Arthur had the opportunity to interview the lead singer, Daniel Balk, from The Postelles. He opened up to us about love and the risky places he would get tattooed. They are performing at The Venue on Thursday, February 28, and their new record will be released on April 23. We love this band; check them out!
Photo by Megan Mack
What music has influenced the band?
I’d say rock and roll is definitely the genre we are influenced most by. With bands I’d say Fleetwood Mac was a big influence, the Rolling Stones… The Clash; we love their vibe, especially their live shows. Their vibe and success makes you want to put in the same effort, you know? I could really go on forever!
Do you play any instruments? If so, what do you play?
I play guitar… and I sing, which is sort of an instrument! I do play others, but for the band I sing and play guitar.
Where was your favourite place to perform?
That’s a tough question. If we are being specific to Canada, one of our best shows ever, actually, was in Montreal. We were the first of four bands to play at a house party, and there were so many people it didn’t seem legal or smart. Basically, the police shut it down and the other bands who were meant to play, didn’t. They had travelled all over the U.S. to get there which kind of sucked, but the crowd was really cool and crazy.
Where did the name ‘The Postelles’ come from?
Oh man, it came from a lot of frustration! Nowadays you come up with a name and type it into Google and there are thirteen bands in New Zealand with the same name. So, you keep thinking of new names until finally you realise ‘let’s just make up a new word!’ So I made up a word that was influenced by Motown groups. I remember this Australian girl told me that women who worked in the post offices in Australia are referred to as ‘postelles’ – and so that’s where it came from, and we kept it!
Who would you say your favourite band or artist is? And you can’t say “The Postelles.”
If I had to say my favourite ever I would say The Beatles. It is so typical but I’d have to say The Beatles and The Rolling Stones are my two favourite. And very close third and fourth would be Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. And if I could say a random one, I’d say The Stone Roses. And The Clash!
What kind of atmosphere/style of gig to you prefer?
If I am watching a show I want to be relaxed and just chilled out, but if I am playing I would say the way I described the Montreal gig. Sort of crazy. We much prefer a crowded, busy, small club show. We always want it to feel like a small club show. I think the experience of a show should be more than just your average night – a lot of energy is always good.
If you had to align your music with an animal, what would it be and why?
I would say a bull. A bull in a china shop, you know that saying? Because we are very energetic, and very alive. There is a lot of energy to it. It is a little crazy and kind of dangerous sometimes.
What is your favourite food to have when you’re on the road?
Well, there is a great line from Keith Richards, in his book I read, where he says that when you’re touring you just eat for fuel. When I am at home I am not like that; I like a good meal. But when you’re on the road you just want energy; you don’t really care if it is the ‘best’ meal. But before a show I like eating hummus. It’s healthy and it’s light and it’s my favourite pre-show food.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Oh god, I have so many. I would say as a band we all sing. Before a show we sing the song “I Shall be Released” by The Band. But… along with that we drink a lot of whiskey.
You spend a lot of time in New York. Are you ‘officially from’ New York City?
(Laughs!) We actually are from New York! So many bands say they are, but we were born and bred in Manhattan. I think we are the only band to ever actually come from New York.
So, you’re really from the Big Apple! What was it like to grow as a band in one of the most cosmopolitan, competitive and exciting places in the world?
What a line. We love the competitiveness. When you play a gig in just an average show in a town it is unlikely that there are any others playing that night. We love that in New York, when you play a show there are probably two other shows going on the same street! In the whole city they are a hundred, a thousand, other shows. We always wanted that, seeing another band and saying ‘we wanna be better than them.’ It pushed us, and drove us to be better and better and so New York ended up being really good for us.
You really have to be confident, whether you’re an artist or a teenager, or just anything you have to be confident with what you’re doing or you’ll be pushed aside. Whenever we perform in New York it is funny to see how other artists and bands react. They are always so excited about the energy, and for us it is so good to be back in the city.
How would you say your music has developed since your first album?
Well, our first album, The Postelles, was just plug-in and play. It was very influenced by the early Beatles records, which were recorded in one or two days. We really wanted to recreate our live shows. With our new music, we were ready to really take our time with it. It is more mellow, more layered. More of a vibe to it. It isn’t as in-your -face as the first record, but we like that. It has a nicer energy to it, and the writing is definitely better.
If you had to have one line of your lyrics tattooed on your body, what would you have and where?
(Laughs.) This is funny! I know my go-to line is my favourite lyric, but I don’t think I’d have it tattooed on my body. My favourite lyric is “misery loves company when the company’s a drink.” I really like that line, but I wouldn’t get it tattooed! Oh, this is so tough! In one of our songs, a girl says to a guy, “Love isn’t a hard on.” And when I first said it people thought I was joking, but when I sang it in the context of the song it ended up being a really nice, almost romantic lyric in sort of a gross way. I like how that line works. So, I would say I would get that tattooed on… wherever you can imagine that line would be!
Your song, “Pretend it’s Love”, is amazing. What was it like to work with singer/song writer Alex Winston?
Oh, Alex was great. We had the song for a while, but we could never figure out how to really work it. And then we were on tour and thought about incorporating a female singer. Alex is the first person we thought of; we love her voice. The tension in her voice just added to the song. I could talk about her all day!
Tell us about your new record coming out on April 23.
It is a great record that we have been working on for a couple of years. We didn’t rush it, we really took our time. As you can tell with the track “Pretend it’s Love,” there is a lot going on; there is a really nice energy to it, a warm feeling. A lot of work went into each of the tracks, to make sure everything was right. We spent a long time on the song, writing and rehearsing.
And to close – what is your favourite/least favourite question to be asked during an interview? Can you answer them for me?
I am so happy you haven’t asked me about what it was like to produce the first record with Albert Hammond Jr. And I love him to death, he is a good friend, but everyone asks it and it drives me crazy. But in response to the question he was a lot of fun to work with.
The best question I have ever been asked was… “If you had to have one line of your lyrics tattooed on your body, what would you have and where?” I love talking about our songs specifically. (Winner!).