Miriam Doona spoke to Peace front man Harry Koisser about his songwriting style, growing up in the Midlands and their famous fans.
UK Midlands indie rock four piece outfit Peace are singer Harry Koisser and his brother Samuel on bass, joined by Douglas Castle and Dominic Boyce on guitar and drums respectively.
Their new album Happy People was released on February 9th via Columbia Records and to mark the occasion the quartet will be performing in Whelan’s, Dublin on March 20th. I chatted to Harry ahead of their coming to Dublin.
The band has an average age of twenty four years. Harry met Dom on the street; he tried to beat him up when he was sixteen.( I love that subtle irony, considering the band’s name.) Harry elaborated that he was in college for three years and Dom was there for his last year, he dropped out and they became friends.
This friendship had its foundation in the fact that they didn’t know anybody else and they both did music. Dom introduced Harry to Doug, and of course with Sam being his brother they all ended up in a band together. Peace was made.
The first album In Love was released in 2013 with Columbia records and both albums have been produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Bombay Bicycle Club). I inquired when they signed with Columbia. "In 2012," Harry responded. "They heard about us somehow through the grapevine and came to see us a few times and they were really keen and it was a good vibe."
In Love is now followed by the new album and latest offering Happy People. The album titles are very upbeat yet with darker themes regarding the individual songs. Perfect Skin has themes of anxiety and image angst, while Under The Moon is a nostalgic love song rife with the theme of loneliness. I asked about his songwriting and if he writes from his own experiences:
“I try to write songs as honestly as possible and try and avoid doing stuff that just sounds cool. I am trying to become like a proper songwriter and I will write songs that mean something to me and they might not always be as straightforward as what you are hearing and me saying it, but each song is really real and I do draw a lot from real life.
"Lyrically I think you have to be real and a song like Money... sure… It isn’t a song that is going to solve the financial crisis, but it doesn't try to. I am sure one day I will write more complex songs, but for this album I wanted it to be quite straightforward and digestible.”
Harry went on to explain that they will tour and try to convince people that it’s worth buying music nowadays. They want to get the record out and want everyone to hear it, and hope that people want to buy it and own it forever.
“When I buy music, I feel like I own it… almost like [having] a share hold in it. I love the idea of people owning a little piece of it.” The band are touring all over the UK and Ireland and also hope to, “hit the festivals hard.”
In addition to having a very devoted fan base, with fans sporting tattoos of the Peace symbol and many to be known to shave the logo into the back of their heads, Peace have found fans in both Usher and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. I asked about their celebrity fan base.
“It’s pretty cool,” Harry laughs.“It’s pretty nice when people we respect in music like us, and not just in music. Abbey Clancy keeps telling us that she is a really big fan. She asked if she and Peter Crouch could come along to a show and that’s a really cool vibe.”
He continued: “ One of our fans which I didn’t expect is Dynamo the magician. I met him recently at a party and he had all of our music on his phone and he has been messaging me because he wants to come to our show with his wife. He could just teleport himself there. He doesn't need to buy a ticket... he can just turn an ace of spades into a ticket.”
We chatted more about music and I learned that The Who were the first group that he ever really heard and he was really into Led Zeppelin growing up. They led him a little bit astray, he said and led him to his imagination.
He also went into a bit of a trance phase and a techno phase and confided that, weirdly, he was never really into indie music and definitely more into rock n roll. "I think a lot of people have us down as an indie band. I always thought we were more trance meets rock n roll, but I guess we will meet in the middle of that.” Asking about his current musical tastes I was told that he is watching this band called Yak. “They are really exciting because they have this aggression,” he explained.
Having a name like Peace, I questioned whether it was important to him and as a band to put a positive message out there, socially and politically. “Yeah... I think it really is. I think it is more important to pick your moment, if you know what I mean. Don’t do it until you are ready to do it and we don’t want to try and come across as being really political when it comes to music.
"Everyone that I know in bands, we are all from the same place; shit towns in The Midlands and half of us whine about it and half of us say fuck it… it might be shit, but we can have a really good time as well. Looking on the positive side which is more how I lead my life. At the moment I am having too much fun and want to keep it fun for now," he added.
“The world is not a perfect and entirely positive place and you can’t daydream forever. I think our first record was pretty much almost a deluded sense of everything is amazing, but I think people can relate to that.”
On that sombre note, I leave Harry. Peace play Whelan;s later this month, with tickets available from Ticketmaster.ie.