Halfway through a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, PS I Love You’s tour van is pulled over by the U.S. border patrol. “We’re really close to the Mexican border, so there’s random highway checks,” explains singer-guitarist Paul Saulnier. “There’s drug dogs sniffing all over.”
Luckily, the duo is soon on the road again. “We don’t have any drugs. We’re safe,” reveals the frontman.
A lack of mind-altering substances aside, Saulnier and drummer Benjamin Nelson are living out every teenager’s rock ’n’ roll fantasy. Last fall, the fuzz-loving bandmates released their debut album, Meet Me at the Muster Station, which quickly became a favourite among bloggers and tastemakers everywhere. Today, instead of spending the winter enduring the cold in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, they’re touring across North America with Toronto pop sensation Diamond Rings.
“We’re on the road on the way to San Diego. We’re passing through some crazy mountain ranges,” Saulnier says of his surroundings. “The blue sky is kind of relentless. We’re all getting sunburns in the car.”
PS I Love You has come a long way since 2006, when Saulnier founded the project as an experimental solo vehicle. His music flourished with the addition of Nelson, whose driving beats helped anchor the songwriter’s searing guitar freakouts, droning pedal bass, and strangled vocals. The pair’s scorching indie-rock attack, Saulnier explains, draws from both heavy metal and electronica.
“In my world, Metallica and Daft Punk are in the same realm,” he says. “I’ve never seen Metallica in concert, but I’ve seen Daft Punk, and it was the most epic, insane concert I’ve ever been to. And they are really heavy. You hear some songs like, for example, ”˜Robot Rock’, and it’s basically metal.”
You can hear these influences on the blistering “Get Over”, which pairs speaker-frying guitar riffs with a booty-shaking disco pulse and electronic handclaps. “Breadends” is similarly ferocious, ending with a face-melting talk-box guitar solo that Saulnier says was inspired by Daft Punk’s “Digital Love”. Best of all is “Facelove”, which devotes most of its two-and-a-half-minute run time to a harmonized guitar jam complete with lightning-fast solos. “People like to talk about how I’m a crazy shredder, but when I do finger-tapping solos, they’re actually pretty simple and repetitive,” Saulnier says.
Although he’s humble about his guitar heroics, the songwriter knows just how powerful PS I Love You’s stripped-down assault can be. “For just two people, we try to bring it as hard as we can and hopefully put on a really intense show,” he says.
When the band rolls into town with Diamond Rings, fans can expect a sound that’s even more aggressive live than on record. “I don’t think we sound like metal or dance all the time,” Saulnier says. “But I definitely want to have as much of an impact as one of those shows would have.”
Laughing, he adds, “We have a lot more sensitive yelping than other dance music.”