"We wanted to be in control of our own destiny" - Peace talk their new album Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll
Things are a little different in the camp of psychedelia-tinged indie types Peace. In the last three years, they have departed from major label Columbia, embraced a new spread of influences and hooked up with The Felice Brothers’ Simone Felice to provide production and songwriting inspiration.
The band return today with new album Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll (you can purchase it from hmv’s online store on the right-hand side of the page), a colourful, sprawling collection that pushes the band to new places.
To explain how they came up with this new album, we spoke to frontman Harry Koisser...
How did you decide what you wanted to do after Happy People?
“We just wanted to keep our foot on the gas, we felt like we had momentum, but beyond that, we didn’t know too much. That’s why it’s taken three years to pull an album together, we didn’t know what we wanted to do, we got blown around by various strong winds. We didn’t have a vision about the album, we just let things unfold.”
You went away to the countryside to write initially…
“That was our first big idea, go to the countryside, write an album and have it finished in six months. We went to the deep dark forests of Herefordshire and we wrote a lot of songs, a lot, maybe 60 in all. It was very creative, though a lot of the songs that made the album were written later on.”
Do you find it easy to junk the songs that don’t make it?
“No, it’s really difficult and we get really attached to songs. We spend a lot of time arguing and squabbling over which songs will make the album, we always find it difficult to narrow it down.”
You did the record with Simone Felice, what did he bring to the process?
“He’s amazing, he was with us all the time we recorded in Woodstock, we’d see him arriving in the morning, just walking up to us, looking superfly, you’d want to go to work. He’s an odd producer, he never touches the mixing desk, he’s in your mind. Ryan (Hewitt), his co-producer, he’s the one at the desk, 24 hours a day. He never sleeps, he takes his laptop to bed every night and keeps going. I don’t think he ever slept.”
What was it about the two of them that made them a good fit for the album? You did the last album with Jim Abbiss, who is more of a disciplinarian…
“Jim’s amazing, he can capture what a band’s about, but Simone was different. He’d actually never heard of us before and then he heard one of our songs and he rang me and said ‘I don’t know who you guys are, but I love your songs and I need to make this record with you’. We didn’t really have any choice at that moment!”
“But what he gave us, I think because it’s our third album we needed to unlock something and try a new perspective. Simone really drove the songwriting, he demanded more from us, he wanted more quality and for the lyrics to mean more and to showcase more power. He’s from the mountains and he brought that scale and that size into our music. Ryan worked with Rick Rubin for a long time and he’s turned Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink-182 into huge bands, that was a combination that interested us.”
This is your first record since leaving Columbia. You’re now with Ignition, how’s that going?
“It’s f**king great. The people at Columbia are great and they got the record. After we’d spent six months in that farmhouse, we’d turned into hippies, our hair was really long and our facial hair was out of control and we went to meet them. And to be fair, they backed us. But Columbia is owned by Sony, a big, big corporation, and that’s where the disagreements began. Ignition makes sense, they do Noel Gallagher, The Courteneers, Primal Scream, they do big records, but they’re an indie label. They think we can grow with them, it’s going well so far.”
Have you had to be more hands on?
“We wanted to be in control of our own destiny. It’s odd, we don’t want to go particularly abstract or run to the left, but we do want more control. I am more involved, right now we’re working on our music videos and I’m right there with the director, sorting it all out. With a major label that would never happen.”
What kind of record is this lyrically?
“Kindness is the new Rock and Roll is the title and the mantra. It’s a snapshot of this modern thing that’s going on. People are hanging up their rockstar bulls**t jackets and putting on their kinder clothes. To me, songwriting is a bit like photography, it’s a snapshot of something I feel.”
How are lyrics for you? Do you write things down all the time? Or do you need a melody to work to?
“I used to be all about the melody. We’d play shows and I’d make the lyrics up as I go along. Just spit out gobbledegook. Now though I’m always scribbling stuff down, it’s become lyrics before melody. Simone really encouraged that in me, he wanted me to treat it more as poetry. He said to me when he first met ‘Man, I think you’re one of the best poets that I’ve met’, and I’d never thought of myself of a poet. I was a poet and I did not know it. And now I keep on scribbling.”
Finally, it’s your third 10-track record in succession, is that the plan or does it just work out that way?
“It just works out that way. We actually recorded 11 songs for this, to try and break the curse, then one of them didn’t make the mix in time, so it became a 10-track record. It’s definitely a curse.”