The band who puts “the fun in funk” is soaring in the jam scene due to their genuine output of and outlook on music and has their loyal flock of fans to thank for supporting them along the journey.
After 8+ years of performing at concerts and festivals, it’s no surprise that the energy-boosting music and contagious charisma of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong built them a loyal following, not only in their hometown of Baltimore, but all over the States. With self-releasing music being a norm in the jam world and not having a record deal as a crutch, PPPP turned to The Flock (coined term for their allegiant fanbase) for the first time to help fund their latest album via Kickstarter. Pizzaz, released in October, an album recorded at Wright Way Studios in Baltimore, is claimed ‘One of the best funk and soul albums of 2017’ according to AXS (and us).
But what is surprising? That the band’s community surpassed the original funding goal and that this social media push elevated their connection to their listeners.
“The times are changing, so we never considered to seek out one of those fancy record deals. We just feel like our live shows and connecting with the crowd is more so what we’re all about, anyway… All we know is releasing our own music.” – Scrambled Greg
With this growing appreciation for their Flock and release of new music, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong hit the road headed West to tour the entire West Coast for their second time. Traditions on tour spanned from watching kung fu movies synced up with other bands’ funk music (think Dark Side of the Moon with Wizard of Oz) to their consistent show riders that include tequila, hummus, and of course, cheese. Tour continued with exciting days off jet skiing in San Diego with their original drummer Dan and many other highlights. But what was a rememberable twist of events was accidentally leaving the merch guy in Idaho – rephrased – the merch guy was having too much fun to get back on the bus in Idaho. (Spoiler alert, he made it to the next show date in time.) In all seriousness, Alex Petropulos, PPPP’s drummer, shared his highlight from tour: “Having the support so far from home… still having shows we do just as well, if not better, to our close to home shows, is amazing.”
With the Pigeons back on the East Coast, we chatted with them about their appreciation for their fan base and upcoming festival plans in the green room of New York’s Brooklyn Steel before they played an incredible, powerful show.
Jam and funk music attracts a like-minded, easy going crowd that falls in love with the environment, community, and world it creates. The PPPP’s community takes that a step further and have formed an online community of true jam heads in a private group called The Flock on Facebook. “It’s a very positive group,” lead singer and guitarist Scrambled Greg says proudly, “And it’s pretty selective. Yet it still has grown to what I used to hope our band – with the amount of likes it has and members it has – would ever get. There are 10,000 people, which is pretty wild.” The Flock not only lives online, sharing Memes, recordings of live shows, polls, and photos, but it is a “tangible group of core fans that like putting the fun in funk”, which includes meet-ups at festivals and shows. There’s even a separate Facebook group to exchange, find, and sell Pigeons Playing Ping Pong merchandise, The Pigeon Coop Marketplace, that keeps the good stuff within the family.
As if forming a connection with their fans online, in groups, and live during shows wasn’t enough, the guys introduced a new music festival to the scene nine years ago that acted as a catalyst to form honest friendships with fans and other artists. “Domefest is the brainchild of our guitarist and best friend Jeremy,” Greg explained. It all happened when they were in college, and Jeremy met a guy with a large property that had, well, domes on it. For graduation, he planned a one day fest that actually was Greg’s and other’s first festival. “Jeremy went to a few [festivals] and had his life changed, like many of us had at a music festival. Just the overwhelming love of music and friendship just crushing down on you to change your life.” In past years, the festival held bands on their roster that later blew up like jam band friends on the scene: Papadosio, Turkuaz, and Twiddle. This year’s Domefest, is May 17-19, 2018 in Bedford, PA, complete with great music from regional acts, no overlapping sets, and surprises Pigeons just can’t reveal to us yet.
All in all, it was very clear that the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong crew view their shows as a way to connect with their family – a mix of loyal fans, new listeners, jam lovers, and those just needing to have a kickass time. Luckily for us, we received a stamp of approval from the band that night in Brooklyn that we were officially a part of The Flock, and I got to say, looking around at the crowd during their performance…. I felt like I belonged.
“When you have pigeons, you have a flock.” – Scrambled Greg
Scrambled Greg – Vocals, Guitar
Jeremy Schon – Guitar, Vocals
Ben Carrey – Bassics, Vocals
Alex Petropulos – Drums, Electronics
Manny Newman – Lighting Designer
Dave D – Manager
SEE THE BAND LIVE
If you want to bring in the new year with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, they are performing a themed set called “DISNYE: A Whole New Year” in Covington, KY at Madison Theater. The night will have a mix of music from their catalog and fun covers to go along with the theme, plus, great costumes, of course. NYE Tickets