“Unnatural Affection For Hornets” is the title of a new album from Houston, Texas based band called PELOTON. Mixing elements of sludgy post rock, punk and hardcore, the band managed to find their own style and I think it definitely demands your attention.
Halston Luna, who also plays in BLACK COFFEE, spent some time answering my questions about PELOTON and their approach to music, Texas’ scene, as well as a few points about BLACK COFFEE. Check it out below.
“Unnatural Affection for Hornets” is due for release April 2013 through Cult Culture.
Hey, how are you doing, Halston? Good to meet you.
Hi, I’m good. Nice to meet you as well.
Is it cold where you are? I was told you’re in Poland. Just curious, we don’t have winter here, so it’s nice to hear about seasons.
Dear readers, don’t be deceived! It’s not gonna be a boring interview, starting with a conversation about weather is quite normal I’d say [laughs].
I’m laughing, because at least half of my recent interviews featured a nice talk about weather and I really must admit I enjoyed every single line of them [smiles]. So, to answer your question (hey, don’t steal my job! [smiles]), it’s quite cold in Warsaw today, around minus 5 degrees Celsius to be exact. All my fellows are pissed off, because it got really warm last week (around plus 10 degrees) and it went down again during the weekend (I don’t know why, but weekends are almost always the worst [smiles]). Yeah, but since I love winter and I love the snow, I don’t really care. I could live in Alaska and don’t bitch about it, you know?
Anyway, I’ve seen some news reports about snow in Texas this year. How did you manage to hide from it? [smiles]
Well I live in southeast Texas, and there are no seasons. Just summer. We get a few chili days each year, but the rest of the year is hell for the most part. It probably snowed in north Texas. I’ve seen snow, it’s not rad at all.
Not at all, I love it. Ok, let’s move on. Is it windy out there? [laughs]
Ok, forgive me [smiles]. So… you represent PELOTON. How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers? Please tell us a bit about the band.
There is no wind in hell.
PELOTON is Melissa L. Ryan (bass), Zach Keener (drums), Denniz Polk (vocals), and myself on guitar. Zach and I started the band a couple of years ago as a two piece, with absolutely no intention of doing any specific genre of music. I was listening to 108 and FLOOR a lot, so the songs we were writing just naturally came out slow and heavy.
We played as a two piece for about a year and then we asked Denniz to join, I was in FIGHT PRETTY with him and after that band ended we both wanted to do something different, something that you couldn’t pigeon-hole as “hardcore” or “punk”. Melissa is an incredible musician that has been a part of many wonderful projects in Houston, when she replied to our “we need a bassist” thread on a message board, we said “holy shit, yes please” without hesitation.
It turned out amazing, I think. And yeah, we all hate labels, but we need to name things, unfortunately that’s how it is. Would you feel offended if someone defined you as a rougher version of INTERPOL?
Not at all, Our Love To Admire slays.
Is it true that you started off playing shows together as an INSTRUMENTAL two-piece?
That is definitely true. We intentionally started the band with no particular direction in mind to see where it would go, hoping that eventually more people would want to be involved. We lucked out big time.
Who’s Chris, listed as one third of your 2011 lineup?
Chris is a good friend of ours that we asked to record bass for our first set of recordings. He also played with us for a short time after we self-released the demo, then we went back to 2 piece before Denniz and Melissa joined.
How did they settle in the band and what changes did they bring?
Denniz joining the band set us on the path we’re on now musically, in a lot of ways. His vocal style sets the tone for most of the songs, dark and unsettling, never really allowing the listener to get comfortable. Melissa knows how to compliment a melody perfectly, and has a very dynamic ear when it comes to heavy parts and melodic parts. She really rounded out the sound wonderfully.
Both of them together are just incredible at what they do. And we’re all really close, so I suppose they settled in nicely [smiles].
Alright. Let’s discuss your new album, shall we? “Unnatural Affection For Hornets” is due out April 2013. What kind of title is that? [laughs]
Yes and we’re stoked to finally be releasing it. The title is symbolic, like most of Denniz’s lyrics. We’re all about the vague and arbitrary.
Could you expound on this a bit? What or who would you say is your biggest inspiration when writing lyrics and why?
My lyrics are influenced by observations. I’ve always been amazed at the writers who can tell a story that is catchy enough to be a hit song but still be a great read on its own. Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Donovan etc.
Do you have a favorite lyric of yours?
Nah, I love them all.
You’re interested in “street culture, party culture, culture club, college culture, and bar culture“. So I guess the pick of the label was just a formality, huh? [smiles]
Ya that was completely coincidental, I bet Chris had a good laugh at that.
What’s your ultimate goal when it comes to music? Do you derive from the best and mix it with ideas to create a good work, or are you up to seek for something new, refresh and inspirational? Do you think it’s still possible to find completely new sounds, ideas and structures in music?
You mean when it comes to writing or listening?
As far as writing is concerned, I don’t think about what I’m doing when I’m writing, or base it off of anything in particular. I just do it and, whatever. Ya know? Like I’m sure that what I’m listening to at the time makes subtle appearances in what I write, but in the end I don’t think I or anyone that listens would be able to pick it out. So ya, I definitely think there are totally new and unexplored sounds and structures to create.
Is Houston a kind of place where you can easily observe outstanding projects and music’s development?
In my opinion, absolutely.
Lots of people are beyond stoked for SXSW (which is happening as we speak). What cool festivals and alternative music events do you have over there?
The most anticipated Texas fest is Chaos in Tejas, next would probably be FunFunFun Fest, SXSW, 35 Denton, and Freepress Summerfest in Houston, which actually doesn’t have that lame of a line-up this year.
Those are just a few of the fests I look forward to, there are a ton all over the U.S. that rule.
You mentioned Melissa’s reputation and her previous local projects. Can you name some of them? Also, in general, please recommend some more local names worth checking out.
She was in a band called SHARKS AND SAILORS which was like an indie band, but a little math-y, awesome band but they broke up. Now she’s in OMATAI, they are fucking heavy. They just released a record throughthe Treaty Oak Collective that you should check out. Bands to check out: FORCED FEM, THE REAL ENERGY, COMEXCLEAN, HOOFPRINTS, CAVERNOUS, BACK TO BACK, FAT TONY, PEASANT, TURBOKRIEG, HOME VIDEO CIRCLE, MIDWIVES, PEEKABOO THEORY. All great Houston bands. I’m also a part of a band called BLACK COFFEE you should check out.
Ha! I covered you guys! [smiles] http://www.idioteq.com/black-coffee-detail-their-new-release/
By the way, how’s “deathbirthdeath” doing? What feedback have you got after revealing it?
Well we haven’t officially released it quite yet, but if folks like it, they like it, if they don’t, then it’s not for them. You feel me? Personally, I’m into it.
I’m glad you like it though, we’re putting out a split with FORCED FEM in a few months.
Amazing! What’s the timetable for the release and some live promotion?
At present we are just waiting on the records, which are being put out by the Treaty Oak Collective, the cassette tapes are done and Chris (Cult Culture) sent them a couple weeks ago. So the release will probably be in a couple months.
Cool. Back to PELOTON, I love your video for “My Life as a Sleep Study”. VHS style in your face [smiles]. What can you tell me about it? How did you come up with the idea?
Denniz has been experimenting with film for a lot of his life and is a huge movie buff. He based the storyline off of the movie Don’t Look Now, and we shot the performance parts in my living room. It was a lot of fun.
A lot of our friends got involved too which was cool.
Any plans for another one?
We’re working on another one as we speak.
When to be released?
No idea, we’ll hopefully be announcing that soon.
Ok, before we finish off, tell me how many gigs have you played with this line-up so far?
If I had to guess I’d say maybe 10? It’s hard to say since we don’t play that often. But we’re playing twice at SXSW this weekend, that’ll be cool.
Are you already there? How do you like this crazy fest?
No we are leaving for Austin tomorrow, it’s a lot of fun. There’s free shows and house parties all over the place. BLACK COFFEE is playing as well. Should be an interesting weekend.
Great! What’s up next? Any further plans for touring and/or recording?
No tour plans at the moment, we’ve been writing for a full length but there are no concrete plans for that just yet. After we release Unnatural Affection for Hornets we will start tracking stuff.
Alright. Anything else you’d like us to pay attention to?
Thanks so much man, hopefully we’ll talk again soon!
Thank you for your time! Good luck at SXSW!