Passenger Peru is one of the most impressive DIY bands out there, showing they have more than it takes to stand out from the crowd with catchy lyrics and great musical talent. Justin Stivers of the band was gracious enough to do a little Q&A with TGH.
Hey Justin, for our followers, can you give us a background on the band?
basically, the band evolved from pet ghost project to Passenger Peru. Pet Ghost, was me (Justin Stivers) in my basement or where ever i could record and became a real life touring band. which included amongst many, Justin Gonzales. the two Justins got along so well, that they decided to do their own thang and called it Passenger Peru. that is basically it…an evolution of music/bands over the course of 10-12 years.
The album is great guys! The first thing I noticed is the quality. Very impressive for a freshman effort. How were you able to release such a polished album?
well, like i said…both Justin’s have been doing this for a while. Gonzales went to college for music and music production. Stivers, went to school for music too but the worst grades he got was in music/recording courses. i (Stivers) just determined to “punk it out” and totally do my own thing. i found, recording in a garage or basement rendered better and more exciting results then in a professional studio. so, that is where i shall always keep it. we’ve probably worked on easily over 10 albums now over the years and basically you learn as you go. even though this is Passenger Peru’s first album, we went into it with a very clear definition of controlled madness and creativity.
What were your influences growing up?
i was born and raised in the Seattle, Washington area from the 80’s through the 90’s. so that about sums it up. i freaked out when i was 13 and heard Nirvana (still probably my favorite band of all time), Sound Garden, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam (cant stand Pearl Jam now though, decisively and strictly been removed from my influences). i loved Green Day around that same time too, which is very much a guilty pleasure (Dookie, 1039 smoothed out slappy hours and Kerplunk were the albums that i was way into at age 12). they later opened me up to REAL punk bands though, so for that i’m thankful. Nirvana also exposed me to great things that i discovered and appreciated much later too (The Pixies, Daniel Johnston, The Breeders, The Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth, etc).
basically i’ve loved The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Creedence and Grateful Dead since as long as i can recall…they are a constant, i never tire of exploring those catalogues. but these are just a few bands that i enjoyed from age 1 to age 14…
Some of the songs remind me of The Verve’s “Northern Soul”, what were your psychedelic influences?
most certainly My Bloody Valentine, they are a big one. lately there has been a lot of bands doing the totally delayed out sound. Animal Collective (sung tongs up to merriweather) , Sigor Ros, Beach House and Os Mutantes are probably my favorite psychedelic type stuff at the moment. really like how these bands use delays.
what are your current plans? touring? new music?
currently, we are recording an album. i’m doing some studio upgrades too, which takes some time to work out the bugs buuuuut things are really coming along. both of us have a stockpile of songs and ideas that could fill out two albums easily. between these two justins, we probably have over 150 ideas/songs and musical tidbits hanging around from over the years. things are also going really well with Fleeting Youth Records, so we are just really excited for the future.
no tours set up, just lots of recording and writing.
In this age of bandcamp and blogs, everyone and their mother has a band, how do you keep ahead of the competition?
i actually dont really think about it all that much. maybe i should, i dunno.
i just focus on writing interesting songs, i also try to make sure that they are performed with energy/excitement and mixed/mastered in a way that fully expresses and magnifies the songs feeling. its all about the tunes and capturing what Brian Wilson calls “the feels”. musically, we exaggerate everything. this first Passenger Peru album has been released 3 times and i contribute it to the redeeming quality that is our focus on the songs soul/feeling. after all of that is satisfied, i work on promoting, music videos, website/facebook/twitter, PR stuff, emails, etc.
that, and consistency. even if i’m moving forward in tiny baby steps, at least i’m moving forward. been doing this for like 10 years or more now, still learning and adapting as i go.
Do you notice a difference in the music scene today compared to say 5 or 6 years ago?
hard not to if you just sit back and reflect on it. i’ve been popping in and out of Brooklyn and NY a lot the last 5 years, so there is definitely a lot of little things that change around here. venues open and close, which it seems like most of the good ones (or at least some of my favorites) have been closing lately. many of my friends bands have come and gone. which is sad, over the last year or two i havent been hitting up shows quite as much as i used to. i use to go to DIY spaces all the time.
honestly, at one point in time i probably tried to keep up on popular music trends and who was the new “up and coming” bands but lately i find myself not caring about it too much. every time i pop into Pitchfork to see whats happening, i mostly end up leaving grumpy, depressed and unfulfilled. i do still enjoy getting new bands (both relatively unknown and really popular) from my friends and from Fleeting Youth Records…come to think of it, i’ve been listening mostly to Gonzales’ picks and FYR’s bands.
man, i sound old.
Ha Ha,I know that feeling. There is a lot of pressure to keep up, but it takes way to much time. Anyways who are your favorite artist currently?
top five at this very moment and at this exact point in time… White Denim, The Kinks, Yo la Tengo, Clouder, Don Caballero.
Any message to the fans or future fans?
thanks for listenin’!
We always ask this, is there any PP Christmas music around?
nope, not yet. maybe someday.
but my wife has been asking me since our first date to write her a Hanukkah song.
Follow PP on twitter: https://twitter.com/PassengerPeru
Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/passperu
Follow Fleeting Youth Records: https://twitter.com/FleetingYouthTX
Buy PP music on Bandcamp: http://passengerperu.bandcamp.com/