An Interview With... Peace

The Brummie Boys are back in town - although they never really went away. Continuing to ride the wave of success, Peace are on the road again, in support of their second full-length, 'Happy People'.  I caught up with Harrison and Dominic at Brudenell Social Club. 

You’re playing smaller independent venues on this tour. What was the reason behind this?

Harry: It’s a double-edged sword; I think we just wanted to pace ourselves and do a few shows in each little place to try-out new material before the record came out. The bigger picture is that a lot of these venues are struggling more and more these days. It seems for bands and artists now that it’s always this linear plan of, ‘Ok let’s make it to the O2 in London’, or as soon as they’ve done a tour this big it’s like, ‘well let’s put one on sale for eight-months-time for a bigger venue’. People forget to just do it properly and do some of these smaller shows.

So you find these shows more interesting?

Harry: It’s way more interesting. It gives us a reason to keep going. Variety is the spice of life – or VITSOL, as everyone keeps on saying.

Dom: What? Nah, people won’t start saying that. (Laughs)

I’m not sure if that one will catch-on.

Harry: It’s the new YOLO.

It was reported at the end of last year that The Kazimier could be facing closure to make room for new developments.

Dom: I think they’ve come through the other side. I think they were on the brink, but they’ve come through it – that’s what I heard on the night.

Could more be done to help these venues out?

Harry: I think bands need to stop trying to be bigger than they are. With every buzz-band I know it’s like a constant struggle to seem bigger; saying shows are sold out that aren’t, for example. Bands should just go out and play to the level they feel comfortable at.

Do you feel like there is more energy with the smaller shows?

Harry: Yeah, totally. Everyone’s connected and in it together, and the next time when we go and play the bigger venues, everyone’s had the chance to see us in these places. I’ll feel like we’ve built-up on something really solid.

You worked with Jim Abbiss again on ‘Happy People’ and you mentioned he works in a live and traditional way, with just you four in a room playing together. Was it a similar process this time around?

Harry: This time it was more like, ‘let’s listen to drums’ and we’d experiment with sounds. We got so good at playing together that if we just went in and recorded ‘Money’, just the four of us; we’d be in and out in an hour and a half. We had time for this record to listen to the drums and make them sound different, and work on bass sounds that would work with that. We just paid a little more attention to everything.

Dom: We did more manipulating of single tracks, as isolated parts.

‘World Pleasure’ features a string section, piano and layers of percussion. Have you thought about bringing any of these elements into a live setting, as the band grows and you play bigger shows and stages?

Harry: I’ve got this picture in my head that when we start headlining festivals and special occasions it’s like, ‘whip out the string section!’ We’d do it if we headlined the pyramid stage; it would need to be something massive.

You’ve said there is more of a groove to this record. Was this a conscious decision after seeing how crowds react and move to certain songs?

Dom: It’s always come quite naturally to us. Without meaning to blow my own trumpet, I feel like Sam and myself have always quite easily slipped into the groove.

Harry: It became enjoyable in the studio. When you’re doing something like ‘Money’ or ‘World Pleasure’, Sam and Dom would record together and you’re in the control room like, ‘Fuck, this sounds good!’ and when you do heavier songs everyone’s there like, ‘Ok right, this is loud, that’s cool.’ The groove-based songs take a bit of brains and thought I think.

New songs have been premiered on this tour. What’s the reaction been like?

Harry: Really fucking good to be honest, everyone’s been well into it. God bless ‘em!

Dom: Thank God!

I read that ‘Money’ was an attempt to break-away from autobiographical lyrics. Did you make a decision not to include as many personal experiences in the new album?

Harry: It was just me starting to write again, and not writing from a deluded perspective. When I was in Birmingham having the time of my life, just going to clubs and getting fucked and having fun all the time – that’s the time when you write lyrics that are just like, ‘I love everything! I love you!’ When we started touring, I left that bubble. You’re not with your mates; you’re not getting fucked-up all the time.

Have you experimented with writing from someone else’s perspective?

Harry: Not yet. I think that’s more of an album four thing. My life is still too interesting to not have anything to say; I’ve got the imagination for it though.

Dom: I drum in character. (Laughs)

‘I’m A Girl’ deals with gender roles in society. How did the idea for the song come about?

Harry: I was almost reminiscing and writing retrospectively about when I was younger and in Digbeth. I kind of hung out in the wrong places for the way I dressed, but I kind of got a kick out of that. I used to basically dress like a really hot chick and go to chavvy house nights.

Dom: Did you just say you used to dress like a really hot chick?!

Harry: Yeah I used to I think. There have been times I’ve been mistaken.

Dom: Right, ok. You might be right though, you might be right! (Laughs)

Harry: I wanted to draw on that a little bit, and then that unlocked this bigger picture. The more you think about that stuff, it becomes less of a personal thing. I was thinking about how that’s kind of fucked up; it should be totally something that’s up to you. It’s a hot-topic at the moment I guess. I heard that Selfridges were going gender neutral and there won’t be men’s and women’s anymore – I quite like the idea. I was shopping with my fiancĂ© and they were being really funny about me trying on a women’s jacket and trousers, like really freaking out about it, and I was like ‘why?

Do you feel like fashion is important in the band?

Harry: Not really. I’ve always been that way.

Dom: I can vouch for that.

Harry: I’ve always dressed like a legend.

So there are quite serious issues within the lyrics, but your videos and the way you present yourselves online is quite tongue-in-cheek. Do you think it’s important for bands not to take themselves too seriously?

Harry: I do like that bands can take themselves seriously though, and I do respect it when you can totally commit to a brand like that. For me, it just doesn’t work. Some people go on stage and act like this fucked-up weirdo, and they come off and are the most normal person – fuck that; go onstage as who you are. It’s like when people who idolise Ian Curtis or Kurt Cobain want to act like them – those people had real issues, and before they did they weren’t like that.

You’ve visited a lot of places around the world since ‘In Love’. Has the extensive touring and new places you’ve visited influenced the new record at all?

Harry: ‘Money’ was in America, and that’s the first time I’d been there. It was the first time I had experienced the withered shell of the American dream, like old restaurants that had shut down. Loads of it was inspiring; that’s why I was writing about things other than myself. It was the first time I’d seen anything beyond my little bubble.

Last year you made the jump from the NME stage to Main stage at Reading & Leeds Festivals. What boxes do you hope to tick in 2015?

Harry: We’ve always just wanted to be this amazing band. I find it hard to sit there and be like, ‘I wanna fucking play Wembley!’ We’ve never wanted to be big as in selling loads of records and tickets, but we’ve always just wanted to be a fucking amazing band.

Can we expect to see you at Glastonbury, being promoted to The Other Stage maybe?

Dom: Yeah, how did you know?!

Harry: I think they should just put us on headlining the Pyramid Stage. (Laughs)

You’ll need to get that string section sorted then.

Dom: Yeah! Not enough balls in their booking.

It seems like there hasn’t been a gap between album cycles. Have you had time to reflect on your experiences and how big the band has become?

Harry: No, we don’t really have chance to look at it – we’ve just soldiered on!

‘Happy People’ is out February 9th.

- Tom Skinner