Ever since he launched his sludgy power trio Dinosaur Pile-Up in 2007, frontman Matt Bigland avoided writing what he knows and concentrated on snarky phraseology that went well with sludgy powerchords. But for the English band’s 2019 fourth album “Celebrity Mansions,” he decided to channel exactly what he was feeling: frustration, pop-chart alienation and a “Last Chance Texaco” desperation that nearly ended his outfit for good.
Its stomping anthems, including the second single “Back Foot,” might sound like he’s kidding around as he lyrically brags to his mother what a huge star he’ll become. But the chilly chorus says otherwise: “Couple years later here I am, waiting tables just working for the man….and lately it’s starting to feel awful.”
Ironically, by throwing caution to the wind and making the music it truly wanted, without a lucrative label deal, Dinosaur Pile-Up, which hits The City this week — found “Mansions” snapped up for worldwide distribution by Parlophone immediately upon its completion. That led to more hits (“Round the Bend,”“Thrash Metal Cassette”) and a new lease on life.
It was unlikeliest scenario Bigland could have imagined after giving the group from Leeds six more months of existence before calling it quits.
“When you believe in something as much as we do, and you genuinely know it’s great but no one else is seeing that? That can be a hard thing to take,” he says, sighing.
After three solid discs, DPU was without a deal and watching its bills mount. The only way to break even was through constant touring, which was exhausting. Meanwhile, younger, less talented artists were blazing past them, using social media.
And Bigland, an exaggerated character wallowing in grunge-y riffs while camping it up in videos like some long-haired “Old School”-squirrelly Luke Wilson (and there is an eerie resemblance), was a tough sell. At first, he considered nixing “Mansions” sessions before they began.
“Then I thought, ‘If we’re going to make this record, we’re going to put everything we have into it, we’re going to have fun doing it and we’ll put it out any way we can,’” he says.
Bigland is trying not to swagger. He’s simply happy not to worry about rent for awhile.
But he did call his mom about the Parlophone coup, which she took quietly.
“But the next day, she called me back and said, ‘I don’t think I expressed just how proud I am of you, not only for the major label thing, but for just sticking in there for so long through all this adversity.’ I don’t know. I think that was the greatest day of my life.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $12 to $15
Contact: (415) 626-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com