Peter Wolf Crier is all of the following: a band from Minneapolis made of Peter Pisano and Brian Moen; a band whose debut album, Inter-Be, has a) been released TODAY by Jagjaguwar and b) spent a month getting pushed + hyped (deservedly) by 89.3 The Current, among others; a band who, instead of playing a CD release show at the 7th street or something, played their album in a house on a relatively secret basis (add that to your list of concerts you wish you’d seen); a band whose 11-song debut features some of the year’s best music (in a year of frighteningly good music, too: the new National is just godawfully brilliant [click here for an old interview I did with Matt Berninger, the National's lead singer], Sarah Jaffe’s stuff should be clotheslining everyone, Happiest Lion’s making strange young-man untroubled noise out of Boston, LCD’s new one’s actually not as bad as my friends and I’d feared, etc.).
But let’s be fair: Inter-Be is one of the year’s best albums, one of the year’s best collections-of-working-together songs. If that seems an obvious or simple thing, try real hard to think of the last disc you heard in which the songs interwove in any sort of pleasing ways (it’s almost comically simple to dismiss most pop straightaway; I’d guess the last album for most of us that worked like this was Bon Iver’s For Emma, an album it’s admittedly easy in several ways to compare with PWC’s debut [Jagjaguwar, midwest, etc.], but it’s unfair to both artists: they’re totally, wildly different discs). Inter-Be is a gauzy, wood-floored masterpiece, a full house of low-fi gorgeousness (mostly acoustic guitar [or at least hollow-body electric] and drums) and, through it all, Peter Pisano’s mildly aching voice, Brian Moen’s insanely communicative percussion. “I felt I had the album pretty well tied up and had figured out the aesthetic,” said Pasano in another interview, “[b]ut once I started working with Brian…I knew the project would only benefit from untying those knots and digging into the songs again.”
Sit with that thought for a second: imagine an artist whose convictions are strong enough for him to trust untying the knots he’d already created. Imagine how much work it’d take for you to allow someone else into your own late-night rush of creativity and invention, and to allow someone else not only in but in with discretion, with administrator capabilities.
Inter-Be sounds like all of what made it: it sounds Midwestern in the best ways, it sounds risked and open and opened, it sounds unbelievably welcoming and honest, sounds capital-t True in exactly the ways we all claim to want our best art. This is a True disc, and, for my money, the year’s best: we’ll all be very, very lucky if Peter Wolf Crier keep making knots, keep untying, keep digging. Sincerely: this is an album you 100% need.
Here’s them doing an in-studio @ Radio K (and yes, MN’s got the best radio in the world, has since REV 105):
Peter Pisano was also massively cool and answered some emailed questions, and they’re all as follows:
1. What are you reading? Likewise, to whom do you listen, what movies do you watch, what sports teams do you follow, cooking shows, HDTV, etc. Basically: what’s the input that leads to your output? The wider/wilder on this one, the better (I think).
When I was quite young, my father caught me stealing baseball cards. As my punishment, I was not allowed to collect with him for sometime. Shortly thereafter, while throwing a tennis ball against my grandfather’s brick siding, a stray throw broke a glass screen. Again, I was not allowed to collect cards while the $75 penalty was amassed. When finally I was ready to return to my favorite past time, the league went on strike in 94-95. I believe I loved sports more than they loved me.
As of late, I rarely move past hip hop. I listened to Eyedea and Abilities until it was no longer good for me. No Bird Sing and Kristoff Krane round things out. I listen to these friends (Mike Larson, Joe Horton, and Chris Keller) freestyle so very much and it fills my heart with love for the moment. Like, it really nails me with compassion.
When I talk about LOST late at night, after an episode, it makes me tear in the same way that recounting dreams at high school sleepovers did.
I read Zen Buddhist talks as a means to live. It has meant that much to me. It has given me that much.
3 words: Amongst White Clouds.
2. What would success mean to you? Where are you, literally, in this process? Yes history/time will judge, no you have little direct control on album sales, and yet you’ve made this great disc, and you seem to be getting good notice, your label’s hugely supportive, the Current’s all up in yr stuff, etc. Is this success?
I find, viscerally, a great sense of peace to inhabit each musician who, after accepting themselves as an artist, finds comfort in the uncertainty of their career. I know this well because it causes me much suffering.
2.1. How’s PWF different from Wars/1812? Not sonically (which the listener can sort of deduce on his own), but to you, from inside it? Did you know, right away, that the songs that make up Inter-Be were not 1812 songs? Also: why Inter-Be? It’s evocative and works perfectly, but I’m curious why you picked it?
That is really fucking insightful, that question. I found, once inside Peter Wolf Crier (when it became a thing outside myself), it to be much the same. I was having the same conversations, hearing the same voices, and drawn to the same habit. Once we become aware of how thoroughly we color people around us in our likeness and how discretely we project upon them, we are free to truly sit with ourselves (even while collaborating). While working with Brian, I felt incredibly light. My fears, my insecurities, my pride, my creativity became my own in such a way that was both liberating internally and of far more use to him as a band member. In short, no matter where you sit you sit with the same demons. Calling them home, holding them close, and allowing those which do not belong to you to roam is a suitable space to communicate whatever truth you can grab hold of.
3. Who would be your dream collaborator? With whom would you love to work—musician, producer, whatever?
John Frusciante: Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt is the album in which I discovered pure beauty in honest, vulnerable, authentic art. It twisted, bent, tore, and healed my high school self. I wish, still, to grow most in this way.
4. What’s your favorite place in the twin cities? (best place for whatever you want, too. Or, if you want, best place for any/all of the following: beer, smoke, kiss, run, hand-clap, burger, tortilla chip, forgetting something, remembering something, skipping a rock, buying/hearing music).
It became abundantly clear as my parents visited this past week just how little of the city I know outside of the venues. Likely, this is because they fulfill all the needs you described above (save skipping a rock, for which I prefer Lake Calhoun).
4.1 If you’re at all interested in it, can you talk about your stuff as specifically midwestern? This is something I care much about (I’m from the twin cities, I dig the Replacements and Dylan, I deep-down believe in the magic of the MN Twins, I think writers from the midwest [Ander Monson, Bob Hicok] are just fundamentally different/better than others…), and I’m curious if it’s something that occurs to you guys as well.
It’s funny, I never understood myself to be a product of the Midwest. We suburbanites readily trade in that pride for a shot a being confused for Chicagoans. Since moving to Wisconsin for school and Minnesota for music, I’ve come to know that pride from a distance.
5. Do you like touring? Where’ve/what’ve been yr most enjoyable shows? Are you gonna be doing a whole bunch more this summer? What do you most look forward to w/PWC, aside from (presumably) the album actually hitting? Along those lines: are there any bands you’re really looking forward to 1) playing with, 2) seeing, or 3) hearing their new albums this summer?
I don’t know touring. I’ve romanticized it. I’ve demonized it. I’ll tour with little rest this June and July with little more knowledge than how beautiful nights can be spent with acts you admire. This lesson came after sharing two nights with Sharon Van Etten in Chicago (with Final Fantasy) and Madison (with the Bowerbirds). I didn’t feel alone, I didn’t feel scared, and I didn’t want anything more those nights.
6. On the album itself: you said in another interview that your influences are Wilco and the Beatles. Are Dr. Dog and M Ward part of that conversation, too? (they’re who I hear, somewhat). It’s just interesting: I write, and I think of writing as being in conversation w/ other stuff (like, the poems I write are in some way working with/against other poems I’ve been reading and/or writing), and it feels like that’d be true for music as well, so I’m just curious if there was some conversation going on on Inter-Be, and, if there was a conversation, what was part of it, and who
Dr. Dog is surely in there. I’m of the same ilk as those guys, I think. We have the same sensibilities, I hope. I find them to be one of the greatest touring pop bands. Whatever it was I needed to say in this album, had to be said with the same patient immediacy of Transfiguration of Vincent. As well, that album should be forever held as an example of self-containment and specificity in sonic locale. I believe Brian did an incredible job in making a home out of Inter-Be for each song to live, drift, but never escape, in much the same light.
6.1. Along that line: is there an intended “you” on the album? There’s no clear narrative or anything connecting the songs, that I could tell, but I’d be curious.
At times, I was fully aware who I was speaking to. At times, I was entirely oblivious. At times, I hear myself writing songs for different faces than they were intended. I’m not sure which intention to believe. Really, it is sometimes scary.
7. This is one of those sort of dorky/obligatory answers, but what’s yr take on the state of the music business at present? I’m just an outsider, a fan–I like that there’s blogs and blog aggregators, and that big companies have less and less a position in my life, but I’m curious about how it feels from the other side, as a musician, especially a musician who has gotten such mileage from word-of-mouth and community-built power. Again: expand away, I really don’t even know how much more clear to make the question. It’s maybe more of just a prompt.
I think this is a really important question for another time. Like, I think I’ll need to change my answer before sending this off.
8. What’s the view out your window?
My sitting practice takes place facing my window. Outside it, I find the neighbor’s motion-sensitive light to be a centered point. I think because it is far enough away not to take a definite shape. Of greater interest to the casual reader, my neighbors recently tore down a tent used to host all-night tickle sessions. I sleep with my windows open 6 months out of the year. I’m serious on both accounts.
(last note: this interview’s been real mildly clipped and altered, but please be assured: if Peter Pisano is even remotely as decent in person as he is over email exchange, you owe it to yrself to clap him on the back in congrats WHEN [not if] you go see him play sometime this summer.)