Peals, a collaboration between William Cashion from Future Islands and Bruce Willen from Double Dagger, have a new tape coming out on January 27, Seltzer. It’s out via Thrill Jockey and you can hear an excerpt from it below, titled “Before and After”. The band has also made a new video for “Floating Leaf”, the lead track from their 2013 LP Walking Field, a visual that’s as dreamy, meditative and inherently calming as the song itself. Check it out above, and below find Peals’ upcoming tour dates as well as our conversation with the band about their creative process, new tape, and more. And in case you missed it, also check out this week’s Impose cover story, “Future Islands And The Best Year Ever“.
The A-side of your cassette was recorded during a live performance from a collaborative installation with multimedia artist Zoe Friedman. Did you use her work to inform the music, or was it improvisational?
William + Bruce: We created the Time Is a Milk Bowl pieces specifically to go along with Zoe’s video projections. The original installation and performance of Time Is a Milk Bowl took place on the top floor of Baltimore’s Bromo Seltzer Tower, inside it’s giant industrial clock room. The Tower was built in 1911 as the corporate HQ of the Bromo Seltzer Antacid empire. It’s an iconic building in the Baltimore skyline that now houses artist studios. Most of our performance was improvised based on a loose structure that corresponds with Zoe’s six different projections. Two of the pieces we adapted from pre-existing improvisations, which also appear on Walking Field in different iterations.
Is the B-side also “live recordings” in the sense that they were tracked live, or were they created over time?
W + B: The b-side is a collection of home recordings that we collaged together like a mix tape. They are all live improvisations recorded in our practice room with no overdubs. The recordings range from January 2012—our 2nd band practice ever—to Fall 2013. These selections were culled from dozens of hours of live recordings, and interspersed with field recordings to add depth.
Aside from Zoe’s art, are there any specific experiences that informed what you put into Seltzer?
W + B: There are two sides of Peals. The songs that appear on Walking Field are generally more structured, but their genesis stems from improvisation & experimentation. The recordings on Seltzer (named for the Tower in which side A was recorded) are more atmospheric and raw. It’s like being inside of our brains while we’re writing the music.
How do you write your songs given Will’s intense tour schedule? And how do you (Will) separate writing / touring / general down time from Future Islands?
W: Basically, if I’m home for two or more weeks, then we try to get together and work on some stuff, whether it’s writing new material, recording, or playing shows. We started working on our second full length in 2013, but it’s been put on pause while Future Islands has been touring like crazy. Bruce and I still need to write a few more songs for the album before it’ll be finished. I think sometimes those are the best albums, the ones that you have to put down for a while and come back to eventually… You get to really think about the way it works, the spacing and vibe of the album as a whole. When we’re in writing mode, Future islands generally works during the day, and then Peals works on stuff at night. Time management can be tough at times, but there is a balance that can be found.
Aside from soundtracking art, do you have any other soundtracking plans or aspirations?
W + B: We would love to do a film score! We recently contributed some music for a short film by Baltimore filmmaker Matthew Bowden. A friend of ours is working on a documentary and we’re planning to compose some music for it.
Can you please cover one Double Dagger song?
W: Maybe I can convince Bruce to do “Song for S”!
B: If you play Seltzer backwards, it’s Double Dagger’s unreleased final full-length album.
Seltzer is out January 27 via Thrill Jockey.
Peals tour dates:
15 – Baltimore, MD – Floristree w/ Smoke Bellow, Romantic States
16 – Brooklyn, NY – Pioneer Works w/ Zoe Friedman Time Is A Milk Bowl Installation
18 – Washington, DC – Studio 1469 w/ Zoe Friedman Time Is A Milk Bowl Installation