On October 12, 2010, The Postelles' self-titled
debut will be released on EMI/Astralwerks records. I recently had
the opportunity to sit down with front man Daniel Balk and
bassist John Speyer before their gig with Interpol at
the House of Blues in Boston. Our conversation varied from the Motown
Sound to Albert Hammond, Jr. to why Woody Allen is their
Hybrid Magazine: Your debut record comes out on October 12.
How did you approach the sessions?
Daniel Balk: We recorded half the album with Albert (Hammond,
Jr. of The Strokes) producing. We recorded five songs in fourteen
days. Then the second half of the album we produced ourselves - fourteen
songs in three days! So, yeah, they were two very different experiences.
HM: How did Hammond hone or enhance songs like "123 Stop"
or "White Night" that were already tight going into the
Balk: With "White Night" there is a specific example.
There is a verse in the song where the lyric goes "It's a long
way down in New York City." Albert suggested we use that part
again at the end of the track. I thought it was a great idea to bring
the hook back like that - we'd never really thought of it. On "123
Stop" he really helped with the song's break down, especially
after the chorus. It definitely helped a lot.
John Speyer: Sometimes it just takes another person to look
at the song. Another ear.
Balk: Albert has a great ear.
HM: You'd be interested in working with him again?
Balk: Yes, if he would have us
which he probably wouldn't
HM: The track "Hold On" harkens back to former era
of songwriting. Any particular inspirations there?
Speyer: We were definitely trying to go for a Motown sound.
We recorded a lot of it live and spent some time working on group
vocals for the chorus.
Balk: It's definitely is the most Motown-y sounding song on
the album, especially with the guitar chord changes.
HM: What is it about Motown that you find so compelling?
Balk: The songwriting was incredible. They had a great team,
probably one of the best teams ever. Great musicians, great singers
- it was perfect. I also like the fact that the record label was in
this little house and they all came there to record. We watched the
Funk Brothers documentary (Standing in the Shadows of Motown)
during the recording.
Speyer: I didn't.
Balk: That's true. John was watching the Teletubbies.
HM: You've spent some time playing in the U.K. What's the
biggest difference playing overseas?
Balk: I like playing (in the U.S.) more. Actually, that's
not true. London has been amazing. Every city has been really good,
but there is something about the U.S. which is truly special.
Speyer: I think its harder opening over (in England). They
are a little more laid back but don't get into opening bands as much.
In America, crowds are a little more open minded. I feel like Brits
go to see their band and they go nuts for that band.
Balk: All of our headline shows in the U.K. have been insane.
More crazy than the shows here.
HM: For a group who's cited The Beatles, Rolling
Stones, and other album intensive bands as influences, how do
you approach music in a singles-driven era?
Balk: You know, I think we love the album and we respect the
album - we made an album - but we respect the songs more. Motown was
all about singles.
Speyer: The song is the most important thing a band can do.
Balk: And we like the single driven idea. We think it's a
HM: You've also cited Woody Allen as an influence. Coming
from musicians, it's an interesting reference.
Balk: Lyrically, the way he brings together something very
serious - like death or love or a breakup - and then brings comedy
into it is very interesting. And he personifies New York. And he's
really hot (laughs).
HM: Anything you'd like convey in your live show that may
not come across on the album?
Balk: That we're really immature (laughs).
Speyer: Our good looks.
HM: The Strokes, for example, will replicate their albums
almost note for note during live performances, while others will stray
and improvise. What's your approach?
Speyer: I'd say we're somewhere in between.
Balk: We're like The Libertines
but not on drugs
(laughs). But really, the Libertines or The Clash have this
great way of being loose but still tight at the same time, whereas
The Stokes are like a machine. I think we're somewhere in-between
The Strokes and
Balk: (laughs) Yes
we are a lot like Phish.
HM: What are some current bands that you'd recommend?
Balk: The Futureheads - who we toured with - they're
Speyer: Hockey, Constellations, The Ambassadors
- all great bands.
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