James caught up with Peace frontman Harry Koisser for a quick chat backstage ahead of their gig at the Manchester Ritz. Discussing the pressures of their new found popularity and both a look back at the year just gone and a look ahead to what 2014 has to bring.
JAMES: So we’ve heard the news that you have already begun work on your second album. Would you say that you have developed a different sound for it?
HARRY: There are some changes. It’s more the way that we’re doing it, though. Rather than just recording the sound and the way we play it’s more like recording the songs and fine tuning them. The first album seemed to be developed quite unconsciously.
JAMES: Your debut album received a lot of critical praise this year, especially from places like NME. Has that put more pressure on you for the second album?
HARRY: Not especially, really. We’re just continuing doing the same thing and we’re quite confident about it.
JAMES: You’ve done a lot of touring this year, including Glastonbury. How does it feel to see thousands of people singing your words back at you?
HARRY: I don’t know, I can’t really remember big shows because I was so nervous. We’re confident, but you don’t really know if anyone is going to be there or how they’ll be. Leeds was the first show that big that I remember. Reading and Glastonbury are kind of like “Oh, what’s going to happen”. It’s a good feeling. I guess it’s just confusing. You don’t expect it.
JAMES: Speaking of the tour, would you say you have a favourite venue?
HARRY: All the shows have been amazing; there’s not really been any bad show. I enjoyed Newcastle a lot and Glasgow, I always enjoy Scotland. There isn’t really like a favourite. London was weird; we hadn’t done a big venue like that. We did two nights in London so that was quite a big deal.
JAMES: Whether it be for musical reasons, or performance style who has influenced you?
HARRY: Musically it’s a hard one to nail because it could be something you hear in the car or a taxi radio, it’s difficult. I guess bands taking the idea of four people making this entity; you know The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin. I think performance-wise, Freddie Mercury or David Bowie as a front man. But “musically” is so much harder to explain, it’s hard to put what it is into a sentence.
JAMES: Have you guys got any particularly crazy fans?
HARRY: We’ve got some fans we see a lot (laughs). People will travel quite far to come and see us, occasionally from Japan or sometimes we’ll be in America and someone has come from somewhere like, Sheffield! But crazy fans, last night someone jumped up trying to kiss me and had to be taken off the stage…
JAMES: That’s kind of a compliment though isn’t it?
HARRY: (Laughs) Yeah. Unexpected stuff happens all the time.
JAMES: Who would you most like to work with?
HARRY: Jimmy Page I guess. It’s the way he shapes sounds. He has a good idea about a band fitting together and using different instruments. Yeah, Jimmy Page… and he loves guitar.
JAMES: What has been your favourite album of the year?
HARRY: Oh, that’s a hard one. I know one of my favourite records is an EP The Vaccines did, ‘Melody Calling’. That one has no sequence to it, just different sounds and really good songs.
JAMES: Have you seen any good live shows this year?
HARRY: Just ourselves, Drenge and Haim really. At festivals even we don’t really get to stay around. Mind you, I saw everyone on the NME tour, which was great.
JAMES: Yeah, and that must have been an honour to play the NME tour, you were in a bit of a prestigious slot?
HARRY: Yeah, that was good. They really think about who they put in that slot so that was quite cool.
JAMES: Are there any particular bands or albums you’re looking forward to or recommend watching out for in 2014?
HARRY: Well, our new one! It will be interesting to see bands we were with at the beginning before we put out our record, bands that went around playing with us at first; I’m looking forward to seeing what they put out. We’re going really fast, we feel quite alone in it now, there’s not really any other bands moving quite as fast. I think that’s good though. We’re kind of in a weird space. Bands are touring their album but we’re touring our album and working on the second record now. No one else is really at the same level, maybe The 1975 and Jake Bugg but even they were a little bit before us, but they’ve gone really pop. There are a lot of bands we were with at the beginning who are still in that sort of place and just haven’t moved as fast. We’re in the middle, it’s nice and it’s like having our own space. No other band is in the same position as us now.
JAMES: So, what would your advice to young people looking for success in the music industry be?
HARRY: Obviously, work hard. We were just talking actually about our guitar tech who toured for years with really hardcore bands on the back of transit vans and he just worked his way up. We would travel round in a van, sleeping there or sleeping in people’s houses for like a year just touring. We did the whole playing at people’s houses if we couldn’t get a venue. That was only, I suppose, maybe two years ago. It has gone really fast. Actually, we played at someone’s house in Manchester only about a year ago. We’ve also played at The Castle, only a small venue maybe fifty capacity but it’s great. That was probably only last year.
JAMES: Are you friends with Diplo yet?
HARRY: I haven’t spoken to him. I’d imagine so! He was pretty cool afterwards.
JAMES: What can we expect from Peace in 2014? Any festivals or collaborations you can share with us?
HARRY: We don’t know at the moment, just working on the record and see how that all goes. We’ve got some plans but nothing really sorted.
JAMES: Great stuff. Thanks a lot Harry!