INTERVIEW: Peony | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Sammy Jetter-Kell

Opening with their thunderous single Low Low Low, the debut album by local guitar gods Peony is anything but subtle. Driven by a pounding bass rumble and crashing drum rolls, Low Low Low is a serious statement of Royal Blood-inspired ferocious rock and screaming lyrics. A subtle aside about modern life this is not; this is an intentional piece of art focused on the noise and chaos of modern living.

We really tried not to be obvious with the record,” comments guitarist and vocalist William Rees (one half of the Peony duo which also includes percussionist Ryan Gray), “but when we got into the studio a lot of what is on the record poured out of us, so it’s potentially a lot more raw and spontaneous – both in terms of music, lyrics and singing than we originally intended.”

Supported by two additional singles – the Queens of the Stone age vibey Varmint Rifle, and the glam/funky guitar powered Man II Uomo – Vast Animals is a tour de force of the rock genre; mixing glam with 1970s sounding classic moments. It’s one heck of a debut.

We went into the studio with Chris McManus from Blank Studios and with his help we became more and more confident with the sounds and the songs as we went on. Before we knew it we’d recorded most of the songs in only a few takes and, not that we realised it at the time, but when we listened back Chris really helped us capture a sound and an energy that we’re really proud of. We were a little nervous about capturing our live sound onto a record, but we’re really happy with what we have.”

music shouldn’t be formulaic and perfect, it should be raw and real and full of emotion

A growing reputation for a diverse, almost jazz-style, approach to live music added extra thoughts to the recording: “When we play live we like to mix things up and change the textures of songs, this keeps us interested and makes sure that every live show is unique and that we have a certain energy and tight-rope style to playing live. Live music should be exciting and raw; but that does add challenges when it comes to recording – it’s almost like you’re recording the version of each song as they appear today, knowing that they might change tomorrow. But that’s part of the fun, music shouldn’t be formulaic and perfect, it should be raw and real and full of emotion.”

Real, raw and full of emotion are almost the perfect tag lines for Vast Animals – an album full of lyrics about rebelling and a genuine intention to reach for the artistic heavens.

Plans to get out and play live to tour the album are already in place (“though to be fair we’re not sure how well we’ll replicate the recordings as we’ll want to play the songs as if we were playing them for the first time”), as are thoughts about the next batch of songs (“we had such a good time with Chris and feel like we’re really developing as a band, so there’s ideas already developing”) but the immediate steps are to enjoy the moment, keep developing as musicians, and focus on the overall intent. “It’s great to have an album, it’s great to play live, but it’s maybe even better to enjoy the creative process with a friend and to share that with others. That’s the main aim. Everything else is a bonus.”

Peony release Vast Animals on 1st May.


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