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Get To Know: Post Animal

This past Friday night, I caught up with the boys in Post Animal before they headlined night one of Chicago’s Psych Fest at The Hideout. Although the band was down one member, with this weekend being one of the first times they’ve played without guitarist Joe Keery, the remaining five members still had plenty to talk about. Throughout the conversation, I found out all you need to know about this up and coming Chicago band, including news on their upcoming album and tour, stories about their haunted recording space, their influences, and their feelings on a certain Netflix show (which, if you didn’t already know, one of them happens to star in). There’s no doubt about it, 2017 will be an incredible year for Post Animal, so get familiar with them now. 

 Post Animal is: Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Joe Keery, Javi Reyes, Wes Toledo and Matt Williams. Photo by  Kristina Pedersen . 

Post Animal is: Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Joe Keery, Javi Reyes, Wes Toledo
and Matt Williams. Photo by Kristina Pedersen

Their Influences Include Bands like Black Sabbath and The Police, Their Parents... and Mel Gibson

One of the first things I always want to know about musicians is how they got into playing music.  Matt Williams, Javi Reyes, and Wes Toledo all credit their parents for getting them into music at a young age.  “I started playing music when I was like four,” Wes says. “My dad was a musician too, so he just kind of started me at an early age. I started listening to the Police and bands like that, like the Beatles liking of music came from that," he continued on. Matt adds, “My mom was a musician so she kinda forced me to take guitar lessons. She’s a bass player, but she was like ‘you need to learn how to play guitar,’ and then I kinda got forced to…” Javi says his mom also had guitars laying around, and he first started playing the guitar that his brother was given for Christmas one year. “I  learned how to play the James Bond theme,” he recalls.

Dalton Allison says that other bands, like Black Sabbath, inspired him to start making music, while Jake Hirshland admits that his inspiration stems from just wanting to be in a band, saying, “I just wanted to be in a band so bad dude, that I like picked up a guitar and tried to get good enough.” All of the guys also agree that films scores played a big part in influencing them, with Dalton deeming the Jurassic Park score as his favorite.

Oh, and the part about Mel Gibson? That came up while Matt chatted about the early days of guitar lessons, revealing, “The very first lesson I took was so awkward. There’s like these guitar books, I think they’re called Mel Gibson, wait! Not Mel Gibson...those learning books...”  It turns out he was actually talking about Mel Bay guitar books, which we quickly figured out, thanks to a member of another band playing that night.

All Of The Band Members Are Multi-Instrumentalists

If you’ve ever seen Post Animal live, you know they’ve got a lot of guitars on one stage (they also have a lot of hair on one stage, but that’s besides the point). The reason for so many bandmates stems from a few of them originally being substitutes who just never left. Dalton and Matt grew up together as self-proclaimed “bad boys of Danville,” first starting a band in sixth grade. As for the rest of the guys, Matt says,“We just kinda met people through friends and through work, and then someone was like ‘Hey I know this guy who’s a really good drummer, Wes. You should play with him.’ Then we did, and someone was out of town and Javi had just moved into town. So we were like ‘Javi wanna play these couple shows with us?’ And he just never stopped playing with us.”  

“We’ve pretty much just been tacking people on. I moved to Chicago and started playing with these dudes. It was a lot of people going out of town for a while, so we were just subbing people,” Jake chimes in.  The rest of band agreed that they just can’t let anyone go.

Dalton also gives credit to the adaptability of his bandmates, saying “We’re really lucky to have a mutli-talented group. Like Javi can pretty much play anything, Matt can pretty much play anything, Jake can play anything. Wes is one of the best drummers that I’ve ever played with.”  

The Lakehouse They Recorded in Is Haunted

It’s been a minute since Post Animal released their 6 track EP called The Garden Series, but lucky for us, the next album is just about ready. How is this new full-length different than the band’s previous releases? Other than the location where they recorded it, Dalton says,“It’s the first one with all 6 of us on it, so this is the most exciting for sure,” adding on that it should be between 10 and 13 songs. He also says that this new record is more collaborative than their past work, crediting each band member with writing their own parts.  

“Yeah we’re all pumped. Recordings are done and Dalton’s in the cave doing [post] production on it. We’re hoping the spring time,” Jake adds about the progress and planned release of the record.  Continuing on about their recording process, he adds, “I feel like the way we recorded is also...we did a lot of stuff at the same time and we never really used the rooms we were in. Rather than recording it in Dalton’s bedroom like we’ve been doing for the last couple, we actually went to this lakehouse of our good friend and just squatted in the living room and played everything loud...getting all the sound of the space. I think you can tell [it was recorded live].”

While we’re on the subject of the lakehouse, Wes drops the bomb that the place was haunted. Javi and Dalton both attest to strange glitches appearing on their recordings from the lakehouse, while Jake, Wes, and Matt admit to having to sleep in the same room eventually after several scares. Jake recalls one night in which a nightstand flipped over in the room they were sharing, after already being woken up by a ghost. “These old, wrinkly leather hands just tugged me awake. It was bizarre,” Jake says. The rest of the band add that they’re not big on embellishment or really into paranormal activity, with Jake continuing, “Yeah we’re rational at heart, but it was bizarre, I had no explanations for some of the stuff I was feeling and seeing. The table flying over…”

In addition to the ghost scares, coffee got spilled on their computer halfway through recording, causing the band to worry they’d lost all of their work. Despite all of these scares, the band say they still had the time of their lives recording in the house adjoining Paw Paw Lake.

Rather than recording it in Dalton’s bedroom like we’ve been doing for the last couple, we actually went to this lakehouse of our good friend and just squatted in the living room and played everything loud...getting all the sound of the space
— Jake on the band's recording process

They’re Really Excited to Play Daytrotter Downs Festival In March

At the moment, the Post Animal boys have only got a string of live dates announced for this year, including some shows in Michigan with Twin Peaks and a slot at Daytrotter Downs Festival in Davenport, IA. However, they let on that they’ve just locked in the first two weeks of an upcoming tour, with Wes adding on that they’ll be out on the road all summer.

Talking more about Daytrotter, Dalton says,“I think that’s the first time that any of us were kinda shocked that someone asked us to play. We really respect what they’ve got going on.” They’re also all excited to check out some of the other bands on the line up, with Jake shouting out NE-HI and Wes and Matt giving nods to Joan of Arc and Gaelynn Lea.  

 Daydrotter Downs Lineup Poster

Daydrotter Downs Lineup Poster

They’re Also Really Excited To See The Country

Before the interview, I noticed that a fan had commented “come to Brazil!” on one of Post Animal’s recent Facebook posts. To me, the summoning to Brazil is a sign you’ve made it. Bringing up this comment, I asked the band where in the world they’d like to tour.  

“South America would be a dream. It’s gonna be dream to even…. like I’ve never even been to New York City in my life. Every single place we go is gonna be a new place that I’ve never been, so that’s pretty crazy,” Dalton admits.  

Javi agrees with South America, saying “I’ve got family down there, so... Just so you know my name is Javier.” Jake agrees with Dalton’s point that it’ll be crazy to see the country, while Matt says he’s particularly excited to play in the states he hasn’t been to, like the Southeast. “Speaking of the south,” Jake adds,“We might be playing SXSW, but nothing is locked in.”  

They’d also love to eventually play some European dates, so keep your eyes out for that.

They’ve Got a Lot of Love for Fellow Chicago Musicians, Especially Jude Shuma

Post Animal recently headlined The Empty Bottle, with support coming from fellow Chicagoans Lucille Furs and Jude Shuma. Not only was the show entirely epic, but it turns out the Post Animal members all love the other two bands. Wes started the love fest for Jude and also gave props to Lucille Furs by saying,“[Twin] Peaks rocks, Joe Bordernaro. Lucille Furs obviously. Jude Shuma!” Jake recommended also interviewing Jude, with Javi attesting to his great interview skills, calling him a charismatic guy.  (So Jude, if you're reading this, let's set up an interview?) 

The guys have also got a lot of love for Chicago venues, including The Empty Bottle, The Hideout and Thalia Hall. “It was a bit of a dream playing Thalia with Twin Peaks. That was scary,” Jake says about the latter. “I’ve just never even been on a stage like that[with a barrier], but in the crowd it doesn’t look like there’s that much space. But when you’re up there, it’s like a good eight feet of space. It’s just like intimidating being that far away from people,”  he continued.

Dalton agrees that it’s more intimidating being separated, saying “You have to like really try to see how the audience feels when they’re not crammed against the stage.”  

They’re Big Fans of King Gizzard, Ty Segall, The Nude Party...and Dire Straits

Not only are the Post Animal members really into fellow Chicago bands, they’re big music fans in general. When asked what they’re listening to at the moment, Javi says, “This new Ty Segall album that just came out, or it comes out today. It’s been streaming the past week.” Jake says, “Mild High Club has such a special place in my heart,” while also mentioning that the entire band loves King Gizzard [& The Lizard Wizard].  

“I’ve been listening to this fucking sick rapper named Denzel Curry, who is so good,” Wes adds, while Dalton shouts out Vince Staples. Javi calls the band’s music taste eclectic, while Jake admits that they listen to a lot of older material as well. Similarly to the love expressed to Jude Shuma, the band also gushed for a few minutes about their admiration of The Nude Party, a band they recently played with in Milwaukee.  They also went to see NYC band The Lemon Twigs the night before at The Empty Bottle. 

Lastly, Wes chimes in, “Dire Straits is a good band,” joking,“They fucking rock. That better be in the interview by the way. Dire Straits fucking rocks.”  

They’re Happy For Joe’s Success As an Actor, But Please Get Their Name Right

If you weren’t aware, the sixth band member, Joe Keery, was MIA for this interview because he stars in a little known Netflix show called Stranger Things.  Naturally, the insane amount of success that the show has had has brought some new attention to the band over the past several months.  So, are Joe and his bandmates sick of the Stranger Things-driven attention? Not at all, but it does make things a bit more challenging at times.

“It’s hilarious that he’s not here right now,” Dalton says when I asked the question.  “It’s just weird cause there’s like this last year, Matt would be gone so Javi would fill in for Matt. Or like Wes would be gone so Joe would play drums. So originally Wes came into replace Joe. So now it’s like weird cause we wouldn’t really hesitate to play without anyone, but we kind of like have to hesitate to play without Joe. That’s been like the weirdest part... kinda feeling detached from our own project because of all the fame that got brought to it, not necessarily for the wrong reason, but for a different reason.”  

Jake chimes in, “We sort of just decided, actually it was a pretty recent decision, but we decided the only way to do this properly from here on out is to play doing exactly what we would have done before. Like tonight is a great example of a show that Joe couldn’t be at, and we’re just playing a damn show.”  

Dalton does admit that it breaks their heart to play without him, but he credits Joe with doing a great job of handling it all, and coming back when he can. “His life has gone from kinda 0 to 60, so it’s a little hectic. So here and there it’s gonna be without him. [Joe] just flies...he’s so committed to flying back day of," Jake says.  

The band also take all of the attention in a positive light, with Jake saying, “Even the people who come mostly to just meet or be in the presence of Joe, they end up being pretty cool audience members. I think a year ago we would have done almost anything to play these types of shows.”  

With so many band members, the guys also comment that they’re still able to deliver their best performance, but Matt contributes, “People can learn each other’s parts. The big difference is like the presence of a body. The nuances of how they play.” “No one can replace Joe’s stage banter,” Dalton adds in. Luckily, Joe is willing to do all he can to be there for shows, so the crowd won’t miss out on too much banter.  For their recent show at The Empty Bottle, Joe told the crowd he took two planes to get there.

All the guys really ask, is that you get their band name right, and don’t call Joe “Steve.” Javi recalls a time when someone said “give it up for Stranger Things” right after Post Animal performed. While something like that is clearly disrespectful to the entire band, no one was more upset about it than Joe himself.  “It’s kinda like exploitative of him personally. Like when people call him’s just like, you don’t even take the time to...They don’t think about the fact that he’s a real person and not the character. We’ve all had these crazy experiences of how people interact with him when we go to a bar or something like that. That’s been like the most hilarious and most disgusting part of it,” Dalton says in defense of his friend.

It’s clear that the guys in Post Animal are all great friends and they’re all supportive of Joe, but they’ve also got a great sense of humor. Wes joked, “Fuck that guy. Off the record, he’s one of my best friends, but on the record, fuck that guy," about Joe.  

Later on Friday evening, the guys did exactly as they'd promised and delivered a killer performance. Seriously, I picked a terrible night to leave my earplugs at home because they don't hold anything back during their shows.  Throughout the set, they also seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, which always makes a show more enjoyable from the audience.  Keep up with all of the Post Animal news by checking out their Facebook page.  You can also listen to The Garden Series below: