You Don’t Walk Away from Peace // Interview with Harry Koisser
It’s been three years since Peace, a band that has been at the core of the indie scene for over five years now, released their last album, with their new album Kindness Is the New Rock and Roll set to be released in just a matter of days. Earlier this month I caught up with frontman Harry Koisser to talk about what to expect from the new album and the upcoming tour.
So the album comes out next month, what can people expect?
I think this time round there’s been a lot of extension. We’ve had an extension put on in the sort of capacity of our sound, it’s bigger and more powerful I feel – some people are telling me. And I kind of focused a bit more on songwriting. I think it’s all round more impactful really.
Can we expect anything that’s a bit more like 1998? Anything like that?
I mean, at one point we were going to do an album of entirely 1998s. But I’ve never been as inspired to go there as I was at the time. I just don’t want to force it. There’s no 1998 two unfortunately on there. But there’s moments, moments where we sort of dip into that sonic area, to be honest. Little bits and pieces.
So with the new album is there a general message or theme? Recent releases have been about mental health and empowerment – is there a general message to it?
Yeah, I think the album overall is sort of like positive sonic handbook for day to day life. But yeah it’s definitely something beneficial to have in the modern world. The album is called Kindness Is the New Rock and Roll so it definitely pushes the message of kindness and acceptance and good vibes you know. I’m a fuckin’ hippie so. We’re definitely pushing that.
Do you mind telling me a little bit about the album artwork? It seems you’ve strayed away from the big PEACE logo, is that for a specific reason?
Well the guy who does our artwork at the moment, basically on the last album we were bound to having the Peace symbol on it. We’re always restricted to doing that so this time round we started to mock up the design with that and then I was like ‘why don’t we think about other ways of doing it?’ because we can always come back to it so let’s think of some other ways of doing it. And then we were looking, obviously, at the dove as a symbol of peace. And then kind of thinking of ways to do it that won’t completely suck. When we were out in Woodstock recording the new album we looked at the original Woodstock festival poster and it had this thing with a dove with a guitar head and it had this painted poster thing. I was like, ‘this is really inspiring I wonder if we can make it modern and shoot it on a nice camera and change it up a bit and sort of represent kindness is the new rock and roll’. So we basically got a studio, a dove and painted a guitar and then we didn’t really know if it would be the album cover but we all really liked the image so we were like, yeah, let’s go with it. There’s always that thing of like, wait will people like it if it doesn’t have the peace symbol on it? But then I was like we are NOT short of peace symbols. There are plenty more times in this life to do that so let’s go with it.
You’re going on tour for the album, how are you feeling about that?
Yeah I’m excited, I think we’re really good at touring – without blowing our own trumpet too hard – but it’s just one of the things we specialise in. We’re a really good live band. Where we harness our most powerful incarnation is kind of on stage.
Any new songs on the album that you’re really excited to play live?
There’s a song called ‘Shotgun Hallelujah’, which is kind of like your trucker music. It’s very upbeat. It has a snare drum on every beat. I think it will work, it’s got a lot of energy so I’m really looking forward to playing that one.
You released a video for ‘From Under Liquid Glass’ a few months ago, have you filmed any more music videos or plan to film any more for the songs on the album?
Yeah I mean we’re making a music video at the moment for the song ‘You Don’t Walk Away From Love’, which we’ve just put up online, and that’s gonna be the next video we’re doing. We’re working on it with the same director who did the ‘From Under Liquid Glass’ video, Jonnie Craig. He’s one of my best friends. He’s incredibly – I call it crispiness. I call him crispy Craig. He’s very crispy. He’s very specific and knows what he wants and he will only shoot on film. It’s his way or the highway and I kind of like that. But a lot of the time I end up on the highway if that makes sense. We’re negotiating with him at the moment trying to get an idea together. He’s got an incredible vision and we should be shooting that next week.
What song would you say, off the new album or any other album, is your most vulnerable? A lot of people say From Under Liquid Glass because it’s about mental health.
Yeah that’s a very, very vulnerable song. I mean that’s a very obviously vulnerable song, that’s very on the surface. It’s exactly the same lyrically as it was when I was sat writing it. That’s definitely openly vulnerable but there’s a song we sometimes play on the setlist called ‘Scumbag’, which is a B side off our first album, and whenever we play that I just well up. It comes from a similar place but I put it into words differently back then; and that and ‘Float Forever’ are not as openly vulnerable. But I really well up when I play them and I have to try not to cry on stage because now that I’m older I can’t believe how vulnerable I was at the time. It’s like a time capsule of feeling like shit.
So has anything that’s happened in the news influenced your recent music?
Yeah I guess so. I mean we started writing the album in 2015, finished writing it in 2018 – wait what year is it now? We finished writing it in 2017. A lot went on in the world in between those periods of time. We started doing some charity shows for Help Refugees when the refugee crisis was really heating up. I kept on doing that until over a year later it’s still going on. And then there was obviously the big news like Trump and Brexit and the world sort of spinning out of control. And I think art and culture is really the biggest influence I feel for young people and old people alike and can really lead to change. It’s one of those times where there’s a call of duty for people in my position to open themselves up to sort of counteracting those things. And I’m a fucking hippie anyway so I’m doing it anyway, you know what I mean. I didn’t need convincing. But that was something that was happening and it’s gonna pop up everywhere. Obviously other people are feeling it too.
Yeah I saw there’s track called ‘Choose Love’ on the album, is that a reference to Help Refugees then?
It’s really strange because I hadn’t written a song called Choose Love but it was a lyric in the chorus. It was literally around the time that we started working with Help Refugees and they had these t-shirts with Choose Love written on it and I was like ‘shit it’s in the chorus of our song’, so we just juggled the song around and made Choose Love the actual feature of the song. It’s definitely a reference to helping them and it’s written on the t-shirts. I’ve got a box in my room of like 50 Choose Love t-shirts that I wear like everyday so yeah it’s definitely involved with that.
Have you discovered any specific bands that you’ve liked recently, any that may have influenced the album in any way?
I’m trying to think really. I try, when writing, not to vampire off too much off new music because there’s plenty of time for that when you’re older. It’s what some people do when they get like big stadium massive and get really into new bands and steal a load of shit. But I try to make it to be what my vision is still. There is a guy who plays piano called Matt Maltese and he’s writing some of my favourite new songs at the moment; he’s about to release a record. He’s got a song called ‘As The World Caves In’ and it’s really beautiful and I well up listening to it. He’s a great songwriter. There’s a band called whenyoung, as well, who are supporting us on tour and they’re from Ireland and the singer has one of the most incredible voices and their songs are great.
Their new album Kindness Is the New Rock and Roll is out May 4th. Catch them live when they embark on their UK tour next month, which includes a York date as they hit up Fibbers on May 11th.