Chester-based three piece Peaness chat to Getintothis’ Lauren Wise about their first single release in two years.
‘It’s a bit like Fyre Festival but on a political scale.’
This is how Rach, drummer of loveable soft-pop trio Peaness describes the unimaginable scale of what Brexit has become – a topic no one is able to stare directly at, yet one we can barely draw our eyes away from.
It’s also the subject matter for the band’s latest single release, titled Breakfast.
I managed to pin down Jess, Balla and Rach for a chat about their new release, how they feel to be playing this weekend’s 6 Music fringe festival closing party and the difference between European audiences and UK ones.
Getintothis: You’re on your way to Madrid as we speak! How are you feeling about playing Madrid Popfest?
Jess: ‘It’s our first time in Madrid, none of us have even been anyway so it should be good, those pop festival are always really really nice.’
Getintothis: What bands will you be making a beeline for?
Jess:‘Martha are headlining the day that we’re playing. I don’t think we’ve seen Martha before – we know them, we’ve been in the same vicinity but I don’t think we’ve caught a live show so that’ll be good.’
Getintothis: Am I right in thinking you’ve just played Paris and Amsterdam as well?
Jess: ‘We did just play Paris and Amsterdam, yeah, with a band called Kero Kero Bonito who were lovely. It was really good actually. Most of the time we were just in a car like travelling on a motorway, so it was either the motorway or our hotel room but the shows were really nice and their fans are really nice.
I think European people just seem to appreciate gigs a lot more, everyone was really into it and focused and clapping along and cheering – it was really good.’
Getintothis: I was going to ask, how do European gigs compare to UK ones?
Jess: ‘Sometimes you can play a show and people are only interested in the headline band or whatever so maybe people don’t turn up for the support band but it was full every night and everyone was focused and seemed like they were happy to be there and enjoying it.
You get treated really well as well by the venue staff. They seem to not be able to do enough for you. It is a bit bizarre to have hot food and tea and coffee, people knocking on like ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’
We felt very fancy.’
Getintothis: What do you make of the recent idea of not giving out set times for gigs – do you think it’s a good idea?
Jess: ‘Yeah I think so. Every band that was a headline band was a support band at some point.’
Getintothis: You’re playing the 6 Music Closing Party this weekend, how are you feeling about it?
Jess: ‘Yeah that’s going to be good!’
Getintothis: How important has gigging in Liverpool been to you over the years?
Jess: ‘It’s just round the corner for us so it’s always easy and good to play in Liverpool because it’s the closest major city to Chester and it’s got such a massive history of music.
And we all love The Beatles so you can’t help but love Liverpool. Liverpool has been really supportive as well – we’ve got in there with a few of the local promoters and everyone seems to be really supportive when we play there.
We’ve played quite a few venues now in Liverpool, maybe 10?’
Getintothis: Is there anyone you’re excited to see at the closing party?
Jess: ‘We wanted to get Kidsmoke on because they’re our friends – they’re just round the corner in Wrexham so they’re playing. We’ve seen them loads of times but I’ll always go and see them again.
I’m looking forward to seeing Seatbelts as well because I’ve heard really good things about them. They sound cool – I did check them out on Facebook so I’m looking forward to seeing them.’
Getintothis: Your new single Breakfast is quite politically loaded. How did the idea to create a song on Brexit come about?
Jess: ‘It’s subtly politically loaded. When [Brexit] first became a thing with the referendum and David Cameron we were like, let’s write a song about how stupid this is. We’ve had the song for a while and now that it’s actually upon us we thought maybe we should just put this out.
It’s not really a massive pop banger as such but it’s relatable to the time and the context and it’s relevant. Kind of gimmicky I suppose but it’s just how it goes really.
We were going to see if we could delay it because Brexit seems like it’s going to be delayed but it takes a lot of extra work to get it on Spotify and off Spotify and then on Spotify – it proved a bit more tricky than I thought so it’s coming out March 29 regardless of what happens with Brexit!
Getintothis: Was it intimidating to tackle such a monstrous subject?
Jess: ‘It’s horrible isn’t it. When we wrote it it was more of a frustration that it’s even a thing so I think if we wrote a song now it would be a lot more aggressive and a lot more politically fuelled and maybe more disses in there.
The track itself at the time, we wrote it was more kind of a heartbreak song of confusion. It was based on that and the not knowing of what’s going to happen and just seeing the whole idea as disappointing, rather than it being aggressive it’s more upsetting I’d say.
I’m so sick of it as well, everyday it’s on the news and something happened, and someone said this – it’s just so boring.’
Brexit is a right mess, my word. Will our new tune "Breakfast" come out on fri? or 12 April? or 30 June? or hopefully never tbh…
hey look the egg is in the shape of mainland Britain lolololol….bye… pic.twitter.com/PN4HM1Nmgp
— Peaness (@PeanessBand) March 26, 2019
Getintothis: You’ve taken a direct shot at Brexit with your new single, do you think there could be less apathy among people with regards to politics if more bands do the same?
Jess: I guess there are a bunch of bands that are directly talking about it like Idles are a band talking about how crap everything is at the moment.
I don’t know because it depends if people want to hear it or not really. We can write about these sorts of issues if they annoy us but sometimes we don’t want to sing about it after a while because it winds you up even more.
I don’t know if that’s what people want from music sometimes – or if they want a nice song as like an escapism from how crap everything is. A lot of our songs are frustration songs about how we’re feeling and the future but some of the newer tracks that are going to be on an album at some point are more heart-warming and about friendship and relationships and positive things rather than just another album’s worth of negative songs filled with a pop tune underneath.
I think a lot of bands are still talking about political issues now but you don’t want to get pigeon-holed as a political band because then you’re in that category then, like Rage Against The Machine or who is it, Billy Bragg? American Idiot, the Green Day album.
You get stuck then with that label.
When we write songs it just kind of happens. Brexit is a massive thing and can’t be ignored in our day to day conversations and because it’s such a big thing in our lives, in everyone’s lives, that you can’t really ignore it so a song just came from it.
It’s the same with a song we’ve got called Oh George as well, that was inspired by George Osborne when he did the budget years ago, that was loosely about that but it’s a break-up song – about George Osborne, well disguised as a break-up song.’
Getintothis: One of the lyrics of your new single is ‘I’m going to watch this all fall down’ – does that feel quite bittersweet considering you wrote the song when Brexit was in its infancy?
Balla: ‘Just a bit. Usually there’s a bit of a build up before that bit and it all essentially comes crashing back down again.
I get a bit emotional now actually when we perform that song with everything that’s going on at the moment. There’s so much uncertainty – it definitely comes through to me personally when we’re playing that song now.’
Getintothis: How do you think the song will be received considering Brexit completely divided everybody?
Balla: ‘It’s quite different I guess from anything else we’ve released – it’s a bit more mellow I think in comparison to some of the other songs we’ve done.
I mean Oh George was along the same kind of lines but it was a bit more upbeat so it was a bit harder to distinguish where the emotion was supposed to lie within that song but with this one it’s a bit more mellow and laid back.
I don’t know, I think it will probably be quite mixed, as with Brexit. I’m not really sure but I do think it will be quite mixed.’
Getintothis: What music inspired the song’s sound?
Balla: ‘I don’t really know – just trying to think. We do listen to a lot of Courtney Barnett and a lot of her songs are quite bittersweet as well. Musically for Breakfast, it all went in the same direction, that melancholy type of thing.’
Getintothis: How does the writing work between you? Does one person predominantly do the writing or is it a complete mixture?
Balla: ‘We all pretty much do it together. Jess will come up with an idea, or Rach or myself and we either bring it to practice or we’ll go round one of our houses and then it progresses from there.
It’ll either be a few chords or someone will have lyrics and we’ll come up with a melody to go with it. We pretty much do all the writing together. There might be the odd song one of us has predominantly written but everything comes together when we’re all together in the same room practicing.’
Getintothis: Do you think from now we can expect more politically-focused songs from Peaness or are you going to dip in and out?
Rach: ‘I guess it depends on what parliament are going to do – if they manage to pull themselves together and get Corbyn as Prime Minister you might have some positive songs from us. I guess it just depends on what happens.
We tend to write songs about things that are going on and things we talk about generally. I imagine with all the Brexit things there will be plenty more material to write about to be honest. We don’t go into a song with the intention to write about something it just kind of happens I guess. So yeah, we haven’t got an intention to do that but I imagine it’s probably going to happen.’
Getintothis: Are we going to lose you to politics completely? Will we see Peaness running in the next elections?
Rach: ‘You never know. Rach for PM! No, too busy with the band stuff, although that would be a funny political party.’
Getintothis: It could be a good marketing plan for the the album.
Rach: ‘That’s it! General election – that could be something.’
Getintothis: Did you guys sign the petition to revoke Article 50? What are your thoughts on it?
Rach: ‘Well funnily enough we were just talking about this this morning. We tried to go on the website but the website had crashed because of the popularity on there so we would have signed it but we haven’t yet. Hopefully it comes to fruition though and it doesn’t actually go ahead.’
Getintothis: Is that the best outcome you wish for, to do a U-turn and not leave the EU?
Rach: ‘It’s a difficult question that really because people have voted for it but we literally got lied to about it so I think it would be good to have a second referendum and get an idea – well it’s probably obvious we don’t really want it now – but I think a second referendum would be the best outcome as it stands at the moment because none of it makes any sense at the moment.
Brexit is just a thing that was done by David Cameron to get a bit of popularity for the Conservative party and he wasn’t actually expecting it to come through. It’s just a bit mad that it’s actually happening now and no one seems to know what that actually means.
No one thought it through before doing it. It’s a bit like Fyre Festival on a political scale. That’s what it feels like at the moment. I guess Fyre Festival should have never happened but we’ve all learnt a lesson from it now.’
Getintothis: Do you think if there was a second referendum it would undermine any future referendums?
Rach: ‘This is it. It’s difficult to say. Brexit won with only a very small majority which was changing day by day.
If it was a different date (the UK) might have voted remain so it’s not as clear cut as a lot of things have been I guess in the past. It’s difficult because we’re so split with it but the reason we are split is because people voted based on the pure lies.
Now we know they are lies there should be another referendum and then the government shouldn’t lie to us again. I think that would be the most ideal outcome, that the government learn a lesson not to lie to everybody. It’s complicated, I still don’t really understand it to be honest.’
Getintothis: I don’t think anyone else does either.
Rach: ‘No, I don’t think the people who’ve suggested it in the first place understand it. It’s absolute madness. Someone’s going to have to get the Evian water sorted aren’t they.’
Getintothis: Get the hurricane tents out – Brexit’s happening.
Rach: ‘Oh God, I hope that’s not the case.’
Getintothis: You’ve got a flight ahead of you now – what are you going to be listening to?
Rach: ‘Well my earphone port isn’t working on my phone at the moment so I’m just going to have to read a book unfortunately.’
Getintothis: What are you going to be reading?
Rach: ‘It’s a Jon Ronson book – The Men Who Stare At Goats, I’ve just started reading that. I really like Jon Ronson, he’s really interesting. He’s a bit like an author version of Louis Theroux.
At the moment the bands I’m listening to, I think Balla mentioned before, a lot of Courtney Barnett, really like them. I’ve been listening to a lot of The Beths recently as well so if my phone was working I’d listen to them – they’re really good.’
Peaness, Seatbelts, Kidsmoke, RongoRongo play BBC 6 Music Festival Fringe Closing Party: Jacaranda Phase One, Sunday March 31