Peace at last
You haven’t heard of Peace? You will. The lads are coming straight outta Birmingham on a mission to rock like their role models.
‘K iss me if I’m wrong, but is your name Chris?” Not bad for a chat-up line, agrees Harry Koisser, the vocals/guitar frontman of Birmingham band Peace. It’s 10am and Koisser is yawning – he’s either tired or bored. Difficult to tell. Apparently, the chat-up line was so last night, as was sleep. Which is apt, seeing as Peace is the kind of band that organises its debut album cover shoot in a pub. You haven’t heard of Peace? You will.
Flashback several years, and the band – which also features Harry’s brother, Samuel (bass), Douglas Castle (guitar) and Dom Boyce (drums) – leave their respective hated jobs and start traipsing around Britain’s Midlands in search of glory. Actually, interjects Koisser, Peace don’t traipse – they pace, they prowl. Crikey.
“When we started,” he says, “we didn’t have a definite sense of what we wanted to do. It was the opposite – we had no ideas, no plans, no strategy, we were just taking it as it came. Staying as absent-minded as possible, yet doing as much as we could. We each knew how our individual band parts wanted to sound, and we found that was quite good for writing songs because there were no rules, no sticking to any guidelines. When you’re not trying to be something, then you can just do whatever you want to do.”
Peace - Lovesick
Behind the ambiguities, however, there is a band with a purpose. Clued in to a type or style of rock music that Harry classifies as “classic rock acts”, there is a sense that while the members of Peace might be bleary-eyed upstarts they are also hard-wired into a musical heritage that includes the likes of Koisser’s rock band heroes and – yes, young people of Ireland! – role models: The Who, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie.
“We wanted to do something that was rooted in a time when bands were exactly what they said they were – no nonsense, no pussyfooting. Bands such as The Who, Zeppelin, Bowie and a few others made statements, had longevity, and by definition a sense of timelessness. Ultimately, it’s the kind of music that works no matter what year or decade you listen to it.”
Peace might not be pioneers, but they are part of a growing scene in the UK’s Midlands; along with other Brum Beat notables such as Swim Deep (whose much anticipated debut album, Where the Heaven are We, is released at the end of this month), Peace aim to reconnect rock’n’roll with a few of its core concerns: the casual thrill of having youth on your side, sex, and not really caring about next day’s stinging hangover.
Peace, says Koisser, locked into the local Brummie scene, got to know a few venue promoters, bagged some support slots, and that was that. The band was fortunate, he affirms, that it started at a time when “there weren’t that many other music acts playing what we were doing. We never rushed anything, just allowed it to happen. And it feels like that period of time was groundwork for what we’re doing now. Then we caught the eye and ear of some record labels, and had an opportunity to engage with them.”
From that point onwards – mid-2011 – Peace knuckled down to an ongoing spate of gigging. Like a lucky charm, something clicked on the performance front; fan bonding corralled and multiplied via online social networking (the band posted a manifesto on its Facebook page: “music to grind, roll and smoke/music to f**k you in the heart”), and before you could make a peace sign, the riot police were called in.