Interview: Peaness

“That’s our little niche now - sad bangers”

Interview: Peaness

By Tom Walsh

Jun 10, 2022 14:00

“Yeah, it seems like we’re cursed. Welcome to being a musician, it’s shit,” laughs Peaness drummer Rachel Williams. It’s late-spring and the Chester-based three-piece are waiting to embark on their first UK tour for over two years. So, naturally, mere days before the opening night, bassist Jess Branney is struck down with Covid.

It’s the kind of luck that makes the title of Peaness’ debut album – ‘World Full of Worry’ – seem all the more prescient. Written before the world closed its doors, it deals with all the anxiousness, skepticism and gallows humour that has grown out of these weird times. Their words pierce through but are wrapped up with the kind of upbeat major chords that make their tracks so memorable.

Speaking to me via Zoom, Williams says, “We’ve tried to write kind of happy songs before, with happy melodies and the type of key that makes it sound sugar coated but they were too cheesy. There’s a balance to it so when we have a song [with happier melodies], it’s easier to talk about darker things, it’s not as daunting as it might be otherwise.”

This ethos is echoed by guitarist and singer Carleia Balbenta, “We have really happy, upbeat poppy tunes but the lyrics can get dark. It’s like our little niche now, sad bangers,” she laughs.

During those long, vacant days of the pandemic, Peaness had a record ready to go which was lying dormant. While for others, there would be a temptation to agonise or second-guess themselves over the content, the general sense of not knowing put a spanner in their creative works.

“It sounds really bad but throughout the whole pandemic I didn’t feel inspired at all to write anything,” Balbenta admits. “I was at one of my lowest points, so anything I would’ve written would’ve been an extra, extra sad banger. There was such an uncertainty of whether we’d ever been able to gig again, venues were closing, and it just felt like the perfect storm for the live music industry.”

The tracks found in ‘World Full of Worry’ carry with them a sense of prescience dealing with topics that have become heightened in a post-Covid world. Songs such as ‘irl’ focus on the unhealthy obsession to curate a certain image through social media while ‘Girl Just Relax’ takes on the unnecessary attitude of society to have a uniform standard of beauty.

As with every song Peaness have been penning since their formation in 2013, they touch on important social issues but with the uncanny knack of filling dancefloors with their infectious melodies. However, even they feel the pressures of following the trends of other bands in creating the funniest TikTok or composing the wittiest Twitter post that will maybe help them reach a new audience.

“We do look at other bands and sometimes think ‘oh, maybe we should do something like that’, maybe we should get into TikTok but it’s a whole other world,” Balbenta laughs. “I don’t mind doing stuff like that, and there is a constant pressure to just keep your fans engaged, it can be fun but it is a lot.”

“It’s just weird the way the world has developed now,” Williams adds. “I think to an extent it’s helped us, and it’s a good way to keep in touch with bands you’ve played with but [as a society] we don’t speak to each other face-to-face anymore, it’s more like ‘slide into my DMs’. You just find yourself spending all day replying to messages, can we just have a conversation?”.

The pressure of maintaining a presence on social media comes as part of the territory of the music business, but Peaness felt like forming their own record label would help them control their destiny a little more. Launched initially to release their debut album, they see Totally Snick Records as providing another platform for up and coming bands.

“We just wanted the album out initially,” Balenta explains. “We’ve been back and forth with different labels and we just thought ‘let’s just do it ourselves’. It’s definitely been a learning curve but it’s taught us a lot about the music industry.”

“We’ve always been really DIY,” Williams adds. “So it’d be really nice to give other bands a bit of a leg up in the future and support the scene. It’s been hard work to get started but it’s so much fun. We’ve all got our own little jobs and we’re getting better at the industry jargon. As always, the most fun part is having the time to write together and then when it all comes together on stage, it makes juggling everything else and all those emails feel worthwhile.”

With a debut record already gaining positive coverage, a recent live session on Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music show and a calendar of live shows back on the agenda, the future is looking bright for Peaness. However, this is a band that knows that things can turn in an instance.

“One thing you need to remember about being in a band is that you don’t know what’s going to happen from one day to the next,” Williams tells me. “We’ve had a lot of carrot on the end of stick scenarios where you think you have this amazing thing and it just doesn’t happen. It feels like we’re getting more opportunities now but it can be back and forth. It’s the nature of the business.”

She pauses for a moment and with a smile adds, “it’s not a bad life”.

For a band accustomed to bad luck, the clouds seem to be parting for Peaness and there will no doubt be many, many more sad bangers to come from the Chester trio in the coming years.


‘World Full of Worry’ is out now on Totally Snick Records. Read our review here.

Catch Peaness live this summer:

12 The Hare & Hounds BIRMINGHAM
14 Rough Trade Records BRISTOL
15 Heartbreakers SOUTHAMPTON
17 Bigfoot Festival 2022 ALCESTER

14 Doune The Rabbit Hole 2022 PORT OF MENTEITH
24 Bluedot Festival 2022 MACCLESFIELD

11 Boardmasters 2022 NEWQUAY