Three years after the release of their second album ‘Happy People’, Midlands-based indie band, Peace, are back, much to the delight of their abundance of fans, with new album ‘Kindness is the New Rock and Roll.’ Behind the scenes at their show at Birmingham’s o2 academy, frontman, Harrison Koisser, meets amongst the hustle and bustle of preparing for a show in the town that it all began.
‘It was a genuine observation, as well as something fun to say.’ Harry begins, explaining the meaning behind the new albums title. ‘[Its about] how people are being kinder in rock and roll. Kindness is replacing rock and roll and rock and roll is returning but its kinder.’ A mantra Harry sticks by, claiming to be ‘particularly un-rock and roll’ in the typical sense himself. ‘My Mum text me saying ‘Frank Turners releasing an album called Be More Kind, he’s ripped you off.’ He goes on. ‘But that is not us being ripped off, that is a sign of something changing. All these rock and rollers talking about being more kind is a good thing. We can make the world a better place by just being kinder to each other.’ And it becomes abundantly clear why the three year gap was needed for the band, the album is not simply a collection of rock and roll songs, but instead a call out for change.
‘These ones were deeply personal.’ Harry explains, referring to the tracks on the new album. ‘Early on in the very beginning of our career, before we got signed on or anything, I was completely making up gibberish.’ The new album denotes a true growing curve for the band, who, during the writing process, locked themselves away in a farmhouse due to the influence of their accountant. Whilst Harry notes an improvement in his writing, it’s something he can’t seem to take all the glory for. ‘It was more of a spiritual thing than an intellectual thing, which then makes sense for me. I was very terrible at school, so then to make songs that people like, I can’t take credit for it, there must have been a spiritual intervention or a channelling of something.’
While their drastic writing process paid off, the isolated conditions proved to be a very intense experience for Harry. ‘I’ve got a about four friends now. Before I had fucking loads, I was so popular before we made this album, but I just cut everyone off for six months and everyone got on with their lives.’ The new album appears more melancholic than that of their previous work, and in listening to the songs you can sense the haunting, lonely circumstances in which they were written, particularly in tracks Angel and Magnificent. According to Harry, Kindness is the New Rock and Roll was more experimental, and certain aspects of the album take a more psychedelic turn, but they still manage to remain true to their indie roots throughout, as the album is still soaked in their catchy riffs and clean, twangy guitars.
Despite the band achieving certain acclaim, Harry remains aware of the humbling roots that kickstarted the bands success, which began in Birmingham back in around 2009, when Harry was merely 18 years old. ‘When we started, [the music scene] was pretty dead.’ The band moved to Birmingham after to playing quiet, desolate pubs in Worcester. ‘We were like, if we’re going to make it, we need to get to Birmingham, and then we moved and it was dead. It was a weird time. No small bands toured here, there was fucking nothing.’
But thanks to a little bit of deceit, this was all about change.
‘We basically accidentally started the scene by lying.’ Harry recalls telling his then manager there was a large indie and rock scene pulsing amongst Birmingham’s pubs and bars. ‘He then came up to see us and I had got us a gig at the Adam and Eve and there was literally 12 people there,’ much to the dismay of the bands manager who had passed on the fabricated story to NME. ‘They then ran this piece about it and the next show we did was 300, and then the next we did at the Rainbow was 600 people and it just kept getting bigger, all based on a bunch of us lying about how good it was.’
While the band are thankful for their lowly start many years ago in Birmingham, Koisser is aware of the problems faced with many other musicians who are not quite as lucky as they were. ‘The economy of the indie and rock world needs to adapt because bands can’t afford to record, can’t afford to tour, can’t exist really without like a major label. So, these people also need to have day jobs or be loaded in the first place. The economy needs to change. I’m trying to figure out a way to do it.’
Peace’s new album, Kindness is the New Rock and Roll, is out now.
About the author
LIV Gardner writes for Brum Radio and other websites and publications.