Bharu — B Haru, not like the last syllable of Subaru, but B. Haru of @Peace is a gentleman. You can read how eloquently he expresses (between the lines of course) for any hater on their debut album, Plutonian Noise Symphony, to go fuck themselves. We must vote because we live in a genius invention called democracy, and if you chose to ignore the fact, Australia and NZ have it so good here, down-under then you’re a moron says Tom. Embarking on the Australian leg of the Plutonian Noise Symphony Tour, Grindin’ gets close to one of New Zealand’s prime musical exports, well, close enough to know what kind of country they’d run if @Peace were like National or Labour or something.
Who are you guys? In your words.
Tom: Five artists who’ve come together to make something that none of us could individually.
Brandon: I’m the guy that plays keys in the band but also drums and sings a little.
Lui, lyrically, how do you feel you have progressed on this album compared to the ‘Girl Songs’ EP?
I don’t really know. I suppose the time between the two projects has been good for my writing but it’s hard to say. Some days I’ll exceed what I thought I was capable of others my writing will be trash. I guess all you can do is keep hungry for that feeling of achievement and try and ignore the voice in your head telling you to kill yourself, haha.
Lui, what’s the feeling like for you when you’re performing?
Performing for me is like a reward. We spend so much time working on the music behind closed doors so it’s a great feeling when we get to share it with people even if it is just for that brief amount of time.
Tom, does it annoy you that people scream like you’re pop star when you come on stage?
Yeah, it does. I’m enough of a wreck as it is without people yelling my name like a wrestler. But maybe people think I like hearing that. I’m sure they have good intentions and I respect their admiration n whatever. But yeah, the girls still are screaming Brandon’s name though.
Who would make you scream like a girl if you saw them live?
Tom: D’Angelo. Just got my tickets for his Melbourne show. Bout to throw my panties at that dude.
Truent, what is it about the LA style of music that gets you?
I think it’s not so much the music itself, more the unified scene of like minded, (mostly) forward thinking artists that share the common goal of innovating their craft.
Dicky, how long have you been playing the saxophone?
Six years too long. But not long enough to know anything about it.
Who is your favourite saxophonist and why?
Charlie Parker he had the most skills.
Brandon, what BPM do you Twerk to? (I’ve heard when one stands behind you while you’re playing live, it is something to behold.)
I don’t often twerk, but if I did it’d probably be to 91bpm. More of a side-to-side booty groove with much more focus on upper body movement.
What’s your favourite part about The Plutonian Noise Symphony?
Tom: I think hanging out with your friends at a park on a sunny day sharing jellybeans, while all agreeing with each other is lame as fuck. I like intense arguments about how loud the snare should be in the mix. I like to be challenged. I think the next step after a friendship is a partnership. I think that’s what we got with this shit. I think that’s the whole point of existing on the same planet. We just made a baby together.
Why the fuck is it so crucial to you, Tom, that people vote?
Democracy has got to be one of the most important inventions of all time. Everybody has an equal opportunity to choose the leader of the tribe. That’s pretty cool. And if you say there are no good leaders to choose from, you’re a fucking moron. You have the right to be one of those leaders if you really give that much of a fuck. This is the first world bruv. It’s not like we live in some dictatorship or some kind of martial law. We got it good down here. (in OZ and NZ) You can actually change the future of the country. Seems pretty simple to me.
Do the rest of you feel the same?
Bharu: I feel that young people in particular will slowly realise how lucky we are and perhaps already have at the fact that YOU and everyone else has the opportunity to influence politics on a grand scale. Antiquity is a nasty relic that has continued to haunt future generations on the way we are told to think about Life, and how our actions influence the environment we share, live in, and continue to maintain.
Lui, when was the first time you envisioned knocking someone out because of a social injustice?
I dunno if it was a social injustice but there was a Japanese kid in our class when I was like five and this other kid was saying ‘easy peasy Japanesey’ to get under his skin, so I made him cry.
Tom, when was the first time you envisioned knocking someone out because of a social injustice?
Haha, lot of times I’ve been arrested I’ve felt like battening the police officer in the face. (Lot of times I was guilty though). But yeah, the other night the police were harassing us and started questioning my homie Tonga, who’s the most innocent dude I know. Felt pretty violent about that. But I don’t really see a need for more violence.
Brandon, when was the first time you envisioned knocking someone out because of a social injustice?
Not sure if this is the first time but I remember when I was young there were these kids mocking a friend of mine because he was Asian. The same Asian kid that turned out to be one of the best violinists I know and in the world. Karma got a punch in there too.
Truent, when was the first time you envisioned knocking someone out because of a social injustice?
I don’t think I could knock someone out.
If @Peace was a political party, what would be your five main policies?
Tom: Food, clothes, shelter, health care and education. FOR ALL. (And then we’d probably end up not meeting any of those policies and kill ourselves)
Brandon: Education, health care, technology, space travel and spiritual awareness.
Where did the inspiration to use the voice machine live come from?
Tom: I’d seen Kimbra use it but didn’t really know what it was. Then I stumbled upon it on the net and had to have it. It’s really changed everything live for me. So much you can do with it.
What were you trying to achieve with @Peace and The Plutonian Noise Symphony?
Tom: Lyrically, we were trying to achieve the same kind of thing a philosopher would. We were trying to leave room for it to be questioned. A sort of socratic method. Is God dead? Is there life outside of our solar system? Is existence fundamentally meaningless? If so, is it worth living despite this? Etc etc.
Technically, we wanted to challenge all the formulas that we’d developed over the years. We wanted to break from the same tempos, the same time signatures, the same arrangements, the same soul influenced melodies we’d grown accustomed to. We wanted to do something new. We wanted this album to stand out from everything else we’d made and ideally from anything ever made.
Brandon: We were trying to achieve an album that was sonically jaw dropping from the first two EPs. We’ve evolved from a quintessential rap group if you will, that are primarily composed of beats and rhymes to a band that makes fully developed songs. Supporting lyrical content that isn’t emphasized enough in our field and many other fields of music. We’ve used more live instruments, vocal harmonies and effects processing in this album than the previous EP’s combined.
Do you feel like you’re isolating fans who loved ‘Girls Songs’ with the album, considering the album is a more official representation of a group (or logically would be)?
Tom: I thought that at first. But now I think that maybe I underestimated our fan base. I think most of our fans come to us for change. They expect it of us. The album was the #3 highest selling album in the country. Pretty good for an album with an eight minute medley about singularity on it. Maybe we were too up ourselves to think that this album was over people’s heads.
Brandon: Not at all, if anything our fans are isolating themselves from this album and would prefer to remember who we were and what we sounded like on the “Girl Songs” record. Fair enough I suppose due to the nature of this new album, it can be quite overwhelming I imagine or just plain “WTF?” However, the new album represents us as individual members and as a band much more accurately than I or we could have ever imagined.
Tom, what are the affects of being a musician’s son that you’ve noticed in yourself as you’ve gone along in your career?
I think one thing is that I treat this as a ‘career’ first and foremost. Not a passion. My Mum held me in her arms when I was a baby and told me I wouldn’t be a musician. Anything but a musician she said. Cause she was supporting my Dad’s broke ass and didn’t want to see me fall into the same hole. So I always swore I’d never leech off anyone if I was gonna chose to take the same road. That’s not to say that my Pops didn’t teach me pretty much everything I know about music.
Tom, lyrically who do you classify as ‘good’ and why?
Andre 3000. You can barely tell he’s rapping. It’s like there’s no filter between his thoughts and his voice. His stuff is like a transcription of his subconscious. (That just so happens to fit precisely into the pocket with perfect rhythm, cadence and harmony. If we’re getting technical) It’s hard enough to put a sentence together that effortlessly. He’s totally lost the fight with his ego. Fearless to say whatever he’s thinking. I think as soon as there’s one thing you don’t want to say, you fuck it up for all the rest of your thoughts. Like if it was a ‘stream’ of consciousness, imagine you had one hippo that didn’t wanna go down.
Lui, lyrically who do you classify as ‘good’ and why?
What Tom said
Brandon, who do you classify as ‘good’ lyrically and why?
Dwele, Chino Moreno, Serj Tankian to name a few. There’s always something if not everything I can relate to with the messages and stories in the lyrics of such artists that inspires me to not only create music, but appreciate it.
Dicky who do you classify as ‘good’ lyrically and why?
I always liked Madlib/Quas. He isn’t as good technically as say Kendrick. But I like the free jazz style of his verses. Maybe I like him more rhythmically? I dunno I tend to like rapper producers because they choose nice beats and always seem to be nice rhythmically. Dilla is perfect example of this.
Truent, who do you classify as ‘good’ lyrically and why?
Dandruff Dicky, Arthur Lee from Love, Damo Suzuki from Can, Zeroh, Shabazz Palaces, Gonjasufi. I’m not very good at explaining why I like things so I’d just have to recommend whoever is reading to check them out.
What do you guys like to do after playing a show?
Tom: These days I like to go chill with the audience for a little bit. Show some appreciation. I think that’s important. At first that idea was daunting, letting the fans see me without my costume on. But now I think it’s necessary. The fact that a room full of strangers are appreciating a work we created in our bedrooms, that’s crazy. I’d be an asshole not to thank them for that. So yeah, I like to do that first. Then once my anxiety truly kicks in, I like to get the fuck away from the venue and back to the hotel. With the rider.
Dicky: Run and frolic!
Brandon: I like to mingle with the fans, particularly female fans that enjoyed my performance. But in all seriousness I support and agree with Tom’s answer to this question. People love it when they get to talk with the artists after the show. Share common interests, make jokes, talk about the show while sinking a few beersies. I definitely appreciate those people, fans or not who devote their time to us and make and effort.
Truent: I like to get high and listen to nice music in a quiet place for the rest of the night.
What’s been the best feedback about the PNS so far?
Tom: A reviewer who rubbished our last work gave this album a really good review. He’s a real asshole and overly critical of New Zealand musicians. I was terrified about what he might say about this album. Even while we were writing it I made sure to leave nothing for him to pull apart. In hindsight I needed him but I’ll never tell him that.
Dicky: Some kid said they were losing our minds after a show at Homegrown festival in Wellington.
Brandon: Getting constructive criticsm about us as a band and the new album from Simon Sweetman. That one hit home with a lot of us I think.
What’s next for @Peace?
Tom: We gotta make an album that’s more adventurous than this last one. No 4/4. No English.
Dicky: Make more music, explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilisations, boldly go where no man has gone before.
Brandon: Make some babies, produce a new album, tour the world and eventually initiate a space exploration program, accessible to all walks of life.
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Tom: Having a mental breakdown then quitting.
Dicky: Boldly going where no man has gone before.
Brandon: Giving up then subconsciously continuing to do what you do.
Truent: Waking up before 6am.
Interview by Aleyna Martinez