Interview and foreword by Thandiwe Ogbonna
Debuting in Florida for the first time at AURA Music and Arts Festival 2014, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong are taking off on an exciting tour spanning the East Coast and Midwest. Currently nesting in Baltimore, Md., band members Greg Ormont (vocals, guitar), Jeremy Schon (guitar, vocals), Ben Carrey (bass, vocals), and Dan Schwartz (drums, vocals), are hitting the road to reacquaint some and introduce others to their signature brand of funk.
A rare creature it would be a mistake to dismiss as commonplace, the band’s high-energy style, brimming with personality and at no loss for skill, has it poised to become a sought-after addition to any festival lineup. With 2014 off to a great start and a homegrown festival and album release still to come, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is ready for an outstanding year. I emailed Greg Ormont to find out just what is in store.
Thandiwe: You guys just played a set two weekends ago at AURA Music and Arts Festival. How did Suwannee Music Park treat you and what did you think of the event?
Greg: When everyone tells you, “This is place is magical,” “You’re going to have the best time,” “Welcome home,” they’re generally right — and we couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome to Suwannee at AURA. This was our first show in Florida, but AURA made us feel right at home. A big part of the magic at Suwannee is the great people who go there. AURA’s lineup and location is undeniably awesome and it was really inspiring to listen to new music under the hanging Spanish moss at the Amphitheater stage surrounded by new and old friends. We already miss Florida, but fortunately we’ll be back in the Sunshine State April 1-7.
You have a festival of your own called Domefest, coming up at the end of May in Terra Alta, W.V. This is going to be its fifth year. What makes Domefest 2014 something to look forward to?
Greg: Similar to AURA, Domefest’s lineup celebrates young bands that work their tails off year-round making incredible music and taking great strides in their regional scenes. Although a lot of the bands don’t have huge national recognition yet, we know that a lot of them will soon, and we hope attendees will look back and say, “I remember when I saw this band at Domefest … and now they’re huge! I’m so happy I got to see them at such an intimate festival.” A perfect example is Domefest 2011 with Papadosio headlining our (then) 500–person festival. Both the festival and the band have grown exponentially since then, and we love watching our friends succeed.
Photo by Tiffany Kitana of OwlEyesOnYou
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong will be playing two sets that weekend. Where on earth did that name come from? I’ve never seen a pigeon play ping pong in my life, but maybe I don’t get out enough.
Greg: Wow, you’ve never seen a— well, I guess you’ll have to come out to Domefest.
There will be plenty pigeons playing ping pong there, plus a ton of great up-and-coming bands. You can find out all the info at domefestival.com and join us May 30-31. Tickets are only $40 and I promise it’s well worth the drive. Such a great time!
You guys have a lot going on so far this year. You opened for moe. in Baltimore on Jan. 25, you played a surprise show at the Brooklyn Bowl with Talib Kweli and Consider the Source a few days later, and then went on to play with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Tauk the next night in D.C. Tour dates have been announced through April and you’re hitting Mad Tea Party Jam in June. What are you most looking forward to this year?
Greg: It’s been a hell of a 2014 so far. Karl Denson sat in on our song “F.U.” at the 9:30 Club in D.C. last month and absolutely ripped it. As for the future, we’re going to continue to push it to the limit in everything we do. We just finished recording our second full-length album this January, so we’re putting the finishing touches on that in between our heavy touring schedule. It’s called Psychology and it’s our first studio release in four years, so we’re more than ready and excited to give The Flock a new album to enjoy this spring. We’re also really excited to return to Colorado for two weeks in March, a week in Florida in April, and the slew of festivals that are filling our calendar. To be honest, our most exciting news has yet to be announced …
You mentioned The Flock, your loyal and rapidly growing fanbase. What is it about Pigeons Playing Ping Pong that keeps your fans coming back for more?
Greg: I’d like to say it’s our music, but it always feels bigger than that. The energy we share with the crowd at our live shows is powerful. It’s addictive and incredibly contagious. Noticing the same people in the crowd is inspiring and seeing new faces is another level of exciting. I know we’re just about as happy as humanly imaginable when on stage and we’ve seen that feeling reflect and explode in The Flock.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Perhaps a bird call or the location of some scraps of bread?
Greg: Huge thanks to Daryl, Destiny, and everyone who helped make AURA such a great festival. AURA was so well organized and thoroughly fantastic from start to finish and it was an absolute honor sharing the stage with such hardworking and inspiring musicians. And thanks to DubEra for sitting down with us. All the best and come to Domefest or a Pigeons show and we can chat some more!
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