The 405 meets Peace
"I think inconsistency is our consistency" concludes guitarist Doug Castle when considering the back-catalogue of Peace, the latest guitar band to emerge from Birmingham. Their soundcloud hosts only four actual songs, but those songs have been enough to see them grace the introducing pages of just about every magazine going.
With their first singles 'Bblood' and 'Follow Baby' being compared to Foals and Wu-Lyf respectively, the band are the first to admit they haven't quite found their sound yet. It's no wonder, considering lead singer Harrison lists his inspirations under the broad header of 'electronic music', that they're efforts thus far has been so diverse. Latest single California Daze leaves behind the schizophrenic riffs and shouty vocals of the past, replaced with harmonies to rival The Beach Boys and a singalong chorus.
Hailed as leading the new charge of Birmingham indie, the band are endlessly compared to Swim Deep, their long-term friends and one-time band-mates. What's often ignored or left unnoticed is that the comparison is tenuous, given that they don't actually sound much alike at all. "I think you're the first person to say that" says Harrison, who insists the sudden influx of Brummie bands is purely coincidence.
Just ahead of releasing their debut EP, Delicious, and after staging a three-month tour that saw them play 46 dates, the band are about to play their largest headline show to date – Village Underground in London. A few hours before they took to the stage, they sat down for a chat.
How did the band come together?
Harrison: Sam and I are brothers, and we always used to play together, and Doug and Dom met in school and played in a funk band together. Me and Dom really just wanted to write songs, and then we got Sam playing bass, and it all eventually came together. It was really slow actually, to get to the point where we were a band. It probably took like 3 years to form the band in total.
What's the story behind the name Peace?
Harrison: I saw a photograph from the end of the war, with everyone holding peace banners, and I thought it would be a really good album cover if your band was called Peace. At the time we were looking for a band name, and I looked online and thought it was weird that there wasn't a band called Peace already.
Doug: My friend did actually send me a song by another band called Peace, but it's not similar at all.
Sam: We did an interview once where they were asking us questions as if we were that other band.
Harrison: I didn't research that much, but when I was looking online I couldn't find another band. It's quite nice that it's not very google-able, because it means that the internet isn't necessarily that important for us. It's very important to everyone else in the industry, though, so I don't know if that was wise.
Who would you say your main influences are?
Harrison: There's definitely an electronic music influence without it actually being electronic music. from I can remember being in Fabric, and I think there was a band called Wet Yourself, and I remember listening to them and working it out in that moment and thinking that if we can recreate this sound with guitars, this is how it should sound. The energy of house and techno music was an inspiration, too.
Doug: I think it's just all music that's based on good grooves, so from House music, to Electronic music, to Rock. I think all the songs have that basis in them.
Harrison: We definitely love grooves. And the tribally sounds in Techno…and bongo drums.
How does the writing/producing get divvied up between you guys?
Harrison: Some songs we'll just do in a room, like Bblood was just done together in a room. I do quite a lot of the rough demos, but then they become real songs when we're together.
Sam: Harry's always produced the demos with our friend Dom. It's his house we record at, and he's always come on tour with us.
Harrison: He's a really close friend, and he produced a lot of demos for Swim Deep, so he is the Birmingham sound, essentially.
There's been a massively positively response to new single California Daze, were you expecting it to be so well received?
Harrison: Not at all! It was only going to be a B-side. Before we released the lead track from the EP, we really wanted to put a song on the internet. I didn't really know whether people liked us for our sound, and because it's so different to that, I didn't expect so many people to like it.
It's quite a different sound to previous singles, is it more of what we can expect to hear from your new EP?
Harry: The EP's quite diverse, we don't really have a sound that's consistent I suppose.
Sam: There is a consistency through it, but I'm not really sure what it is. I guess the way it's recorded, produced and the fact that it's us?
Doug: I think inconsistency is our consistency.
Harry: Now that we've nearly got an album's worth of material, I'm noticing that the songs are all written quite differently and with different influences in each song, but there's something there. It kind of works, which is a relief.
You're about to start another big UK tour, what can people expect from a PEACE show?
Doug: Oranges and confetti canons have been our staple diet so far.
Harrison: At our last London headline show, we had 500 oranges and put them all along the bar, and everyone was throwing them everywhere after, it was very messy. We try to push the live shows as far as we can. We haven't planned it so much yet, but I'm sure we'll come up with something!
You toured with Mystery Jets and Manic Street Preachers, what was it like playing such big venues with them?
Sam: It was really exciting.
Harrison: I didn't really notice it at the time, but looking back, especially when we played Brixton, that was pretty nuts. I wouldn't have thought we'd do a support slot at Brixton so early on. I was just thinking "Don't fuck up" and we've been quite unlucky with broken and stolen equipment.
Sam: On the first day of a Vice 6-day micro-tour, and our van was broken in to, and we had £3000 worth of gear stolen. Luckily our friends really banded together and got some kit sorted, our manager sent a massive email to all of his contacts saying he wanted to get the gig to happen, and in the space of one day we managed to sort it for the gig in the evening.
Harrison: Yeah, ever since then I've been pranging that something's going to go wrong with our kit at every show.
How do you think support slots compare to headline shows?
Doug: There's less pressure when you're supporting, because you've got nothing to lose.
Harrison: I find them a bit more stressful, because you've got a shorter set, and less time to soundcheck. When you're headlining you can sort of lie around, and take as long to sound-check as you want.
Dom: There's never been that much pressure with our headline shows so far, because people don't really know us, or know our songs yet.
Now that there are so many bands from Birmingham emerging, do you feel any sense of competition between you guys?
Harrison: There's a healthy energy, not so much competition. It spurs us on, because we've always been getting popular alongside Swim Deep, and it's good because we're pals. There's competition in a good way, yeah, but we don't sound similar enough to compete directly. We've always helped each-other out loads because it's nice to have pals doing the same thing.
Sam: Comparisons are going to happen when you've got more than one band coming out of Birmingham. A lot of focus has been placed on the fact that us and Swim Deep are both from Birmingham and both from the same social circles, but it's coincidence, really.
Harrison: Kav from Swim Deep actually used to tour with us, he was our merch guy, and he was the worst merch guy we've ever had. He'd just get drunk and I'd see him handing out free t-shirts to girls, and we don't actually have any merch now because he gave it all away.
What would you guys be doing if you weren't in a band?
Doug: Painter and Decorator
Sam: Yeah, we'd all be painter/decorators together
Doug: Or I'd be in Swim Deep (rest of the band laugh)
Harrison: I'd be in a cover band. My dad's in an amazing covers band, and has been since before I was born. I want to do that at some point in my life anyway. Him and a bunch of his friends just do whatever during the day, and then go on stage on a Saturday night and smash it with the charisma of a thousand Mick Jaggers. You get paid more than bands like this too.
Harrison: I want to start a Lucy Rose cover band. We're on the lookout for a Bjorn impersonator.
Welcome to the eighth edition of New Music by Region. Every fortnight we aim to present the best new music in 8 major cities and regions from across the UK. With the help of regional correspondents, we present our shortlist of new music in Brighton, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow, Norwich, Leeds, London and Oxford. [read more]