Founded in 2007 as the solo project of Leeds, U.K. songwriter and former Mother Vulpine frontman Matthew Bigland, Dinosaur Pile-Up emerged from that city's alternative rock scene and soon drew comparisons to U.S. college rock and grunge acts from the previous decade. The band's playful name derived from a scene in the 2005 remake of King Kong, where Apatosauruses are ambushed and clatter into a pile, or as Bigland interpreted it, a Dinosaur Pile-Up. Although the personnel of their on-stage rhythm section fluctuated over the years, the consistency of their studio sound was a result of Bigland playing each instrument on many of their recordings. However, by 2014 they'd settled on a lineup that included ex-Brownies drummer Mike Sheils and Bigland's longtime friend and former Tribes bassist Jim Cratchley.
The band's breakthrough release, 2009's The Most Powerful EP in the Universe!!, was a five-track record of up-front and in-your-face rock songs, with huge riffs injected into both "Opposites Attract" and "Beach Bug." Many were quick to draw attention to the band's similarity to Nirvana and the alt-rock of Foo Fighters, and the stand-alone single Traynor, from the same year, is a burning example of the grunge revival sound for which they are noted. Their frenzied live performances during this period saw word spread quickly of their presence on the thriving Leeds music scene. Original members Tom Dornford-May (bass) and Steve Wilson (drums) were also present for a prestigious late-2009 tour with the Pixies, but it was the departure of those players that inspired Bigland's next move.
Growing Pains, the debut Dinosaur Pile-Up full-length, was released in October 2010. It was the result of Bigland spending two months holed up in his Bridlington-based studio, recording every instrument himself -- drums, guitars, and vocals -- with the help of local alt-rock enthusiast James Kenosha on production duties. Echoing the efforts of Dave Grohl on Foo Fighters' debut album, he crafted the record in much the same way as his hero. The record's brilliance was in its simplicity, as displayed on the singles "Mona Lisa" and "My Rock & Roll," which burst with chugging guitars and pop-tinged choruses. Following the album's sessions, drummer Mike Sheils and bass player Harry Johns soon entered the fray in time for a full tour of the U.K. Sheils and Bigland had bonded over a shared love of Weezer's "blue album," and this lineup stood the test of extensive tours of Europe between 2011 and 2013.
Back in the studio, Bigland once again took sole responsibility for recording duties in preparation of a second album, 2013's Nature Nurture. This time around, producers Ian Davenport and Tom Dalgety assisted with the sessions, which took place over a two-month period at both Rockfield Studios in Wales and Courtyard Studios in Oxford. By the time the record had started to raise their profile in the U.S. -- upon its release there in early 2014 -- Cratchley had joined on bass, and the band proceeded with its biggest stateside tour to date (in support of Long Island's Brand New) before Nature Nurture saw a Japanese release. ~ Scott Kerr & James Wilkinson
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