The members of Peace are mild-mannered men of action

They may describe themselves as reserved, but the guys in Vancouver’s Peace deliver wiry and sinister postpunk

When the Georgia Straight meets up with Peace vocalist-guitarist Dan Geddes and bassist Connor Mayer at a noisy Downtown Eastside sports bar, the pair are plunked down on some stools, sipping back brews, and trying to process the oddness of the joint. The NFL game on the big screens is a given. Servers, meanwhile, are walking around in matching tuxedo-print T-shirts and bushy Movember lip-wigs; a woman’s salty voice soars through the overhead speakers soliciting two-for-one smooches at the nearby cardboard kissing booth. The décor—a conflagration of brass banisters and Canucks memorabilia—seems a world away from the grungy practice space the band rents down the block. Even in its natural environment, though, Peace can seem out of place among its punky peers. For instance, while the quartet is thick as thieves with local scuzz-rock trio Nü Sensae—a connection that helped the act get signed to its pals’ stateside label, Suicide Squeeze—touring the U.S. together this fall highlighted how very different the units are as people and performers.

In + out

Dan Geddes sounds off on the things enquiring minds want to know:

On the Straight previously describing Geddes as Vancouver’s postpunk laureate: “I thought it was funny. Just being called a poet laureate feels funny when you’re just some dude walking around. It wasn’t bad.…It makes me sound so lofty. I’m really just some guy getting drunk in my house all the time.”

More on touring with decidedly more chaotic pals and labelmates Nü Sensae: “We felt overly sensitive. They’d just come and blast us away. I love them. It was great to see them, and there’s mutual respect. The label thing happened because we were friends. It’s more an outgrowth of our friendship.”

On releasing The World Is Too Much With Us through well-regarded Seattle imprint Suicide Squeeze: “When we recorded it, we had no plans. We had no label. There was a part of me that didn’t know if it would ever be released. I was very pleased and surprised when that happened. It was an improvement in our situation at the time.”

“We’re kind of four reserved guys,” Geddes, a literature and philosophy student at SFU, says of his band, which includes drummer Geoff Dembicki and guitarist Mike Willock. Among the act’s off-stage occupations are computer-science student (Mayer), environmental journalist (Dembicki), and cook (Willock). “Most of the people that came to the shows were Nü Sensae fans, and Nü Sensae are pretty balls-to-the-wall punk,” bookish bassist Mayer continued, referring to the disparity between Peace’s wiry but poetically delivered postpunk and the feral assault of its buddies.

Like Peace’s 2011 debut, My Face, its recently released The World Is Too Much With Us sports some snarlier attributes, but the eight-song affair starts with what is by far the band’s poppiest composition yet, the romantic “Your Hand in Mine”. The arrangement is a senses-flooding amalgam of acoustic strumming, simple but driving drum beats, and a soul-rattling bass groove, making for one of the stronger cuts in Peace’s catalogue. Vocally, Geddes stretches his cords beyond his usual speak-sing, delivering in a velvety baritone his discovery that the glory of life is about more than “moonlight, or money, or time”, ultimately admitting, “It’s your hand in mine.”

“I became more confident in my singing voice,” he explains. “When the band first started, I had been in bands for a long time and I could just never hear myself. I thought if I yelled all the time, then I’ll be able to hear myself, and that would be great. Then you get sick of yelling and having to be angry and mean all the time. There’s just so many more sonic possibilities.”

Interestingly, although the album kicks off with Peace’s most hummable number, it slowly morphs into something sinister. While the first section also contains jittery dance-rock cut “The Perp Walk” and the equally infectious “Kissed Dust”, the back half of the LP is a series of hypnotic and moody processions. For almost seven minutes, “Winterhouse” laces Willock’s temperamental noodlings around the steady paramilitary rattle of Dembicki’s snare drum, while the doomy “Free Time” sounds something like the Fall jamming on Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Happy House”. Six-string licks get even snakier on the cyclical album closer “Tattoo”, which has Geddes delivering a panicked mantra about painted skin. The songs that bookend the set may seem wildly divergent, but the intensifying sonic journey was intentional from the get-go.

“It was a conscious decision to make one side different; it’s almost like two different records,” Geddes notes. Fittingly, while many out there may experience the album digitally, the band sequenced The World Is Too Much With Us to be played on your turntable.

“I hoped people would listen to the whole thing. I suspected that they wouldn’t like the second side as much at first. That’s fine,” Geddes elaborates. “If I was going to give anyone advice, it would be to just listen to the first side until you get sick of it and you can’t remember what the second side sounds like, and flip it over.”

Considering The World Is Too Much With Us has only been out since October, fans haven’t quite had the chance to wear out either side of the vinyl release. But Peace is already knee-deep in planning album number three. With “Your Hand In Mine” as a turning point in the band’s career, Mayer and Geddes insinuate that the five songs completed so far may follow a similar tangent. Don’t expect to hear the tunes outside of a live show for at least a year, though. Peace already tried to talk to Suicide Squeeze owner David Dickenson about prepping a follow-up, but was promptly told to stick to supporting its current full-length for now.

“He was impressed,” Geddes says with a laugh, “but [he said] we need to relax for a while.” 

Peace plays the Astoria as part of Music Waste’s Winter Waste event on January 19.

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