METAL meets the joyful Canadian band that is Peach Pit, a bunch of high school friends who, with each listen and live show, make their friend group a little bigger. Described best as stoner indie rock or as the band once instinctively wrote on their Facebook, “chewed bubblegum pop”. Their songs quickly become familiar, like a comforting blanket of summer heat. And if you haven’t heard of them yet, you can get ready to expand your friendship circle too. The band played The Troxy, London, on a sweltering day in June and we caught up with them ahead of the show backstage.
Their lyrics come from a rich imaginary world, as well as personal experiences; memories of alcohol abuse, tough breakups and existential crises. Relatable and romantic, intentional but relaxed, and unavoidably full of friendship, Peach Pit’s lyrical landscape is shaped by melancholic backstories that somehow find a light even in the darkest of places. Their buttery warm guitar and driving emotive drums are infectiously resolute regardless of the subject matter they back. The band discuss their creative process, the joy of playing live, insider secrets hidden in their songs and life on the road.
It’s great to meet you guys. I actually saw you in London last year.
Chris: That was at the Forum. It was a fun show.
Neil: That was a really fun show.
Chris: That show is fun. Because it's the first time we've ever had someone selling bootleg merchandise outside the venu!
If I had seen that I wouldn't have spent money inside! So guys, first question for you is about your sound, it really varies across the albums. Vice have called it Jangle Pop, Indiependent called it indie-cum psychedelic. In your own words, how do you guys describe it?
Neil: I usually just keep it really simple and say indie rock so people understand what you're talking about.
Chris: It Depends on the person asking. If they're over 50 I'm like rock and roll!
Neil: Anyone else just says indie rock or just like we're a guitar band.
No obscure adjectives?
Chris: Really we started out and we were like we’ve got to have a label for this we called it chewed bubblegum pop.
Neil: We really only did that because you needed to put a genre in your bio on Facebook. And Mac DeMarco had like made up a funny one his was way better than ours. His was jizz jazz. And I thought that was really funny. So I was like, we'll make up a special one anyway. So it was chewed bubblegum pop for a while.
Last year, on From 2 to 3, you got enthusiastic comments from the producer Robbie's son! What were his comments?
Neil: Very danceable.
Chris: Yeah that's true! He was actually the entire reason we kept one track on the record because he liked it and we didn't and you know if a five year old likes something it's probably got something simple enough in it.
Like your inner child?
Neil: Yeah, we played it once live and it kind of bombed. We've never played it again.
Which was that?
Neil: Lips Like Yours.
Chris: Yeah. The third song off the record. We're working with Robbie again on a new record and Leo (the son) has been around a little bit and he just made his own album actually. So he's 6 years old and made it all himself on GarageBand.
Is it super danceable?
Chris: Very danceable!
On that note, how do your family react to the music? Do they listen to it? How do they feel about it? What’s their take?
Neil: They love it, I would say across the board, they're pretty big fans. They're just very proud parents. So, Chris's dad he’s probably the highest on the level of proud parents.
Chris: And my mom is probably the lowest.
Neil: Chris' dad literally comes to every single one of our shows ever. My grandma like stalks our Instagram and posts Instagram comments under everything.
Chris: Neil’s mum's Instagram handle is peachy mummy and daddy.
Neil: They're very proud, but in a very embarrassing sort of way. But at first they were all, I would say for the most part, very much like, ‘okay, you should go to university, stop this music stuff’. And they kept being like, ‘when are you going to go to school?’ And now we've, you know, quote, unquote, made it or whatever. And they're all like, ‘Oh, I'm so proud of you’. Like okay - fuck you!
You guys are long way from Vancouver now, in the UK, and off to Bonnaroo next. And you've always preferred the tour bus over the van, why is that?
Chris: Definitely.
Mikey: Being able to rest honestly, you have a bit more space to actually like hang out and you can sleep during the drive.
Neil: So you get a good night's sleep every night. Where as you have to wake up super early if you're in the van. Today, it was so hot in our van that we just had like the door wide open on the side while we were driving through London and random guys were like "Lads lads lads!"
Chris: But then our van door that was open almost hit another van so we were like okay this is super sketch.
Well it's not always this hot in London but you guys brought it with you. So you obviously all get along well, you're good friends , with all that time and space together are you still able to write songs? What's your process while on the road and how do you guys kind of move around each other in such a tight space for a long time?
Neil: We're good, we're pretty good. I mean, we step on each other's toes once in a while and, but we're such good friends. And I think we're all pretty good at communicating with each other that when we do piss each other off. Maybe we'll have a spat for, I don't know, a couple hours or something. But by the next day, we're always able to be like, ‘Hey, I'm sorry, I'm a dick’. ‘I'm a dick too!’ And then you hug it out. And you're good.
Chris: Yeah. And as far as writing goes, we just like leave that for when we're home. There's too much going on on the road already. And I think it's like a nice time to make a voice note or write something down inspirational that maybe you'll lean on later. But it's not really a space to be like, ‘Okay, guys, let's get to work after playing the show’.
When you are in that writing space, in the studio together, what's your goal for that time? What do you see music being for you? How do you approach it? And what do you really want to get out of it?
Neil: I think we would approach it the same way that we've always which is just, it sounds kind of stupid, but it's really just like making up make believe, messing around with some chords to find a chord progression that sounds good. Maybe you have an idea in your voice notes, on your phone or some sort of thing to write about and you start singing gibberish overtop of it and just go off the top of the head until you write something down that feels good. And then when we're in the studio, it's a matter of playing things over and over and over again, trying all these different things until you find the nugget of what's good in the song.
Chris: I think one thing we're always chasing is a feeling of being unanimously excited, and that's hard to hit and it's a moving target but, we felt that feeling over a bunch of our tracks and the few that we really felt good about ended up like doing well for us. We just want to feel that way when we're making it so that we feel centred about it.
Your sound has been described as your friend telling you a story.
Neil: For sure.
Which is great. I actually caught your gig last year up in the O2 Forum. It was great, and I had the ticket since lockdown. That was a great gig. It was really not what I was expecting, a lot of the stuff that happened. Like playing Sandstorm at the end. And I mean, you guys obviously are easygoing don't take yourselves too seriously but also make very intentional music. Where did that specific idea come from? And when you plan your live shows, whose voices come through, and what kind of experience do you want to make for people?
Neil: Why the sandstorm specifically?
Mikey: It's a fun song. We would just put it on and dance to it.
Chris: Yeah it's a bit of an inside joke thing.
Neil: Well we always play it and it's just one of those songs that with every crowd no matter where we'll always get down to sandstorm. It's such a good song that doesn't matter. People will be going rowdy for it.
Chris: And then on this tour, we're opening it with Raining Blood by Slayer. And we did that in North America in the autumn. That was our fifth member Dougal. He came up with that idea. And we've had so much fun doing it. But I think the desired effect that we get from it is half the crowd is like, ‘what's going on? This doesn't make sense. Mum, can you come pick me up?’ And then the other half is like, ‘oh my god Slayer’. So it's creating confusion, or something that you really weren't expecting is always something to aim for.
Neil: We always try to not take ourselves seriously. And do funny things to get a laugh out of people. It’s more fun.
That's something I like about a lot of your music, it doesn't take itself too seriously, but at the same time, it does convey a lot of emotions, a lot of storytelling, right. There's  the theme of drinking and drugs in Get Up Baby Go and,  Tommy's Party. Where did that theme end up coming from and through the music?
Neil: Mostly, just from my own experiences with alcohol issues. I started drinking, like everyone does when they're really young, 15 years old or whatever. And it's so like a part of culture here in the UK. I mean, everywhere in the world, obviously. Drinking is a huge part of our culture. And, my families are all a bunch of alcoholics. And they all had quit drinking in their early 20s. And then it was something that, over time, I just wanted to eventually quit, because I hated how I drank, which was getting blackout drunk, waking up being like, ‘Oh, what did I do that was so horrible’. And then being like, ‘I'm never drinking like that again’. And then like a couple of weeks later, doing the exact same thing over and over again. So that, especially in the last three records that we did, was always something that was super heavy on my mind. And then I guess it was the last record or two where I stopped drinking. I think maybe I'll stop writing about that so much now. Now we've written enough songs about be boozebag.
Well it's a good story and lesson to learn. On that tone, are there any other elements or easter eggs in your music that people might not pick up on in your albums or songs, anything you're trying to convey that sometimes get missed?
Chris: I think we always liked the idea of creating something that's really cohesive and there's little things to find in here and there. But in reality, it ends up being the collection of songs that we've written and it flows because we wrote them at the same time. We've never been super focused on any easter eggs or funny things that happened in the studio.
Neil: There are always like random funny things.
Chris: Yeah, like, one of our songs Puppy Grin. Our producer at the beginning was telling us like, ‘play the song stiff’ so we left in audio of him being like ‘stiff’ right before we dropped in. And people are still like, ‘what is that?’ What he’s saying, that’s for us, that’s not for you.
Mikey: I guess a few of the songs have like similar chord progressions, but they have different tempos or certain feelings or not in fuckboy blues.
Neil: Camilla, I’m at Home and we have a B-side tune called Denny's Garage. They're literally the exact same song it was just that the [different] lyrics. [Also] we had a song called Brian’s Song and then we found out that it was a movie called Brian’s Song. And then we changed the song and made it Brian’s Movie, stupid things like that.
Of course, there are some similarities on Figure 8 and Up Granville, all that bluesy kind of rhythm really pushing through the whole song, which I noticed is quite prevalent. The music tends to really follow the beat. The drums don't shy back in your music, was that was very intentional, how did that come?
Mikey: I think it just kind of comes naturally when we're jamming together. And, whenever you're bringing a song to the jam space are always kind of finding the right groove for that.
Neil: Songs can change a lot from when I write it to when we play them together.
Chris: And I think the thing about this band is we didn’t come in and have a meeting before we started being like, ‘Hey, guys, this is what we're going to sound like it's going to be jangle pop, and this vibe’, it was just we all played the way we did. And, it's one of those situations where the sum of the parts is greater than them individually, or whatever that thing is. But yeah, it just kind of comes out the way it does. And obviously, Mikey's a great drummer.
The album was written with the idea of music being better than friends. What would you say is the ideal listening experience for the last album?
Chris: Maybe like, alone crying in your bed? Hopeless and at the end of your rope?
Neil: For sure, right. Definitely. Headphones on music always just hits so much better with headphones and anything else? If you're super stoned at night and you're lying in bed? It's just like crazy how it gets intense. That's how I would do it.
That takes me back to lock-down listening to your music. Everything got pushed back of course. I remember during lockdown, you released different videos, especially teaching how to play the guitar for Tommy's Party, which I learnt. I really appreciate the way you guys engage with crowds, but also it's as your friend, not taking yourself too seriously. With that gap of lock down and then time not being able to tour. Do you feel like that kind of changed how you approach the tour after the long break?
Neil: I think the one thing that it did was it just made us really like, ‘Whoa, I can't believe that, that can get taken away so easily’. And just like our whole livelihood is based upon being able to play live shows. And so when that couldn't happen, it scared us a little bit. And then I think we were just so grateful to finally be on tour again. I don't know if it really changed our way that we look at performing live. I think it just made us appreciate it more, be like ‘wow, we can't take this for granted. This is like the coolest thing ever that we get to do’.
Chris: Definitely appreciation. And you know, we released our second record You and Your Friends in April, like two weeks after everything had shut down. And then we never got to play those songs. And we like finally were able to go on a tour again. And I think it was 2021 in September. And I remember we opened with one of the songs off You and Your Friends; Brian's Movie and the whole crowd saying it and according to like the Spotify numbers that song doesn't stream as much so we're like ‘people don't really like the song’ but then playing it was like, ‘oh no people are connecting with this’, but it almost was like we had to clue into that through the live show. You can’t experience that if it's just a number online.
I imagine that's a consistent change. You know, it must be such a difference writing it to actually singing it with people.
Neil: Big time.
Chris: Absolutely. It’s so instantly gratifying to play it on stage. You're in the long haul when you're recording it.
I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys do later with it. Final question. You guys are from Vancouver. Can you tell me a bit more about the music scene there and what are the venues that have been helping grassroots artists there. In general, what are your contemporaries?
Chris: It's probably pretty bleak for venues these days. But well actually as I say that -
Mikey: There is one good spot.
Chris: Yeah, so behind my house, I live in quite an industrial area and Mikey lives around there too.
Neil: It's like right next door to a chicken factory where they kill and slaughter chickens. So it smells horrible all summer long.
Chris: And there's this one guy who works in the film industry, his name's Mike. And he has a bunch of shops and basically realised that there were bands who needed a place to play and opened up his warehouse pretty much to throw shows in and it's great but he doesn't try to make a profit. He's literally just in it for helping the community out and his venue was called Green Auto. So I think before that it was looking a little bleak. And then the boys from Winona Forever were helping run that. There was a band called Winona Forever that we love in Vancouver. They’re a part of making that happen. But sometimes there’s certain things going on in the city. Like when we started there was a company called Trash City Productions and that to us represented the music scene, but then the kid who's running that stops doing it and we're like, ‘well where do you even go to shows anymore’ and then something like Green Auto pops up and it's you know, few and far between the people who really make the music scene happen but right now it feels like it's thriving in Vancouver
Music finds a way.
Chris: Yeah.
Neil: We do a lot of really shitty interviews so that was awesome.
Chris: Oh yeah, seriously great questions.
Neil: They’re mostly horrible. So that was great.