Shoegazey dream pop transcends all barriers of geography and language, even all the way up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they probably speak some sort of strange dialect un-hearable by the average human ear. Or maybe they’re all just deaf from turning the amps up so loud. The band Kestrels have just released their album A Ghost History on Sonic Unyon Records, home to another stand out in the unkillable genre, Ringo Deathstarr, who’ve also got a new album out next week. It’s a collection of roiling feedback and screeching guitars cut through with sweet dream pop vocals, like the track “There All the Time Without You,” which we’re debuting here at Bullett today. Check out the video below, and some questions with singer and guitarist Chad Peck about the chilly new video, getting Tim Wheeler from Ash to play on the record, life in Halifax, the dangers of playing really loud music, and what band dudes have in common with 5th graders.
So what’s the story of the video here? Is that dude just really late for practice, or is he coming to murder everyone?
That’s my good friend Gabe. His beard is feral, but his mind is pure. I doubt he wanted to murder anyone. The only one with the chance of being murdered is me, as I’m late for pretty much everything.
Where was it shot? Is that your actual practice space? What’s the best and worst part about your space?
That is the basement of Paul’s [Brown, drums] old apartment. Paul and Devin [Peck, bass] recently moved, so our last practice was held in the basement of Sonic Unyon (our record label). The best parts about that space: the amount of drool-worthy gear that we were able to borrow, and the pretty amazing visuals hung around the room (signed Tony Fernández poster being a highlight, followed closely by a festival poster from 1997 that had Neutral Milk Hotel near the bottom of the bill). The worst part about that space: the blend of smells coming from empty beverage containers.
How deaf is everyone in the band?
Devin has a strict earplugs-always routine (necessitated by the six bands he was playing in before he left Halifax), so his hearing is intact. Paul is testing the waters of fate by being a rare earplug user, and I have the fancy custom earplugs that I wear in practice and smaller venues. Nothing seems very loud to me anymore, which is slightly worrying, but the last time I had my ears tested (a year ago), my hearing was fine.
You’re on the same label as Ringo Deathstarr – those guys are “super good” right?
Yeah, and their new album, Mauve, is even better than Colour Trip, a feat I thought impossible. We received an advance copy from the label and listened to it a lot this summer while we were on tour. We’re playing their three Canadian dates next month and it’ll be a rare instance of us playing with a band that has similar influences.
You think there’s been a resurgence in this type of shoegazey pop stuff lately, or has it always been there under the surface?
It’s always been there. Like most resurgences, this one will quickly go out of vogue, but it’s nice that people are getting a second chance to appreciate some of these records on a wider scale.
You got Tim from Ash to play guitar on one of your songs? How’d you set that up? What’s his deal? Super sweetheart, right?
Tim’s a good friend of mine. I rented his apartment in Manhattan last summer while he was on tour in Japan and doing soundtrack stuff in the UK, and we were in pretty constant contact. I asked him on a whim, and he was really into it. I sent him a demo version of the song and about a month later he asked for the stems of the album version. Three hours later, he sent this really mind-blowing guitar solo. He really is the nicest guy. The last time I met him in NYC, he thanked me for putting him on our album thank you list! On the same day, he gave me a free guitar amp. I can’t say enough nice things about Tim.
You’re an English teacher? Who’s more childish, your typical student or band dude?
I teach grades 5 through 9, and one of the most refreshing things about hanging out with 10-14 year old kids for 195 days of the year is that they lack any sort of pretension. They say exactly what they mean and they like exactly what they like, and they don’t apologize for it. It’s jarring at times, but I think band dudes could benefit from that approach. I loathe the credibility police.
My students are awesome, though. Last year they each designed a record cover for me for my side project (We Need Secrets). They took it very seriously and put hours of work into it. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had teaching and the result was pretty mind-blowing. I have a good job.
What’s good up there in Halifax? What’s something that no one probably knows about your town?
Devin and Paul have left, and I’ll likely be moving at the end of the school year. Here three of the things I’ll miss when I leave. (Let’s take friends and family as a given.) 1) ROBIE FOOD – Derelict-looking building in the North End of Halifax. Amazing and affordable food with a kitchen that accommodates any request. Probably the closest real-life example of a hidden gem that I’ve encountered. 2) OBSOLETE RECORDS – An excellent local record shop that has been very kind to me and my label. My friend Ian runs it, and it’s top drawer. 3) SMALL TOWNS – I’ve actually spent the majority of my time living in the small towns outside of the city, and the more I consider moving, the more I feel the need to revisit all of these places where I’ve had formative experiences. It’ll be the appropriate way to close the door on my way out.
More from Kestrels here.