Punk group Pins: ‘Always meet your heroes, just to see!’

Having supported Sleater-Kinney, Babes in Toyland and Wire this year, this quintet are living the dream, finds Alex Bellotti

You can hear the desert in it a bit,” guitarist Lois Macdonald says of Pins’ second album, Wild Nights, and you can understand the sentiment. After announcing themselves to the world as slickly styled purveyors of early Joy Division-esque punk, the Manchester group’s newest LP is the sound of a band stretching out sonically, enjoying the space that recording in the middle of the Joshua desert probably grants you.

Having released Wild Nights back in June, the five-piece are bringing it to Hackney’s Oslo on Wednesday. It’s the latest UK date in a hectic year for Pins, who have since January built up an impressively focused series of support shows for the likes of Sleater-Kinney, Babes in Toyland and Wire, with Gang of Four soon to follow.

The group, seemingly, are not just drawing from their influences, but now playing alongside them. As Macdonald suggests though, it has rarely proved a case of ‘never meet your heroes’.

“Always meet them, just to see!” she laughs. “I don’t think there have been any major disappointments. There have been some interesting characters: we played with The Fall in London, and Mark. E. Smith did some songs in our dressing room – he didn’t speak to us or anything, he just came off stage and was singing away. I actually live in the same town as him in north Manchester, but I’ve never seen him there, just in London.”

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With shades of ‘60s girl group melodies and nods to later ‘80s alternative rock, Wild Nights represents a smooth progression from the DIY ethos of the band’s early days. Founded by singer Faith Holgate, who wanted to avoid being the “token girl” in a band by seeking out fellow female musicians, Pins broke through alongside contemporaries like Money after playing shows together in Manchester venue The Bunker.

“It felt quite exciting; it was a hidden place, you needed a postcode, and Money had played there. That helped create a scene, and then everyone started supporting each other,” Macdonald says, striking a pertinent point about the shrinking number of music venues in London.

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“I think venues can definitely help to build a scene if you’ve got people there who are supporting local bands, putting them on and getting people together. It creates the environment for new musicians to meet each other and maybe start new bands or new projects. So it’s good to support the venues, definitely.”

With further European dates pencilled in to promote Wild Nights, fans may have to wait a while for the next Pins record. While Macdonald notes that some punk bands can sustain the same sound throughout their career, however, it sounds likely that Pins will continue to venture beyond their horizons.

“It depends how you are as a musician really. If you’re really into [one sound] and want to keep doing that, then some people can do so successfully for a very long time. But then other people just want to try other stuff out, and maybe we’re a lot like that.

“We write how we feel at the time and at the time of the first record, we’d just got together and were learning to play properly, so the sound has really developed with us.”

Pins play Hackney’s Oslo on Wednesday. Visit oslohackney.com

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