Shock horror! Manhattan
band gets stuffed in the major label meat-grinder and lives to tell about it in
BY ROBERT FULTON
The Postelles – vocalist/rhythm guitarist Daniel Balk, lead
guitarist David Dargahi, bassist John
Speyer and drummer Billy Cadden – formed in the middle of the last decade while
in high school. The band caught the ear of Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond,
Jr., who subsequently mentored the young group of twentysomethings. The band
signed with EMI/Capitol and recorded a full-length record in 2009 and waited.
And then waited some more.
The label never released the album, and ultimately dropped
the band. The Postelles signed with smaller outfit +1 Records and remastered
the album (with the help of Hammond, who had produced five tracks). The
self-titled record debut finally hit stores on June 7, the same day the band
set out on its first headlining tour.
The resulting music combines obvious Beatles and Strokes
influences. The four-piece is defined by their simplicity, featuring
straightforward hooks reminiscent of a bygone era of rock ‘n’ roll.
Catching up with the Postelles in the green room of The Echo
on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, we found a fun-loving group of guys not
taking themselves too seriously, despite plenty of recent media attention
during the preceding weeks. Over ice-cold Tecates, Daniel Balk and John Speyer
filled us in.
BLURT: How has the
tour gone so far?
DANIEL BALK: It’s been amazing. It’s way exceeded the
expectations we had. We were a little nervous. We’ve supported a lot of bands
on a lot of U.S.
tours, but this is pretty cool.
It’s nice to see the work pay off. People come by and are like ‘Oh, I saw you
open for this band.’ It’s awesome.”
So that actually does work.
DB: Playing shows works.
What sorts of things did you take away from opening for other acts?
DB: It depends on the tour. We did one show with this band
the Wombats, and I remember learning back stage how to do your vocal warm ups.
Some of them were stretching. They were still drinking and having fun, but they
were still physically and mentally focused, and that taught me a lot.
JS: We’ve learned from other bands. Because we’re not
DB: We’re not professional.
You’re not professional yet?
JS: I think we’re learning.
DB: It’s not yet. It’s just that we’ll never be
professional. We could be the biggest band in the world, and we’ll be doing
things like this, texting.
What’s the one thing you guys are tired of talking about?
JS: Albert Hammond Jr.
DB: We love you Albert.
JS: We love you Albert, but we’re tired of talking about
DB: We love to talk about Albert, it’s just that everyone
asks ‘how did you meet?’
What did he bring to the recording process?
JS: Albert is an awesome guy. In the studio, Albert is a
perfectionist. He’s very professional. When we first got into the studio, we
really didn’t know what the hell we were doing.
DB: We still don’t.
JS: Albert really brought a level of professionalism. He
taught us how to get down to business. Definitely a great mentor.
Some say you sound like the Strokes in some facets. How do you react?
DB: I mean, Albert wrote all of our songs, of course.
Now, is that true?
DB: No, it’s not true. If that’s what people say, that’s
great. They’re one of my favorite bands. That’s awesome.
Who would you like to compare yourselves to?
JS: The Strokes [laughter].
You guys had an album recorded, and the label had it?
JS: They made a million copies and never released it.
DB: In my apartment I have like 600 copies of the album.
How does that differ from what ultimately came
out June 7?
JS: Truth is, we had a really bad situation with EMI. It was
hard to get anything done creatively.
DB: The album is totally remastered, and there’s a new song
called “Sound the Alarms.” It’s a fresh new sound. We remastered it to make it
better. It wasn’t even that the first version was bad. It’s just that there
were enhancements that could be made.
Do you have material you’re working on? How’s new stuff coming?
DB: We’ve started recording our second album already. We
have eight new songs and we’re going to try to get as many possible for a new
record as soon as possible.
What do you guys plan on doing the rest of the summer?
DB: We’re doing a few festivals.
JS: There’s going to be some more announcements. Big tour in
DB: We’re hitting some cities we’ve never played before in
What was it like headlining shows outside of your comfort zone, outside
of New York?
DB: It was great. It was nerve-wracking beforehand, but when
it was happening it felt so cool. It feels so cool when people come out.
JS: It was very comforting in the end. Having people come
out and know your songs and love you, that’s a comforting feeling.
DB: it’s even cooler if it’s another city.
What does that mean, when I say they have a retro sound?
JS: I definitely think that we’re influenced by retro sound
in that we’re not using synthesizers. We’re an organic band. I don’t think we
consciously try to emulate retro music. It’s just the music we love and the
music we grew up with.
What’s the difference between a Manhattan band
and a Brooklyn band?
DB: Manhattan bands are
actually from New York.
Seems like things are going well. Did it matter not having the big
JS: I think things are going better. I think we were a small
fish in a big pond on a major label. And now we’re a big fish in a small pond.
DB: In a Jacuzzi.
JS: In a Jacuzzi.
DB: It’s true, this is better. We get to be creative and
actually get down to what we love which is writing creative music. But the
Jacuzzi thing’s true.
JS: We’re fish in a Jacuzzi now. We love Jacuzzis.
DB: We’re Mermaids in a Jacuzzi
DB: One Halloween, John wore a Mermaid costume. In public.
JS: I looked pretty good.
I read somewhere you said you want a band to get to their “Let it Be”
phase of music.
DB: What the Beatles did by getting from “Please Please Me”
and Meet the Beatles to “Let it Be”
is the most impressive thing in the history of rock n roll.
What album are you guys on now?
DB: I would say we’re the Quarrymen. We haven’t even become
the Beatles yet. John’s Pete Best. We haven’t gotten our Ringo yet.
JS: No, I’m Stu Sutcliffe.
DB: That’s a good question. I want to say in-between A Hard Day’s Night and Rubber Soul.
JS: The next album’s Rubber
Soul. This is A Hard Day’s Night right now.
What questions do you wish someone would ask
you, doing all these interviews?
DB: I wish they would talk more about our genius.
JS: More compliments, less questions.
DB: No questions. I want to sit down, and I want you to just
go ‘wow, you guys are good looking. Wow, the music is inspiring.’