Dead Pigeons On Roots, Hipsters, and Playing Door County

The Dead Pigeons will be playing the Door County Beer Festival June 20, the latest roots rockers to take the stage at the festival.

We caught up with their gravel-throated lead singer, Drew Peterson, to talk about their music, the problem with band labels, and his problems with hipsters.

Your voice seems old, ragged. It sounds like it hurts to sing. Where does that come from?

It’s actually just happened over the years. Just too much heavy drinking and smoking. If you’re lucky it sort of tears you the write way. It actually doesn’t hurt me.

What makes your sound a “new, original brand” of roots rock?

I don’t even know that I’d even say that’s what we are. Our goal is basically to play to the song. It constantly kind of changes song to song. If anything, what sets us apart is that you’re not going to see us and say, “oh, they’re this.”

We cover nine inch nails. We do waltzes. We try to show the commonality of music in general. Whether it’s a country or pop song, it really depends on who plays it.  Categories just become a way for people to market you.

When I started playing it was all hippy jam bands. We were the first one on the scene where we were with a mandolin and a banjo. People still ask, “what is  that little guitar?”

It’s never been an issue to stick out. Everything has always stuck out in a different way.

The difference for us is probably the singer-songwriter aspect. Some bands come at it with idea of, this is what we are. We don’t, we go song to song, which gets complicated when it comes to putting together albums.

What does “roots rock,” or “bluegrass,” or “Americana” really mean? They all seem tossed around interchangeably.

For us, it’s harder to categorize what we are. You kind of feel douche-baggy trying to describe yourself. But it’s all based off of singer-songwriter stuff, with some old timey instruments put on top of it. Throw drums on it and it makes it a little more rockish.

People want to hear the tag bluegrass. True bluegrass is just string instruments. The mandolin is the snare. The stand-up base is the kick. I find it actually kind of narrow, there’s kind of rules to it of what to do. Technically I only know a couple of real bluegrass bands.

Roots rock, what that means mainly is that it’s not as traditional. Hard core bluegrass fans would definitly notice the difference. You don’t ever see drums in bluegrass. Our drums are really stripped down.

Americana is a blanket statement saying old time music.

Singers and musicians tell me they love playing Door County because the people really appreciate good musicians, where the city folks take it for granted. Have you experienced that?

Well, we play Minneapolis and it’s loaded with hipsters, and I haven’t always seen eye to eye with them. Mainly it’s the apathy part that I have a really hard time with. They all want to go to the cool shows, so it will be packed. It feels like they’re 12 year old girls. They want to be there but they’re too cool to be there. So we play a lot of gigs for money there. The out of town stuff goes better. Minneapolis is really over-saturated now, it’s really healthy that way. The crowds, frankly, are spoiled rotten.

We’re excited to get back up to Door County. It’s beautiful, and the people are good people.

The Dead Pigeons will play the Door County Beer Festival June 20 at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall Park. The festival is open from Noon – 4 pm and also features street food from local chefs and more than 200 beers available for tasting. 

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