Grateful Web Interview w/ Pigeons Playing Ping Pong's Greg Ormont
Before and after the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong show on St Patrick’s Day, I had the opportunity to chat with the band's front man, Greg Ormont. In the past couple years, he and his three other band members have been touring extensively, playing spectacular shows, and have even founded their own festival, Domefest. If you haven't heard of them yet, I'd bet you will soon. With the way their “Flock” is expanding, I'd be impressed if these guys remain under anyone's radar much longer.
Grateful Web: So how did you guys get together as a band?
Greg Ormont: We all met at college and although not all of us graduated, that is where it all started. It was at University of Maryland, and that was in 2006 when the first two members, myself and the guitarist, Jeremy met. Then in 2007 we met the other guys and started playing together for fun.
GW: Awesome. You say for fun? You didn't expect to see yourselves becoming as big as you are now? Or was that kind of your goal to begin with?
Greg: It was not my personal goal, but it doesn't surprise me because we all love to play music and perform and spread, you know, fun vibes to as many people as possible, be it on stage or off.
GW: You can definitely tell that's true when you're on stage. Well, do you see yourself going along with how things have been moving for you guys, now that your career has progressed?
Greg: Oh absolutely. Everything is moving in the right direction and we're keeping our head down, having a great time playing music, constantly writing new stuff and playing up to 200 shows a year, which will move things along. So we are incredibly stoked at the opportunity to keep this thing going. And we're going to do it as long as it stays fun.
GW: Hell yeah. So what were your influences starting out?
Greg: Well, I grew up in like a classic rock house, I was actually in a bunch of musicals and plays growing up. Then eventually, when I met my guitarist, he introduced me to Phish and the jam scene and funk. More so than classic rock funk. And really, seeing Phish in 2009 was a big turning point in my life because I really saw what live music could do to people and wanted to be part of that as much as possible.
GW: Well that brings me to my next thought. What are you trying to do with your music? Not just looking at your career or how many tickets you sell a night, but what are you trying to accomplish for the people coming to see you?
Greg: All I want to do is make people smile when we play. No matter what size the crowd. The bigger the crowd the more energy is in the room, and that can result in a really incredible experience. But even a tiny crowd is something I look forward to, because people who go to see live music go to turn off their minds a little bit and connect on an innately subconscious and incredible level. We just want to spread that as much as possible.
We try to focus on the process of things like playing shows and making people happy on a day to day basis, as opposed to getting caught up in the major goal, because when you hit that goal, then what? You know?
GW: Definitely. I think that's awesome. Can we be expecting new music from you in the near future?
Greg: We have a new album that should be coming out in early summer.
GW: Last one was in 2010, right?
Greg: Yes, so it's our first release in four years, it's coming out early summer, and it's called Psychology. We are so excited to get our sound out again, because it's been so long since we hit the studio—mainly because we've been touring so much the past two years.
We also have an official live album coming out this year which we're really excited about because studio is one thing, but the energy we put out on our live shows is hard to replicate in such a sterile environment. So we're stoked to get that out and see if it translates into car stereos.
GW: Cool. Well, as far as big shows coming up, is there anything we should keep an eye out for?
Greg: First week in April we'll be doing our first tour in Florida. We just played Aura Music Festival at Spirit of Suwanee down in Florida. It was just, it was so beautiful in every sense of the word. So we're really excited to revisit the new Florida Flock. And ah, there are a lot of festivals coming up this summer, can't talk about too many, but there's gonna be a lot of awesome ones.
GW: It's pretty incredible that you were opening last time you were here and now you guys are the ones with your name extra-large on the marquee. How do you think tonight’s show is going to go?
Greg: I agree it's pretty incredible that we were here a few months ago opening and now we're headlining on our own night, on a holiday no less. We're incredibly humbled and honored and ready to take it full speed. You know, we love builder and it's been a really natural uprising for us and we're just so happy. It feels like home, even when we first played here a year ago. So, this is only our third time in town, it feels like we've been here a million times, and I'm ready to crush our first headliner at the fox.
GW: How did you feel about the show? I know it didn't sell out, but there was a lot of energy in there. How did it make you feel?
Greg: The energy was off the wall and it was so fun to feed off the crowd and build on their excitement. It had all the symptoms of a sold out show. Definitely didn't feel like a Monday.
GW: Being a college town, I'm curious how the Fox was different than others in your Colorado run.
Greg: Well first of all, Boulder's crazy. In all the right ways. We always see a twinkle in the eyes of our Boulder Flock reminiscent of summer festival crowds. The Colorado jam scene is very impressive, and it seems Boulder understands jam to its core.
GW: What is it like having other people come on stage and collaborate in your songs? Like tonight, when Wilson Harwood sat in for encore?
Greg: We love having guest sit-ins, as long as they are not in their own world. Wilson's sit-in on "Cliffs" was awesome and exactly what we look for in a guest player. He did a great job of shining when necessary, and also laid back into the mix and added new appropriate layers throughout. Too many talented musicians get caught up in soloing and flair and lose sight of the ultimate goal of adding value to the group's overall sound when sitting in. It was so refreshing to hear Wilson casually mesh into our music, then crush a solo, and even sing a verse! Love that guy, and Rocktin Grove killed it, first time I've seen them.
GW: Did you get everything you hoped from the evening?
Greg: Absolutely. I'm really excited about Boulder. Things are moving in the right direction in Colorado, and I have a feeling Boulder might be a big one for us. I guess I'll have to wait and see, and most importantly, keep coming back!!