Peace have firmly cemented themselves as one of Britain’s best musical exports, with a plethora of great singles behind them and a solid début album, they have been taking the world by storm. Their non-stop touring schedule has taken them all over the world: to Europe, the USA, Australia and to more exotic places like Bangkok, and this only sparks the beginning for this Birmingham band.
I caught up with the band’s frontman, Harry Koisser, before their gig at Manchester’s Ritz last night (11/12/13), to chat about everything from touring to performing with Charli XCX and much, much more. Read on for some Christmas themed surprises.
Firstly, I’d like to say thanks for this interview. What’s one thing that we should all know about Peace that we might not know about you now?
That we were all very good friends before we started the band, I don’t know whether a lot of people know that, but maybe they do. We were all friends, so it kind of all came out of that, it wasn’t like we drew people in or whatever and Sam has 6 toes! That’s another one.
You’re nearing the end of this tour already, with only two more dates left after tonight. How has the tour been so far, any places that have stood out in particularly, and have you got any surprises in store for us tonight?
It’s been a great tour. All the shows have been amazing. London was special because it was really big for us, we’ve never done shows that big.
Shepherds Bush Empire is a great venue as well.
Yeah, we did two nights there and it was amazing. The whole tour’s been a highlight. Tonight we’re gonna play Last Christmas. I think it’s time for a Christmas song. We tried it out earlier on in the tour and then didn’t play it again, but we’re gonna do it tonight, so that should be cool.
I’m always interested to know what bands get up to during the day before a gig, what the process is. So I wanted to ask you just that. What do you get up to before a show and do you have any pre-show rituals?
I guess a lot of sitting around [laughs]. Everyone just kinda relaxes and doesn’t really do much. Doug and Sam like to go and look around the city, I (Harry) tend to just do press or not much else, just chill out. We have a little bit of a pre-show ritual of just warming up, but nothing special.
How do you fill your time while you’re on the road? What music have you been listening to? What TV shows have you been watching? Have you been reading any good books?
I go through different phases. Sometimes I just play games on my phone for a whole tour or watch a series of something. I’ve been listening to a lot of The Who on this tour, some David Bowie. It changes, a lot of different stuff.
You’ve played a lot of gigs and festivals this year, both have very different vibes to them. But do you prefer one to the other, playing smaller headline shows or big festivals?
They are totally different I guess. We kinda try and treat them the same way, so if we’re playing in a small venue, we try and do it like it’s a massive festival show. When we play a big stage, we try and make it feel like an intimate show, we’re always in the middle I guess of trying to make it our show.
I try and break down the forth wall more at a big show because in a small venue that’s already done for you. Try and get everywhere to feel like a Peace show, it’s not too extreme, it’s subtle.
I caught some of your set at Glastonbury – online, it was really great.
Oh cool. Yeah that was very nerve-wracking, I’d never done anything like that before, very weird.
You recently shared the stage with Charli XCX in New York, how did that come about?
We wanted to do a cover with someone because it was a special show for Burberry, with another British artist. She is an old friend of my girlfriend, we just got in touch through that and she wanted to do the same songs as us, then Burberry flew her out and we rehearsed it on the day. It was cool though, it was nice working with someone else, hadn’t really done that before. She’s a great singer, great writer as well.
A random band name related question. When are you most peaceful?
All the time, but usually if someone is arguing with me or angry at me, I’m then like the most peaceful person. I’m not a very confrontational person, so maybe in those situations.
You recently put out a lovely cover of Wham’s Last Christmas, any more Christmas covers on the agenda?
Next year, we’ll do one every year. Not sure what it’ll be yet. Maybe we’ll have to write a Christmas song, I don’t know. We’ve done one every year though, so who knows what it’ll be next year.
You were listed as part of the BBC’s Sound of 2013 as one of the band’s to watch this year. Next year’s list was just unveiled last week, have you had a chance to scan over the list yet? Is there anyone that is a clear front runner for you?
I have. I think Jungle are really good. Chloe Howl’s on it, isn’t she?
She’s good. Is Charli XCX on it?
She’s not, no.
She’s not! That’s a shame. She should be.
Everyone kind of over reacted to there wasn’t enough bands on there, but I don’t know whether that says there’s not enough good bands. It tends to be pretty accurate of what’s going to be, well fairly accurate, I don’t know, maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. I’m indifferent to it, but there’s some good stuff on there, definitely.
We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you’d like to share with us?
Obviously, Drenge. My mum got me on to Drenge because she came to Reading and went and saw them, and she was like “Drenge are amazing!”. A band called Superfood from Birmingham, they’re really good. A band from London called Real Lies, they’re really good. Jungle. Obviously, Charli XCX and she’s just released a new single. A DJ from Birmingham called Bunny, he’s a good house/techno DJ, who’s started producing his own stuff.
Do you have any tips for new bands starting out, any advice that you could give them?
Write a load of songs and then when you’re ready, expect to spend a year of working really hard, playing every show you can get, pushing your music on people because that’s what we did and it kinda worked. We had no industry connections and we were in Birmingham and there was no music industry interest there. We just said we would really push for a year and annoy people, and be like “This is my band, this is my band, listen to us” and gave people CD’s, and I guess that’s the only way unless you know people in the industry that you can say like, “hey, listen to my demo, sign me”. Just get a load of songs together and give yourself a year, and it should be alright. That’s it, I guess, from my experience.
It’s been a pretty crazy year for you guys, travelling the world, playing some of the biggest festivals around, you’re currently on your biggest headline tour to date, not to mention you also released your début album. What’s been your favourite highlight of this year?
I think once this tour is over, this tour will be the highlight of the year. But at the moment I still remember Reading because we’d been away for such a long time in other countries and then we came back to the UK for the first time in what felt like, it must have been six months. Reading and Leeds were like the really big shows, and we were kinda caught off a bit by it. That was a big, big moment. It was the first festival that we’d been to before as well, that we’d played, so it was a big moment.
What’s next for Peace?
We’re recording the new album at the moment and then we’re going to tour more next year. Just release another record, I guess.
A special thanks to Peace for this interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below.