Post Animal have spent the last few years seemingly on a non-stop tour, and show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In between all the shows, the five-piece Chicago psych group dropped their debut album, ‘When I Think Of You In A Castle’ - which includes the rollicking ’Tire Eyes’, the epic two-part ‘Victory Lap-Danger Zone’, among other undeniable guitar-jams.
We caught up with Post Animal’s Jake Hirschland on the phone recently to discuss the important matters of their debut album, and when they plan to make it to New Zealand for a show…
...there’s something scary about the possibility of danger and failure, but ultimately life is change, and that’s the human struggle - you’ve got to come to terms with it at some point.
COUP DE MAIN: How’s the Post Animal U.S. tour going so far?
POST ANIMAL - JAKE HIRSHLAND: It’s great, we’re in Louisville, Kentucky right now. Tour is good so far!
CDM: So back in the end of 2016 when we first interviewed you guys via e-mail, your album was reportedly called ‘The Gators Are Back In 3D’. What made you guys decide to change it to ‘When I Think Of You In A Castle’?
JAKE: Yes! I think we’d come up with a lot of placeholders, names for songs, records, things like that, and I don’t think that the album name had quite been decided at that point. It was just what we were calling it, and then when we got the album a little closer to completion and started talking about what it all actually represented and how the entire project was working, we decided on the new name. It felt like a better match, it was actually the name of one of the songs at the time, and we changed the song ‘When I Think Of You In A Castle’ to ‘Castle’, and used that name for the album.
CDM: ‘Tire Eyes’ is definitely one of my favourites on the album, and it’s one of the earliest Post Animal songs ever, right? What was the journey like from the beginnings of that song to what it sounds like on a record?
JAKE: That song started before we even had all of the members that we currently play with involved. I think we were playing as a four-piece, so just starting to integrate Wes [Toledo] into the band when we worked that out for the first time. It was a really guitar-heavy song, there wasn’t any keyboard in it, and we played it live a few times. Sometimes songs don’t click live and this one wasn’t one that we really enjoyed playing, so we just let it sit for a while, and didn’t touch it for half a year. All of a sudden we were together and getting ready for some shows, we were talking about options for things we might play, and I think we just started jamming on that, not even as a serious option for the set, but just for fun, and started adding some new flair to it. We liked it, so we actually worked on it with some intent to get something new out of it. By the time that was over, we had something that we were actually really into, again.
CDM: You recorded the album quite a while ago now, and now it’s finally out in the world! Have you guys been working on new music since then?
JAKE: Yeah, we are always writing. We definitely have been working together on some new ideas recently. I definitely don’t want to say that we’re working on a new project because I wouldn’t say it’s quite there yet, but we’ve written some new material. We always jam together and come up with stuff, so there’s some new things we’re working on. If you come to our shows you’ll see some little moments of flair that we throw in, new things that we work on, intros and transitions between songs.
CDM: What’s it been like since the album's release, playing songs live that are now actually officially out in the world?
JAKE: I was just telling someone the other night that that’s the best part about having the record out - is the fact that when we’re playing the songs live, people actually stand a chance of knowing them. Our sets used to be half new songs that no-one had heard, I think people still enjoyed it, but obviously as an audience member there’s something that’s different about hearing something that you do know, compared to something you’ve never heard. So that’s been cool, just having our sets be entirely accessible music is a treat. If people like something, you know that they can find it!
CDM: You guys have said ‘Heart Made Of Metal’ is about a fear of change around a person. Why do you think that we, as humans, are so afraid of change?
JAKE: Well, I don’t think it always goes so well, so that’s just the rub of change and uncertainty, is that sometimes it can be real negative outcomes. I think it’s just scary to not know what’s coming around the corner, people are afraid of the dark for that reason.
CDM: That’s why we have night lights!
JAKE: Exactly. That’s why we sleep with our Netflix playing. I think there’s something scary about the possibility of danger and failure, but ultimately life is change, and that’s the human struggle - you’ve got to come to terms with it at some point. I hope everyone finds that. I haven’t. <laughs>
CDM: You've said that ‘Special Moment’ is a little bit about “not knowing what’s going to happen” - do you think surprises make life more worthwhile?
JAKE: Totally. It’s the rollercoaster ride, that’s all it is. It’s interesting to talk about how both of those songs in a way are about change and uncertainty. Positive surprises are some of the best experiences, and you never really know how something is gonna go, so when it goes well, it’s great.
CDM: I read in your Consequence Of Sound track-by-track breakdown that you recorded your guitar part for ‘Special Moment’ with no headphones, through a 10-inch Fender starter amp. Respect! How did that go?
JAKE: That’s right! <laughs> You tell me. That’s how a lot of the recording felt. We just didn’t have the gear. We were scrappy, up-and-coming musicians who all worked at restaurants, so we just only had three amps. It’s cool though, the project is very defined by the ideas, but it’s also defined by the lack of resources in a way. It has a character to it that I think is due to the location, our equipment, the time constraints (which is what ultimately led us to go record it at a destination for a week rather than booking studio time) - it’s all a product of the obstacles. That ‘Special Moment’ thing is just one of the funny little shortcuts we took to get there.
CDM: I like that you didn’t let that limit what you could do on the record though.
JAKE: Yeah, we just did it anyway. You’ll have to tell me how the product turned out.
CDM: I think it sounds great.
JAKE: Okay, cool.
CDM: What, for you, is the most rewarding part about being in Post Animal?
JAKE: I think working with a team of people, being able to jointly come up with something that you can get behind, and also it seems like other people like it - it’s a pretty rewarding and uncommon experience. Sometimes I think about college assignments where you’re grouped with people, and you end up coming out with something that you hate, and everyone in the project thinks is lame too, and the presentation doesn’t go well… There’s so many examples in my life when I’ve had to work with people, or decided to work with people, and it just didn’t click - from process to product, nothing was working. It’s just been amazing to work with people, and be so close to them, and deliver a product that I didn’t even know that I could make. That’s been cool.
CDM: The album cover, and all the art that you guys release alongside your music is rad, and so cohesive to the band. How does that creative process work for you guys, of working on artwork/design elements?
JAKE: We’ve had pretty much all of our artwork, from merch to album artwork, to posters, has all been done by Olivia Oyamada, who’s a friend, and has worked with the band since we started writing our first music. She came up with the artwork for our very first track that we put out. So she’s a creative partner of the band, and we’ll bring her ideas and little seeds, when she delivers us drafts we’ll be active in critiquing them, and telling her what we wanna change, and what we wanna keep. We allow her to put her influence in there too, and that’s been how it’s gone in the past. I’m sure every project will be slightly different, but trusting her vision, and finding ways to reinterpret her vision so it’s also ours.
CDM: Is there a song from the album that is your favourite to play live at the moment?
JAKE: I don’t want to say ‘Tire Eyes’ because you brought it up, but we used to play it so much, and stopped playing it because we were playing too many new songs, so bringing that back has been awesome. We just started playing ‘Victory Lap-Danger Zone’, we just shorthand it as ‘Danger Zone’ when we’re talking about it. We just started playing that for the first time, so that’s the newest thing we’ve thrown into the set. You feel like you’re sort of off-balance in a really fun way when you’re playing a brand new thing that you’ve never taken out of the box.
CDM: I really love the end of that song. That’s so sick.
JAKE: That part has also been great to play live.
CDM: The ‘Gelatin Mode’ music video is hilarious, do you guys wanna do more of directing your own music videos in the future?
JAKE: Thank you! Absolutely. That was a ton of fun. I don’t know what the plans for the next music videos are, but I think that was kind of too much fun to not try and direct another thing.
CDM: Maybe the narrative can continue.
JAKE: We’ll see if the Wayans family comes back for another round.
CDM: Was ‘Aging Forest’ the only song that you, Dalton, and Matt ever put out under Thumm?
JAKE: You know about Thumm?!
CDM: You guys recommended them to us in 2016!
JAKE: We’re such idiots. <laughs> ‘Aging Forest’ is the only Thumm song to ever see the light of day, but who knows. Thumm is waiting… I don’t want to put words in Thumm’s mouth, but it’ll have its day. I hope.
CDM: This question is from Dalton, who would like to know who you slept in bed with last night?
JAKE: Dalton. My question and my answer. I snuggled up with Mr. Dalton.
CDM: Lastly, a very important question. It’s been nearly a year since I saw you guys live in New York at Baby’s All Right, so when are we going to see Post Animal live in New Zealand?!
JAKE: Oh man! Help us get over there, and we’ll be over there in a flash!
CDM: We are trying our very best.
JAKE: Thank you! Keep doing that. That’s the dream, coming over to that neck of the woods would be really amazing. For us scrappy American dudes, we gotta work our way up. We’ll get there.
Post Animal’s album ‘When I Think Of You In A Castle’ is out now - click here to purchase.
Watch the band’s very excellent ‘Tire Eyes’ music video below…