Interview: Peaer Dishes Out The Deets On Their Forthcoming Album

Posted: by The Editor

Peaer’s self-titled debut was one of our favorite albums of 2016, and the band’s continued to gain quite a bit of notoriety as anticipation builds for their follow-up. To tide fans over, contributor Hayden Sitomer visited them in the studio to snap some photos and ask them about what people should expect from this next one. Frontman Peter Katz and bassit Thom Lombardi provided thorough details, which you can read below.

What are the main themes of the new record?

Peter Katz: One thing that keeps coming up is love and its various forms. Unconditional love, familial love, temporary, passionate, confusing love? It wasn’t really intentional, since the songs have been in process since 2015 or so, but looking back on the record there is quite a bit of talk about love. “In My Belly” is basically a song comprised of a one-sided discussion on the question: what is love? Themes of less romantic relationships are around too, trying to answer more broad questions of: Why do people like each other? Why are we friends? What brought us together? Is that a tangible thing? (sometimes). Is it designed to be this way? (sometimes). Conversation and relationships and community. A fun thing we’ve also tried to challenge ourselves with is something we’ve been calling “musical puns. Basically trying to find ways of literally depicting a version of the idea we are referring to in the lyrical material in the musical material. The first song “Circle” has this moment where we play through the “circle of fifths” which is a series of interlocking chords that form a harmonic “circle.”

What were some experiences that influenced the writing of this album?

Thom Lombardi: Over the past couple years throughout the formation of this record there were many minutes where we all spent sitting in a vehicle. Inevitably, we listened a lot during those moments while in transit. Whether it be music by some artist we enjoy, the radio, a podcast, having a conversation, car noise, or even the sounds of our mouths chewing food, I think it had a major impact on the record. These moments feel just as integral to the whole sphere of being in a band. I grew to really appreciate the time between one thing and another and I think we represent it well in the way we use dynamics in the music we play. I would also say that the 2016 election, the current political and cultural climate, friendship, love, sexuality, identity, and fear were influential to the writing of the record.

Katz: Basil [Thom] said it best. We were on tour during the 2016 election, it was right smack dab in the middle of our route. It changed everything pretty immediately. Themes of paranoia and fear and the current climate seeped into the record because it’s the reality from which our music is essentially derived. But Basil also said it best because between the last album and this album we became a band. We’ve truly solidified as a three-piece lineup, we’ve spent some considerable time touring and working as a team, we have a sincere understanding of each other. We also truly love to play music together, and we wanted to have some moments in the songs where we could really keep it open-ended and improvisational, almost. I think we’ve also had a lot of fun and fulfillment crafting substantial parts too.

Were there any other forms of art and/or artists you were exposed to during the writing process that had an impact on the content of the album?

Lombardi: Carly Rae Jepsen, Pinback, Arthur Russell, David Bazan/Pedro the Lion/Lo Tom, Duster, Bill Callahan/Smog, Sun Kil Moon, Cat Power, Drake, Paramore, Tera Melos, Solange, Mount Eerie/The Microphones, Modest Mouse, Radiohead, Tears For Fears, Green Day, Life Without Buildings, Bedhead, Kendrick Lamar, John Denver, Joni Mitchell, Attic Abasement, Mannequin Pussy, Palm, Nine of Swords, Bethlehem Steel, Shamir, Sinai vessel, Strange Ranger, Spirit of the Beehive, Thelma, Load Card, Pupppy, Porches, Frankie Cosmos, Beverly Tender, Florist, Hovvdy, Serial odcast, This American Life podcast.

Katz: S-town! I’d add cass McCombs’ “Mangy Love.” I saw this quote from an article on Facebook about how Beyonce tracks vocals by doubling her harmonies or something and I was like, “oh shit I need to do that.” I’ve definitely listened to a ton of Frankie Cosmos’s “Next Thing” since it came out, and I think that some of their sensibilities have made their way into my writing whether consciously or subconsciously. I’ve also listened to a lot of SALES too, and other music that is vocally driven, I’ve been trying to incorporate more vocal-driven techniques to my writing, as opposed to only relying on a guitar melody or progression. Also Yaeji, Burial, Baltra and other house/electronic music has really been a fun world to explore, not sure if that’s really made its way into Peaer just yet.

How is this album different from what you’ve released previously and how do you think you’ve changed as a band since the last release?

Katz: This new album feels like a fully realized version of “Peaer the band.” In many ways, Peaer has truly become a band since the last album. We have a new lineup, first of all. Max and Michael and I haven’t played together in a while, but since then Thom and Jeremy have become committed parts of the Peaer whole. The last record seemed very much so like a snapshot of a place and time, and I’ve honestly been floored consistently that we were able to tour for over a year on that album. Its relatively small, 7 songs, 25 or less minutes?  This new album is considerably bigger. At this point we have 12 songs, it seems to be around 40-ish minutes? It feels like “more” of everything basically; a bit slower, a bit faster, lots of guitar stuff. Its very exciting and we are really excited to share.

What was the recording process like for this album and what effect did it have on the final product?

Katz: Recording has been slow and steady. We started off with a four-day studio session in Bethel, CT at Mother Brother Studios, owned and operated by some good longtime friends of mine. We focused mostly on drums for that entire chunk. Since then we’ve gone to Dusty Gold Studio in Pleasantville, NY for a session of bass tracking and guitar tracking, and for the last couple of weeks we’ve been tracking vocals in Jeremy’s apartment in Crown Heights. Having space between sessions has been a little plodding, but its really allowed for us to soak in each new batch of bounces, we have a running document of notes and plans that we evaluate and mull over, and we can approach each session with a new idea of something to add, change, remove, or do-over. The pace of the process has really afforded us time to focus on takes and sounds, too. Overall I think recording has added to the fullness of the album, we are making an effort to be thorough and put a lot of time and care into it.

What does the next year look like for Peaer?

Katz: Once we finish recording we can finally set our sights on playing and touring a bit more. We have taken the early year very easy, partly because I am wary of winter touring, and also to focus on writing and recording. Now that recording is winding down we are hoping to do the whole country again by the end of 2018. Also seeking out representation in various forms as we continue to grow. Hoping to be much more active by this time next year on a much more consistent basis.

Photography and interview by Hayden Sitomer | @haydster__

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