Music interview: PEACE want to connect

Channelling a nostalgic British pop-rock vibe, English band PEACE have spent the year causing a stir on the northern hemisphere Festival circuit. During their recent Australian tour in late-September the four-piece proved that they have the substance to live up to all the hype.

They describe their songs as “music to fuck you in the heart” and, once signed to Columbia records, they had a billboard erected in their home city of Birmingham with the band on it saying “WHAT THE FCK BIRMINGHAM?” to stick it to all the people that never believed in them.

Harriet Cheney sat down with front-man Harry and drummer Dominic to talk about shitty souvenirs, embarrassingly excellent 90s pop, growing up in Led Zeppelin’s neighbourhood and how they feel about being named “the future of indie” by The Guardian newspaper:

What do you look for or do in every city that you tour to?
Harry: I like to get from every country or city an awful porcelain animal or something. In Japan I got some fridge magnet sushi, I got a little armadillo statue from Texas that’s throwing a lasso and one of those cats with the arm waving from somewhere else. I’ve got a little zoo going on on top of the fridge.

PEACE the band name… how did you decide on that?
Harry: I saw a photograph from the end of WWII of loads of people holding banners with peace written on them. There was a big crowd and I thought “that looks like a crowd for a band called PEACE” and that was when it clicked because we were just starting the band. But, the whole time of knowing the band everything was always peace with all of us. I can remember Doug chanting “Peace, peace, we are the future, love and peace!” and I’ll see old photographs where we’re wearing peace T-shirts or playing guitars that had peace written on them. It was always a thing with us.

What have you learnt from playing with more established bands?
Dominic: One of the first tours that we did was with Mystery Jets and the way that they conduct themselves on tour generally, just their day to day living while they’re on the road.
Harry: They have a good time and have fun, but know that they’re there to do the show not to have a personal, amazing, fun holiday. It’s like you do have to play a show everyday and it has to be the best it can be.

peace-001These bands really realise the importance of touring. Do you have a strategy to keep engaging fans? I know you’re on Facebook, you just got Instagram…
Dominic: We feel that the most important way of engaging with fans is through playing live.
Harry: yeah, through the songs. When you’re face to face with an audience, that’s the real connection.

What was it like growing up in Birmingham, the so-called “birth place of heavy metal music” and being an indie rock band?
Dominic: In the rehearsal room that we use in Birmingham, every door you walk past is like a heavy metal band.
Harry: We grew up outside the city in an area near where Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin vocalist) lived and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin drummer) lived nearby too. In every pub that you go to there’s an old man there telling a story about the time he was drinking there with John Bonham or the time that Robert Plant played a blues set in there on a Sunday night randomly. But when we started playing and living in Birmingham it was actually quite weird because there were no other bands really doing the same thing as us.
D: There’s a really big dance scene there. It was all about house and techno when we first started, along side of the heavy metal at the other end of the spectrum.
H: Until we started to get NME press all our fans were just like clubbers who didn’t resemble your typical indie fan or anything.
D: It was quite funny seeing techno-house DJs who were coming to see us play as a friend and just loving it because obviously they grew up loving indie rocks bands and stuff and so I think it was quite refreshing for them.
H: We did all of our first headline shows in a house and techno party club on a Saturday night. We shared the stage with DJs… Claud VonStroke was playing… and then we did our headline show.

You had a bit of a dream discovery story. You say yourselves that you were in the right place at the right time. What’s your secret to good luck?
D: I think the secret to good luck is that you earn the luck that you get. I don’t think there’s such thing as good luck for free.
H: and to be at the right place at the right time you’ve got to be in as many places as you can be as many times as you can. The night we pretty much got discovered we played the show even though we didn’t really want to and then randomly the editor of NME who lived opposite was in there and saw us play. She went on to tell her husband who ended up signing us to Columbia.

Do you have any unlikely music loves or influences?
H: Loads of crappy ‘90s pop music. I’ve had a CD since 1997 called “The Best of 1997” which is all the top charting music of the year and I’ve still got it. It’s got my name in it from when I was six and when I started driving to college, I put loads of CDs in my car and I started listening to it and I remembered all those songs. Blur is on there and Oasis and stuff, but also Spice Girls and Olive – You’re Not Alone and Robbie Williams and Barbie Girl by Aqua. At the time we were starting to form a band while we were listening to that. All of those songs I knew inside out. It just shows how it gets written into your brain and musical output… there is some stuff that was directly influenced by Spice Girls on our record.

The Guardian was one of your earliest fans calling you “the future of indie.” So what does the future look like?
H: I always find it hard considering us an indie band.
D: It’s quite a comfortable thing isn’t it? Four guys in a band and our influences are quite classic. We get called anything from classic British pop band to a grunge-funk band.

You released your debut album In Love in March this year but there’s already talk about a follow-up album. Is there any pressure?
H: In fact the label wanted us to do it a bit later on but we’re writing songs now. If we’re inspired now and we want to make more music then we should do that.

To keep up to date with PEACE, follow them on Facebook.



Interview by Harriet Cheney