Peace talk touring, war stories and the indie solo
Midlands indie four- piece, err, Peace, have had a busy year.
Since signing to Columbia, they've torn up both sides of the Atlantic, left a trail of friendly destruction behind them and released a debut album, In Love, which we confidently predict will be all over the ubiquitous 'Best Of 2013' lists in about six months' time.
Leading from the front are singer/guitarist Harrison Koisser and six-string star Doug Castle. The former is a Brian May/Jimmy Page-adoring songwriting wunderkind, who packs his songs with grunge riffs and Britpop tones; the latter plays like Keith Richards raised on Red Hot Chili Peppers.
We sat down with the pair to talk about starting the band, two-solo songs and why they will fight for their right to party. Even if that means they're not invited back...
What was Peace's first practice like?
Harry Koisser: "We'd all played together before Peace, in college, and obviously me and my brother [Sam, bass] have been playing together for a long time. But I remember
that first rehearsal – we got a room in the countryside, a really cheap place. Then we went down to the beach to take some photos. We were like, 'We're Peace. We need some photos – and some songs!'"
Describe each other's playing styles.
Harry: "Doug likes the cutting, big sounds, but also intricate fiddles – he gets the wah out. It sort of all intertwines, but Doug's got a good way of filling out the sound."
Doug Castle: "I'd say Harry is wobbly – he likes the wobble and the bends. The guitars and the vocals all interlink, so it's not that obvious who's doing what – which is kind of nice."
Which guitar players do you each admire the most?
Doug: "Growing up, it was Hendrix and John Frusciante who were my two idols. John Frusciante is just really expressive, and Hendrix is obviously Hendrix."
Harry: "I was into Pete Townshend first, then it was Jimmy Page, and I've always liked Brian May as well. I've never had guitar lessons, so I always used to try to copy the way Brian May looked when he played. I've kind of copied the way that his hands worked. His hands look great when he plays!"
Doug: "[Laughs] It's true!" Harry: "Oh, and also a notable mention – Will Rees, from the Mystery Jets. He taught me loads of different techniques when we were touring together."
Delicious has two solos! How did that come about?
Doug: "I just remember you being like, 'I've written a song, it's got two guitar solos. This bit's gonna be your solo, this bit's gonna be mine. Go write a guitar solo!'"
Harry: "I used to think about guitar solos and think, 'Why would you wanna do that?' You kind of consume yourself. And then you think, 'You're an idiot. Guitar solos are lame because of people like me thinking they are. I love guitar solos! I play guitar solos. Why am I holding back from the music that I like doing?'"
Doug: "I used to think it was wanky and egotistical, but when it's done well, it sounds great and is really creative. Frusciante is so good at it, and some of them are like five notes!"
Is the world ready for the return of the indie guitar solo?
Harry: "Definitely – just with a different mindset behind it. [With us] it came from doing remixes [among them Lucy Rose and fellow Brum band Troumaca]. If people asked us to do a remix, I'd always put a huge guitar solo in it.
"I remember one band refused to use it, they were like, 'Err, it's got a really big guitar solo in it...' I was like, 'I know.' Then it came to recording the EP [Delicious], and I think the first one we did was on California Daze. It was like, 'It's time... it's time for beautiful guitar expression.'"
Peace: resurrecting the indie solo
What's your favourite Peace track to play live?
Harry: "1998 is really good. I've started to put ridonculous solos on that one. There's loads of effects in it. I've hooked up two amps now, so I've got a stereo delay and a stereo chorus, and it sounds really cool."
Doug: "It's good, because we've done it quite a lot and now when it comes to the end section we can mess about as much as we want."
What's in your main touring rig?
Doug: "I have a standard American Strat. It's not vintage, I think my dad just drilled it into my head that 'Hendrix played a Strat, so you want to play a Strat'. Then I've got a Vox AC30 amp. Strat, AC30 – it's tried and tested."
Harry: "I really like my Mustang. It's a 1976 American. I like how messy it is, and it sounds good with chorus and reverb. I use a Danelectro [DC '59] on a few songs as well. [Amps-wise] I use a Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker, then for the stereo effects I got a new amp from Fender called the Excelsior."
Doug: "I also have three delays – a Boss DD-3, an EHX Memory Man and a Memory Boy, which all have different purposes. Then the wah is a Dunlop Cry Baby."
Do you tour a lot?
Harry: "Our first 'big' tour was back in February 2012, and we haven't had more than two weeks off since then. We got a week in [rehearsal] before the album was released, but because we'd recorded the album live, it was just super simple. It was more a case of, 'Doug, is there enough wah on that?'"
Doug: "'No, there isn't enough wah on that.'"
Harry: "We've always wanted to tour as much as possible, because what else do you do?"
Do you think new bands have to tour harder nowadays?
Harry: "It feels like there's been a really big change in the last two or three years. But we don't really care, because it's what we want to do. We're obviously not in it for the money! It seems to make people feel good – that's what's been surprising. Someone got engaged at one of our shows to Float Forever."
Doug: "It's like, that's their song now. When you release a record, the songs stop being yours, you give it to everyone else."
Harry: "It's good. I think we're worth the emotional investment. You will see a good return on your emotional investment."
You've got a reputation for, err, 'enjoying a party'. Is that fair?
Harry: "I never think we deserve this [being in a band]. When we got signed, I was like, 'We're not owed this. We need to fulfil this. It's an opportunity, not a reward.' However, when it comes to partying, I feel that's the one thing we do deserve..."
Any amusing or horrific incidents you'd like to share?
Harry: "Terrible, terrible things have happened! Me and Doug sometimes go on a bit of a destructive one. We trashed a lovely little guesthouse in Scotland."
Doug: "[Nodding shamefully] In Glasgow." Harry: "You ended up peeing on my face! I was lying on the bathroom floor. The worst thing was we were sharing the room with our tour photographer, so he caught the whole thing.
"I was in the shower with the phone and the shower on, and I was trying to call reception... I don't know what the f**k I was doing."
Doug: "All the furniture, everything, was just wrecked. There was water everywhere. We had a cliché rock star moment there."
Harry: "We're not bad people. We just like to have fun. We've never done anything genuinely harmful, or anything that goes against what we're about."
Doug: "Everyone likes a drink. No-one likes a drunk."
When will you be satisfied that the band's made it?
Harry: "It doesn't feel anywhere near yet. With everything we've ever done, I've felt slightly unfulfilled, like we're going to do something better. We've had good moments, but we've never thought, 'That's that. In the bag.'"
Doug: "There's still so much we want to do." Harry: "Everything's a double-edged sword. If you became the biggest band in the world, it's like, well, what do you do then? I don't know. But we have a little saying for times like these... 'OOWTFO'."
Harry: "Yeah, 'Only one way to find out'."