A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Cocktail Club Film Club
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features Newswire Great Job, Internet!
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

Peter Wolf Crier howls in a secret house

Local duo Peter Wolf Crier doesn’t quite have a handle on what it's channeling in debut album Inter Be, and rightly so. It’s an album birthed in the middle of the night, and it sounds like one: Guitarist/vocalist Peter Pisano of The Wars Of 1812 and drummer Brian Moen of Laarks frame what Pisano refers to as “the ashes of a memoir” with eerily stacked harmony howls, crackling percussion, and guttural guitar work. Inter Be’s simultaneously ethereal and rugged home-recorded sound will undoubtedly draw legions of comparisons to For Emma, Forever Ago—particularly since Moen has collaborated with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon—but possesses bewitching qualities entirely its own.

Instead of a traditional CD-release show, Peter Wolf Crier will perform as part of This Is Not For You, a site-specific theater experience directed by Jeremey Catterton of local troupe Lamb Lays With Lion, which runs Oct. 14-23 at a secret location in St. Paul. (To find out where, you'll first need to buy a ticket; peterwolfcrier.com has more info.) Pisano and Moen took time out to talk with The A.V. Club about accidentally becoming a band and the long shadow of Bon Iver.

<a href="http://peterwolfcrier.bandcamp.com/album/inter-be" _fcksavedurl="http://peterwolfcrier.bandcamp.com/album/inter-be">Crutch & Cane by Peter Wolf Crier</a>

The A.V. Club: The sound of Peter Wolf Crier is quite a departure from your work with The Wars Of 1812. What triggered this new approach?

Peter Pisano: This new album, really this whole new direction for my music, found its way out of me when I was least expecting it. I had the summer off from teaching and found myself alone and living in my head more than I ever really had before. Things got a little weird. I was on a whacked-out schedule—staying up until three in the morning, waking up at two in the afternoon, spending all day alone. I was trying to write but nothing was coming, and nothing had been coming for a while. Then I suddenly had this night where five songs poured out of me. It felt like nothing I had experienced before and sounded like nothing I had done before. I had found another voice that I didn’t know was inside me and the whole experience was really cathartic. I think I’m still figuring it out.

AVC: How did Peter Wolf Crier make the leap from late-night, solo-recording project to living, breathing band?

PP: I e-mailed Brian after I had recorded the demos with the intention of having him record what I thought was my solo project. I felt I had the album pretty well tied up and had figured out the aesthetic. But once I started working with Brian, out of pure admiration for his skill as an all-around musician, I knew the project would only benefit from untying those knots and digging into the songs again to build them from the ground up. Somewhere in that process we became a band.

Brian Moen: Peter’s initial recordings had almost no percussion at all. He had done some foot-stomping in places. I remember Peter being shocked a little by the direction some of the songs had gone when I first played him some of my early ideas. From there we just started building and building.

AVC: Rather than play your typical bar CD-release show, you’ve chosen to unveil these songs publicly as part of a theatrical production in a rented house. What was the impetus for this unconventional approach?

PP: Jeremy heard the demos and wanted to be a part of the project somehow. My willingness to participate in the theater project is largely just trusting him and seeing how passionate he is. I remember Jeremy saying we should rent a house and put on these special shows and thinking, "That’s one of those great ideas you don’t actually do." [Laughs.] Then Brian was totally on board with the idea and I realized "Hey, we can do this!" It allows us to provide some context in a really beautiful way. Nowadays, the way most people are discovering your music is just clicking on a link—they can be doing whatever the fuck they want while they experience it. Creating an alternate space for the audience to experience the music in is really appealing.

AVC: There have already been a few comparisons of your music to Bon Iver floating around on social networking sites, probably just the first of many. How does the comparison sit with you?

PP: I love Justin as a person and [for] his music, so I’m certainly not going to take any comparisons to him as an insult. It’s a natural comparison to make, and fair, because Brian’s been involved with Justin over the years and I just recorded an album at his house [with The Wars Of 1812]. I’ve acknowledged in the press before how much he’s affected me as a person.

BM:  I know Peter drew a fair amount of inspiration from Justin’s record when he originally wrote the songs. When he brought them to me I thought it had some of that Bon Iver vibe, but it certainly had its own thing going as well. Part of my challenge was to take them to a different spot. Even if For Emma, Forever Ago started out as a closer reference at the beginning, we ended up somewhere decidedly different. I think it’s distinctive enough that people won’t see it as a rip-off.