Pigeons Playing Ping Pong frontman Greg Ormont gives the drummer some major props when talking about the group’s upcoming fourth album, Pizazz, which comes out Friday and is premiering exclusively below.
Ormont fully credits Alex Petropulos, who’s been with the funk-focused jam band since 2015, with the creative advancements the Baltimore quartet has made on Pizazz. “This is our first record with him on it, and he’s really elevated our music,” Ormont tells Billboard. “He’s really breathed a ton of life into our songs and our catalog. He’s a phenomenal musician, a very hard worker. When we finish a concert he walks backstage, takes out his phone and starts watching drum videos. So even just recording (Pizazz) was like night and day. Our original drummer (Dan Schwartz) was great, but this guy is next level. Even our engineer in the studio was like, ‘He, man, you got to hold on to this dude…'”
Petropulos’ influence has been felt beyond just the music, too. “His work ethic has us working harder,” Ormont acknowledges. “It inspires us to watch guitar videos when we come off stage. It’s nice when someone so proficient works so hard every day, striving for greatness. It really is a breath of fresh air.”
Pigeons recorded Pizazz earlier this year at engineer Steve Wright’s (The Mars Volta, Mos Def, Lake Trout) Wright Way Studios in Baltimore and incorporate a local horn section on the set. It’s the group’s second time working with Wright, who Ormont says, “makes us really comfortable. The last thing you want to hear from the engineer is, ‘Let’s do it again.’ He never made us feel like we’re wasting any time. He’s good at keeping the vibe creative and positive.” Pigeons — which took its name from one of behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner’s experiments — set out to make Pizazz even more representative of the group’s stage show than its predecessors.
“If you want to know what Pigeons Playing Ping Pong are, you’ve got to come to our live show, so we try to replicate our live energy as much as we can in the studio,” Ormont explains. “There’s a raw, visceral energy, a sweaty basement party turned into a legitimate theater approach — that’s where you’ll get our message. Considering that we are very much focused on touring and playing live shows, I think this album really conveys that energy better than the other ones have. That just takes practice being in the recording studio. Now we know what to expect going into it and can elevate it to where we want to be.”
With the Pizazz out this week, Pigeons is again back in its native habitat with dates booked through the rest of the year, including a New Year’s Eve show in Covington, Ky.