Rave It Up recently had a chat to Australian band The Peeks about their debut album Grow Up/Grown Down and their upcoming Australian tour.
Since this is your first time on Rave It Up, we’d love to get to know you all a little bit better. Firstly, how did you guys originally start this band? Was it a work in progress for a while before it became a real success?
We first started as a band when we were 16. After seeing my older brother Lawrence take up music, and having always listened to Cat Stevens and the Beatles growing up, I decided to teach myself the guitar. Hamish, a.k.a Hambino, and I grew up around the corner from each other and I knew he played drums so after fumbling my way around a few chords, we decided to have a crack. I remember practicing Cast No Shadow by Oasis and it was a shambles, but that was the joy of it. Plus, Hambino made delectable ham and cheese toasties every time I brought my guitar over, so I kept going.
We worked on our songs for a while before playing a show. We took our time becoming better musicians and songwriters. And we’re still on that journey. Albeit, a little wiser and with a little more facial hair.
Were they any other careers that you wanted to pursue in your lives, or was it always music?
One of my favourite movies as a kid was Mary Poppins, so I always really wanted to be a chimney-sweep like Dick Van Dyke’s Bert. I quickly realised that probably wasn’t going to work out, so I think the switch to music was for the best. Hamish wanted to be a monster-truck driver when he was a kid. He drives a hearse-like Magna station wagon now, so I guess he almost got there.
Sean has always wanted to be a musician, ever since he first saw The Wiggles in concert. Witnessing Murray’s stage presence and musicality inspired him from a young age and has stayed with him to this day.
Where did the name ‘The Peeks’ come about?
We’d been trying to think of a name for our little duo for a while, so we started brainstorming on the 7:33 Flinders Street train on the way to school. One morning, we read the train network map for inspiration and saw a reference to peak hour traffic and thus, The Peeks was born! (With a slight spelling change after The Peaks was taken!) From there on, it just stayed with us.
Throughout your career, what have you found the hardest thing about the industry?
I’d say one of the hardest things we’ve found has been getting our music out to a wider audience. It’s really tough to break out beyond friend circles and the people at your gigs. But it’s a challenge we tomato relish! We’re really lucky we’ve got a great following and lots of close friends who regularly brave the temperamental Melbourne weather to come see our shows.
Have you had any problems with haters or bullying? And what advice would you give to the readers who might be getting bullied?
As a band, we’ve been really fortunate in that we’ve generally received positive feedback from the people who come across us. We haven’t had to deal with too much negativity on our travels. But for those who have, we would just say to stay true to yourself, and eventually you’ll find your place in the world. Lose yourself in your passions, do what makes you happy and eventually you’ll rise above the haters.
Your debut album Grow Up/ Grow Down is now out for everyone to enjoy. Is it true that the concept behind this album is finding one’s purpose and taking that next step? Can you tell us more about this concept?
The concept ‘Grow Up/Grow Down’ was born from a common theme throughout the songs, which was finding purpose and growing up. For a long time, I was unsure of my path and a little disenchanted with the world. I wondered whether society’s forward moving was more like ‘growing down’, a progression of our own demise. Music has allowed me to develop and share my stories. For me, working out who you are and where you are going is growing up. There’s no right or wrong way to grow up, and the album continuously questions that. Ultimately, the best way is your own way but it’s never that easy! As people, and as musicians, the album shows our growth over the past few years, which is really cool. Splashes of our maturity, confidence and identity really breathe through the album. We made an album for us. The sounds we hear, the stories we love, the world we live in. It couldn’t have been anything else without being false, and for me that’s us growing up!
Did you find it difficult at all coming up with song ideas for this album?
Songwriting can be a strange thing. Some songs take weeks, even months, to be fully finished, whilst others can take 30 minutes. Gold and Wanaka for instance developed really quickly, whilst Gemstones took months to get right. Figuring out the song’s story and vibe can take time, but when it comes together, it’s my favourite part of making music. Nearly half the album was written within the three months leading up to recording. I’d finished up uni and gave myself the time and space to really focus on music. It made it easy to keep in that creative mindset, letting the ideas flow and develop. We had a really good bunch of tracks, and I think they really evolved around the idea of developing as people and musicians, whilst retaining that whimsical and quirky story-telling passion. I found some solace in the world whilst making the album and it’s played a massive part in me ‘growing up’.
The music video for your latest single from the album Wanaka shows lollies being left on the doorstep. Why did you decide to do it that way?
Wanaka explores how as humans our desires change over time. Maybe when we’re young we want to grow wings and fly to Spain. Then when we’re a teenager we want to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix. Until we’re adults and we want our parents and siblings to be happy and healthy. I’m not saying we don’t want all those things at all ages (cause I do), but our desires change. One of the desires I mention in Wanaka is one from my childhood – to have a car like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with toot sweets and toffee treats. So I decided to do a quirky story about a young woman, living alone in a wooden house in the bush, finding a lolly on her doorstep. Quite quickly, a silent relationship ignites between the woman and the unknown lolly man. It’s another homage to my love of whimsical and simple stories.
What is the inspiration behind the song? Is it based on a true story at all?
Wanaka was written after a roadtrip I took around the south island of New Zealand in late 2014. I camped alongside Lake Wanaka for a few bitterly cold nights. Behind the muscle-aching winds, Lake Wanaka is serenely beautiful. Snow-capped mountains & piercing blue waters. I found a little peace in the quaint town, and pondered what I’d done and where I was going in life. Might I mention a tasty little Italian restaurant tucked away in the town named Francesca’s – wood-fired pizza and chocolate lava cake with almond praline and poached pear!! Anyhow. Wanaka is a song of reflection and changing desires, and during that particular night camping beside Lake Wanaka, I really wanted to be somewhere other than awake at 3am in a tiny tent with a thin sleeping bag braving the freezing temperatures of fresh snow fall.
To celebrate the release of your album, you’ll be touring Melbourne, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Sydney, Newcastle and Warrnambool. For the readers who want to come along, what can they expect from your shows?
Like the album, our shows are eclectic and raw. We have a great balance of softer acoustic tunes and more raucous, energetic tracks. I’ve always liked to keep it interesting by chucking a few different sounds and instruments, so we’ll have a melodica, theremin and Louisiana-made rub board at a few of our shows. Our focus is on story and emotion, so we give it all we’ve got for every show. It’s not instrument heavy and it’s not over-complicated. We get up there, dig out our souls and have a good time. We’ll try and bring some snacks on the road, so if anyone gets peckish during the set they can reach up and grab a treat…maybe a few Arnotts bickies or some dunkaroos.
Even though you have already achieved so much, what else can we expect from you guys in the future?
After releasing, launching and touring Grow Up/Grow Down in Australia, we’re looking forward to shooting a few more videos for our next singles, playing some Summer festivals and planning some overseas shows. It’s super exciting to finally have a fully fleshed, detailed piece of work to share. So it’s going to be fun pushing the album to as many ears as possible. Hopefully it makes a few people smile.
What advice would you give to the readers who want to follow their dreams of becoming a singer, or forming a band?
My advice would be to pursue those dreams 100%! If it’s a passion in your life and something you love doing then you should wholeheartedly pour yourself into it. To do anything short of that would be to do wrong. We’ve shared so many great experiences as a band because we persisted since we first started – we developed temporary slot machine addictions to survive Spirit of Tasmania’s nine hour trip, we ate delicious jacket potatoes at the Great Trentham Spud Fest, we survived leech attacks in the Yarra Valley’s Acheron River during a band photo shoot and we even choreographed a four minute dance routine with Australian animal costumes, all because we decided to play music together. Add on the countless shows and laughs shared with mates and you honestly can’t do anything better with your time. Except maybe eat a double coated Tim Tam.
And as a closing statement and what is probably the most important question, knowing what you know now, what would you tell your 14-year-old self?
To make sure you love and continue with your music, as it will be the best thing you’ll ever do. Also, to make friends with as many musicians and bands as you can as that will ultimately be your ticket to more shows, great memories and bigger opportunities.
If the listeners would like to contact you guys or find out what you are up to, where should they go?
They can keep up to date with band news on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @thepeeksband and Instagram @the_peeks. Also, check out our music videos at ThePeeksTV on YouTube and our website is www.thepeeks.org
Thank you so much for having a chat to us guys. See you on the tour.
August 5, 2016 – The Milk Factory, Brisbane
August 6, 2016 – The Treehouse on Belongil, Byron Bay
Aug 11, 2016 – The Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
August 12, 2016 – The Lass O’Gowrie Hotel, Newcastle
August 27, 2016 – The Loft, Warrnambool