It’s safe to say that 2020 has already been one hell of a year. While that’s not necessarily a positive sentiment for a lot of people, the members of Vancouver-based band Peach Pit have had an unforgettable year for all the right reasons, with their newest album You and Your Friends just having been released. Intense, fun and with the warm breeze of a day at the beach, the album makes a perfect addition to any quarantine playlist. And it’s true; Peach Pit is the type of band whose music is always (without fail) great, with their second full-length effort being no exception. To celebrate their special release, Laura Weingrill chats with lead vocalist Neil Smith about the early beginnings of his band, the importance of teeth and their plans for when we all finally get to leave our rooms again.
Let’s start right at the beginning – how did this band start off?
Well, Chris and I met in high school, but Peter and he actually go all the way back to kindergarten. The four of us didn’t really become friends though until we were in our early twenties. That’s when we all connected and actually became good pals.
Did you think you’d end up where you are now back then?
We were always hopeful, which is how you have to be when you start out trying to make music. But no, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come since playing in Chris’ dad’s basement 5 years ago.
What do you enjoy most about being a band? What do you dislike most?
Getting to tour all over the world and have fans in every city wanting to see you play is very surreal. That’s probably my favourite. My least favourite is being stuck in the van with Mikey when he starts to feel cooped up. He goes crazy sometimes and just starts playing his drum machine super loudly to annoy us. It sucks!
Looking back on your career so far, what is your favourite memory?
Probably playing our last big hometown show in Vancouver. It was on Halloween and at a big theatre that has always been on our bucket list to play. All of our family and friends were there and we dressed up in full KISS costumes. It was sick pretending to be Gene Simmons for a night.
How would you describe your band to someone who didn’t know you?
Sadboy guitar bangerz with too many soloz!
I read you like to describe your sound as “chewed bubblegum pop” – could you explain the meaning behind that?
We only said that because people always ask what kind of music we play, and because indie music steals from rock and pop and more downtempo stuff, it can be hard to pick which ‘genre’ you belong to.
What was the process of producing and creating your new album like?
The writing portion was pretty challenging. We spent a lot of time in our rehearsal space and I spent a ton of time at home alone trying to write songs last year. The recording of the record was the best though. We got to work with John Congleton [Franz Ferdinand, Lana Del Rey, Sigur Rós] and we hit it off immediately with him. He’s one of the funniest guys to have to hang around for weeks on end. I hope we can record another album with him in the future.
Do you follow a certain formula when you write your songs or is the process different every time?
Yes. Usually, I come up with either the song title or the first line of the song and write it down in my notebook. Then I try and come up with a chord progression that I like and add a melody and lyrics to it. Once the song is done being written, I bring it to band practice and the guys and I mess around with it until we’re happy with all the parts and the arrangement. The song generally changes a lot from when it’s just me at home to the full band playing it.
Why are teeth so central in your new album?
Because they’re highly underrated. How hard would eating be without them?!
What’s your favourite track of the album and why?
My favourite has changed a lot since we finished recording the album. But right now, it’s probably a two-way tie between ‘Brian’s Movie’ and ‘Your Teeth’. With ‘Brian’s Movie’, I really like that Chris is playing a 12-string guitar with a slide (he’s never done that before) and with ‘Your Teeth’, I just really love the melody; it’s kind of creepy but also sad and pretty.
What has been your most enjoyable song to write so far and why? What’s your favourite song to play?
‘Shampoo Bottles’ was written really fast (in like, two days) which is way shorter than normal. I love when a song just falls out of you super easy. And my favourite to play would be ‘Brian’s Movie’. I just can’t get enough of that 12-string.
How do you try to stand out of the crowd?
We just try to be ourselves as much as possible. I think people can sense when you’re being fake so you might as well avoid trying to be something that you are not. This would be my strongest piece of advice to any young bands starting out.
What are your plans for the future, after all this is finally over?
Well, once all this shit dies down we’ll be able to get our touring schedule back on track. We were so excited for this spring but unfortunately, staying at home is the most important thing we can do right now. In the meantime, we’ll just be on Instagram live as much as possible. Please tune in.
What does music mean to you?
It means everything to me. Besides my family and friends it’s the most important thing. Not only is it our livelihood, but it’s just our favourite way to spend our time. Being able to pick up a guitar and entertain myself while being stuck inside has been a huge blessing.
You and Your Friends is out now via all major streaming platforms.