Band of the Day

2011.09.14

The Postelles

Retro, energetic indie rock spiked with a New York attitude
Misery loves company when company's a drink.
lyrics from Little Sister

The Postelles are a four-piece indie band from New York, New York boasting early rock and roll sensibilities with a modern twist. Members Daniel Balk (vocals, guitar) David Dargahi (guitarist), John Speyer (bassist) and Billy Cadden (drummer) came together in high school, before making original music together in college. In 2007, the band began playing shows around New York City, eventually catching attention of The Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. With his production help, the band recorded a six-song EP. After earning enthusiastic reviews, including BBC1 DJ Zane Lowe praising the band on air, The Postelles embarked on a European tour, followed by slots at two major summer festivals in the US (Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza). Hammond, Jr. worked with the band on their self-titled full-length album, which was released on +1 Records in May 2011.

Raised on a steady diet of pure rock and roll--from Chuck Berry to The Beatles--The Postelles are a four-piece group from New York who are embracing those classic rock sensibilities and giving them a modern twist. After bonding over shared music interests in high school, Daniel Balk (vocals, guitar), David Dargahi (guitarist), John Speyer (bassist), and Billy Cadden (drummer) eventually came together to form The Postelles during their early years in college. Their music caught the ear of Albert Hammond, Jr.--guitarist for one of New York’s most famous exports, The Strokes--who produced their self-titled debut album. The result is thirteen endorphin-inducing songs with the classic 50s vibe of Phil Spector and Buddy Holly, but distinctly 21st century lyrics like: “On the first night that I met her, I could tell she was my type. Then, she told me that she'd kissed the lips of girls I'd liked” (from “Boy's Best Friend”). Fresh off of the release of their debut album, we had a chance to sit down with Balk and Dargahi before their concert at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, to discuss the evolution of The Postelles, the importance of music education, and their tour van Big Bertha.

Raised on a steady diet of pure rock and roll, from Chuck Berry to The Beatles, The Postelles are a four-piece group from New York who are embracing those classic rock sensibilities and giving them a modern twist.

After bonding over shared music interests in high school, Daniel Balk (vocals, guitar), David Dargahi (guitarist), John Speyer (bassist), and Billy Cadden (drummer) eventually came together to form The Postelles during their early years in college.

Their music caught the ear of Albert Hammond, Jr. (guitarist of The Strokes), who produced their self-titled debut album. The result is thirteen endorphin-inducing songs with the classic 50s vibe of Phil Spector and Buddy Holly, but distinctly 21st century lyrics like: “On the first night that I met her, I could tell she was my type. Then, she told me that she'd kissed the lips of girls I'd liked” (from “Boy's Best Friend”).

Fresh off of the release of their debut album, we had a chance to sit down with Balk and Dargahi before their concert at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, to discuss the evolution of The Postelles, the importance of music education, and their tour van Big Bertha.

Band of the Day: Question: With your debut album, The Postelles, what was your original vision before recording, and how did the end result match up?

David Dargahi (guitarist, backing vocals): We recorded it pretty much live, because a lot of our favorite albums were recorded like that. I think we wanted to capture our live show as much as possible, so we're really satisfied with how it turned out, and we're excited that it's finally out!

Daniel Balk (singer, guitarist): It's also like an early band thing. You know, like The Beatles, The Stones, and The Clash, early in their careers, all recorded live. And so that was a really big thing for us, for our first album.

Band of the Day: How important is it for musicians today to be educated about this era of music?

Daniel: Oh, it's incredibly important! If you're going to be a musician, and play rock and roll, you have to. That's where rock and roll came from. But I would say it was a time in music when there were so many great musicians, so many great songwriters, and people really focused on their instruments and learning the craft of their instruments. Maybe sometimes, nowadays, people are lazy and don't really care about being too good.

Band of the Day: But even the bands that you're influenced by, like The Beatles for example, started out playing straightforward rock and roll before eventually becoming more experimental. How do you envision The Postelles progressing?

Daniel: I would say we'd want to be more organic, like The Beatles or The Band. I don't think we're ever going to be making a computer record. As much as I love a band like Radiohead, I don't see us making an album like In Rainbows. It's a great record, but I don't see us doing it. But I would say The Beatles is a good example, because they became more mature about their songwriting.

David: Be just like The Beatles! That's our band motto (laughs).

Band of the Day: You guys always seem to look really confident on stage, and like you're having a good time. But was there a time when you didn't have that confidence?

Daniel: On-stage? Yeah, definitely! When we were in high school, just starting out.

Band of the Day: And how did you overcome it?

Daniel: Well, I think it's just with experience, like anything.

David: I remember I used to always break guitar strings—always! I think it was because I used to play too tight, because I was so tense. But now, not as much.

Daniel: It's funny because we had the same problem. You just realize you've gotta strum the guitar, relax. And if you're stressed and nervous, you're gonna break the strings.

Band of the Day: You guys have come a long way from scooping ice cream and pushing carts full of frozen turkey around for a living. So when was the moment that it really sunk in that you could actually make a living as a musician?

Daniel: I guess when we bought the van, and decided we were gonna go on tour. That's when it became real for us.

Band of the Day: You bought your own tour van?

Daniel: Yeah, we bought our own van.

Band of the Day: Did you name it?

Daniel: Name it? No.

David: Sometimes we call it Big Bertha!

Daniel: We do?

David: (laughs) Yeah!

Daniel: (laughs) That's the first time I've ever heard this! Although I have walked out of a hotel room, late at night, and he's with the van, alone with Big Bertha...I've walked in on that awkward moment.

David: Just test driving! I don't know how to drive, so I'm practicing.

Daniel: You've been test driving the van at night without anyone knowing??

David: (laughs) Yeah!

Band of the Day: Just doing circles around a parking lot?

David: I haven't actually turned it on! I'm just getting used to it.

Band of the Day: And how do your friends and family feel about The Postelles?

Daniel: Our friends hate us (laughs). No, but our friends and family are really supportive, and love what we're doing.

Band of the Day: Do they send you things?

David: For sure! I think Billy's (Cadden, drummer) mom is kind of our publicist! (laughs) She knows everything about the band.

Daniel: She sends us like interviews and articles that I never even heard about, so she's good.

David: And some that we didn't even do (laughs)!

Band of the Day: When did everything click, and you realized that this is the right combination of people for The Postelles?

Daniel: Well, we met in high school but the only person who came later was Billy. We went through a lot of drummers, but there was definitely a moment with Billy when we knew that this is what it should be.

David: Like, this is the last time we're gonna audition someone.

Daniel: And with every song we do there's like a moment of, “ok, this is working.” But I would say that when we stop, we'll get that feeling of, “Holy sh*t, this is cool! I like this!”

Band of the Day: Which Postelles lyric are you most proud of?

Daniel: I always liked the line on “Boy's Best Friend,” that goes “the grass is always greener on another's bed,” because it's pretty funny.

Band of the Day: And which non-Postelles lyric do you wish you had written?

Daniel: I would say Bob Dylan...

David: ...anything by Bob Dylan!

Daniel: Yeah, anything by Bob Dylan! But I would say the line (from “Positively 4th Street”) “If you were standing in my shoes, you'd see what a drag it is to see you.” That and “Love Minus Zero / No Limit”are the best Dylan songs!

Band of the Day: What is your favorite movie about music?

David: Maybe “That Thing You Do”?

Daniel: I would say “The Last Waltz.” Or maybe “Control,” which is about Joy Division.

Band of the Day: Did you have a “That Thing You Do” moment when you first heard a Postelles song on the radio?

Daniel: That happened with “White Night.” We were on tour, maybe in Wyoming, I wanna say? I was falling asleep, we were all sleeping, and all of a sudden “White Night” came on, on Sirius satellite radio or something. And I was like, sort of falling asleep and like, “I must be dreaming!”

Band of the Day: What's the first music video you fell in love with?

Daniel: I never really liked music videos all that much. Maybe just the funny ones?

David: Maybe some of Radiohead's? I remember thinking that they always did really cool videos

Daniel: Actually, for me it would be The Strokes' “Last Nite” because it came at a time when music like Limp Bizkit and all those bands were so big, and then all of a sudden I saw five guys just playing—and the video was recorded live, supposedly—and I was like, I have to check out this band!

Band of the Day: And if you could insert a song by The Postelles into a movie, what movie and what song would you pick?

Daniel: I would say definitely a Woody Allen movie.

David: Probably the opening credits of a Woody Allen movie.

Daniel: Yeah, like with skyscrapers and stuff. And what song? Not a fast one...maybe “Blue Room”?

Band of the Day: What was the last YouTube video that made you laugh?

David: We were recently going through our YouTube channel, and looking through some of the old movies on there. We actually have kind of a hidden music video that we did years ago for “Boy's Best Friend.” So if you really search, you can find that!

Daniel: And then outside of our own videos, we had this whole running joke that John (Speyer, bassist) would sing, “I kissed a squirrel, and I liked it!” like Katy Perry's “I Kissed A Girl (and I liked it).” And we thought it was so funny that he made up that lyric, and he'd do it for months and months, and we'd always laugh about it and would be like, “John, that's so funny, I can't believe you made that up!” But then all of a sudden, Billy or someone was on YouTube and found that there was already a video that had over 2 million hits or something called “I Kissed A Squirrel And I Liked It.” So he was taking credit for something that already existed!

David: That's where he gets his material from--from YouTube videos (laughs)!

Band of the Day: When you hit roadblocks as a band, like being dropped from a label, what keeps you going?

Daniel: Billy!

David: (laughs) Yeah, Billy keeps us going!

Band of the Day: How does Billy keep you going?

Daniel: Because the drummer's the back beat, he kicks us forward.

Band of the Day: Does he give motivational speeches, like Chris Farley's character in SNL?

David: Motivational stares!

Daniel: Or motivational sayings. He has little Billyisms, little lines that keep us going.

Band of the Day: Does he steal them from YouTube, too?

David: No, from Twitter (laughs)!

Band of the Day: The world is ending: what is the last Postelles song you'd want to perform, and where would you perform it?

Daniel: Postelles song? I wouldn't want to do a Postelles song (laughs)! No, I'd say one of the newer songs, just because I'm so excited about them. Or from the album, probably one like “Can't Stand Still,” because I don't have to play guitar on that one. If the world was ending, I'd probably wanna start running somewhere!

David: Probably one of our shorter songs!

Daniel: Yeah, so “Can't Stand Still” would work. And where?

David: Gotta be home, it's gotta be New York.

Daniel: Yeah, definitely New York!

Band of the Day: And at what venue?

Daniel: Bowery Ballroom. Or Madison Square Garden! Yeah, Madison Square Garden.

David: Or Central Park, at the outdoor stage because we'd wanna see what it's gonna look like.