James Buckwell from the BURN FM Music Team caught up with the lead singer of Peace, Harry Koisser, ahead of their first electrifying Birmingham hometown show in over a year. In the ice-cold dressing room of The Institute Library they talked about the new album, missing home and doing shots with Graham Norton. (Photo courtesy of Phil Smithies)
So what’s it like to be back in Birmingham after such a long time?
Emotional, very emotional. It’s been a really nice day though! I went down the Bullring and just did what I usually do when I’m here. We’ve been in Birmingham while we’ve been rehearsing so we were able to deal with the gushy side of coming home last week. It’s been really fun today and I think it will be a good night.
Do you still live in Birmingham since the band picked up a lot of success or have you moved?
No I live in London by myself at the moment. I might move back though – I’m getting bored of London.
Do you miss Birmingham quite a lot then?
Yeah, I really do. But then I think it’s more the scene and the memories and the people more than anything. I miss going out to The Rainbow every Friday and Saturday night and going to The Adam and Eve where you know everyone and everyone’s doing the same thing. I miss going to parties and stuff as well. That doesn’t exist anymore though because all of those people have moved to London! Being young – that’s what I miss the most.
Where would you say you generally have your best gigs on tour?
Always Birmingham. Birmingham’s like in a league of its own though because that’s where it all started. It’s a really special connection. London’s similar because we always play there. Any gigs in the North as well it always goes off! It goes off everywhere though, everywhere’s amazing.
Your new album’s called “Happy People” and is out next month. Where did the album title come from?
It’s the name of a track on the album and it just summed up the whole record I think. We knew from the moment we wrote the track that it was going to be such a good title.
Who did you get to produce the album this time around, and what was the recording process like?
Straight after “In Love” came out I went to Jim Abbiss – who produced it – and said “I’d love you to produce the next record, can I send you some demos?”. He said yes, and liked it. So we went straight into the recording studio with him in London at Sarm and Dean Street studios and we got about 14 tracks done.
Then we went in with Duncan Mills to produce three more tracks, which we did at Rockfield Studios in Wales. We just wanted to add another flavour to the record. We were like, “We’ve done this bit in London, let’s go to the countryside, lock ourselves away and see what happens. And we really loved the tracks we made. We ended up putting them on the Deluxe version of the album which has 18 tracks in total, including the 10 tracks on the regular album.
You played before Arctic Monkeys on the main stage at Reading Festival last year. With the festival is such a rite of passage for so many teenagers, how did it feel to be on the other side of that, playing to so many people?
It was a really weird one. I mean we did it the year before in the tent and that was the first time being on the other side of the mirror. It’s actually a lot more boring backstage than you always imagine it to be! And then going on the main stage was just amazing. I remember when we were first thinking of band names I was like, “Guys it’s got to look good on a background on the main stage at Reading.” That was the criteria of our band name, and when I saw the backdrop of that big silver peace sign I was just thinking we achieved that goal we set out when we started the band.
I can see you’re just finalising the setlist for tonight. Are there any songs you feel you always have to include in the setlist and what’s your favourite to play live?
I always like putting 1998 or Bloodshake in because you’re always unsure and then you put it in and everyone goes crazy. At the moment the new track we’re doing, “I’m a Girl”, which literally went online 3 days ago and already people know all the words and are going nuts for it. That’s kind of mad because usually a new song takes a little bit of time before people get into it, but this has just been instant. When we first played it in Liverpool a few days ago I was expecting it to be a bit of a dud but people went crazy!
How would you say life has changed for you guys since you released your first album?
Not hugely to be honest. I guess we’ve seen a lot more of the world and got to know each other a lot better. Really not a lot!
What’s the most surreal thing that’s happened to the band since you’ve formed a band and have you found out any of your idols are fans of the band?
Not really, none of my idols like us! But then my idols are like Jimmy Page and I just can’t see him coming up to me and saying, “Harry I’m a massive fan of your work, you must teach me how you do that!” Probably the most surreal thing was Doug, arm in arm with Graham Norton doing shots. Then Doug started on Jeremy Piven from Entourage. I was just there like “Why did we leave Kidderminster?”
What music are you listening to at the moment when you’re on the tour bus or at home?
I’ve been listening to a lot of the new Mystery Jets record, which isn’t out yet. The bassist from the Mystery Jets has been crashing at mine the last few months while they’ve been in the studio because I live really near there. I’ve been hearing all of their new album as they’ve been recording it, and it’s absolutely amazing.
You’ve been all around the world touring for the last couple of years. Are there any places you haven’t played yet that you’d really like to?
We haven’t played India or Africa yet, so they’re definitely two big ones. I want to go to New Zealand as well – just to see the Hobbits.
What are your plans for this summer and the rest of the year?
I think we’ll get this tour done, and then we’ll go away internationally for a bit maybe, including Australia. Then we’ll end up in festival season where we’ll have a load to do. After the festival season I imagine we’ll have a bit more international stuff. But I’d like to wrap it up with a UK tour at the end of the year and go big on that. I think this time round I’d like to get that point we did in 2013 at the end of the year and do that kind of tour, but take it further. I’d like to not just say “Alright, that’s enough for that album, let’s take a break”. I’d like to see what more we could do with that album and take it into the year after, and just put in a bit more. Just see where the album takes us really.
Peace’s new album “Happy People” is released on Monday February 9th and is available for pre-order now.