Oh, the electricity of sharing your music and promoting an album. Going on the road for the first time can be either the most exciting time of your life or the most terrifying. How lucky for the Chicago-based crew, whose borderline brotherly behavior makes it probably easier to step into this new chapter of their lives, to travel together and expose themselves – minus the famous actor – and with a new sense of creativity full of musical amalgamation—pop, rock, psych rock, crazy solos, cheery harmonies, acoustic setups… you fucking name it. Post Animal really come into their own while on stage, feeding off the energy of the New York crowd that gather patiently to see the show.
When I Think of You In A Castle dropped this past April via Polyvinyl records and is the bands take on psych and pop rock. I caught up with the band of friends in the floral wallpaper plastered green room located at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, New York while Paul Cherry, who had been touring as support for Post Animal, was sound-checking.
Lola Pistola: I have been listening to the album and there is a lot going on in it. I have read in interviews that a lot of people say “ Oh you guys are a psych band,” “you guys sound like this band.” I don’t want to do that. I just want to see what the process was for this album. For me it sounds very conceptual. It sounds like there are two parts to it. There is a rock & roll part but there is also a very futuristic pop, modern side to it.
Dalton Allison: I think it just ended up that way. Half the songs were pop rock songs half the songs were more like a neo-psych kind of thing. So I think it just worked into a balance and then we found the songs that we thought were the most climactic. We picked the songs that were the most easy going at the beginning of the set.
I mean that makes a lot of sense it feels like that when you are listening to it.
Jake Hirshland: You’re the first person that brought up the Side A/side B thing. We kind of thought that more people would comment on that because it’s definitely – we definitely considered side B as entering the void, for lack of better imagery. It’s entering something that is a little bit more confusing. We have the more palatable stuff on side A and then you kind of take a more deep dive into our more psychedelic interests on Side B.
Dalton: I don’t think any one of us would call the record a concept record from its inception. I think the way it flows –
Jake: The way we put it together felt all very intentional.
It would be more conceptual if certain songs were grouped together but you managed to just let it flow.
Matt: Sort of a happy accident, but the fact that it actually flowed was kind of a relief.
Is there anything that affected good or bad, in production on tour? I get lots of inspiration from the places that I go from the bands that I see you know big stages, small stages…
Wesley Toledo: The surroundings we put ourselves in when we made the record definitely influenced the record cause we didn’t have completed songs when we went to the lake house to record. Mainly we just had the shells of songs. Our environment definitely affected the way we recorded it and how we kind of just arranged the songs, I think. It just subconsciously influenced the way we write.
Were you guys completely isolated or was it only band members?
Dalton: Only us. We recorded there, went back to Chicago, mixed it
Matt: We did do vocals in our house in Chicago. I think we had some extra people to record on some songs. But the instrumentation was done almost all of it on our own.
I feel like New York crowd is a very intense crowd—opinionated—they know they’re stuff. They see bands come and go – it’s a niche, you either have people that like you or people that don’t. You either have a crowd of people that bounce with you or people that don’t. How does it feel compared to Chicago? Do you feel very comfortable?
Wesley: Chicago, definitely just because it’s our home, like our crowd is there, they set themselves apart from everyone else, just because they’ve been with us the longest.
Matt: Partly, you feel like you know everyone even if you don’t—you’ve seen them in the crowd. Also New York gets better every time—it’s not just New York I feel like the bigger towns where there is a good music scene going on, you have to earn their trust. The first couple times we played here, we were supporting Wavves and they have their fans that love them but the crowd was kind of just stone cold watching us. They didn’t know what to think, you know? They could of very well enjoyed it.
There is this very specific rock & roll revival going on right now—what’s happening in New York is very punk rock, or 70’s 80’s sort of thing and you guys are bringing well built long compositions, very pop, very psych—but your own sound. Are you creating this sort of music because it’s the music you like or because you don’t want to be a part of something that is going on?
Matt: I think all of us have similar interests and we also listen to some interesting things individually and I think that we enjoy weird music, no air of pretension at all. I don’t know anything about classic music like I am so ignorant to that era—besides the biggest artists that everyone likes. I think we like testing ourselves. Sometimes on a technical scale we aren’t the most skilled. I think we like to play with melodies, we like to defy rules sometimes—I don’t want to play garage rock.
Wesley: We write what we want to hear.
You can totally tell because I feel like there is a lot of bands coming and going that are very of the moment. I feel like a lot of the bands I have been listening to lately, all sound the same. Do you think that affects you as musicians? When I am making music this is my personal mantra: I want to make something that will last forever – I want something that is not just for now.
Wesley: You want to make an impact with your music
Jake: I think we feel that way. I think that it comes off that way more in the vetting process, like at least with this record. We wrote a lot more music than what actually made the cut, but we kind of had songs we liked but they weren’t…
Matt: They didn’t seem right
Jake: They didn’t have that x-factor that made us all get goose-bumps, or laugh, or made us feel emotional. It’s really important for us to be meaningful.
Dalton: I think we like to take risks too, when we were first listening to the songs, when they were like intimate states, we were like either people are going to like it or hate it and that was kind of like the whole purpose. I would rather have someone hate it than kind of just be in the middle of that.
Wesley: Or that is fashionable.
I was touring once and I stopped in Atlanta and it turned out to be a big party. I woke up at 5 in the morning and none of my band-mates were there, except the guitar player and the drummer and also the local police! We were like stuck in that warehouse. Is there anything you’re looking for in a tour? Do you want to get stuck in a warehouse too? Or how do you guys do when you’re touring?
Matt: I get excited about what will potentially be a good show. Like tonight, I have been to Rough Trade long before our band was playing and I think the venue was just starting. And I have always wanted to play here, things like that, like god this venue is so sick.
Jake: We are a pretty tame type of band, our band passes out and we don’t get to party.
Wesley: I get what you’re saying. Every tour [it] would be fun to have one of those nights, whether it be a freaky night where something scary happens
Matt: We got lost in the middle of New Mexico. We went camping, that was like the very first show of our very first tour last year-
Why did you go camping?
Matt: We were just driving up New Mexico from Chicago so we had a long drive and we just wanted to camp out. And we never really spent time in the desert so we just did it and we went like exploring. We were so giddy about it. I had never been camping.
Wesley: Just looking at the moon.
Matt: Just lost. Walking up on a cliff and being like, “oh shit,” because it’s pitch black.
Dalton: We went to a closed campsite that was just closed, it wasn’t inhabited anymore and we had just picked up some weed from Colorado, because we are not used to things being like recreationally legal so we smoked that and ended up getting very paranoid.
Wesley: We thought the place was abandoned, but then these two identical cars drive up in the night on this campsite and they start honking at us.
Tour is the best! For sure. Are you guys all friends? How long have you guys known each other.
Dalton: Me and Matt grew up together.
Matt: We’ve known each other since we were 11.
Wesley: I met these guys after I graduated from college and then I came in, and then Javi came in a little bit after that.
Matt: We used to all live together at some point for a year.
In New York it’s very hard to have a band, with schedules, you have music practice, you have to have like 3 or 4 jobs, money to pay rent, and also find the right people to collaborate. I feel like collaboration with music is one of the greater things that sets a defining point in your production. Do you feel inspired by each other? What inspires you to make music in general? Not just as Post Animal, but what inspired you to make music?
Matt: We are a bunch of feelers, feely guys, we all have feelings and I think we are very much aware of our feelings. We let musical content come from that. Like Jake will sit at his house and play piano for 6 hours straight and record like 80 voice memos like, “Dude, I got a song.” I don’t know there are so many ways that that all happens. Maybe believe in fate. Definitely I think fate inspires that too.
That’s a nice thing to say!
Matt: Not that it’s not fun to jam with people, it just made me realize how much better chemistry we all have [together] than with anyone else.
Dalton: Usually with all the bands we’ve met there is usually one guy and he kind of like teaches everyone what he wants to play, whereas at least there is uniqueness with everyone jamming
Is it hard to write music right now that’s not in some way responding to the political climate?
Dalton: Now when we are writing we think about it a lot more.
Matt: Some sort of revolution, invasion of intellectual sort of thing.
Wesley: I think there is so much music and so many bands and artists are political and commenting on the climate of modern culture, but that being said, I don’t want to force that. If we can’t organically come up with something then we won’t do it, you know? We are not going to force something like that because it shouldn’t be forced.
Jake: The song should be built on the foundation of whatever the song means-
Matt: -to you, yeah.
Jake: For us, what we’ve written as of yet, none of it has been political and it is not something that any of us are just eager to slap over like another idea. We are open to it, but I think that if a song just felt like it needed to move in that direction then we would do it, we won’t just say something to say something.
Wesley: It would be fun to come up with an interesting take on how to talk about it.
I feel like being an individual band, individualism is very selfish and neglecting whatever is happening in society, it’s a very political thing to do as well. Not necessarily, you know, having words that are very out there. Like you guys were singing before “POD”. Who was singing POD before? Coming up the stairs. ‘Youth of the Nation’ was trying to be political, and that song sucks. You know what I mean.
Wesley: Hey! Oh man. If you think it sucks, that’s cool. Different opinion here. I totally know what you mean.
I did recognize that song and thought, ‘Who’s singing that?’
Wesley: My third grade self, there is still the third grader in me that still loves
Matt: Linkin Park, man
While you’ve been recording has there anything that has blown your mind?
Jake: All of it.