By Emily Blatta
VANCOUVER – North Vancouver band Peach Pit’s new LP, Being So Normal, debuts this month to deliver both pop and chew, like something lead singer Neil Smith says you’d find stuck to the baseboard of your bed. After an initial burst of flavour in 2016 with their EP Sweet F.A. (short for Sweet Fuck All), the pack of fresh-faced indie-rockers are now eager to show their ability to expand, deepen and carry out their sound into a wider range of tracks. The much-anticipated Being So Normal comes after a hot summer of successfully breaking out into the West Coast music scene, and a frenzy of local Vancouver shows including their 7-inch record release at The Fox. In August they hit their next right of passage, something involving a whirlwind trip down the I-5 through California and back up to Bumbershoot Festival. Still only a pre-teen as far as bands go, Peach Pit is cool enough that we’ve been hanging out with them for awhile now—this month we acquaint ourselves with their aptitude, maturity and honest desire to get picked.
Officially coming together as Peach Pit in September of 2014, its original members included Neil, Chris and Peter and Thomas. When Thomas left and drummer Mike joined is when Smith says they “started getting a bit more serious, and everyone became super on board with what we wanted to do.” Although Being So Normal took three years to write, it doesn’t feel bogged down by all that time. Smith calls the album “actually pretty funny, cause like, lots of these tracks are pop songs, there’s a couple down-tempo sadder tunes on there, but they’re pretty much all just about me feeling unwanted by girls. And it’s over the course of many years.”
It’s well known that being scrawny, awkward and acne-ridden as a young person makes for great material in later years, even if all that’s changed is your outlook. Smith’s journey through music has been partly in spite of that image of himself—their hit song “Drop The Guillotine” is about feeling put down by his best friend in high school. “He was really charming, super handsome, everyone was in love with him and he was my best friend. So many times I’d be in love with a girl and he’d swoop in on me. But I tend to write things a bit more dramatically than they actually were,” he adds jokingly.
Nowadays the cooler, more relaxed and yet strikingly entrepreneurial version of Smith is riding Peach Pit’s new wave of momentum with his best friends in tow, each of whom have all been playing music on and off since they were young, first in folk-duos and talent shows and later on in various different bands.
However, as a result of feeling naturally quite nervous on stage, Peach Pit’s formative years were spent playing strictly for themselves and practicing methodically. “We rehearsed for a year before we ever played any shows. I’d been in a band before and we were both super young, we’d played lots of shows but we never were really super tight. So I didn’t want to make the same mistake of having people be like, oh yeah, they sucked back then. I kind of wanted them to be like yeah, they were always pretty good,” he adds.
These days the band is less concerned with subscribing to how others think they should perform, and lets loose to show off the comedic, playful side of their tunes. And like the best impersonators of your shaggy, North Shore basement-dwelling cousins, the band is also known for pushing the limits of denim and corduroy to stretch across the stage, along moshes of fingertips and through the summer heat.
Peach Pit’s artistic director dug this look up for them a couple years ago from a Value Village bin, and since then the group has worn the same outfits for every show, photo-shoot and video. “It’s actually just like really disgusting, especially when you’re on tour and by the fourth night you smell like a garbage bin,” says Smith. “Plus it doesn’t really work that well in the summer, because Chris wears a pretty thick turtleneck.”
As far as the album’s title is concerned, there’s a lot to say on being so normal these days. Since Mac DeMarco re-introduced norm core with little more than a dirty pair of vans and a Garfield grin, young Canadians have worn the word normal proudly—daughters in mom jeans, embroidered words on jean jackets and cheap drive-thru dinners have existed as subtle liberties for some time, but now reside firmly at the forefront of our identities. Music is what continues to make these otherwise beige aspects more expressive, meaningful and of course lucrative, something Peach Pit succeeds at while being sure to tap into its own distinct vein of Canadian ordinary. Like how Arcade Fire toured us through Montreal’s suburbs and DeMarco tapped into the essence of wild rose country, Peach Pit explores growing up in the epicentre of normal on a vastly dramatic coast.
Being So Normal might seem like unprovoked self-deprecation at face value, but Smith says the title comes from getting snubbed as actually being so normal two years ago at CiTR’s annual battle of the bands competition, in the less-than-endearing sense of the phrase.
“We were in the first round up against two other bands and one of the negative critiques that the judges wrote was ‘Being So Normal.’ And so I was kind of pissed off at first, like that’s bullshit. But then I actually kind of liked it, the way that they wrote it. Then I wrote a song called Being So Normal and made that the album title.”
Since then they’ve embraced that aspect of their style, and as a solution to having to put words to sounds have coined their territory as belonging to the realm of “chewed bubble-gum pop”.
“It’s like, well, I mean we play some rock music and some pop music, and some music that has folky elements to it, and some shoegaze,” says Smith. Above the genre, it also allows them to become flexible while performing. “You don’t have to put on this serious straight face like, I’m performing, I’m the performer now.”
Peach Pit goes on tour in Europe this January, and will no doubt return a more ready, quirky group than they’ve already become. “We feel really lucky, and super happy to be doing this. I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember, so being able to do it now is amazing, especially with my three best friends.”
The band would also like to thank their moms and dads, friends and grandmas for being dope.
Peach Pit perform Sept. 9 at the Waldorf and at Rifflandia Music Festival (Victoria) on Sept. 16.peach pit, Rifflandia Festival, Waldorf Hotel