nervous as well as energised by the returning of live shows. Pigeonhole have really begun to find their feet in the London circuits, and have delighted fans and general music lovers at every opportunity available this autumn.

Whilst it is a great shame that an impending national lockdown is set to close our venues for one more month, with a fresh line up and new music incoming, this eight-piece are primed and ready to fly out of the traps in the new year. Whilst twenty-twenty has been nothing but bleak for up-and-coming, independent bands, twenty twenty-one could very well be the year of the pigeon.

Written by: Tristan Phipps

Edited by: Olivia Stock

Photos: @wwillla