Canadian troupe, Woodpigeon, have made a name for themselves abroad but it all started right here in Scotland. The band's founder, who elaborately calls himself Mark Andrew of the Hamiltons, resided in Edinburgh years ago and experienced things so memorable and profound that they had to be expressed lyrically. It is very fitting then, that as Woodpigeon becomes more globally adored, they should return to their muse as one of the highlights of T on the Fringe. Mark spoke to The List this week before jetting off to London for a UK tour to talk about their music and its Scottish sentimentalities.
Tell us about how Woodpigeon came together?
Woodpigeon started as Woodpigeon/Antelope=Squirrel in Edinburgh about five years ago. I played with a member of the Edinburgh band Eagleowl, and we made some silly instrumentals with a bass player from Australia. Nothing ever came of it in that capacity, but since returning to Canada, things have taken on a somewhat more serious nature. I just wanted to tell some stories, and doing so via music and lyric is what seems to work best for me.
Meaning behind the band name?
I’ve always thought that Woodpigeon looked like a rollercoaster when written in cursive. It’s the most beautiful word in the English language, if you ask me. A woodpigeon’s also a flying rat, which is another good name for a rock band.
Tell us about your last album.
Treasury Library Canada is a collection of songs written after my return to Canada, that mostly came about while we were recording our first record Songbook, which itself is more of a diary of my experiences of living in Edinburgh and Brighton. For a while I didn’t think it would ever actually come out, but the more that people heard it, the more that people wanted it. When we did up a self-pressed run of 1,000 (with handmade covers that took ages to put together), they sold out within the month. I took that as good enough sign that it should probably come out properly.
What are you most excited about this summer?
I’m particularly excited to return to Edinburgh as I’ll have a few days off to visit with old friends, and in particular to meet the new baby of two of my closest Scottish pals. We’re going to take a day up to Anstruther together, a personal favourite locale of mine.
Am I right in seeing that one of your songs was the backdrop to a fashion show in Paris?
Olivier Theyskiens, the designer for the Nina Ricci label in Paris, used one of our songs to soundtrack the label’s spring/summer fashion show in Paris last year. When we played in Paris this past February, we were given a tour of the haute couture house and met Olivier while he was doing a dress fitting on a model in his studio. Olivier’s since left Nina Ricci, but I hope we get to work together again. I’ve developed quite a lovely friendship with his lovely assistant Agnes, so we do hear regularly as to what they’re up to (and the same is true of Olivier hearing about us!).
What else does 2009 hold for Woodpigeon?
Once this summer tour is over, I’m actually heading back to school to work on a film studies degree. Our next album is called Die Stadt Muzikanten, and it’s coming out in January 2010. I think that all that we’ll really have going on Woodpigeon-wise this fall is our first show in New York City at CMJ, and then maybe something in Montreal as well.
What kind of artists do you like to listen to together?
There’s actually few artists that we all agree on together, but we’ve managed to find common ground with Calexico, The Velvet Underground, and just about anything classic Motown. I remember one particularly heated argument when I put on a live recording by The Fiery Furnaces. That didn’t go over well at all.
Woodpigeon play August 7 with Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers plus Rags and Feathers at Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh.