There’s a dark sense of absurdity to Peace’s music that often seems to match their Vancouver surroundings. Band members vividly recall the small sedan that once went screeching past their downtown eastside jam-space, a man clutched onto the open passenger window, and his feet skidding along the road. That was in the fall of 2008, only months after Peace officially formed. Or there are the almost mythic circumstances of the band’s name. Singer and lead songwriter Dan Geddes and drummer Geoff Dembicki were sharing a pint one afternoon in a scuzzy bar not far from their jam-space. They got chatted up by a fast-talking older man and the native friend he referred to as a “genius.” The “genius” didn’t say a word until Dan and Geoff got up to leave. “Peace”, he said suddenly, flashing them two fingers, “that’s the name of your band.”
It was a strange echo of events nearly four decades past, when founders of the world’s most famous environmental group also held up two fingers in the courtyard of a Vancouver church. “Peace,” said one. “Make it a green peace,” said another. But there the similarities to Peace’s hippie ancestors come to an end. The band’s sound has been described as a “hypnotic thud”, which may owe much to the downpour that keeps Vancouver in wet and darkness for nine months of the year. Yet if Connor Mayer’s bass-lines are crushing and repetitive, then Mike Willock’s manic guitar melodies are like weird breaks in the clouds.
The band released its debut LP, My Face, in the spring of 2011. Peace drove to Montreal and back to support it, each show stranger than the last. The gig they played in the basement of Canada’s department of foreign affairs building feels like a distant dream. Then came Peace’s performance in a detached suburban garage facing onto a cemetery. A working-class dad did sound while an iguana named “Yoda” lounged outside the bathroom. By the time Peace returned home to Vancouver, they’d added 6,800 miles to their van’s odometer.
The band recorded its sophomore LP ten months later in Pamela Anderson’s hometown, a fogged-in hamlet named Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The World is Too Much With Us builds on the depth and drama latent in Peace’s sound. Connor’s bass-lines menace and hypnotize. Mike’s guitar solos explode suddenly in wah-pedal freak-outs. Geoff’s tom-toms thud with a tribal intensity. And Dan’s lyrics, for which he’s been referred to as Vancouver’s “post-punk poet laureate”, alternate between images of defiant despair and love-sick yearning.
The album caught the attention this summer of Suicide Squeeze Record’s David Dickenson, who signed the band not long after. He’ll be releasing The World is Too Much With Us worldwide in October. Catch Peace on tour across North America that same month, as they hit the road seeking fame and fortune — or something equally absurd.