Four dudes from New York find their way to the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles for the very first time. Like all New Yorkers, they adapt. They sip their beverages, tell jokes and laugh while hanging out in the green room behind the stage with their opening bands, some of whom are practicing while others nap on the floor level mattress in the corner. The mixed demeanor of nervousness and excitement saturate the room alongside the stench of booze and cigarettes.
We sit down at the only table in the room, with just enough chairs to accommodate all of us: Daniel Balk (Vocals, Guitar), Billy Cadden (Drums), David Dargahi (Lead Guitar), and John Speyer (Bass).
How is the Bootleg Theater treating you so far?
Daniel: It’s pretty cool. It reminds me of a DUI place you would see in Oakland.
David: DUI? You mean DYI?
Daniel: DYI. Last time we were in LA we played the Echo and this is a bit of a more house party feel to it.
John: We played Echo last time we were here.
Daniel: I just said that. Fucking pay attention or you’re out of the band.
A lot of venues in downtown LA are like this. In the Forge across the way is an actual theater. With seats n shit.
Daniel: Cool, cool.
Have all of you lived in New York your entire lives?
What did you listen to growing up?
Daniel: A lot of stuff. A lot of rock n roll. We grew up in the early 2000’s, late 90’s, so a lot of Tool and N’Sync.
[Daniel starts singing ”You Drive me Crazy”]
Daniel: Oh, wait, that’s Britney Spears.
David: Someone said The Jam today, Zombies, and Elliot Smith is a good one.
Was your inception into the New York rock scene met with a lot of adversity or open arms?
Daniel: The girls were more open arms with us than the guys. The guys just play hard to get.
David: Nah, but I would say that there is a very competitive vibe going on, but we drive off that.
Tell me about your free download EP, Summer Undercovers. What made you want to cover those specific songs?
David: They were the only songs we could play, Hah!
Daniel: I wanted to do a little hardcore, punky thing, but I don’t think those songs were coming In enough. We tried to pick songs that were had that summer feel to it in terms of lyrics, but not in terms of the music, so we tried to give them a west coast vibe. We just got back from the west coast when we did them, so that really was a part of it as well.
You certainly did well in taking the songs and making them into your own style.
Daniel: Thank you.
How many cover songs were you considering for the record?
John: We were discussing about 10 songs before we decided to cut it down to just those 4. We wanted to do a G G Allen song.
Let’s talk about White Light. What was the production process like?
Daniel: Those were taken from the EP and made into an album. We did “Sleep on the Dance Floor” and “White Light” to open the real album as an introduction. It’s a really cool song, though.
What about the songs on the debut album?
Daniel: How many songs did we write? 34?
David: Well, we wrote 19 or 20 songs tied together. Basically, we went to high school together and then college for a couple months before we decided it wasn’t working out. Then we all formed The Postelles and these were the initial songs we recorded in the studio together. It’s as live as possible to give it the vibe of going to see a show.
There is this sound engineer who lives in Highland Park. He has his own live in studio, but it has full on sound boards and gigantic mixers and what have you – and a guitar collection of literally a hundred guitars. Well, he would invite bands to record at his studio, then invite friends and other locals to watch. The bands would perform and he would have a couple kegs in his backyard and everything, it was a chill time. Well, everyone in attendance would get a recording of the performance they just saw.
Daniel: That’s really cool. I think it works better in LA than New York, though.
Because of space being an issue?
Daniel: Because you would have the cops called on you in an instant.
Billy: I remember a real interesting story John Lecky told us when he wanted to get Chuck Buckly to do a bunch of his albums.
David: No, no, it was Andy Wallace!
Billy: Yeah, man, Andy Wallace. Anyway, he brought in a live audience into the studio in order to get him to record. Needless to say, plenty of people showed up.
I wish I was there. What is the release date of your next album?
Daniel: No idea. Well, the next album is roughly 12 songs. We are finishing up a solid two months of touring in U.S. and Canada. When we get back, we are going right back in the studio.
Can we say, ballpark, Summer 2012?
David: That sounds about right.
Something characteristic of The Postelles sound is that it is very raw, even on the recordings. Now, if a stranger asked you what sort of music you play, how would you describe it to them?
David: I would say it’s punk inspired by R&B.
Daniel: I would say it’s the other way around. Like, soul inspired punk.
John: Sam Cooke and Joey Ramone got together, that’s what we sound like.
When you guys are in the studio it’s pretty much a one take deal, then?
Daniel: Oh, the first album was definitely like that. With this next one we are taking our time.
Would you say it’s more refined?
Daniel: I don’t know about refined. There is still that Postelle energy to it. We are taking more time and experimenting. Trying different instruments and everything.
[shouting from the other room]
Daniel: It’s like a Ju-Jitsu class going on over there.
John: We are trying out this girl who will do a duet.
David: Yeah, we’re trying girls. It’s going to be a regular porno.
Hah! So, female vocals. What other new instruments do you want to implement?
Daniel: Kazoo, cowbell, And Billy plays the wall – and a painters bucket.
Billy: Hardcore New York hardware.
Exciting. Well, we certainly look forward to your show and new album, or porno, or whatever you end up doing.