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November 2018
Feature

Peace: "If you don't take risks, what can you take?"

The boys from Brum are back - make way for a new, bolder Peace.
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Published: 10:12 am, May 04, 2018Words: Jessica Goodman. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Peace: "If you don't take risks, what can you take?"

"You know, people say on your third album you either go electronic or go back to the start," Harry Koisser contemplates. "I'll let you decide which one we've done." It's been a long three years since Peace last released a record. The band might have been keeping themselves quiet for a while, but rest assured, their time away has done nothing to subdue their effervescent energy. If anything, it's the opposite. Encountering the group now is to be treated to a band at their most addictively excessive yet. "This is the most Peace moment of Peace since conceptualising Peace," Harry conveys. "It was a really, really Peace moment when we started and we were like, 'We're gonna be called Peace, and this is what we're gonna do...'" he enthuses. "This is kind of the most Peace moment since."

Readying to release a new record, tour venues across the UK, and headline festivals throughout the summer, it's all systems go for the Birmingham outfit – a momentum they always intended to hold on to. When touring for second album 'Happy People' started to wind down, the group were ready to dive headfirst into whatever came next. "We got a farmhouse in a clearing in a forest," Harry recalls. "We moved all of our stuff in the middle of the tour, and I went straight there the day after the tour finished, just to start afresh and start writing. I think we wanted to keep our foot on the gas somehow, or not end up disappearing for three years."

Peace: "If you don't take risks, what can you take?"
"This is the most Peace moment of Peace since conceptualising Peace"

While that intention didn't quite go to plan, Peace have always been a band to take every situation in their stride. "It's kind of what everyone wants to do at some point in time: 'Fuck it, I'm just going to go!'" Harry proclaims. "How many times have you said that to yourself?" he asks. "Well, I had." Describing the move from tour life to farmhouse as being "probably a little bit like running a hot glass under cold water," it was this stark contrast that led to the band starting anew. "If you don't take risks, what can you take?" Harry questions.

Retreating from the bright lights and wild nights of city life, these six months of self-imposed solitude led to the band writing their "most Peace" album to date. "It was really binary between super inspiring and super beautiful, waking up every morning and seeing the majesty of nature in full force, seeing the cold of winter like never before, and then, on the other hand, extremely isolating," Harry portrays. "I didn't see anyone for over six months." While the other members of the band dipped in and out of the farmhouse, Harry stayed, fully focused on improving his songwriting. "I went from probably having 150 friends to having 3," he laughs. "It was probably for the best, to be honest," he adds. "No one needs that many friends."

Peace: "If you don't take risks, what can you take?"
Peace: "If you don't take risks, what can you take?"
"It was extremely isolating; I didn't see anyone for over six months"

It was in the rural wilderness of Herefordshire that the band began to tap into the energy to create something new. "I think there's a clarity which comes from nature – even though I'm not writing about nature," Harry distils. "[The album] is not very... What's the word I'm looking for?" he pauses. "Let's go with elvish," he laughs. "It's not very elvish, like what you might think from being in the woods for that long. But there's definitely a clarity that comes with isolation and space that I think is in the music." With the songs written, the group returned to the city ready to bring their new creativity to life.

"The countryside was refreshing, and I loved it. Coming back to the city, that's when my head just fell apart," Harry expresses. "There were people and distractions, and parties and things going on and all the stuff which I'd escaped was there waiting, completely the same," he states. "I probably should've stayed in the countryside, to be honest." It was while adjusting back to city life that the group got in touch with esteemed producer Simone Felice. "We sent him the songs, and he was calling me like 'I don't know fucking anything about your band, but I love this music, and I want to make it happen,'" Harry enthuses. And so the group set about relocating again, this time to spend a month in the spirited setting of Woodstock.

"Coming back to the city, that's when my head fell apart"

"Woodstock is one of the first things that you associate with peace and with all of that imagery and everything that it stands for. It's the kind of home of it and the centre of it in a certain way," Harry illustrates. "When [Simone] got in touch and was like, 'Do you want to come and do some music?' We were like, 'This is correct,'" he laughs. Packing up for four weeks in New York state might've been one of the band's most impractical decisions yet, and it might've taken them months of planning to get there, but in the latter half of 2017 it finally paid off, and the group found themselves arriving in a new spiritual home. "It's beautiful. It's kind of..." Harry trails off, looking for the right way to describe it. "Piney?" he offers, laughing. "There were lots of deer, and snakes, and skunks, and stars, and this big massive river, and mountains. It's the real deal."

"It's a real magical place," he continues. "There's some kind of sacred energy there, is I believe what people say – but I truly believe that now. After going there, you experience the magic; you inhale it, you taste it." It wasn't just the setting that offered a sense of magic, but something the band rediscovered within themselves. "We went back to having everyone in the room together, which was interesting and effortless and fun," Harry expresses. "Just the four of us recording all at the same time, then adding bits and bobs." Under the guidance of producer Simone Felice, the band set out "to unlock a really, really deep and dense power in the music."

"We'd sit and play the songs by a campfire," Harry reminisces. "Simone would take me into the woods with a guitar and say 'play me the song,' and he'd be like, 'What do these lyrics mean? Why've you got that there? Take that lyric out'. It was the full experience." Unlocking their capabilities while being rooted in history was the perfect backdrop for Peace to give shape to their third album. As inspiring and reenergising as their setting was, it wasn't all plain sailing. Two weeks into their recording time, drummer Dominic Boyce was injured in a road accident.

"He was out riding his bike, and he got hit by a truck," Harry recalls. "It was the worst thing that could've happened at that point." Facing half an album left to record with a broken arm, any other band might've faltered, but the Birmingham outfit simply learned to adapt. "In very classic Peace fashion, no one flinched," Harry laughs. "Simone was like, 'You've got to work with your limitations and let the limitations breed their own sort of form of creativity,'" he states. "Which we did. Half the album the drumming's a lot more simple than the other half," he grins, "but I quite like that."

Peace: "If you don't take risks, what can you take?"
"We got a bit carried away; I will not apologise for it"

Even when working with limitations, 'Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll' showcases Peace at their boldest, most thrilling, and most outright ridiculous yet. Never have Peace been more, well, Peace, than on the album's title-track. Clocking in at a little over two and a half minutes, the song takes in a one-handed drum performance, a stadium-sized rock chorus, a choir, and vocals from Bruce Springsteen backing singer Cindy Mizelle. "I love 'Bat Out Of Hell' by Meat Loaf," Harry states, "but it's ten minutes long," he gripes. "I thought if we could do that theatre in two and a half minutes, we're going to be really cooking."

Described as "the 'everything we're about' track," 'Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll' is a theatrical high point on an album where everything is turned up to eleven. "I think it's an energy that we've always withheld," Harry contemplates. "On record, we'd always sort of attempt to be a little more refined. Not unleashing 100%," he states. "I think the thing that Simone sort of pointed out was, 'Let Dom play the drums as loud as he fucking wants. In fact, tell him to play them harder. Get Sam to really unleash all the funk he wants on the bass, all the grooves, whatever he wants to do, let him do it. Let Doug do the biggest guitar sounds he can do'." So that's exactly what the band did.

Of course, it's not all high-octane thrills. The album also showcases the band at their most open and emotionally candid yet. "I think the ease of doing that was probably a product of the isolation that I put myself through before," Harry reflects. "I've seen so many great bands do okay stuff worried about what their friends would think of them," he expresses. "But then when you remove having any mates from the situation, you're completely open to sing about whatever you want," he laughs.

Peace: "If you don't take risks, what can you take?"
Peace: "If you don't take risks, what can you take?"
It was the most emotional moment of my life, and I've been through some shit

From the strut-in-your-stride swagger of opening track 'Power', through the strident determination of 'Magnificent', to the resplendent manifesto that is 'Choose Love', and everything in between, no holds are barred, not even for a moment. "We got a bit carried away," Harry laughs. "I have no justification for that, but I will not apologise for it either." Not that anyone's been complaining. Quite the opposite, in fact. Excitement surrounding the band on the run-up to their new album release has been just as vibrant as ever. As for the band, they've never been prouder.

"It was full on the most emotional moment I think of my life so far," Harry comments of hearing the record for the first time, "and I've been through some shit," he laughs. Not ones to do anything by half, the band first listened to the album in their studio control room, with the lights turned down low, surrounded by management and friends who'd flown to them especially for the occasion. "I think there was a tear or two," Harry recalls. "There definitely was. I feel emotional just thinking about it."

With the album release now just around the corner, Peace are ready to take the world by storm, sharing music they poured their hearts into along with a message they truly believe in. "'Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll' is just what I've seen happening," Harry comments. "It really is that simple. It is fucking so basic, but so true." Born out of the shared belief that you can make the world a better place by just being a little kinder, with the release of their third album, that's exactly what Peace are hoping to present. "There's these aquarian tectonics at play, and this shift in the world," Harry details. "There's less of this rock and roll bravado. People are waking up a little bit and being like, 'Hey, I'm gonna treat people a little bit better. I'm gonna do things to make everything a little bit better.'"

That's exactly what Peace are all about. Spreading a little bit of positivity and offering a little sense of relatability through the music they create, their only hope is that maybe, just maybe, in their own way they can make their own world a little bit of a better place. "My housemate said to me, 'Shit, kindness actually is the new rock and roll,'" Harry beams. "I was like, 'Dude; I think it actually might be.'" As the band themselves sing on 'Choose Love', "any idiot can sing it in a song, so sing it." If all it takes to make the world a little better is a little kindness, then what are you waiting for?

Taken from the May 2018 issue of Dork, order your copy below. Peace’s album ‘Kindness Is The new Rock And Roll’ is out now.

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