By Mikael Larsson and Laurent Altier
A chilly March afternoon in Williamsburg, we had the fortune to sit down with the New York-native band The Postelles in our studio for an interview.
The four friends Daniel Balk (vocals), David Dargahi (guitar), John Speyer (bass), and Billy Cadden (drums) have been together since high school. For the past two years, they have played all over the United States and England, alongside powerhouse musicians including Interpol, Kings of Leon, and Chuck Berry. Co-produced by Albert Hammond Jr. from The Strokes, their upcoming debut album, The Postelles, touts what could be called a “stylish fresh rock” style. The band’s classic Nuevo Rock music and their fun house party stage presence have been key to their success.
What are some of your influences?
Daniel: We all have different influences, a lot of it early rock and roll: Elvis, Little Richard, Sam Cove, and Chuck Berry.
What about The Strokes?
Daniel: Albert is a good friend; he produced half our record, so he forced us to be influenced by The Strokes! [Laughter.]
So how did you four guys meet and when did you start playing together?
David: We met in high school; it was love at first sight.
Daniel: John played Cello in the music group, and I learned the guitar the summer before high school and wanted to start a band. David also did, but we didn’t know each other. Billy banged pots and pans.
Billy: Actually the trumpet; that is how it started. How the disaster started. I could never practice because it was too loud for my apartment, so I picked up drums.
Daniel: So, basically we were all casually playing music, the three of us were in a band and Billy was in a rival band. It all started when we tried out college for a year and none of us liked it. Billy was still in high school at that time. So I was in New York, and Billy would come over to my house to play. He happened to be pretty good with the drums.
Who writes the music?
John: We have our manager write most our songs… or not.
Daniel: Actually I write the skeleton of a song in my room, and then we orchestrate the song together. I am the genius behind the lyrics, too. I do the music then David tinkles with the guitar, John pulls the strings, Billy bangs a lot, and then we get a song.
Do you guys have roles in the band apart from your instrumental positions?
John: I’m the dad, Dan’s the mom, and then we have the kids. Billy and David are basically the kids: They fight and then love each other while Dan and I… we sleep and spend the night romantically. We still take each other out after all these years.
Daniel: Yeah, Olive Garden. [Laughter.]
When you’re out touring, do you play any of your new unreleased songs?
Daniel: We will sprinkle in one or two songs once in a while; it’s a good test to see how the audience reacts.
“White Night” by The Postelles
How long have you been away on tour now?
Daniel: We have been away a lot the past six months. But for this last big national tour we were gone for about a month, five weeks. We hit about 20 states. The biggest tour we did was in March 2010, which was like 26 shows, and three days later we went to the UK and did 13 more shows there. It’s a good two and half months on the road.
What is the best show you have ever played?
Daniel: We recently got to open for Chuck Berry in Saint Louise, which was pretty epic. EPIC, that is our new word! Actually a funny story; we booked a show at the Bowery Ballroom [in New York], one of our favorite venues, and 10 days before the show, our manager called and said: “You are going on tour with Interpol and Kings of Leon.” We got to tour with these two bands that we have loved for many years. EPIC!
David: When we play, it’s sort of a house party; we want the audience to be involved in this party which makes it a lot of fun every single time.
How much do you care about your style and the way you dress?
Daniel: We care a lot; we have a few rules. John likes to wear a button down with a tie once in a while. Billy and Daniel sort of dress with the same type of look; David wears some cool jackets with suits once in a while. We definitely care how we dress.
The bands that we look up to all dressed a certain way, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Clash definitely had a look, also the early Rock and Roll people saw themselves as performers and dressed as such, sort of like a respect thing. When you go up on the stage you want to look different from the crowd, but some bands don’t want to do that they want to be a part of the crowd, but that’s not us. We’re city boys; we all have our unique sense of style.
Being city boys, do you think New York has had an influence on your music?
Daniel: New York is a huge influence. Wherever you are born is going to be an influence.
Our first album is about going out in New York and sort of its fast-paced lifestyle.
How do you see the music industry changing in the future?
Daniel: Exploding. The way we define the industry is going to change. The major label paradigm is obviously over, that is what people have been saying and it’s going to be more and more true; there are more and more independent releases. The old way is done, and for the next 20 years people are going to be figuring out new ways to make money.
What about downloading music?
Daniel: It is what it is, it makes it tougher for musicians to make money, and we hope people are aware of that. More licensing, more tours, it’s just a tougher road right now, but it is what it is.
People are always going to want music, music will never die; Rock and Roll will never die.
How is it with relationships, being on tour all the time?
Billy: We are all down for anything relationship-wise.
Daniel: Are you asking us out on a date?
David: If you pay for dinner we’ll do it.
John: Come to our show and take us out to dinner; it’s the way for our hearts.
Billy: Well to be honest, a bottle of whiskey and I’ll come with you wherever.
Arctic Monkeys “Brick by Brick,” Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues,” Don Covay “Mercy Mercy,” Beady Eye “Bring The Light,” Led Zeppelin “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” Ambassadors “Unconsolable,” Rolling Stones “Bitch,” The Strokes “Taken for a Fool,” Girls “Broken Dreams Club,” Blur “13,” The Clash “London Calling,” Bob Dylan “Blonde on Blonde,” George Harrison “All Things Must Pass”