From “White Night” to “1, 2, 3 Stop”, the Postelles have made catchy retro rock/pop with a city edge their signature sound and one that works. Between their eponymous debut album from 2011 and time spent on the road playing club shows, various festivals, honing their songs and live show, the New York City rockers have taken a minute or two to ready album #2 but ready it is and was released into the wild on April 23rd. For those of you here in Los Angeles, the boys from New York City have a date at the Bootleg Theater on May 21st. For everyone everywhere else, check their tour dates HERE.
The Postelles voice and guitar guy, Daniel Balk, took a moment to discuss important things like the new album, being shook and what he really thinks of Los Angeles.
High Voltage: For those not in the know (and I’m very much in that camp), what exactly is a ‘Postelle’?
Daniel: In terms of the band it’s a made up word, but we have had a fan from Australia tell us female postal workers in Australia are, indeed, Postelles.
HV: That’s…odd, but thanks for clearing that up. Now your new album …And It Shook Me seems like quite a romantic album or rather there is an overarching theme of ‘love’ in the lyrics: what’s the occasion?
Daniel: Love is the occasion. We’ve had one too many candle lit dinners as a band on tour. The album is dealing with life and relationships while away on the road and the emotions that occur with that.
HV: Speaking of love and relationships, the duet with Alex Winston (“Pretend It’s Love”) is a particularly bright spot on the album; her vocals are damned endearing. How did you wind up working with her on that track?
Daniel: We were friendly and I wrote a song that I was interested in having a female vocal involved on. I gave her a call and asked if she’d be down. She was a perfect fit and she did a great job.
HV: Definitely agree with you there. And now that album #2 is done, when you look at your two releases- other than time- what do you feel is a major difference between the two records?
Daniel: We’ve matured as musicians and people. We’ve grown as a band and understood the studio more so in my mind it is a much more mature record in terms of the sound and production. The songwriting is better but we’ve also learned so much from years of touring.
HV: Well one thing that definitely has not changed is the distinctly retro sound that you guys foster. How did such youth wind up with such an appreciation for such a not-so-young sound? Not complaining, mind you.
Daniel: Our parents were definitely musical people and they introduced us to their favorite bands. Whether it be Bob Dylan or The Beatles, we learned about rock and roll at a very young age and grew to love it.
HV: We appreciate all of your folks for the solid background. And being from NYC (as I am) I imagine the aesthetics of the city would filter into one’s music. I don’t know if that’s true or not for you, but I have visions of an odd morning getting flashed on the A train or an amazing bagel winding up in a song…like “Running Red Lights”, for example (don’t worry: I’m not calling Traffic Enforcement). Does that ever happen in the writing or is the writing a bit more general?
Daniel: You definitely are right with that assumption. The city definitely is a huge inspiration in our music. The most obvious influence might be ‘White Night’ from our first record where as …And It Shook Me is influenced by many places because of all the touring. For example ‘Tidal Wave’ is a song that I wrote in Los Angeles, when I visited for the first time, so this album ventures out of New York. Having said that, New York will always be my biggest influence in terms of the band.
HV: I always like to know what musicians are listening to of late, so do tell: who’s listening to what these days?
Daniel: We really like the new Vampire Weekend record so far. It just came out, but what I’ve heard I’ve really enjoyed.
HV: You have tour dates in May and June with Aussies Atlas Genius (whom I adore) and sonically that seems like a good pairing; what’s on the schedule through the rest of the year?
Daniel: More touring, we always love to be on the road. We are planning more shows now and we’re excited to play the new record for everyone. Definitely check out our website for updates.
HV: Well, we know that you’re coming back to Los Angeles to play the Bootleg Theater on May 21st; tell me something nice that would make me believe that you like or you’ve actually missed our insane little city.
Daniel: I really love LA. I’ve actually visited as a traveler away from the band as I really wanted to experience the city apart from playing shows. It’s very beautiful and we filmed our video ‘Caught By Surprise’ in Silverlake and the director, Gus Black, filmed not only that video but also ‘Running Red Lights’ in California as well.
HV: That was so sweet that I almost believed you. Now tell me what you REALLY think of LA.
Daniel: I really like it! At first I didn’t. I love New York more because it’s home and it’s New York, but if you want some gossip here it is. Our bassist John doesn’t like LA. I agree with him about some things, for example everything is so far apart. Though, I will say I personally enjoy it.
HV: I hear you…and no foul on John. And nothing compares to NYC’s public transit system. One more question: …And It Shook Me: what, exactly, shook you?
Daniel: Life, everything. It’s basically all of the experiences we’ve had in the last few years wrapped up into an album. Mostly touring and traveling and shows and all of that. This is a very personal album and a very genuine one and I hope people notice that.
HV: Is that your final answer?
Daniel: Can I phone a friend? If not, yes.
With no lack of humor, check out this irreverent video for the track, “Caught by Surprise” from …And It Shook Me.