Worcestershire band Peace talk about their two-year hiatus ahead of Birmingham gig
Welcome to Peace 2.0. New management, new record label, new outlook, new tunes. All new. Except there’s something that never changes.
“I’ll always be a hippie,” says Harry Koisser, the resident Maharishi of the British indie scene, and still the man most likely to use the word ‘groovy’ in a conversation. It’s been a while since Peace were swelling up tents at festivals and turning guitar cynics into rock‘n’roll dreamers with their indulgent mixture of romantic riffs, heart-shaped lyrics and dancing drum beats. After a blistering success with their 2015 follow-up LP Happy People (their debut In Love came out in 2013), they disappeared. Two years is a lifetime in band years. So what happened?
“After the second record we went to a farmhouse in the middle of a forest miles away from civilization,” says Harry, who hails from Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire.
In Herefordshire the four lads rented a property off the National Trust. It had never been lived in, so they moved all their backline into two living rooms, and wrote and wrote and wrote. Harry was there the whole time, with brother Sam, drummer Dom Boyce and guitarist Doug Castle joining him for sizeable periods.
At the age of 24, Harry had never spent so much as an hour in the countryside. “I was a total townie,” he says. “I had to spend six months out in an actual forest. It was very Hobbit-ish, very Hobbit-esque. It was the most creative thing I’d ever done. Also extremely isolating and scary. When you’re there alone and it’s dark, there’s demons . . .”
Surviving as an indie band in this climate is no joke. “Oh they make it difficult nowadays!” he laughs.
If Peace needed any saving, however, it was the forest that threw them a life jacket. The fact that they’re back isn’t just a testament to their lofty musical ambitions, but proof of their own loved-up fraternity. The most vital part of this third album – Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll – story is the kinship that binds the lads.
For the first two months in the farmhouse they didn’t record a single piece of music. They made dartboards, they set fire to fruit, they stapled bananas to the walls, they remembered to laugh. “We were just f***ing around together as mates and we hadn’t done that for five years,” says Harry. “At the end of the last album cycle we were the most distant we’d ever been.”
Touring relentlessly had confused friendship with business but they had to face the music when they decided to forego time off, instead moving right into each other’s faces. “That’s maybe the reason we’re still a band, ha!” says Harry. “We’ve been crushed together again into this diamond. If we’d found we couldn’t stand each other we wouldn’t have made a record, but turns out we all absolutely adore each other.”
Harry himself has actually become even more hippie than before, if you can believe it. Journeying on his very own independent transformative path, he’s now sober and he’s turned to yoga and meditation. It was a long time coming. “I was not cool, freak of the school,” he sings on Under Liquid Glass. You wonder if rock’n’roll had given Harry a false sense of security over the years, building a bubble of fame and popularity for him to hide in while deep-seated issues went unresolved. “100 per cent,” he says. “I was this new exciting person in 2012 and I’d forged a mixture of the rock stars that I loved: Keith Moon, Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Page . . . you know, the good bits. I f***ing ran with it. As soon as I was out in the woods, everything disappeared and what I was left with was what I had before – the exact opposite.”
The alcohol and the partying had taken its toll. “I can’t imagine myself ever drinking again,” he says.
l Peace headline Birmingham’s O2 Academy on Thursday on the last night of their UK tour