Peach Pit: ‘We like to contrast happy sounds with melancholy lyrics’

Meet Peach Pit - the Canadian band who have made a name for themselves with catchy guitar melodies, soft-spoken vocals and the occasional melancholy lyric.

peach pit

During the pandemic, Peach Pit released two albums. They use phrases such as ‘twiddling thumbs’ to describe what they’ve been up to for the last 24 months, and to highlight how happy they are to be back playing live music, in front of fans, in sold out venues, across the world, but still: Peach Pit released two albums during the pandemic.

“It definitely didn’t take as much time as the pandemic gave,” says the band’s lead guitarist, Chris Vanderkooy. With only one full-length album to their name beforehand – 2017’s Being So Normal – Peach Pit released You and Your Friends in April 2020, while the band’s aptly titled third record, From 2 to 3, arrived in March of this year. 

peach pit

“We were so excited about what we were recording and hit a really good stride after [You and Your Friends],” Vanderkooy continues, “and we carried that momentum straight into the third record.” 

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From 2 to 3 felt the most like we knew what we wanted to make before we actually got in the studio,” explains vocalist Neil Smith. “In the past, say it’s your first album as a band, you don’t necessarily have a picture of what kind of record you want to make – you just write some songs and eventually get nine or ten songs and then you’re like, Oh, now we can record an album. This time it was a bit more intentional.” 

The result is an album varied in its sound and consistent in its quality. 

peach pit

Consisting of bassist Peter Wilton and drummer Mikey Pascuzzi, as well as the aforementioned Smith and Vanderkooy, Peach Pit all hail from North Vancouver. Wilton and Vanderkooy have been friends since they were five, and the band all knew each other before the inception of Peach Pit. “We were just hanging out and going camping before we started this band. It wasn’t music that brought us together,” reveals Vanderkooy.

Since this group of friends became Peach Pit, over six years ago now, they have maintained a wonderful ability at contrasting an offhand, almost flippant sound, with forlorn lyrics. It allows them to straddle worlds – simultaneously catchy and sombre; simultaneously accessible on first listen and well worth going back to.

The Peach Pit jury is out on whether or not this contrast is by design. Smith seems to lean on the side of accidental – “The reason we sound the way we do is just because Chris plays guitar this way, Mikey plays drums this way, Peter plays bass this way and I write lyrics this way,” – but Wilton is less sure. “I think it’s intentional. We like to contrast happy sounds with melancholy lyrics. You like dark humour and mixing it into the lyrics” he says to Smith, “so I think it’s by design.”

Deliberate or incidental – or, as I imagine, a little bit of both – the contrast is a key part of what makes Peach Pit so popular. Deliberate or incidental, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s authentic. Even when talking, they are both easy-going and thought-provoking, and it’s clear the songs are inspired by real stories and real people. Friends’ names feature as song titles, good nights appear as much as ugly mornings and are treated with equal sincerity. The songwriting is as willing to reveal embarrassment as it is pride. 

“I find it easiest to write from a very personal perspective because I already know the story,” explains Smith. “I already know what to say because I’m experiencing it. I know the answers and I don’t have to make anything up.” On From 2 to 3, Smith’s relationship with alcohol features prominently. “I stopped drinking in the last few years so it was just heavy on my mind. If you look back at songs like ‘Black Licorice’ on the last record, it talks about boozing it up a lot. I hadn’t quit drinking yet or anything, but I was tired of getting blackout.” Peach Pit’s music is honest and therefore beguiling. One YouTube commenter puts the effect better than I can, describing the band’s debut album as “the perfect soundtrack for my dramatic, yet mundane life.” 

peach pit

Neil Smith

peach pit

Chris Vanderkooy

peach pit

Peter Wilton

peach pit

Mikey Pascuzzi

For all the talk of two albums in two years, packed with introspective lyrics and personal progression, more recently Peach Pit have been back on the road. They’ve completed a full North American tour and spent the last ten days performing across the UK and Ireland. They’re off on a night ferry to France a few hours after I meet them, where a further tour of mainland Europe awaits. 

“I think you start to build up an idea of what it’s going to be like,” explains Vanderkooy. “And it’s hard. You think, Is this actually going to be as good as I imagined?” 

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“It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Smith confirms. “It far exceeded our expectations. Exactly what we were hoping for and and then a lot more. We’ve obviously done a bunch of tours over the years, but this one felt different. We were on a bus and had a lighting rig with us, so we had a really cool light show every day, and we had a full crew with us. Everything was just a bigger production.”

peach pit

peach pit

During the UK leg of the tour, dates in Leeds, Manchester and London stood out, where mosh pits opened up in the crowd. “They were even doing it to slow songs,” laughs Wilton. “And we never get circles going,” adds Vanderkooy. “We could see it forming and were like, It’s happening! It just makes your job so easy when people are making their own fun like that. You just play the set and know that no matter what, if you fuck up or anything, it doesn’t really mean anything to them. They’re having a good night.”

Another standout from their trip to the UK was a conversation the band had in Glasgow. “There was a kid who just hated people from Edinburgh. His explanation was because of the slang words or something. He wanted us to tell the people from Edinburgh they were English.” 

The band start pestering Wilton for an impression of the Glaswegian boy – clearly one he’s mastered and demonstrated during the previous week – though he seems reluctant to do it on the spot. Begrudgingly, in an uncanny Glaswegian accent, the impersonation arrives: “Literally nothing would make me happier than if you called people from Edinburgh, English.”

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