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An Interview With Peach Pit At Oceans Calling

If you know me, you know I love Peach Pit. The indie rockers have been making the festival rounds this year and I was lucky enough to catch them at Oceans Calling earlier this month. The Vancouver based band composed of vocalist Neil Smith, guitarist Chris Vanderkooy, bassist Peter Wilton, and drummer Mikey Pascuzzi has been growing steadily since the release of their spectacular album From 2 to 3 last spring. Previously known for indie classics like “Shampoo Bottles” and “Black Licorice”, From 2 to 3 features an incredible story line and a unique sound that, though different from their upbeat indie rock hits, stays true to the “Peach Pit sound” all the same. I had the chance to sit down with them on a windy day backstage at Oceans Calling to chat with them about their growth, influences, and favorite places on the road. 

Hey y’all! It’s great to meet you!

Neil: Yes, great to meet you too. 

Alright, let’s get into it. I have always felt that you redefined the modern “indie genre”. Songs like “Alrighty Aphrodite”, “Shampoo Bottles”, and “Black Licorice” are always making their way onto Spotify’s “discover indie” playlists and it’s almost as if you guys serve as somewhat of a gateway into the indie scene. Was that your goal starting out? Have you noticed that at all?

Neil: Oh really? That was definitely not our goal. We always just wanted to play music that we really liked. When we first started playing as a band we were young, in our late teens and early twenties, and Mac Demarco was like the coolest person ever to us and we were just obsessed with his music. I saw him perform and I was like, “I want to be in a rock band like that. That’s so cool”. I had never seen a front man who was like a cool rock and roll guy, but also funny and goofy and didn’t take himself that seriously. I remember seeing him for the first time and I was like, “That’s amazing.” because I had never felt like I could be a cool rock and roll guy. It doesn’t really fit who I am as a person, so when I saw that I was like, “I think I could do something like that”. Basically, I just think we ripped off Mac Demarco. He was definitely a point of inspiration and I’ve never thought we redefined anything. 

Chris: I think a lot of the time that stuff is hindsight too. There’s no bands that ever came after us that we pointed to and were like, “Oh that just feels like what we’re doing”. 

Peter: That’s also hard for us to pinpoint too because we aren’t as involved in everyone’s local scenes, which is where you see that influence. 

Mikey: I will say I think one band that said we kind of inspired them was The Backseat Lovers. 

Neil: Oh yes! We were opening for them in Denver and we were talking about that.

Chris: Yeah they were like, “When we were starting our band we all four went and saw your show at this place called Kilby Court in Salt Lake City in 2018 and we were super stoked on it. It was kind of early days for us, so it was inspirational”. We have stories like that too from a band we love called The Districts and now we’re buds with them. There is definitely something special about seeing the chain of bands where it’s like, “Oh we love this band and they inspired us now we’re friends with them”. 

Neil: Yeah that is super cool because it’s just how music history works. You get inspired by bands that come before you and then you’re that band for somebody else. 

Okay next this is a question that I’ve always had. I’ve always found it intriguing that your song titles feature a lot of names and your lyrics feel as though you are recounting anecdotes about people and events in your lives? Is that actually the case or are they mostly made up? If they are fictional, how do you come up with them? 

Neil: Yes, they are all real. They are friends and family members of ours. All of the songs are also about real things. My favorite one is in the song “Black Licorice” where I talk about my friend, Chucky and then I talk about my sister, Ally later on in the song. Not long after we wrote that they met and fell in love and now they’re married and having a baby. It’s weird how the world works. 

That’s so sweet! Being in the music industry introduces you to so many different bands that you may not have found otherwise. What types of music do you guys listen to? Have any artists been on repeat for you lately?

Chris: I’ve been listening to a lot of Kurt Vile. We got to play with him last year and it was just an amazing show. We also saw Big Thief recently and it was like one of the best shows we have ever seen, so I’ve been listening to them a lot more since then.

Peter: Yeah Big Thief for sure. I’m a big fan of them now. 

Neil: We played with Alex G at a festival in Germany and he was really cool so I’ve been listening to him. Also Rodriguez passed away recently, so I’ve been listening to a lot of him too. 

I absolutely love Big Thief so that’s a great choice. Next, what do you feel is the most underrated song in your discography?

Neil: I have my personal favorites for sure. I don’t know if they’re incorrectly or correctly rated. A song of mine that I really love is “Your Teeth” off of our second album and I would say it’s probably one of the least listened to songs. We might never get to play it again, honestly, because it’s played so little. 

Peter: I feel like a song that we really love that doesn’t get listened to a whole lot is “Last Days of Lonesome” off of From 2 to 3. In the studio I felt like we were all really feeling that one. It’s really slow, but I think that that song is the only one on the album where the whole take is entirely live. 

Chris: Yeah, you’ve got to get lucky to record that way too. We were writing it early on and the way we were playing was sort of cueing the next part, so it was like, “Okay and then we build it up here, remember?”. When you record that way as you go you hear the instruments kind of discovering the song while you’re also discovering it. That was super special, but when we released it it wasn’t super loved.

Neil: Yeah, I don’t think we really expected that song to be super loved, though, because it’s a lot slower.

Chris: It definitely still holds a special place in our hearts. 

Is there a song that you feel defines your current sound as a band? Something that might form the base for your next round of releases, at least sonically?

Chris: No not really. Unfortunately we aren’t that planned out. At the end of the last record we didn’t know what the next one was going to sound like, though now we have a bit better of an idea. 

Neil: I think now we are trying to make an album that’s just really fun to play live. From 2 to 3 has some great live songs on it, but it also has a lot of downtempo tunes which don’t connect with people as well as our uptempo rock songs, so I think we are trying to have a few more on this next record that are banging and really fun to play live. 

Peter: Yeah, I think naturally we’ll always have a couple downtempos on the record, but yeah something fun to play live for sure. 

Okay I have two fun questions now. You have two minutes in a gas station before the bus leaves, what are you getting?

Peter: Salt and pepper jerky and blue gatorade.

Chris: Yeah, unless they have cucumber mint gatorade which is really good.

Neil: If they have pickled sausages, definitely getting those for sure. It’s like a hot dog in vinegar; it’s super good. 

Peter: Any salt and vinegar snack too.

So are you all savory people then?

Neil: Oh, no, I’ll get chocolate too. I got the weirdest thing yesterday, I think it was called a Mr.Goodbar. It was just like chocolate and peanuts, but it was good.

Peter: If you had asked me that question like five years ago I would have said a Koala Cone and a Redbull. That’s what I would get at every gas station, but I don’t do the crazy sugar loads anymore.

What’s a must stop attraction for you every time you tour? 

Chris: Jersey Mike’s for sure. 

Neil: We love to eat so it’s always food.

Peter: Yeah, there’s a lot of food chains in the states that we just don’t have in Canada so it’s exciting when we get to have them.

Chris: There’s actually this place in Cologne, Germany called Kebab Land that makes the list too. We went there by accident once and it was really good, so we went back the next time. Then recently we weren’t even playing in Cologne, but we were kind of driving near it and we were like, “We’ve got to go through there just to go to Kebab Land”. 

Neil: Yeah, that’s one of the places that we always have to go to, but in terms of American chains, Jersey Mike’s, Chick-fil-A, and Shake Shack. Shake Shack is really good. I love cheeseburgers and it’s like the best cheeseburger in the world. 

Okay last question. Who has been your favorite artist to share the stage with? 

Neil: The Backseat Lovers for sure is up there. Big Thief too. We opened for them recently and that was amazing. 

Chris: The Districts is one of my favorites. We did a tour with them and we’re big fans of them. One of their band members is working with us on this tour, so that’s been super fun to hang out with him. 

Neil: We also went on tour with Sunflower Bean and they were great. They were opening for us and they’re all super rad. Sunseeker too is another one. 

Chris: We’ve gotten lucky everytime we tour in that we always make good friends with the opening bands, so whoever we’ve been on tour with and bonded super well with is always a good hang. 

Alright, those are definitely some good names! Thank you guys for talking with me!

Neil: Absolutely, thanks Mae!

Peach Pit is currently finishing up their touring schedule for the year with a short run in New Zealand and Australia. Though there aren’t any new official tour dates next year, I’m pretty sure new music is on the horizon. Keep an eye out and don’t miss them!

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