The Session: Pete and the PiratesBy Linda Serck
June 02, 2011
I’m led into a rather stuffy room backstage at Sub89 in Reading – Pete and the Pirates’ dressing room to be exact – to have a chat with the band before their hometown gig.
By the door there is a table with crisps and grapes and, in the corner by the mini bar of beer, sit Tom Sanders, Pete Hefferan and Dave Thorpe.
“Have some Doritos,” they offer. And seeing as it’s Chilli Heatwave flavour (my favourite), I oblige.
Frontman Tom looks smart and more gentlemanly with a red plaid shirt and trousers. Last time I saw him was around five years ago in the BBC Berkshire studio, looking a little scrawny and hunched.
Now before me sits a confident chap who looks taller, but with still the same wry sense of humour.
He’s since moved to London, so has he seen any friends and family while he’s back in Reading?
“I think I saw a friend,” he says, “but my family don’t know I’m here because I haven’t told them!”
Guitarist Pete is the only one who still lives in the town, but he still thinks they’re a Reading band.
“The irony is that when we all lived in Reading the press had never heard of us because we were quite new, so they called us a London band because we played all our gigs in London,” he says.
“Now it’s all kicking off for us and people are calling us a Reading band, even though all our gigs are still in London and we all live in London, apart from me.”
Tom holds his hand up to have the mic swerve over to him. “We are a Reading band in as much as we formed in Reading and we spent the majority of our formative years writing and practising in Reading. We are a Reading band and I think we always will be.”
The interview carries on for about 20 minutes, too much to write here, but all of a sudden first support band Sister Gracie’s opening track starts blasting out on stage, so I scuttle off to see them.
A tremendous band, as are Tripwires, who follow and are reintroducing us to shoegaze indie.
But tension is building up for Pete and the Pirates. Suddenly the dark room is rammed with people, and I slyly step my way to the front.
I’m handed a balloon, as are about 10 other people, and pretty soon the crowd roars when the band walk on, Pete Hefferan cupping a glass of red wine.
Their catchy, harmonic and, well, honest music hooks everyone in and causes a mass singalong to tunes such as their latest single United, Mr Understanding and She Doesn’t Belong To Me.
For their single Come To The Bar, from new album One Thousand Pictures, Tom suddenly leaps off stage and has a little dance among the crowd, clearly in a jovial mood.
His little dances on stage are infectious too – a little rhythmic hip shake, a nod of the finger – this is the consummate frontman at work.
“Hands up who was born at Royal Berkshire Hospital!” he calls out. Most of the crowd screech a long ‘yeah!’ “Big up the Royal Berks!” comes his reply.
Of course, there is an encore, causing another mass jig. But then, all too soon, the band wave goodbye and amble back to their crisps, grapes and beer.
Their album, One Thousand Pictures, is out now.