Music, Feminism and Dog Fostering with Allie Hanlon of Peach Kelli Pop
Allie Hanlon is a workhorse musician. As the songwriter and creator of Peach Kelli Pop and the drummer for White Wires, Hanlon has tons of experience being in bands. Hanlon’s most recent output is the third Peach Kelli Pop LP, III (Burger/Bachelor). This record advances Peach Kelli Pop’s sweet girl-group through a punk vortex of pop music by taking a drastically different approach than the solo home recordings of Peach Kelli Pop’s previous releases.
Hanlon opted to record with Joel Jerome at ARW Studios in Los Angeles, and also invited some friends to play on the record. The result is a higher fidelity sound with a mix that brings clarity to the extras—backup vocals, xylophone, keys, and multiple guitar tracks. Peach Kelli Pop has already completed tours of the US, Canada, and Japan in support of the album and is looking forward to five weeks in Europe—including some first time gigs in the UK!
Heatwave: Congratulations on the release of the third Peach Kelli Pop LP! You have a lot of experience recording (on your own and with White Wires). Do you have any routines or rituals you do when you’re recording that help you focus and do your best?
Allie: I’ve learned that making a solid demo of the song you’re getting ready to record can be great when you go into the studio and may be nervous. You have an exact track-by-track reference if you need to refer to it.
I also like to practice all the parts the night before. Spontaneity is great but when you’re paying to record in a studio it’s good to be efficient and prepared.
When I record at home there’s less restrictions with time, so it allows for a lot more experimentation.
Heatwave: You’ve taught a lot of band mates to play your songs over the last few years. It seems that your busy touring schedule contributes to high turnover—not everyone can tour as much as you. How do you make decisions about whom you recruit for your band?
Allie: That is correct—a lot of the girls I’ve asked to play in PKP are my close friends and they also have their own careers and bands. The last line up I had was amazing, but three of the girls had to quit at the same time, because of work and job opportunities. It made me realize I need to find people who are able to commit to playing in the band long-term.
Aside from the obvious necessities (availability and commitment, being able to play music and being comfortable performing) the right personality is important, i.e. the ability to adapt to different situations and people, be somewhat low maintenance and having a sense of humour would be a requirement too, I think.
Heatwave: How do you fire people from your band?
Allie: I wouldn’t say I fire people ever. That hasn’t really happened.
Heatwave: What advice do you have for people new to touring about getting along with band mates and having the most fun?
Allie: My advice is to be aware of what you’re getting in to—expect to be uncomfortable at times and not have control of your schedule. You will probably be waiting around a lot. It can be annoying, but the fun times are worth it. It can be really helpful to find time to be alone, as well. Take a walk, go for a swim, ride a bike. Sitting in a van all day can make you miss physical activity. Also, pace yourself with the drinking and other fun stuff. If you go crazy every night you will likely end up ill/miserable. It works for some people, but be careful!
Heatwave: It’s so cool that you choose to have all female line-ups for Peach Kelli Pop. You have recognised how important it is to have representation of girls in bands, so that people can see possibilities for themselves. Being very familiar with the feeling of being inspired by seeing other women play—how do you interact with that feeling when you see it happen in others at your shows? Do you get to have many conversations with fans about them starting bands?
Allie: I think a lot of girls feel inspired the same way I did when I first saw other girls play in bands, which makes me really happy. I have a lot of younger girls tell me they want to start a band after they see us play. It’s important to me to represent women in the male-dominated music industry, (which can be quite douchey) primarily for the sake of other women. Aside from the moral or political aspect, I often prefer working with women, and feel like they are naturally better at recreating PKP songs than men are. It helps with vocals, obviously.
Heatwave: You’re part of Girl Gang, a feminist project started by Kate Nash, which has the goal of creating community and getting shit done. Girl Gang has a YouTube channel, Girl Gang TV, and there is a video in which you explain the process of fostering dogs, something you do often. What lessons have you learned from hanging out with the LA Girl Gang crew?
Allie: I don’t know if I’d say I’ve learned any specific lessons, but I’ve had feelings and attitudes I already hold validated by other women, especially female musicians that I can relate to. That’s been rewarding. On the flip side, there are a lot of women that attend who have different backgrounds and expertise than I do, who have been able to provide information on their experiences on things I’d never experienced or really considered. Like negotiating a salary at a new job, how that experience differs for men and women.
The other week we had a lawyer who does volunteer work for reproductive right associations come in and talk to us about how we could make a difference, for example, with helping Planned Parenthood. As a musician, I’m not often confronted by someone with a law degree who has things in common with me and will speak freely, especially in a context where I feel comfortable and invulnerable asking different questions. I like being surrounded by and conversing with passionate and inspired women.
Heatwave: With fostering dogs, it seems like you can arrange it so you won’t have a dog at home when it is time to go on tour. You can decide how long to have a particular dog and when, with the exception of a dog getting adopted. How do you deal with missing a dog after it leaves?
Allie: Yes, there’s a lot of flexibility with fostering. The current dog I have was conveniently adopted ten days before I left for a month long tour. Had he not been adopted, he would have gone to another foster’s house when I left. I definitely miss the dogs I foster, but I know they’re very adaptable and are most likely enjoying their new home and new parents and not thinking about me. It’s sad for a minute, but ultimately it’s a happy ending and I’m then freed up to help save another dog.
Heatwave: We’re a lot better off with technology than touring punks of the ‘80s and ‘90s. It can still be hard to be apart from loved ones though. Having done a month long US tour, a couple weeks in Japan, and preparing for a month long European tour, all in 2015, how do you keep your love life strong?
Allie: I have a lot of free time and flexibility in my life, and end up seeing the person I’m dating very often. Sometimes so much that I will schedule time to be alone. When I go away and travel, I’m never really heartbroken because I see my significant other so often when I’m home. I think the saying that distance makes the heart grow fonder is true and I embrace that. I think it’s good to miss someone and have the space and time apart to realise how much you value your significant other and the relationship. I don’t like to text too much because it can become repetitive very quickly, like “yes, I’m still in the van. I still miss you. We’re loading in. We ate at Cracker Barrel again”. I think sending a postcard is a sweet thing to do.
Heatwave: Which places are you most excited to play on your upcoming European tour?!
Allie: Last tour we played Rorschach, a city I had never heard of in Switzerland, and it was absolutely beautiful and charming, and the promoters were the sweetest and most accommodating. The venue was only a couple blocks from Lake Constantine. We went paddle-boating and swimming before our show. We walked around and got gelato and then the promoters made us an amazing homemade meal. The entire experience was magical and I can’t wait to go back again this tour! I am excited to go to Budapest, because my twin sister is moving there. Also Austria and the Netherlands. It will be our first time playing the UK, too, which is really exciting.
Catch Peach Kelli Pop next 16th of October at The Victoria Dalston in London.
Check the event here