One of the best debut albums so far this year is “The First Perception” by German progressive metal outfit Pigeon Toe. Reason enough to have a friendly chat with vocalist/guitarist Martin Fischer. He was more than happy to share some insights on the amazing debut album, the band’s origins and various other topics.
Congratulations on releasing such a strong debut album as “The First Perception”. Are you happy the way it came out?
Thank you very much. We’re absolutely happy. It took us quite some time recording this album, we did most of it at home, and not only once I was afraid to lose track. Luckily we decided to have drum recordings, mix and master made by Victor Bullok (Woodshed Studios) who did a great job for us. We’re also very happy about the release on Lifeforce Records and the promotional work. Everything seems to work out just fine so far.
Can you share some light on the origins of Pigeon Toe?
Pigeon Toe started as a side project of me and my brother (guitars/vocals) after the split of our band Mongouse and we worked out some left over guitar riffs. Norman, Patrick and Ben were recruited shortly after and we started to work on some of the ideas more seriously. After the split of Fear My Thoughts it became clear that we would focus more on this project although Norman was already playing in Triptykon and Patrick was working on his solo-album. The others are involved in other bands/projects as well, that’s why it took so long, to get all the songs together and start with the final recordings.
When listening to “The First Perception” bands like Tool, King Crimson, Fair To Midland and Oceansize come to mind. Are you possibly influenced by the aforementioned acts?
Probably, yeah, although we try to sound more just like Pigeon Toe. But when it comes to name dropping, I think you could also mention Opeth, Mastodon, Faith No More, Pink Floyd and a lot more. Still I couldn’t say what the main influence is. Sometimes people compare it to bands that I never even heard of. We try not to be influenced by something obviously, but it also would be very naive to claim that we have no influences at all.
What themes and subjects are explored on “The First Perception”?
Well, we started working on a concept, but it turned out that it got a little to complicated, and no one of us was able to understand it anymore. There still are some sketches of it lying around, and we’re trying to reveal the whole story step by step! It might have something to do with the ugly wizard on the front cover. We’re doing all the artworks and videos on our own, so I like the idea of people out there getting their own expression at first and then feeding them with some more images every once in a while!
Pigeon Toe has three guitarists in the band. What are the benefits of having three guitarists instead of the regular one or two?
I think it just looks great on stage! The third guitar isn’t even plugged in! (haha) But to be serious, we just wanted the songs to be arranged “realistically” and playable, so Patrick plays guitar and keyboard whenever necessary. That makes it possible for us to play the songs exactly the way they are on the record without using playback.
How does the creative process work within Pigeon Toe and how does it differ from other bands and projects you’re involved with?
We don’t live in the same town, so a lot of stuff is written at home, and then uploaded so the others can get an impression or play along. We don’t have regular rehearsals but we try to get together as often as possible.
The majority of Pigeon Toe have bands and projects of their own. How does this affect touring, composing new material and the likes?
Pigeon Toe is not a full-time job (yet), so this doesn’t affect the band management too much. But of course it would be easier if we were 18 again, without real jobs and time to hang out, whenever we want.
Usually the German metal scene is associated with traditional heavy metal (Helloween, Gamma Ray) and thrash metal (Sodom, Destruction). How are things on the progressive rock/metal side of things?
There are some prog bands, but not too many of them get out and play. It’s hard to get some shows together and most of the bands I know, don’t really know how to do it and it’s even harder to get a booking agency. So there are not a lot of bands out there for us to play with. I don’t really understand it, because there definitely is the audience for that kind of music, at least as far as I can tell, and as far as we have experienced it. But a lot of bookers don’t really know what to do with it, so they mix prog bands with any kind of metal band, and then you try to play some Pink Floyd riff to a bunch of 18 years old metalcore kids with headbands and crazy karate kicks.
Things are pretty tough nowadays for musicians to make some kind of a living out of their activities. How do you look at things?
We are not expecting to get rich with this. To us it’s a lot more important to write good music and to grow as a band. As soon as you try to make a living of it there’s a lot more pressure coming up as well and a lot of compromises to be made. That’s not really our thing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want our record to be bought.
Time for the last question. What is next for Pigeon Toe when it comes to touring, festivals and working on a new album?
We need to promote this album a little more, and hope for a tour this year. Besides that we’re working on some new stuff and some video material for another song of this album.