The Pistolas prepare to tour
EMMA LEE Things are really taking off for Norwich band the Pistolas. The former winners of the EDP’s Next Big Thing competition are setting out on their first headline tour next month, and are also about to release an EP on one of the country’s most influential indie record labels.EMMA LEE caught up with singer Simon Buller.
The past few months have been something of a whirlwind for Norwich indie band the Pistolas. The 2004 winners of the EDP Event magazine's Next Big Thing competition are set to release a single on the influential Fierce Panda label next month.
And in preparation they've filmed their first video and played a gig for radio station XFM alongside hotly tipped acts such as the Mystery Jets and the Long Blondes, where the stage was invaded by enthusiastic fans.
Fierce Panda has been the launchpad for a lot of bands that have gone on to great things, including Coldplay. And the Pistolas' striking Listen Listen EP, which was recorded at Purple Studios in Trowse, has been causing a buzz among those in the know - including the music bible NME, which says it “makes us want to throw our sweets around”.
Pistolas singer Simon Buller, 27, says it's an exciting time.
“The Fierce Panda label approached us, which is really nice. Lots of bands we like have released records on Fierce Panda. And we filmed a video in a primary school in London over a weekend about a month ago. We saw the final cut last week - it's really good, it's got an edgy feel to it,” he says.
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“Sometimes I even get recognised. I have been waiting in the queue outside a club and people I don't know have come up to me and asked me about the band.
“It's such a compliment. It means that people are noticing and liking what we are doing,” he says.
“The thing with the NME is it can make or break a band, so you've got to respect it. And XFM has been absolutely amazing. We have a lot to thank them for,” he adds.
The band were given a huge help in July when they won the best rock and best live band award at Diesel-U-Music, one of the industry's biggest showcases for unsigned bands.
Previous winners include Scottish dance music star Mylo.
Simon met drummer Lee Bowyer when they worked at Norwich Union, and they bonded over a love of music.
Photographer Naomi Cousins was recruited to play bass and guitarist Liam Hart - nicknamed Fraggle - came home from university to join the band full time and is the latest addition to the line-up.
“My parents were a huge influence on me musically - I grew up listening to the Kinks and Blondie and I'm into Motown, Joy Division and ska music, like the Specials,” he says.
“Lee likes Sonic Youth and the Pixies, which you can tell from the drumming.
“The first gig he went to was Spandau Ballet.
“I had never been in a band or sung before I was in the Pistolas.
“The first gig I went to was probably Jesus Jones or EMF with my sister, but the first one I remember being really enthralled by was Blur at the Ocean Room in Gorleston. My sister somehow managed to get tickets. It was at the peak of their fame and they were playing this tiny venue. That gig was amazing - it made me realise that I really wanted to be around music.”
Simon says that one of the reasons they work so well together as a group is because everyone is into different sorts of music.
“Every band member has completely different tastes in music, although everyone likes guitar music,” he says.
“Naomi's quite into dance music and American indie music and Liam is just a blues man through and through. It's a good mix.
“There's some good local bands out there too,” he adds.
“Kaito, Le Tetsuo write such great pop songs, and there's Bearsuit and the Wonderful Allstars.”
The Pistolas are about to set out on a headline tour, which starts with a homecoming gig at Norwich Arts Centre on February 4 and will take them all over the country. Most of the dates are supported by the NME.
Then their thoughts will turn to working on their debut album.
“We are really weighing things up at the moment. We have enough material for an album. We're not going to have much time to write for the next month or so because we're on tour. We're going to go into the studio again at the end of March.”
And one thing's for sure, says Simon.
“We don't want to be put in a bracket.”
The Pistolas play Norwich Arts Centre on February 4. Box office: 01603 660352.
The Listen Listen EP is released on Fierce Panda on February 13.