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Strange things: Chicago psych-rockers Post Animal play El-Rocko


Strange things: Chicago psych-rockers Post Animal play El-Rocko

20 Jun 2017

The psychedelic rock band Post Animal has emerged out of the rich Chicago music scene in recent years, earning attention not only for their music, but also for an unexpected hit television show.

The five-man group met in and around the Chicago area. Longtime friends Dalton Allison and Matt Williams began the project, adding members through mutual friends and work places.

“When we first met we bonded over listening to The Byrds,” Allison said. “Everyone loves Black Sabbath and Stevie Wonder. It’s a lot of classics, like The Beatles, obviously. We like the modern stuff, too. Then everyone has their own niches. For the new album, we pulled from our unique influences. So it’s kind of fun.”

The two-year-old project was just getting underway last year when they began to garner some unexpected attention. The band was caught up in the aftermath of the hugely popular sci-fi ’80s flashback series “Stranger Things” on Netflix, after drummer Joe Keery played the role of Steve Harrington.

“It’s crazy for our entire friend group,” Allison said. “We went from kind of hanging out wherever we want, to if we go somewhere and someone recognizes him, it’s a chain reaction. Eventually, at some of our gigs, people were lined up to try and get a photo with him. It’s kind of Beatles-mania on a lot smaller scale.

“It’s been cool. There’s a lot more complications in everyone’s life right now, but at the same time, we’re getting opportunities that we’d all die for.”

Prior to that mania, news outlets in Chicago had already picked up on the band’s unique approach to psych rock.

“Post Animal had one of my favorite local rock releases last year, and they’re a super-solid live act as well,” Josh Terry wrote in the Chicago Tribune last year.

Early on, Post Animal’s psychedelic noise rock was born from the influence of late Beatles and bands like Tangerine Dream and King Crimson, which showed up heavily on their first release, “Post Animal Perform the Most Curious Water Activities.”

Over the past two years, the band has settled into a more comfortable place musically with each other. On their latest release, the 2017 single “Special Moment,” they’ve drifted into a new groove, founded on a funkier appearance of the rhythm section, led by psychedelic lead guitar and falsetto vocals.

Featuring three guitars, the band’s composition style is based on mutual respect and a democratic approach to songwriting — which translates in their music as a well-oiled collaboration of individual musicians.

“It ranges,” Jake Hirshland said. “We’ve had really collaborative stuff. Everyone brought individual ideas to the table and we jammed it out. There are times we’ll bring an almost complete song to the table and we’ll make very minor adjustments to fit into that structure, but it remains the form the person wrote it in.

“We switch between solo and collaborative. We all write. I don’t think anyone is interested in doing a lion’s share. We all like to use each other’s brains to make stuff better.”

They peppered 2016 with three EPs, each two-song singles, which followed a 7-track EP in 2015. They’ve been working on their debut studio album since last summer. Recorded in a lake house, Allison helmed the mixing for the album, which he had done for the other releases as well. They have not set a release date for the album, but the new tracks have made it into the touring setlist.

“Half the setlist is new songs that have never been released and half are older ones, and some of it we just kind of jam out,” Williams said. “Pretty new and fresh set. We switch it up here and there.”

They will be making their Savannah debut at El-Rocko this week. Keery, however, will not be with the band, as he is filming season two of “Stranger Things.” The band has enlisted friend Wesley Toledo as a tour drummer.

As the Netflix show has taken off, Keery’s time has been stretched. In conjunction with his skyrocketing acting career, the band has begun to make moves of their own, leaving an uncertain, but bright future for all parties.

“We’re taking it day by day, because he’s getting busier and busier with the acting,” Hirshland said of Keery. “We’re getting more and more shows and tours. It’s going to be tour by tour, I think. He’s still a best friend of ours and he’s on the [new] record. He’s part of the gang.”


What: Post Animal, Daily Exercise

When: 9 p.m. June 26

Where: El-Rocko Lounge, 117 Whitaker St.

Cost: Free