As Peaer, Peter Katz, Thom Lombardi and Jeremy Kinney craft songs with attention to detail. Much has happened since the Brooklyn-via-Connecticut band initially debuted back in 2016: the songs that Katz wrote during his college days have taken on lives of their own, and the lineup of musicians playing them out has changed entirely. Somewhere in that timeline, between countless gigs, Peaer found a groove that worked for them and began work on their sophomore album, A Healthy Earth, which is finally out this Friday.
In many ways, A Healthy Earth feels like an arrival for the band. Peaer sound as raw as they did on their self-titled debut, but this time around, the intention feels more fleshed out. The anxieties are less personal and more global. It’s the first project Katz, Lombardi, and Kinney have built together from the ground up, and they’ve been working on it for the past two years. A sense of deliberation can be found tucked away in every onomatopoeic moments. Keen ears may pick up on a few “musical puns” throughout its run time — that's "taking something that’s happening in the lyrics and trying to reflect it in the music," Katz explains — but even as a casual listen, the album remains consistently inquisitive and engaging.
A Healthy Earth is out everywhere this coming Friday via Tiny Engines, but just ahead of that, Peaer is debuting the album here today. Earlier this week, we caught up with Katz, Lombardi, and Kinney to discuss how the project came together. Read that conversation, and stream the record in its entirety, below.
How did Peaer, in its current iteration, come to be?
Katz: At some point in college, I had written and recorded an album by myself. I got together with my friends Max and Michael in a live band, and with those three people we made another little album that by the end of college in 2015 we had recorded with Jeremy. He mixed and mastered the self titled album. After a little while, Thom came in, and our drummer had to drop out before one tour, so we started doing it as a tour, until toward the end of the tour when we came through the Hudson Valley area. I called Jeremy — he mixed and mastered the album so I figured he might be familiar with it. He agreed, we practiced once, did like four shows together and it was really great. We stayed consistent over the next couple of years, and since that time I’d been compiling songs for what the next record would be. We started really writing and recording and finishing everything in winter 2017, and we finished the album this past January.
Coming out of that first album, which seems to have came about sort of serendipitously, what did you want to bring to album two?
Kinney: The last one just felt like documenting. Fundamentally, it was just guitar, bass and drums, and I didn't really know the material going into it. But on this record, we all handled the production between the three of us. We all worked on the songs from the genesis of them. There was more discussion on what kind of tones were were going for.
Katz: Just that there was a specific intention was the biggest difference.
With regards to that newfound intention, how did the overarching concept of A Healthy Earth come about?
Kinney: One of my goals in writing all of these songs was to achieve a level of scale… to not just talk about interpersonal relationships, but also about the world at large at various levels: the government, the environment, or culture. The title came from a line in a song called “Multiverse”: in another universe, we have a healthy earth. Taking it out of context, it poses a question: what does a healthy earth look like? Do we have one? How do we get there, or did we ever? Do we deserve it? Once it presented itself to us, we realized it was kind of what we were talking about the entire time.
Branching off that idea of scales, the album artwork depicts a scene of miniatures.
Lombardi: The title actually came after the album art. Soon after I joined Peaer in late 2015, Peter came over to my parent’s house, and my dad has been into model railroading for a really long time. We built this train layout in their basement when Peter was over, and he took a photo of it and kept it as his phone background.
Katz: Since that day, I said I don’t care what the record sounds like, I want to use that imagery as artwork.
Now that the album is finished, is there any part of it that you’re the most proud of?
Katz: On this album we had fun with the idea of what we call musical puns; taking something that’s happening in the lyrics and trying to reflect it in the music. Toward the very end of the first song, “Circle,” we do a chord progression that’s the circle of fifths. That’s one of my favorite parts of the album.
Lombardi: In the beginning of that song, before any instruments come in, there’s a recording of me scribbling with a pen. We mixed it with a recording of Peter walking around in a circle. We tried to keep those kind of details throughout the album.
The song "Multiverse" feels like the thesis statement of the album, of sorts.
Katz: I think it's a good example of everything we're talking about; the tone painting, the musical puns, and the production. That song is split into four sections and each was recorded very differently, though repeating the same musical material. I like to think of it as a kaleidoscope, listening through different lenses just as the song is about multiple universes at the same time. On the vinyl, the song ends halfway through on the first side, and you have to flip the record over to hear the rest.
Kinney: That song kind of encapsulates what we were trying to say with the entire record — the intention behind the lyrics, and questioning the idea of scale.
Are you ready for this album to be out in the world?
Lombardi: I'm ready to start working on some new material.
Katz: I don't even have new material yet. When the first album came out, I had nothing else going on in my life. I was fresh out of college trying to figure out shit. I was so ready to book tours and stuff. Now that the band is so much more engrained in my life, and we spent so long working on it, it feels like, whoa, this is real. I don't know if I've fully reconciled with it. But I'm excited.