Since making their London debut a year and half ago, every show that Peace have played in the capital has seen an increase in hype, expectation and demand for tickets. Having already kicked off the ‘Delicious’ tour with a sold out show at the Camden Barfly, Peace came back to London at the half way point of their jaunt around the UK and quickly sold out another show at The Lexington in Islington. With a cramped schedule and no means of adding an extra date they decided to perform a matinee show at the same venue and with this too quickly selling out ClashMusic decided to take ourselves along and see what it’s like to spend a gig filled day with the lads from Peace.
“How am I supposed to get this off my finger?” The band have only just tumbled out of their tour van and are already experiencing problems. At some point during the post-show celebrations in Bristol the night before guitarist Doug Castle had managed to get a ring several sizes too small for him wedged firmly on his finger. “It’s turned blue! Should I just spit on it?” As Doug eventually triumphs in his battle to get the ring off and allow blood to flow back into his digit, the rest of the band drag their gear up a couple of flights of stairs to get it into the venue. It turns out major label record deals do not equate to instant glamour.
Safely ensconced in the venue and with all their equipment unpacked and intact, the band immediately get themselves prepared for soundcheck, a routine that comes as second nature to four lads that have spent the majority of 2012 on the road. Instantly forming a rapport with the sound technician and delivering their requests in a clinical and concise manner (other than lead singer Harry Koisser asking for the backing vocals to be made “more angelic”), the band show that they’re already seasoned pro’s when it comes to getting their show on the road.
Post-soundcheck thoughts immediately turn to sustenance. Drummer Dom Boyce is initially apprehensive about eating before their London based management turn up, “I don’t like paying for stuff”, but at 2:57pm when Harry realises you can get two meals and free soft drinks for a tenner before 3 o’clock he immediately runs to round up the rest of the band and their tour manager to get their order in. Lunch is spent extolling the virtues of listening to ‘Heatwave’ by Boogie Nights when you first wake up, “A great way to start the day” says Harry, and as they munch the first groups of fans appear, staring at the band as they chew on their food. The matinee show is a 14+ event, giving Peace’s younger fans a rare opportunity to see them live and it’s one that has been taken up by a whole host of kids who’ve obviously bunked off school for the afternoon. White school shirts are matched with denim jackets and Doc Martens as the young teens awkwardly sit in the pub, obviously deliberating whether they should try and order an alcoholic drink or just head back outside and share cigarettes.
There’s other press commitments for the band to fulfil after they’ve eaten; Doug is asked to film a piece to camera in which he pretends to get upset that someone has set up a fake Twitter account in his name. Philip Seymour Hoffman he ain’t, as the presence of band mate Harry seems to turn up his corpsing dial to 11, but he resourcefully solves the problem of having to manufacture tears by splashing beer on his face. After this interlude it’s down to The Lexington’s cramped dressing room to go through the mysterious Peace pre-show warm up routine. No journalists allowed for this sacred event.
The matinee gig is a slightly strange affair. The Lexington is packed to the rafters and the crowd is as diverse as they come. There’s suited and booted professionals who have obviously left work a couple of hours early, the aforementioned school kids hanging off the barriers at the front, students who are already getting stuck into the beers and quite a few 20-something couples sat on the sofas near the bar sharing bottles of wine. Opening track ‘Ocean’s Eye’ has been given a longer psychedelic intro, the song taking longer to kick into the chorus that prompts the first flickers of recognition from the audience. Having just bemoaned his choice of stage attire, “This roll neck jumper is a sartorial disaster”, there are cheers when Harry plays the opening notes of ‘California Daze’, but it’s when the band drop ‘1998’, their take on Binary Finary’s trance track, that the crowd really awake from their mid-afternoon slumber. Two confetti cannons explode at the beginning of set closer ‘Bloodshake’ and just as the audience have found their dancing feet the band exit to the dressing room.
Back in the dressing room the band discuss their relentless touring schedule in what has been a busy breakout year. “We never get away from Peace” says bassist Sam, Harry’s elder Koisser sibling. “We had a day off on Sunday and we spent it having a curry together with our parents, tour manager and [photographer] Jonnie Craig. Even when we have days off we do everything together” says Doug. The latest tour has already claimed its first casualty, with their friend in charge of selling merchandise having to bow out early. “Our merch boy Terry had a bit of a breakdown at the end of the first week” explains Sam. “He drank two pints of whiskey and the next day he didn’t want to talk to anyone” adds Doug. Harry then points out that when he got arrested four days into the tour it probably didn’t help matters, before Sam protests “It sounds like we harassed Terry until he had a breakdown but we didn’t!”.
Countering Harry’s further claim that the band likes to alienate people, Doug insists that everyone is friends now and the boys go on to discuss the highlights of their year. “Doing a listen through of the first bit of the album we did” says Harry. “Hearing songs that we haven’t played live or recorded before, listening back it was like ‘Fuck we actually managed to do it’. I didn’t know if we actually could make something that sounded like an album.”
For Doug the highlight was living and working in Chapel Studios with Jim Abbiss. “It’s nice to be able to think about the songs a bit more. Walk downstairs and you’re in the studio, fiddle around with a fuzz pedal and that’s your morning!”
Sam recounts an earlier live show in Nottingham where a fan invasion left the band trapped on the stage for about 10 minutes as people “Just tried to touch us”, before Dom points out signing their deal was a highlight. “Signing to Columbia was pretty good. It still to this day feels like it was overlooked. There was never a point where I was like “Oh my god!” but it was cool. There was no build up like “You’ve got a week off then we’re going down to London to sign a record deal”. We didn’t even know we were doing it until we walked into the office and there was champagne set out.”
The chat is ended by an impromptu, Harry-led performance of Blur’s ‘Tender’ before the band kill the time between gigs by trying on new jackets, eating Domino’s and presenting their tour manager and childhood friend Harry ‘Bonefish’ with a new skateboard after “some bitch in Sheffield” jacked his old one. With Doug having proclaimed “Water’s boring” the band allow themselves a few drinks in the build up to their second performance, with Harry taking time out to prepare a special ‘Stage bottle’, roughly 60% rum and 40% ginger beer.
Non-members of the band are once again asked to leave the dressing room in the minutes before the evening performance, and when the band takes the stage they are greeted to a far more boisterous reception than the afternoon show. The Lexington seems to have managed to grow in the last couple of hours, with the room being packed to the rafters and the atmosphere charged from the very first note of the set. Each song begins and ends with huge cheers from the crowd and the fans seem to know every word and note of the set. The band play harder and looser, feeding off the crowd and extending the jam-style sections they’ve peppered the live versions of their songs with. This time when the cannons go off at the start of ‘Bloodshake’ the room is already bouncing.
Gathered together in an exultant dressing room full of well-wishers, plans are made for the rest of the evening. After a long day, with a big homecoming Halloween gig the evening after in Birmingham, some bands would give in to their tired bodies and head back to their hotel, but Peace, despite being scarred by more than one London night out when they’ve woken up late on other people’s floors, gather their gear up and head straight out on the town. Having toured almost continuously for the whole of 2012, the boys are confident they’ve perfected the balance between work, rest and play.
Photographs: Jerome Slesinski