“Oh, so I can get comfortable?” Andy Harrison asks as he lights up a smoke. He’s up in my studio space, and it’s cold AF. I’m laughing at everything he has to say as I get acquainted with my audio recorder, some out of nervous habit, some because Harrison is just an amusing kind of guy. I’ve asked him to come up and talk about how things are going with one of his bands, Peace Killers.
I’m able to come to some sort of compromise with my digital device where it allows me to record a conversation so long as I keep it hanging precariously off the table edge. We both continue smoking as I rattle on about some nonsense, organizing some notes.
(Subsequent to sitting down with Andy, I was able to get a few answers from bass player Alex Dorame via email).
Harrison and his bandmates are steady faces in the Sacramento music scene. They started Peace Killers in 2012 as a couple of their other projects at that time were winding down.
You’ve most likely seen Harrison if you walk around town or frequent bars. He is a face among the line at the bar, the line to the bathroom, on the stage, talking to ladies and making them smile, etc. I can guarantee you if Ground Chuck sees him, it’s hugs-on-sight. I’ve long admired his effortless charisma. Harrison’s other band, Celestions, have been engaging crowds with their straightforward, driving, soul-influenced rock ‘n’ roll for years. It stands to reason that this endeavor would also showcase Harrison’s knack for catchy hooks and melodies, albeit in a different tone.
Having some songs, a general idea and some bandmates, the band recorded some demos with Pat Hills at Earth Tone Studios in Rocklin. Hills and his Pepsi-sweet Midas touch have blessed some excellent recordings by artists like Tera Melos, King Woman, Number Station and the Hanover Saints to name a few.
Peace Killers garnered some Internet buzz and began looking at labels that might put out the record. After some deliberation, the band decided that heavy music label Svart felt like the most promising. Svart is known for putting together a solid roster of heavy, sludge-driven doom and metal artists, as well as straight-ahead ‘70s psyched-out occult metal and experimental, atmospheric black metal. From Jex Thoth to K-X-P, from Tahtiportti to Dakhmandal, Svart has put together a diverse roster of bands.
Fast-forward to now, Peace Killers have just finished a video for the song “Devil’s Daughter,” with the help of Kill The Precedent’s Jesse Mitchell. The freshly dressed and configured new vinyl LP will be out Jan. 22.
What were some of your influences writing the songs for this record?
Andy Harrison: I really wanted to emulate Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats as much as I could. There’s sort of the obvious Sabbath nods. I think a lot about Queen, Queens of the Stone Age, those are kinda my immediate influences. At least for me playing guitar, some of my influences go back to Frank Zappa, the Allman Brothers, sort of big rock sounding guitars that doesn’t necessarily suck its own dick too much. Definitely a lot of blues influence, but trying not to do a straight-up dad-rock influence. I don’t mind dad-rock. The other band, the Celestions is sort of a construction-dad, Springsteen influence, and this band is sort of a straight-up, dead-beat tweaker dad-rock sound.
Alex Dorame: I feel there’s a lot of everything you can hear on our record. The bands that stand out to myself as influences range from Thin Lizzy, early-Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Murder City Devils, the Doors, up to the Cult. Also, Black Sabbath, the Melvins and maybe even the Smut Peddlers.
What Sacramento bands would you get together or resurrect to play a show?
AH: Holy shit. Black Mackerel.
AD: Black Mackerel!
AH: They’re one of the reasons that I even thought “maybe I should try playing some heavier shit.” I thought “we’ll start a three-piece and tune down”. So maybe if they’re reading this they can get their shit together and play a show with us. I think our drummer would probably say FAR. Tales of Terror.
AD: I would love to see Hotel Pistol, the Diseptikons, Filibuster, the Union Hearts, Who Cares, and Pocket
Who did you get to do the album cover?
AH: Her name is Annie Hooker. I saw a print of the buffalo head in the home of Celestions drummer Gabe [van Dyke], and I loved it. It represents something heavy, and hard charging, and noble, and western. We just kinda decided it was a good spirit animal for the group.
Is there a concept for the album? Is there a theme?
AH: I think probably the most consistent subject matter throughout the record is party fatigue, or how it takes you to strange, dark places living a hedonistic lifestyle.
We cover “Spoonful,” a Willie Dixon song. You know it’s kinda about people trying to get their fill on lusts and desires. You know, I’m not an authority on the song, but that’s kind of what I gathered from it.
What about a rock album now grabs your attention more than an album would have when you were maybe 21?
AH: Definitely the sonic qualities of an album, the way a melody is constructed. I find it harder and harder to relate to someone’s really personal lyrics, I don’t so much write myself into those stories. I need a hook, some sort of balance, some sort of syncopation, some sort of danceable rhythm. Even in heavy music, you know, it’s still there.
But yeah, not so much the lyrical content anymore. You know, I used to get really into Elvis Costello’s lyrics when I was really young, and analyze the shit out of them, and I still appreciate that, but nowadays … like when I listen to a band like Fuzz, it’s just so balls-out, and free, and rockin’. Higher voices, higher, rougher sounding voices, somewhere between Alice Cooper’s rasp and Freddie Mercury’s range.
What’s one Fuzz song you would want people to hear?
AH: “Loose Sutures.”
Peace Killers’ self-titled debut album is out on Svart records on Jan. 22, 2016 you can preorder it now at Svartrecords.com. Their album release show is Jan. 30 at Harlow’s with Kill the Precedent, Psychosomatic and The Number Thirteen. Go to Harlows.com for more info or to purchase tickets.